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Archive for March, 2012

At the suggestion from a colleague (Thanks Karen!), this blog is about how to say “NO” to too many commitments.

It is a well-known fact that in order to be productive, we have to manage our commitments. If we spread ourselves too thin we will lose focus and reduce our productivity and usually the quality of our work.

The hardest part about saying no is that it can hurt, disappoint, or even anger the person you’re saying no to, and most of us prefer not to confront these kind of issues. Instead we just continue to say yes to appease those asking. However, with requests for our time constantly coming in we have to decide what items are more important than others in order to complete the tasks. Some of this can be at the detriment of focusing on the most important things which could include specific projects, ourfamily, or even our health.

So the question is, how do we say “no” without jeopardizing the relationships with the person(s) asking for our time? Here are a few tips to help you say “no”:

  1. Know your priorities! If you are aware of all your current and possibly upcoming priorities you can more easily assess whether you have extra time to take on more. The big question is that if you have extra time where do you want to spend it? The answer to this may be extremely different from what someone else would like you to spend your time on. You have to choose which one is more important to you.
  2. Value your time! Now that you know what your priorities are, you have to then assess the items that you have already committed to. Your time is valuable and you have to manage that time very carefully. If someone asks you to help them      and you know that your time is already committed you need to communicate this to them. For example, you can tell them “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.” If they know that you are already overloaded then they should understand that you can’t take on more.
  3. Don’t apologize! Apologizing can make you sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about knowing your limitations and the time you have available.
  4. Practice Saying No! As we have all heard while growing up, practice makes perfect. So why not practice ways to say no? Maybe even record them and listen to them as if you were the one being told no and see how it comes across to you. Just remember, the only way to get control of your commitments is to take control of them.

Most people have a hard time saying no, especially to their bosses. Just keep in mind that if we say yes to too much and have a hard time completing all of it at a high quality it can look worse to your boss. However, if you can explain to your boss the reasons why you can’t take on more and that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. The main key, in my opinion, to being successful when saying no is communication, communication, communication.

If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions for future topics, please send me a comment below! 🙂

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As I continue to prepare for my Twins upcoming 6th birthday party, I thought it might be helpful to pass on some tips on how to efficiently plan for a large party. Whether you are planning a birthday party, summer get together, or a Christmas or New Years bash, I hope these tips help you to have a less stressful time in planning.

Tip #1- PLAN AHEAD

First and most important step is to Plan Ahead! This one step alone will help you alleviate a huge amount of stress. I try to start the planning at least a month in advance, especially since it is customary to make sure invites are sent out at least 2 weeks prior to the event. Good rule of thumb, the larger the event, the earlier planning needs to begin.

Tip #2- MAKE LISTS

Lists are a very helpful tool that will help you keep organized and less likely to miss important stuff. Make lists for those you want to invite, food you want to serve, decorations that need to be ordered or bought, and chores that need to be done prior (i.e. clean the house, clean-up the backyard, ect).

Tip #3- CREATE A CALENDAR

Once you have your lists complete or at least started, put together a calendar of deadlines for various tasks. For example, my twins birthday party is still a week away but because I know that I have commitments during the week prior to the party, I have schedule to do all the house decorating the weekend before. This will alleviate the stress of doing it the night before or morning off. That will leave me plenty of time closer to the party to deal with food and last-minute items. In addition, the kids love to be able to enjoy the decorations for longer than just during the few hours of the party.

Tip #4- BUYING EXTRA

One of the hardest task for a party is estimating the amount of people who will attend. In regards to children’s parties, I always buy upfront for as many kids we have invited plus a few extra. However, I try to buy them from places that it would be easy to return extra sets. I find that for children’s parties, it is a lot easier to return items afterwards instead of trying to find extra items at the last-minute for unexpected additions. In addition, when searching for decorations, I do something similar. I buy as many items that I think I need plus a few extra. Just as with kids items, it is much easier to return the unused extras instead of wasting time running around at the last-minute to get those extra items. Just remember to double-check the store return policies before taking this course of action.

Tip #5- DON’T SEEK PERFECTION

One of the things I have seen create the most stress for people planning parties is seeking perfection! Just remember that there will always be something that isn’t quite what was imagined, but unless the guests know about it, they most likely won’t even notice. If you are a perfectionist like I am, you will find that people will already love the creativity you have put into the party and generally will never notice the things that you might consider missing! Remember parties  are about having fun and enjoying the company around you. When it comes to party time just relax and enjoy!

I hope that these tips are helpful for those of you who will be planing any parties in the near future! I know that I am looking forward to my twins party this coming weekend!

If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions for future topics, please send me a comment below! 🙂

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It will be a few months before I can fully answer this question, however, in preparation for a class that I am hoping to take this fall called “Mindful Leadership” which will be taught at the University of Nevada, Reno as part of their MBA program, I began to research how meditation can improve productivity. Here is what I have found so far.

