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When I first started teaching time management, one of the biggest needs was how to cope with the deluge of email. Now we have more email than ever plus other means of communication coming at us. Professionals may regularly also receive texts, Outlook Lync messages, conversations in Facebook groups and LinkedIn messages that they need to respond to. One of my master’s degree students lamented that she counted 24 ways people sent her information!

Here are seven ways to manage the information overload.

  1. Keep a clean email inbox by setting up folders for people or projects
  2. Create email rules for any sender that you can immediately put into a folder
  3. Use Outlook’s Clutter feature. Remember to look in Clutter daily to make sure nothing important has been sent to the Clutter box.
  4. Delete unneeded email every day.
  5. Minimize using “reply to all.” The more people you send to, the more email you’ll get back.
  6. Set parameters for what you’ll accept via text, if anything. Keep it to very brief and urgent messages.
  7. Determine a regular time to check other less-used platforms such as LinkedIn or work Facebook groups; once a day should be enough.

Managing your communication is easier when you’re clear about your goals and priorities. If you find yourself uncertain about how to prioritize your messages, take time out to reassess your immediate and long range goals.

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Category : Goal setting and achievement | Stress Management | Uncategorized | Blog

Do you have a massive New Year’s resolution list? Many people fail at their resolutions because they’re too big, too vague, or they don’t really want to do them in the first place. Simply ask yourself, “If I could improve just one area of my life that would make the biggest difference for me, what would that be?” It should be something that’s meaningful and achievable. Most importantly, it must be something you truly WANT to do or change. Write it down in the form of, “I want to….” You fill in the rest. Look at it. Say it out loud. Does it feel right? Consider your one thing to work on until you feel EXCITED about it.

Make your area of focus into a goal statement
Goal statements give us a way to measure our progress in achieving what we say we’ll do. In your work, you’ve probably had to write goals that are used to evaluate your job performance. You’re going to do a similar exercise here as a way for you to know if you’re making progress on your one area of focus.

Here’s the really important thing about doing this exercise: you have to really believe in and OWN your statement. You may have had the experience at your job of having a goal written for you that you have no real interest in. How likely is it that you’ll achieve it? Not much.

Give your goal emotional payoff
This is your own precious goal you’re setting for yourself. Nobody else has to read it and you’re the only one you’re accountable to. There are three things that are important in this goal statement. First, state what positive emotion you’ll get from working on this goal. After all, if you aren’t going to feel better in some way by working on this, why do it? This is how this goal writing is different from the goal setting at work. This is more personal. This is the reason you truly want to set this as your focus and why you believe in this goal. Use words that really describe your payoff feelings such as joy, fun, empower, balance, success, achievement and love.

Make it measurable and time specific
Next, clearly define what you’re going to do and the date by which you’ll do it. These three elements together give you a complete goal statement you can believe in. Here are a few examples of what a statement might look like for some common areas in your life:

Goal statement examples
• I will reduce my financial stress by saving 10% more by December 31.
• I will feel comfortable and joyous about my body by losing 10 pounds by March 31.
• I will feel empowered about my career by earning a professional certification by June 30.
• I will add more fun and balance to my life by taking a two week vacation by September 30.
• I will enjoy more loving time with my partner by having a date night each week this month.

Start your year by focusing on this one area that you’re excited about and will make a significant difference in your life. Have a great 2016!.

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Category : Goal setting and achievement | Blog

It’s just days before Christmas. Can you believe it? I can’t. If you’re done with all of your shopping, your house was fully decorated the day after Thanksgiving, you have your menu planned, and you’re completely relaxed about the holidays, congratulations.

Most of us, the holidays bring some stress. For me, September through November is the busiest time of the whole year for me in my work. November goes by like a rocket, at the end of which I’m mentally exhausted. Then I suddenly realize that Christmas is less than two weeks away and I’ve done nothing. I’ve become an expert at holiday speed prep. Here are seven tips to minimize the holiday stress.

1. Remember it’s about love, family and community 

The best present you can give is your love and friendship. Pick thoughtful gifts that the person will truly enjoy, not just any gift. You’ll know what these are for the people you’re closest to. For people you feel obligated to gift, stock up on generic gifts you can give to nearly anyone. Candles, coffee, or gourmet hot chocolate mixes are great options.

