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Eight Ways to Create a Productive Commute to Work

If you’re like one of the thousands of people who have a long commute to work on trains or buses, you may be wondering how to create a product work commute. There’s such a good opportunity for effective commuting time, because the commute time to work doesn’t have to be wasted time. A productive work commute could be getting work done that you usually don’t have time for once you get to your office or preparing yourself for a more effective workday. We have put together a list of ways that you can make your commute time a productive work commute and get more done before you’ve even started your work day.

Here are some ideas. Keep these in mind and pick the best ones for you depending on if you are on the train, bus or someone else is driving and even the options for you while you are driving. Here are the Eight ways to maximize your commute time to work.

1. Create a to-do list

Creating a to-do list first thing will give you a sense that you’ve already accomplished something. Using your commute to plan your day ahead will give you a chance to prioritize your tasks for the day and set realistic goals for yourself. Use apps like Evernote or Wunderlist or if you prefer a more old-school way of organizing things nothing beats writing your list using old-fashioned pen and paper. Using your commute time to write a plan for the day will mean that you already know what your priorities are when you arrive and you won’t end up rushing around doing many things that aren’t the highest priority or wasting work time getting off to a slow start trying to figure out where to focus.

2. Check your emails

With the age of 4G and smartphones, we can be online anywhere in the world. So use your time commuting to check your emails before you get into the office. Sometimes when we get into the office we can be bombarded with so many other things to do that we forget to reply to important emails or we end up with a backlog of emails that we normally end up replying to at five pm on a Friday. Use your commute to work to get caught up on all your emails so you don’t end up trying to sort it throughout the day.

Use the commute time to get organized too. Use this time to sort your emails into categories or days of the week to represent when you will work on those emails. Set up rules to remove junk mail or some other needed organization to manage your daily distractions.

3. Read

Reading is something that grows your knowledge base, that gets you thinking in new ways, an opportunity to learn from someone else’s experience. It expands your vocabulary, your knowledge and it’s fun to escape from reality every once in a while!

However, reading is something a lot of us don’t get the time to do. Usually, we end up trying to read before we go to bed and end up nodding off halfway through the second page. We just don’t make the time for this important way to expand our mind or needed escape.

If there’s a book you’ve been meaning to read for ages, why not use your commute time as a good time to catch up on your reading list? If you are in the car, get the audio version. I am a huge fan of getting to my book list with my commute time using Audible.

4. Learn a new language

Your commute can be a great time to learn a new language. Perhaps you’ve booked a holiday somewhere that you’ve never been before and want to make sure that you can get by in a foreign country, or perhaps it’s something you’ve always wanted to do but don’t have the time. With apps like Duolingo, you can use your commute to brush up on your French, Spanish – whatever you want, on the go!

Again if you are in the car, get the audio version and make the best use of your commute. Learning a language is a great way to expand your brain function by stimulating memory, improve listening skills and create some excitement around new future ventures.

5. Social Media

This is not an option while driving-but as a passenger or on the bus-this could be the perfect time.

Yes, social media may not actually be considered productive, but the urge to check out Facebook, Twitter or Instagram can sometimes get in the way of work and we end up wasting our working hours scrolling through these pages. If you use your commute time to get your fill of social media sites then you will be less likely to check on them throughout the day, leaving you with more productive time later on and allow you to focus on family, friends and other projects when you get home. It’s sort of a non-productive way to be more productive for the rest of the day.

6. Reflect

Commute time is a great time to think about what is important to get done, what is working well and what needs improvement. Commute time is a perfect time to set an intention. Whether you are headed into work or leaving work you have an opportunity to be purposeful about your actions and activities and create the experience you want for the next part of your day. This can create greater focus, greater connection to the purposeful use of that time and help you avoid distractions before they arise. Often, people tend to blow off reflection because they “don’t have the time”. Commute time is the perfect time for such activities.

7. Exercise

How do you do that, you are thinking. Actually, if you live close by-why not ride your bike and get your commute in and get some exercise. This is a great way to be in a great working state of mind when you arrive. Invest in an electric bike if you are a bit further away so you get the exercise but don’t want to get too sweaty. Also, keep in mind, many companies have a shower so start thinking outside the box, rather than making excuses.