Meditation can help us by:

  • Improving Focus
  • Improving Memory
  • Reducing Stress
  • Increasing Creativity
  • Increasing Motivation

With all these benefits to meditation, imagine what this can do for your productivity and those of your team not only at the office, but also away from the office! Increasing your productivity usually depends on your ability to let ideas to flow easily and quickly through your mind. Meditation can help us to do this. Just think about a work environment where the stress levels are lower, people can focus at a higher level, as well as the other benefits that come along with meditation, and how this would increase moral and the general outlook of its employees when it comes to getting work done. I think this really could be a huge life changing event not only for individuals but also for whole organizations that embrace and encourage this technique.

“Many doctors have studied the statistics on people who meditate and now prescribe meditation for their patients. These patients have reported more energy, higher productivity and more patience. Business owners have reported that among employees, who meditate, absenteeism is lower, production is higher, and the quality of their work is better thus proving the statistics on people who meditate are right.” ~ http://www.project-meditation.org

I am looking forward to this new class in the fall! When I learn more about meditation and how it can increase efficiency in all our lives, I will pass it along!

If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions for future topics, please send me a comment below! 🙂

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Creating efficiencies leads to higher productivity! One of the most important things you can do to create efficiency and increase productivity is to work smarter, not longer. To do that, you must change how you work. Working smarter means accomplishing the same tasks in less time. This blog is expanding on my blog from earlier this week “Two Tips to Working Smarter! Not Longer!” The previous blog discussed how you need to work smarter by working faster. This blog is slightly different. You must also change behaviors to maximize you overall productivity.

The benefit of working smarter is that you will free up time to do other things. Just be careful not to fill that time up with more commitments. The goal of working smarter is to create a higher quality of life and to increase happiness, not to just be buried with additional projects that still keep you at the office until the wee hours of the morning.

So the question is how do we work smarter? Here are a few additional tips:

  1. Saying “No”- Most people take on more work than they can truly handle. This leads management to think that the group is overstaffed and thus they think they can cut the workforce down more which then makes these workloads permanent. We all have limits and we all have the responsibility to know our limits and let other know our limits.  You have two choices, you can manage that limit so that you have time to do things well, or you can choose not to manage your limits, take on too much, and do a lousy job at everything because you don’t have the time to properly allocate your time to your projects.
  2. Schedule appointment with yourself to get things done- If you have a project that you are finding difficult to fit into your day, make an appointment on your calendar where you are setting aside time to work on it. This will allow you to allocate time to it and also blocking your calendar from other booking meetings or any other items that may take this time away for other things.
  3. Learn to delegate- Even if you are not a manager, you can still delegate. If you are part of a team and you see that other team members may have availability, don’t hesitate to ask for their help. Being part of a team is about helping each other out to complete a common goal. Just remember that if you have time in the future check with your team mates to see if there is something you can help them out with.

These are only a few tips to working smarter. I will have more tips in the near future so check back often or subscribe to get more tips on how to create efficiency in your life!

If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions for future topics, please send me a comment below!

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Creating efficiencies leads to higher productivity! One of the most important things you can do to create efficiency and increase productivity is to work faster, not longer. Working smarter means accomplishing the same tasks in less time. To do that, you must change how you work. This includes changing how fast a task can be completed, organizing things in parallel, and increasing your ability to focus.

The benefit of working smarter is that you will free up time to do other things. Just be careful not to fill that time up with more commitments. The goal of working smarter is to create a higher quality of life and to increase happiness, not to just be buried with additional projects that still keep you at the office until the wee hours of the morning.

So the question is how do we working faster? Here are a few tips:

  1. GET FOCUSED- To work faster you need to get extremely focused to the one task in front of you. Don’t let your mind jump around between tasks. Most people call this multi-tasking and it can actually reduce your efficiency. The key to getting completely focused is to eliminate your distractions. You need to set time away from your distractions (email, phone, visitors, family, ect). You can close your office door and put a “Do Not Disturb” sign, block your calendar, and forward your phone for a set amount of time every day. However, be aware that it may not be in your best interest to block all day every day to this method, especially if you are a manager that is supposed to be accessible. A few hours every day, however, would not be unacceptable especially if you have this time scheduled consistently. People will get to know your schedule and you will find that not only you will become more productive, but other will as well when they know when you are and aren’t available.
  2. WORK IN PARALLEL- Another great way to work smarter is to work in parallel. What this means is that you can find ways to arrange works so that related items are occurring at once. For example, if you are working on a report that has multiple components and the report needs to be reviewed by your manager, consider sending off completed sections for review while you work on the next section. This way work moves forward at the same time. If your manager had to review the full report all at once after you have completed all the sections, you would then have to be waiting for the review to be complete before you can begin finalizing it. It would be much more efficient to be able to complete and finalize throughout the project. In addition, this can reduce time if an error is found that has a cascading effect through the rest of the report and you are able to correct it earlier in the process.