2. Assess your decorating needs
Decorating the house inside and out is a job. Ask yourself, who are you doing it for? You have no obligation to hang lights and put out the illuminated reindeer. I love that my husband does this for me because it makes me happy when I drive up after a long day at work. I decorate the inside of the house for our daughter because it makes her happy. But I cut back this year on how much I decorated. I did just enough.

3. Consider giving hand-made gifts and homemade food
These are often more appreciated than store bought gifts. Steve and I make blackberry jam from the jungle of bushes on our property. We make it in August, store it, and bring it out at the holiday. It’s easy, and people love getting a jar of the jam. Last year our daughter made us each handmade framed notes of what she appreciated about each of us. We’ll cherish those for the rest of our lives. Use any talent you have to make a simple gift that can be created in advance of the holiday season.

4. Use an artificial tree
Ditch the ritual of cutting your own tree, hauling it home, having it dry out, and getting rid of it. We literally can walk to two tree farms and we changed to an artificial tree 10 years ago. It’s much faster, it looks good, and you just store it after the holiday. Reduced stress is more important than the smell of a live tree or a trip through the rain and mud to cut one down.

5. Shop online
The internet is the best thing that ever happened to reduce holiday stress. Amazon has everything, and anything can be ordered online. You can do ALL of your shopping this way. To ensure delivery by Christmas, order more than two weeks out.

6. Set a budget and stick to it
Reduce financial anxiety by deciding how much you can afford to spend in advance. Include all the expenses besides just the gifts themselves: greeting cards, stamps, wrapping paper, and food if you’re entertaining. These other things can really add up. This year, track all of these expenses so you can better manage them next year.

7. Set a reminder in November to start getting your act together
We’re all busy people. We put everything else on our calendars. Put the tasks for the holiday on your calendar too. I’m doing this next year. The best way to reduce stress is to not be crunched for time in the first place.

Remember, you don’t have to be perfect. You just have to open your heart and remember the true meaning of Christmas.

Happy holidays to all of you!

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Category : Stress Management | Blog

We waste a lot of time clinging to excuses for why we’re not doing something. Why we’re not working out, why we don’t look for another job, why we’re not pursuing that dream that’s been in our hearts for so long. The biggest excuse we all give begins with these few words, “I don’t have time.” It’s a lie.

It’s not that we don’t have time. We’re simply choosing to spend it on something else that ultimately is more important to us. If you ever want to understand what’s really important to you or to the people around you, simply observe how they’re choosing to spend their time. What we do is what’s important to us. People who have a burning desire to accomplish something will get up at 5 in the morning or stay up until 2 AM to devote time to their passion.

Is there something you’ve been putting off that you really want to do? What are you willing to give up to make time to do it?

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Category : Uncategorized | Blog

How much time are you wasting because of inadequate technology or lack of technical training? I became keenly aware of this with a nearly four-year-old laptop that became painfully slow and didn’t play nicely with anything. The dreaded hourglass caused a great deal of “colorful language” muttered beneath my breath. I delayed the purchase of a new laptop to defer the expense until I could no longer tolerate how much time I was wasting just to complete simple projects. Plus my husband couldn’t stand my mutterings anymore.

Workers struggle with outdated software, wasting time in creating workarounds. Recipients of emails from other companies have to ask for a resend of the document saved to an earlier version of Office because they’re several versions behind and can’t open the attachment. That’s a time waster for both the sender and the recipient.

Sometimes software is designed for great record keeping but has a productivity drain on people down the line because there’s so much more inputting. Are you looking at the entire work flow? Where is the time of your sales people better spent—out on the floor selling or in a back room inputting data?

How about training? Frequently new equipment or software is purchased with no training offered to the team. The attitude is “figure it out on your own.” What a waste of time to have people stumbling around with online help or calling your tech people who are already overloaded.

Our businesses are dependent on technology. Make sure you’re asking the right questions when you look at your equipment and software needs. Too often we delay the expense without asking what it’s costing us in lost productivity and revenue by not upgrading and getting our teams properly trained.

(What’s your biggest technology frustration? Post a comment.)

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Category : Uncategorized | Blog

My mother-in-law told me a story that perfectly points out the difference in how people make decisions.  I’d like you to reflect on it and answer for yourself, “Are you a talker or a doer?”

