9 Time Blocks That Make Things Happen

It’s Friday – are you ready for the weekend?  Heck yeah, right?!?

How did your week go?  Did you get everything accomplished or do you feel like you were running around non-stop all week and yet haven’t accomplished much?

Life is fast and it feels like the days and weeks are literally just flying by.  The only way to get stuff done – the important stuff – is by taking control of your day by managing where you spend your time and focus.

Why is it that we have no problem putting appointments with other people in our calendar, but when it comes to things that matter to us we neglect to put them in our calendar?   Start planning your week by blocking out time for the things that really matter to You!

It doesn’t matter if you’re a paper or digital planner – use these 9 Time Block ideas to plan your week:

  1. Review Time.  Schedule out a couple of hours each week (yes – hours!) to go through this week’s accomplishments.  Scratch off what’s completed, delegate what you can, and prioritize what’s left to do.  Once you know what you need to be doing, schedule time to get them done.  This time block is the most important one on this list, but yet most people neglect to spend time on it – make it your priority!
  2. Project Time.  After doing your Review, you’ll know what projects you’ll need to be working on and what needs to get done next week, so schedule them in.
  3. Office Time.  You know that boring stuff like filing, bookkeeping, cleaning out your inbox?  Yeah, they need to get done – schedule time to do it on a daily or weekly basis to make sure you stay on top of it all.
  4. Research Time.  Use this time to do any kind of research.  For example researching topics to write your next blog, your next topic for a presentation, a new exercise routine, your next vacation destination, you name it.  Research time can be spend surfing the web, going to the library, reading a book, visiting other companies that work with your market, …  And rather than getting sucked into all these shiny objects you see all day long, save them for your Research Time.  Tools like Pocket & Evernote are great for this – I’ll make sure to do a blog about this very soon!
  5. Writing & Creative Time.  If you’re like me and you write articles, social media posts, or maybe you’re writing a book – you need to schedule that time in your calendar.  Pick a time that fits best for you.  For me that’s first thing in the morning, before I start working on any of my projects.  For you it may be late at night when the house is quiet and everyone is sleeping and you’re still wide awake.  Do it when it feels right to You.
  6. Catch Up Time.  Use this time to get caught up on things that you weren’t able to finish, things that just popped up, or anything random you want to get done.
  7. Fitness Time.  Yes, schedule in your health!  No matter what that is for you – a work out, biking, running, yoga, meditation, whatever it is, schedule it.
  8. F&F Time.   Make time for Family & Friends.  With today’s fast-paced tech life we have gotten out of touch with our family & friends.  Life is short – make time to spend quality time together.  And yes, I challenge you to turn off your tech during those precious moments, unless of course you’re on FaceTime spending time with someone special.
  9. Me Time.  Schedule time for You.  Time for to the beach, reading a book, some art, hiking, time with your dogs, cats, horses… wherever your happy place may be!

 

Remember, when scheduling these in your Calendar:

  • Once you start working in one of these time areas, try to block everything out and get totall focused on the task at hand.
  • Think something’s going to take you 1 hour?  Add about 30{14f5d89cdb458448eb9fffe01321f06ef5bef8c8ad6d8f6849e8ec1fe6b49dc7} to make sure you have enough time to get things done.  If you do finish within the hour, you can always take a break or move over to the next Time Block;
  • Don’t over-schedule.  When over-scheduling you get overwhelmed and you’re least likely to follow through.  If this is new to you, start small and slowly build up to where you’re comfortable;
  • When you have appointments that include travel, consider the time it takes you to travel to/from to your appointment and add in traffic delays
  • Be kind to yourself. There will be days that you will miss some stuff and that’s OK, just keep doing your Review Time to make sure you’re on track with the important stuff to get them done.

 

Stay-On-Track Tip:  

Get an accountability partner!  Find that one person – or a small group – that will help you stay accountable & motivated.  Keep on the look out – more on this soon.

 

Do you have a system to get things done?  Or are struggling with this?  Are there any topics you’d like me to cover?  I’d love to hear from you.

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Skitch is One of My Favorite Apps

If you’ve been with me for a while you’ll know I love Skitch – I actually use it for a lot of my tutorials.  It’s a super easy tool that lets you quickly annotate pictures, documents, and screenshots.  And yes, it’s free!

You can:
  • Add Arrows, Text, Shapes, and Stamps;
  • Draw (not really crazy about this one – AKA I just suck at it!);
  • Highlight or even Hide certain Areas;
  • Change the Color or Size of these Tools;
  • And yes, you can Crop your Image.


What Skitch Tools Do


To Give You an Idea

Let’s say, you’re working with someone on updating your website, but your web techie is not in the same space as you are, so you’re trying to communicate via email, phone calls, and voicemails – going back & forth & back & forth & back again – aarrgggghhh!!!  What a pain in the you-know-what!  