8. Relax

Sometimes what we really need is downtime. This could be a great time for deep breathing that can be done while driving or not driving. Listen to your favorite music and shift your mood and mindset on a time to wind down and recharge.

Maybe you weren’t looking for a more productive commute time, but now you are more conscious and have some great way to create more effective commuting time. Commute time can be considered a waste of time but now you know how to make more effective commuting time.

You have many options, the key is that you choose it intentionally versus just passing the time. Purposeful use of your time will get you your desired result for your commute time to work and commute time from work. So re-evaluate your commute time.

Feature Image: Stock photo

SWOT or SOAR which is better?

Consultants have been using the SWOT Framework in strategy development for years to help bring clarity to the current situations in business strategies, sales structures and any area that you seek improvement. The Framework is to provide a 360-degree evaluation of the current situation based on your goals and objectives.

A new contender is all the rage. This framework is called SOAR and is said to be a replacement for SWOT. Really? Let’s have a look and see what the two frameworks represent and if SOAR is a real substitute for the age-old SWOT analysis used in most strategic planning processes.

What is SWOT:

Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats

This constellation is used to understand a 360 perspective of your current situation and have an honest look at your self or your organization to see what is in the gap between your current situation and where you want to go (your vision and goals).

What is SOAR?

Strengths, Opportunities, Aspirations and Results

This constellation is intended to be a strengths-based look at strategic planning and create as “to-be perspective versus an “as-is” perspective.

There is a whole movement around a strengths-based approach forged by Marcus Buckingham and Tom Rath. StrengthsFinder 2.0 and assessment focus peoples attention on their strengths and building out their strengths. It is important to know your strengths and build upon them and use them to excel. However, if you want to be the best you need to accurately access where you are with a 360 perspective and proactively mitigate weaknesses or utilize strategies that optimize your strengths.

Although we want to develop our natural talents, we also need to work with others and that may require us to develop compensating skills for those areas that we are not strong. Is it ok for the natural salesman to make the sale at all costs, creating unhappy customers due to lack of customer service and follow-up, breaking down teamwork, or breaking company policy? Is it ok for a natural visionary to drive his vision forward berating others and overspending because of his/her lack of detail In creating a realistic budget?

David M. Corbin Author of Illuminate: Harnessing the Positive Power of Negative Thinking shows the value of bringing the negative and weaknesses into awareness to use it to become better. Being proactive and anticipating challenges before they arise is strategic and must be part of the strategy process and leadership development.

Here are the flaws in the SOAR approach.

  1. Failure to consider the marketplace

SOAR is said to be a positive reframe on SWOT. Thinking positive and avoiding the reality is no always your best bet for identifying the gap in your action plan to reach your goals. SOAR does not consider what is happening in the marketplace fully without evaluating this part of the picture.

Believe me, I am all about positive thinking but you have to shine the light on what isn’t working too. Without it you are not making decisions based on reality.

2. Redundancy

Your goals already reflect your desired results. Aspirations are a form of your vision. Your vision is focused on where you want to be and has little reflection on your current status. The vision is already reflected in the opportunities you see because they are based on your goals and your vision. So including opportunities and aspirations is somewhat redundant and keeps you from the very perspective that SWOT was designed to do which is to illuminate the gaps through weaknesses and threats.

3. Missing the objective

The objective of this exercise is to identify the gap and create an action plan.

Consider a GPS that doesn’t have your current location. It just has the results and the possible roads that lead to that location. Some of those roads come from other locations that are not easily accessible from your location. There might be construction on one of the roads but without that information, you will end up waiting an excessive amount of time and have possibly missed the event you were headed to or delayed to such a point that there were no more seats left when you got there. Had you seen your options, you could have chosen to fly rather than drive as that might provide a better choice based on your current vehicle.

You cannot accurately assess the gap without getting clarity exactly where you are now in relation to the internal operations, product line, sales strategy and current team and other aspects for your business, the market, and the economy.

Although SOAR gives us another framework to utilize, in my expert opinion as a strategic business coach it is missing the point. In your strategic planning you cannot ignore what is happening in the market place, or the ‘as-is” state of your organization. These components play an important role in bridging the gap between where you are now and where you want to be. Your can SWOT and SOAR but it isn’t advisable to SOAR without SWOTing.