When her father passed away it was up to my mother-in-law and her younger sister to figure out what to do with his home. It was a cute little bungalow he’d bought in the 1940’s near the beach in Southern California in the area called Belmont Shore.   Through the skyrocketing house prices in the area, the little house had appreciated in value very nicely.

My mother -in-law and her sister decided to rent out the home while they decided what to do with it. Sell it soon? Keep it long term as an income property?  Wait for more appreciation and then sell? There were several choices and several things to consider.

They advertised the rental and a woman came to look at the house.  Both sisters showed the home to the prospective tenant. The woman liked the house. The location was perfect; near the beach and boutique shopping, yet on a quiet street.   She was interested in renting it. But she didn’t want to move in only to have to move again in a few months.  So she asked a simple question to both sisters. “Are you talkers or doers?”

The two sisters laughed and replied in unison, “We’re talkers!”  They knew themselves. They are delightfully chatty people who analyze every detail and delight in discussing every nuance.

“I’ll take it,” the woman said. She figured that “talkers” wouldn’t make a decision about whether to sell quickly.

That renter had asked exactly the right question. She got to rent that little house for a full two years because it took the two sisters that long to finally decide to sell it. A doer would have sold the house right away, or remodeled it quickly then sold it.

Are you a talker or a doer? There’s no right answer. Both have their pros and cons. What’s important is to know which you are so you understand how you problem solve and make decisions.  A combination of ‘talkers’ and ‘doers’ in a team or in a family is a big benefit. Then you’ve got the best of both worlds:  the people who make sure all the questions are asked and answered, and the people who take action.

Post a comment: Are you a talker or a doer?  How do the different types help your team?

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Category : Goal setting and achievement | Life and Work Balance | Blog

I have a neighbor who just ran for election for a non-partisan office. A week after election day ballots are still being counted and he still doesn’t know if he won the tight race. I saw him walking in the neighborhood and I asked him what he learned from running for office for the first time. What he said surprised me, and it shows how every decision has an impact. Even the ones you wouldn’t expect.

Daylight Matters
The first thing he said was, “I hadn’t factored in the shorter days.” As the days grew shorter, he explained, he had less time to canvass door to door. In the summer, he had four hours to talk to people at their homes in the evening. As the election approached, that was cut to just 2 hours. Apparently people don’t want to open their doors to strangers when it’s dark. The candidate said he needed to start campaigning harder, sooner. It’s a good lesson for business and in life. Start early, and get out fast and first.

Target Likely Customers
The second thing he learned was to spend more time talking to the voters who were most likely to vote for him. Though his office was a non-partisan office, people still asked what party he was affiliated with. Those who were members of the opposite party were more likely to end the conversation immediately. He didn’t have a chance with them. He needed to spend more time canvassing the voters who were already in his camp. In other words, talk to existing customers. It’s a basic rule of doing business. You’re much more likely to get a sale from an existing customer, or one who fits the profile of your perfect customer, than one who doesn’t fit your customer profile.

Paying attention to small details can make a big difference. Here’s the link for the sunrise/sunset table at the Naval Oceanography Portal website. You can pick any U.S. location and get the entire year of data. You’ll be surprised how often you can use it!

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Category : Goal setting and achievement | Uncategorized | Blog

We’re so busy that sometimes it’s hard to know where to start. We prioritize but are we using the right criteria to decide what’s important?
The key is to put your effort where you get the greatest results.

If you’re in sales, you know the activities that generate business: Prospecting, getting in front of people, doing great presentations, providing great customer service. Now break each of those activities down further. Are you prospecting by networking? What kinds of networking groups have your prime customer? What kind of advertising can target your dream client? Is it worth your time to improve your presentation skills so you can increase your closing rate?

If you supervise people, a high priority is always managing and leading your teams. But where specifically do you get the best results? It might be working with someone who has a lot of talent but needs to hone their skills more. It might be mentoring one of your people to provide bench strength for you. Or it could be daily quality control, or a combination of all of these.

Of course, you have to know what activities get you results to begin with. That means paying close attention to your feedback. Do you closely track where your business comes from? Referrals? What kinds of people are referring you? How are your marketing efforts paying off? Do you know how much business comes from each kind of marketing you do?