Why not take a quick screenshot, annotate what you want done on the page and voilà – you’re done.  This saves you a ton of time, emails, cursing, and money – Time is $$$
 
Skitch
 

A few more ideas on where & how to use Skitch:
  • For Presentations.  Share a screenshot and add your instructions for a quick & easy view of what you’re trying to say;
  • At Work. Open a PDF and highlight changes to skip the lengthy, confusing email chains and give clear feedback;
  • At Events.  Capture a map, mark it up, and share it with your friends to show them where you’ll be;
  • At Home.  Planning a meditation garden?  Take pictures of your yard and annotate them to plan out your new space.


Where to Find Skitch

Skitch was part of the Evernote family and they used to have a quick and easy download for all platforms from their site, but Skitch has moved out on his own, so I had to do some digging for my PC friends.  You can find Skitch at:

  • Mac Friends:  You can downlaod Skitch @ Evernote or get the app for Skitch @ iTunes
  • PC Friends:  After some digging I found this link that has a download – but as you know I’m not a PC girl, so not sure how well it works… sorry, but my brain can only handle so much tech stuff!

(You can still use Skitch with your Evernote or just use it on its own.)


Do you have any creative ways of using Skitch?  Or do you have another tool that works just like it… or better?  Please share…



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How to Focus in a Crazy Busy World

Ask anyone how they’re doing and you’ll most likely get a response like ‘I’m crazy busy’.  In today’s fast-paced world we’re expected to do more in less time!  Not only are we expected to do more, we’re also dealing with a lot more information today, and with all that busyness going around it’s getting harder and harder to focus on the important stuff.

Last week I covered the topic of multitasking and how it’s affecting our productivity (in a negative way); this week I have some tips to help you boost your focus.

Focus is more important than intelligence

 

5 Tips that Boost Focus

  1. Have a Goal.  If you don’t know what your goals are, how do you know what you’re supposed to be doing?  By having a goal (big or small) it’s easier to maintain focus on accomplishing that goal.
  2. Organize Your Space.  Having a messy or even busy workspace is distracting.  By clearing your space you’ll have less distractions.  That doesn’t mean you need to have an über organized workspace, just one that you’re comfortable in – it’s all about You!  Tip:  Less is better.
  3. Brain Dump.  Stop trying to remember everything – always have a (paper or digital) notebook to jot down notes or stuff you need to remember.  By clearing your headspace, you’ll have more space to focus on the important stuff.  My favorite tool for this is my Evernoteit’s with me wherever I go!  
  4. Focus Time.  If you’re like me, once you start working on something you go non-stop and that’s not always a good thing.  Studies have shown that it’s important to take breaks throughout the day.  In his book ‘The way we’re working isn’t working‘, Tony Schwartz recommends doing three 90-minute laser focus sessions throughout the day and taking in between breaks.  Another great technique is the Pomodoro Technique where you set short focus times with intermittent breaks throughout the day:  Start your timer for a specific amount of time and get to work – focusing only on that one task at hand – once the timer goes off you get a certain amount of time to take a break – use this time to get off your chair and do something different (go for a walk, meditate, stretch, do something creative, …)  Once the timer goes off again, it’s time to get to work.  Just look up Pomodoro timers in the app store.  I’ve used the Pomodoro Timer app and like it – even though their recommended 15-minute focus sessions are too short for me – I adjust them to my workstyle, which is more like 45-minute focus time sessions.  Try it out and see what works best for you!
  5. TIO!  Turn it off!  When working on important projects make sure you turn off any distractions on your…
    • Phone:  Put it on silent for a while – you can return calls and messages later.
    • Email:  Unless your project depends on it, turn off email notifications – or better yet, shut it off completely – the emails can wait!   Remember, emails are typically other people’s priorities – get your stuff done first, then worry about the everyone else’s stuff.
    • Social Media:  Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, … they’re all screen suckers!  Limit the amount of times you go into social media – go in twice or three times a day and set a limit on the amount of time you stay there.  If you’re still having a hard time getting off social media:  There are apps on the market that will only allow you to be on certain sites for so long.  Tip:  Avoid temptation and turn off notifications for your social media accounts.do not disturb
    • Shut the door:  Do you work at an office or at home where others can just barge in?  Close the door and put up a ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign.
    • Your TV.  I’ve been guilty of this – watching TV while working on a project – and this is a huge distraction!  Rather than taking 30 minutes to finish a particular task, you’ll spend 90 minutes getting that same task done – and most likely not nearly as good (see my blog on multitasking & productivity).

Still having a hard time focusing on that project?  Walk away!  Sometimes all it takes is to walk away – go do something fun or start something else and come back to this later – or better yet, tomorrow.  Sometimes all it takes is to take a break and walk away – you’ll feel refreshed and focused to get it done!

Do you have any tips that help you stay focused?  Please share!
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