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

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

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

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

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

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?

Subscribe to my free monthly newsletter for strategies on work and life balance and my recommended books on leadership and goal setting. Sign up on the home page www.rightnowcommunications.com

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Category : Goal setting and achievement | Life and Work Balance

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