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

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

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

Yesterday I spoke at the Oregon Employer Council Speaker Showcase. About 60 meeting planners from government and various industries were there. I always like to ask people what specific challenges they’re facing in their industries. Many of the conversations I had centered around the difficulty of operating in downsized environments. State agencies already know that more cuts are coming, so they’re very focused on how to face the next challenge of even more reduced staffing. The fact that the needs don’t go away is very challenging. There was a real hunger for gaining expertise on how to make the right priority decisions and how to choose what gets done first.

I spent some time talking to someone who represents the energy industry, primarily electric and natural gas. His challenge was totally different. In that industry, he’s grappling with widely divergent ages and knowledge within the work force. The oldest boomers are at the tail end of their careers, and their supervisors are now the tech-savvy 25 year-olds. Now that’s a challenge. Just communicating between those two groups is a leap. The young boss wants to text. The older worker wants face time. Or, to the amazement of the 25 year-old, talk on the phone.

Take a look around in your environment today and ask yourself this: what one single improvement would make the biggest difference in your business?

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Category : Uncategorized | Blog