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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Are You a Digital or Paper Planner?

‘Is it OK to use a Paper Planner?’  I get this question a lot, especially from the ‘paper planners’.  Some either feel they’re ‘old fashioned‘ or they get comments from others that they’re ‘out of date’.  My response?  Do what works for YOU!

Over the years I’ve seen many people go back to their paper planner after years of trying to use their digital planner – it just wasn’t doing it for them.  Find out what works for YOU, that’s all that matters.

Remember, we have options.  With today’s high tech world there are a lot of neat apps available at our finger tips and there are a lot of great paper planners out there as well.  You just have to figure out what works best for your professional needs and your personal style.

My personal preference is the digital planner, because of all its advantages, but I do still love my pen & paper so I use a combination.

Let’s look at some of the pros, cons, and options out there.

 

The Paper Planner

The Paper Planner

Finding the right one might take some time and money, but it’s worth every minute and penny if you find the right one.  I personally like the customizable ones, where you can add your own pages to it – but not everyone has that same need.

Some of the pros for having a paper planner:

  • Keep your pen & paper – yes, some of us really love using pen & paper;
  • A huge plus is that we memorize things better as we write – it stimulates the cells at the base of our brain (called the reticular system);
  • No devices or internet needed;
  • No need to freak when your phone plunges in the toilet or if you lose your data (even though a simple backup would be the solution for that of course – but that’s a whole other story);
  • No tiny keyboards or screens – yay!

 

Here are some great Paper planners:

  • The Planner Pad, recommended by Barbara Hemphill, is a great weekly planner that has an area for your events and appointments as well as your personal and professional tasks;
  • Erin Condren’s LifePlanner is super sexy (yeah I know – it’s a planner)  Not cheap, but she has a great selection of planners that you can customize the design;
  • M by Staples as shown in pictures above has a more professional & modern look to it.  You can purchase their calendar & add-ons to customize it to your needs… but the best part?  You can add your own pages to it – love it!
  • Franklin Covey has some great customizable planners as well;
  • Brendon Burchard’s 1-Page Productivity Planner is a great tool to add to your planner – it helps you stay on track of your goals and tasks (hint: this is where customizable planners come in play);Evernote Moleskine Planner
  • For Evernote users there’s the Moleskin Weekly Planner – a great way to combine your paper and digital versions.  With a quick shot you have all your notes in Evernote.  In a future blog I’ll post how to use Evernote as your Project Management tool!

 

Some things you want to look for when you’re thinking of getting a paper planner:

  • Size matters!  If you’re like me you’ll need a lot of space to write, so you’ll need to look for the bigger planners with more writing space inside your planner.  But if you don’t need all that space then small is the way to go;
  • What type of calendar do you need?  Monthly, weekly, daily, or a combination?
    • Monthly is great for getting a quick glance at your entire month, but you really can’t enter a lot of information in the small boxes;
    • Weekly is the way to go for managing your week and it gives you a bit more space to add appointments and notes;
    • Daily is great to manage your entire day and enter every detail in your time slots.  It does use up a lot of paper, so if you don’t need it – why waste paper?
  • Do you need an area for goals and tasks?  (My answer here is YES!)
  • What about an area for notes?  Do you just want to jot a few notes on your planner page, next to your calendar and tasks, or do you want a separate section for all of your notes?
  • Do you need dividers?  Or are colored sticky notes enough?
  • Do you need to have an area for contact information or business cards?
  • Do you need it to be customizable?  Meaning do you want to add your own sheets to the planner?  This is a must for me!

 

Nozbe tasks

The Digital Planner

Typically a digital planner will come in two parts:  Calendar & Project Management.  Some digital planners will have both in one, but most of the time you’ll have to manage these separately.

Having everything digital does have a huge advantage when you have a busy schedule, especially when you have to collaborate with others.  Some of the pros for using a digital planner:

  • All you need is your phone – no need to bring anything else along;
  • Simply edit/delete one or more events at the same time without needing an eraser or having that nasty white-out mess all over your page;
  • Quickly create recurring events with a click of a button (as opposed to have to write it over and over again in your paper planner);
  • Sync your events and to do’s with all your digital devices;
  • Quickly search for past and/or future events;
  • Attach important files that you’ll need for that appointment or task;
  • Instantly invite others to an appointment or meeting to make sure everyone is on the same page about the time and place of the event;
  • Integrate with your online map for quick & easy directions to your meeting;
  • Sync with an online scheduling system so that clients can make make an appointment with you online without having to call or email you (more on that in a future blog).

 

The most commonly used digital calendars are Outlook, Calendar, and Google.  As for your projects and tasks I prefer other systems that are created specifically for this.  Some great digital solutions:

  • Nozbe is based from the Getting Things Done system by David Allen.  You can quickly create Tasks, send your email into Nozbe, and add Tags (AKA contexts) to your Tasks.  For example, if one of your Tasks inside a Project involves going to the store you can add the tag ‘Errands’ to your Task. When you’re out and about you can pull up all ‘Errands’ to give you a quick rundown of what you need to do while on the road.
  • Asana is great if you work in teams – it’s a great collaboration and project management tool where you can organize all your projects, tasks and conversations in one place.  It’s also a great way to eliminate a lot of your emails within your team.
  • Evernote is also a great option for managing your projects and tasks.  I personally use Nozbe in collaboration with Evernote, but you can definitely use Evernote on its own as well.
  • Some other popular to do apps include:

 

Calendar ViewThe Combo Solution:

Want to have the best of both worlds?  Combine them!  Manage your appointments, events, and tasks in your digital solution and print out a weekly or daily calendar with your tasks for the day or week.

Just be careful when making changes for the day or week – you’ll have to make those changes in both planners (yep, you’re doing double work here).

How do I do it?  I manage everything digitally, but on busy days where I’m on the road a lot, I print out my schedule & tasks, so I can quickly jot down notes and check things off my list.  When back in the office I’ll just sync what’s needed and toss the rest.

This way I have the best of both worlds,  I can write notes and check tasks off my lists, but yet have everything synced and stored in my cloud.

 

Work The System!

So much for having this cool smart app or planner if it’s just sitting there looking ‘cool’, right?  Remember it’s not just about the tool – it’s the system you have in place AND the consistency that you use this system.  You really have to work it on a daily basis!

Do you have a favorite way of managing your calendar and tasks?  Please share, I’d love to hear from you.   Or do you have a questions?  Please post – together we can find a solution to these never-ending to do lists!

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