These are only a few tips to working smarter. I will have more tips in the near future so check back often or subscribe to get more tips on how to create efficiency in your life!

If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions for future topics, please send me a comment below!

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Every day I take a look at what I am doing and ask myself, is there a better way to do this? Technology is allowing improvements in our everyday life, it just takes a little time upfront to find and use these improvements effectively and efficiently. One of the more common current technological advances that if used appropriately and consistently are various apps available on smart phones. Please do not confuse time savings discussed below with the time sucking apps also available, such as Angry Birds and other popular games! :)  As I have mentioned in my first blog, if you can find efficiencies in one part of your life, it will leave time for other interests you may have (like finding out how to beat level 1 of Carnival Upheaval in Angry Birds Rio, one of my most time sucking apps, but hey its FUN!)

This blog is a continuation of a blog I wrote earlier in January 2012. I came across a great budgeting and receipt app that I wanted to share. It is an app called iXpenseIt.

“iXpenseIt simplifies daily expense tracking and budgeting. Now you can record expenses anywhere, anytime within seconds. Store photo receipts is a snap.  Customize your personal and business expenses with easy to understand reports. Take control of your finance today with iXpenseIt!” ~www.fyimobileware.com

Key features

  • Highly customizable and practical.
  • Visual indicator of monthly budget  vs expenses.
  • Overview of Today’s spending vs daily spending average.
  • Expense Summary of total, average expense per day and top expense of the month
  • Repeat Expenses – allow recurring expenses such as monthly rent, mortgage, utility  bills, etc.
  • Customize Detail / Simple monthly Budgets.
  • Store digital photo receipts.
  • Instantly generate graphical reports.
  • Dynamic reports view: Specify reports by criteria such as report by payment, by vendors, etc.
  • Supports VAT/GST.
  • Customize icons for categories and subcategories.
  • Customize Expense Type, Payment and Vendor.
  • Full Text Search: Powerful search to easily locate expense records.
  • .CSV and HTML data export via Email or Wi-Fi.
  • Records export with photo receipt attachment for quick expense approval/reimbursement.
  • Complete world currency list with build-in currency conversion utility.
  • Available in 12 Languages: English, Spanish, Japanese, German, Chinese (Simplified & Traditional), French, Italian, Russian, Korean, Finnish, Dutch, Danish, more will be added.
  • Simple mileage / kilometer tracking with customizable reimbursement rate.
  • Password Protection – Protect your personal financial data and the ability to recover password if forgotten.ddPress

Below is a brief video overview of how iXpenseIt works and how it can help you stay organized.

Another great thing is you can currently get iXpenseIt for only $4.99. Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad.Requires iOS 4.0 or later. For more information on iXpenseIt please visit http://www.fyimobileware.com/ixpenseit.php.

I will continue in the future to pass on any additional items that I either stumble across or are referred to that will help you create an effective and efficient life! If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions for future topics, please send me a comment below! :)

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Every day I take a look at what I am doing and ask myself, is there a better way to do this? Technology is allowing improvements in our everyday life, it just takes a little time upfront to find and use these improvements effectively and efficiently. One of the more common current technological advances that if used appropriately and consistently are various apps available on smart phones. Please do not confuse time savings discussed below with the time sucking apps also available, such as Angry Birds and other popular games! 🙂 As I have mentioned in my first blog, if you can find efficiencies in one part of your life, it will leave time for other interests you may have (like finding out how to beat level 1 of Carnival Upheaval in Angry Birds Rio, one of my most time sucking apps, but hey its FUN!)

This blog is a continuation of a blog I wrote earlier in January 2012. I came across a great travel app that I wanted to expand upon. It is the app called TripIt and is one of the easiest ways to not only build your travel itinerary, but to have all your information at the click of a button. TripIt makes it easy to organize trip details and build travel itineraries across multiple travel sites. It also automatically includes tools to get maps, directions, and weather as well as  options to book restaurants, theatre tickets, activities, and more through the travel itinerary.

Below is a brief video overview of how TripIt works and how it can help you have a successful, rewarding, and more relaxing trip.

Another great thing is you can currently get TripIt for FREE, TripIt Pro for $39/year, $ TripIt Business for $29/month. It is available on Apple, Android, and Desktop. For more information on TripIt please visit www.tripit.com!

I will continue in the future to pass on any additional items that I either stumble across or are referred to that will help you create an effective and efficient life! If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions for future topics, please send me a comment below! 🙂

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