Anytime you want to get clarity on where you are and close the gap, even in your time management strategies, understand your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) to come up with a customized action plan. Get into action.

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Our Time Management Definition – From Tug Of War With Time

A pocket watch as a swing of the pendulum. Concrete background. 3D rendering. Time is money concept.

Time Management Definition – The Long Explanation

I constantly get people asking me for time management tips and time management strategies. The thing is what are they asking for exactly depends on their time management definition.  What does time management mean to them? Because without understanding their definition I may be answering the wrong question. Time management means different things to different people.

I used to do a podcast for called Take Charge of your Productivity. In two years I asked every single guest what their definition of productivity was and not a single person gave me the same answer. True story. Time management is another one of those elusive turns that means different things to different people because it is a vague term.
Well, we’ve compiled a list of 10 different definitions of the phrase, as defined by different people. Here are time management definition (s):

Layman’s term – the layman’s term for time management is the development of processes and tools which increase productivity.

Portrait of Benjamin FranklinBenjamin Franklin – once said ‘time is money’ and how right he was. By this he means that the quicker the work got done, the more work could be done and therefore the more money could be made.

Frederick Winslow Taylor – in his book The Principles of Scientific Management discussed how to improve worker productivity. Taylorism, as it was called, is the process of breaking down one task into smaller actions after finding the most efficient way of doing said task.

Peter Drucker – created a far more inclusive theory of management based on management by objectives. He focused on the importance of managing business by balancing needs and goals.

Steven R. Covey – his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, is one of the bestselling non-fiction books of all time, popularizing the concept of personal time management. After this popularization, personal time management has become closely intertwined with traditional time management.

Hyrum Smith, Founder of Franklin Quest and Franklin Covey, sometimes referred to as the father of time management because of his introduction of the Franklin Planners. Hyrum Smith defines Time management as the Time Gap, a part of his 3 gaps that affect our personal time management. The Time Gap, the gap between what we plan to do each day and what we actually get done. This is influenced by the Belief Gap which is the gap in our behaviors in relation to what we want and the Values Gap which is the gap between what we value most in life and where we actually invest our time and energy.

Heidi Hanna- time management is energy management. “time without energy is void of value, your energy is your most valuable resource.” The constant obsession with time, puts our brain into survival mode creating chronic stress that weakens our engagement and productivity.

Carla Crutsinger – In her book Thinking Smarter defined time management as the ability to set goals, prioritization, allocate time to each task and observing the results. Carla Crutsinger also highlighted the importance of being flexible with time management. Sometimes other tasks become a priority and so plans should be adjusted accordingly.

This means that you should be revisiting your task list often, in order to judge what is a priority and what isn’t. That way you will be on top of tasks when things change order.

Neil Shipman – Neil Shipman defines time management as a crucial set of skills such as being aware of yourself, structuring your time wisely, and most importantly – scheduling downtime to allow yourself to regenerate.

William E. Kelly – defined time management as skills that include list making, organizing the work and your resources and breaking down large tasks into smaller pieces.

Consider your time management definition. If you had to break it down into its specific components what would that look like to you?
I’ve worked with people and coach them on growing the business across countries cultures and industries.  As you can imagine time management was a problem across the board. Peoples relationship with time and money have been a challenge since the beginning of time.

Time is finite and when we focus on it, it will take up precious energy that can be used elsewhere. It creates stress. I had a personal example of just how much stress a focus on time can create. I was assigned to be in charge of time for an event that I was volunteering for. My job to let the group know when each next section of content was to be presented, to provide the trainer a flash card to tell them when we had 20 minutes left, 10, 5 and 1 minute left. I was also in charge during the breaks to call out to the staff when we had 10 minutes, 5, 2 and 1-minute left. I found that this incessant focus on time had me stressed. If we were on break, I wasn’t. I was focused on time. In the middle of a conversation, I found my attention wandering from them and to the stopwatch in my hand, even if I had checked it what seemed like 30 seconds ago. I was compulsively checking the stopwatch. I was paralyzed for the last minute as I just sat there staring at the watch as it counted down the last minute so I could call out to the group and relieve a part of the mounting tension of the timely perfection required. I would even contemplate and over analyze, if I had time to use the bathroom and still be back to call out the time for the group.