In your personal life, ask the same kinds of questions. Ask yourself, “What ONE thing could I do to make the biggest difference in my life?” It might be exercising to improve your health and outlook. It might be reading to your kids every day. It could be taking up that hobby you’ve always dreamed about. Or spending 15 minutes a day just for yourself where you do nothing but relax.
Now that’s an idea!

(Post a comment and feel free to pass this on.)

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Category : Uncategorized | Blog

The Ten Second Pitch

It’s an impatient world. We are all distracted and overloaded. In today’s environment, your personal and professional positioning statement better be short and compelling. Forget the 30 second “elevator pitch.”  You’ve got ten seconds. That’s how much time you have to grab someone’s attention. Ten seconds to communicate what you or your company does. Ten seconds that communicates to the other person the one thing they’re thinking: “What’s in it for me?”  Whether you’ve just met someone at a networking event, or you’re applying for a job, or initiating a cold call, you’ve got ten seconds to make an impression. It’s brutal, I know.

Avoid Blathering

People make the mistake of thinking that their spiel has to say everything about themselves or their company. They spew out a long monologue during which the other person has already mentally checked out. Their eyes are already wandering around the room looking for someone else more interesting to talk to, or they’ve decided to end the call as soon as they can. Hear that tapping? They’re responding to their email while you’re yammering on. What you want is to stimulate curiosity. You want the other person to ask you questions; preferably, “How do you do that?”

The Focused Ten Second Pitch

Your ten seconds must be centered on the personal benefit. In media, we constantly ask why someone would care about a story.  How does it affect them or their family? What solutions are we going to offer? What new information will we impart?

Think of a one-sentence description that would elicit the response, “Tell me more.” If you’re a sales trainer, your one sentence could be, “I help companies double their sales.”  A business owner is definitely going to ask how you do that!  Then you tell them more. Here are some more examples. Note none of them include the name of the occupation in the sentence.  I’ve put the occupation next to the sentence.

“I tell stories that change lives.” (reporter)

“I give peace of mind to families.”          (insurance sales)

“I help people find happiness.”              (speaker and author)

“I make people laugh.”              (standup comedian)

“I help make buying a home easy.”        (mortgage broker)

“I help people with life changing events”  (therapist)

“I help people get what they want out of life.” (My own statement as a time management expert)

Work on it!

Work on your one sentence. It must feel authentic to you. It should feel good to say. Keep working on it until it feels good. This is much easier than memorizing a 30-second spiel. You’ll find that the extended conversation about what you do will now feel more natural too!

Like this or have a comment? Have your own line you’d like to share? Post it here!

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Category : Goal setting and achievement | Blog

Every industry has its game changers. The moments when someone springs an entirely new product on the market that completely changes consumer expectations and the competitive landscape.  The digital world has brought numerous game changers that have impacted many industries.  Think downloadable music. Cell phones. CNN, then Fox News. The DVR. MySpace. YouTube. The iPhone.

The question is…are you paying attention to noticing the game changes in your business? Music companies didn’t understand the true threat of downloadable music at first, and when they did, they fruitlessly tried to battle it instead of embracing it and making it part of their business plan.  Newspapers kept their heads in the sand about the internet until they’d lost hundreds of millions of dollars in classified advertising to the web. Readers who wanted information on demand abandoned newspapers in droves, and young people never embraced newspapers at all. The newspaper industry is a shadow of what it once was. Television broadcasters allowed cable to grow on the strength of network and local programming that stations gave to the cable companies for free.

I remember when Apple first released the iPod that could play video. This was years before the ability to easily view video on the web. Before YouTube or  Facebook. I went to the Apple store with my husband and daughter to check it out. Traditional media people had been dismissing the product. The sniffed, “Who would want to watch video on a tiny little screen?”

I watched the demo in the store. I held it in my hands. It was light and sleek. The little screen had incredible quality. It was completely cool;  a breakthrough product.  I felt as though the ground shook beneath me. I looked up and announced, “This changes everything.”  And it did. Once people understood that they could have movies and video entertainment of their choosing when they wanted, it paved the way for the growth of online video.

The trick is to identify a game changer before it overtakes you. A game changer can be a small thing at first. It’s always the events that are occurring right now that pave the way ahead. This is true in your own career and personal life too. Are you listening and watching?

(Feel free to make a comment or send this post to others. For more insights, subscribe to my free monthly newsletter.  Sign up on my home page!)

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Category : Goal setting and achievement | Blog