I came to realize that an obsession or extreme focus on anything takes away precious energy because it is running a program in the background like computers running multiple applications take up memory on the computer. In the old days you would have to shut down some of those programs or else your computer would slow down to a point where the computer was unusable.

How Do You Know What Your relationship with time is?

First, check in on your time management definition. Second, finish this sentence – Time is ….

The first 5 words you use to describe tells you your current relationship with time. Did you say scarce, limited, …

The truth is improving your time management is really understanding your relationship with your results and shifting your current relationship with time. That may seem esoteric, but let it sink in and think about it.

Time doesn’t drive our results so we should focus on what does drive results. The drivers might be some of the components from your time management definition and they might be other components you haven’t really thought about.

No matter if you are Increasing sales, losing weight, mastering a sport or improving time management, you have to track what’s driving the success.  The challenge is time is not a driver of success. Time might be a factor in the manufacturing of products and how efficient the machines are but time is a measure of minutes passing but not a driver in what gets achieved in those minutes.

If you’re losing weight you’re going to track everything that you eat and drink to create greater awareness, to recognize the gaps, to see what’s working and what’s not working and to take committed action to get the results you desire.

10 Time Managment Fundamentals That Will Change Your Life

After years of working with people to help them grow their businesses while evaluating the fundamentals of their success, I’ve narrowed it down to these 10 fundamentals that drive our success in all facets of life. These fundamentals represent how we show up for the time we have and what we choose to prioritize to get the results we want. It incorporates a way of being, strategies for aligning tasks and actions and reflection that will support sustainability.

  1. Motivation: The level of drive, determination, and grit to stay the course in reaching your goals. Your motivation is your commitment meter. When you are fully committed you take ownership and responsibility and overcome obstacles quicker than a partial ownership or worse lack of commitment altogether.
  2. Self-Talk: The things you say to yourself that create excuses, makes you a victim, blames other people and limits your potential. This is an underestimated aspect of how you show up for your time and plays the biggest role in why we don’t do what we know. This area creates self-sabotage. Be aware of your self-talk, the questions you ask yourself and others and the words that come from your thinking because your thinking ultimately drives your behavior.
  3. Self-Care: Eating, sleeping, drinking water, exercising and taking care of your physical state, energy rejuvenation. Self-care is the first area sacrificed when we get stressed and busy and is actually the most important resource to foster creativity, engagement and connection, driving how we show up for our time. It is essential to our energy management.
  4. Focus: Ability to stay on task with goals and objectives. Distractions are abundant in today’s culture and it requires discipline, collaboration and supportive practices and structures to keep our attention focused on the task at hand.
  5. Planning: Preparing, scheduling, organizing both short and long-term. Planning is essential to achieving your goals. Things may notThe phrase Plan Your Day in white text on a blackboard avove a modern wall clock go according to plan but you increase your level of flexibility by having thought up front about resources, strategies, timing, and cost.
  6. Process: Creating standards, systematizing/automating. Investment in creating standards and defined steps to take will reduce mistakes, make it easier to train others and provide a consistent result. McDonalds was a great demonstration of the value of standardizing processes and using systems to create leverage for the business. In the end, it saves time and money.
  7. Prioritize: Identifying the most important actions and aligning tasks and goals. Prioritization is difficult in some cases because people feel like there are too many things that have high priority, everything is urgent. The fact is we are just not making a clear distinction by challenging the priorities or setting up criteria to enable us to make the decision and relieve the stress of multiple priorities. If hospitals can figure it out in the emergency room, so can we in our lives.
  8. Progress: Recognizing your successes, learning lessons and applying them. Recognizing progress creates momentum even if you don’t get your desired results you are still making progress when you realize what doesn’t work and can adapt accordingly. The more you check in on what is working and what isn’t working the faster you will reach or exceed your goal.
  9. Measurement: Take the time to track success drivers and adapt accordingly. Be aware of lead indicators that drive results and lag indicators which simple measure the result. For example. Revenue is measured after the fact but if you want to influence that number you may want to look at customer loyalty(attrition), conversion rates and so on. If you are looking at weight loss it might be exercise, calories, fats and so on.
  10. Proactivity: Identifying and resolving obstacles before they arise. Managing Risk. Innovation. Being proactive keeps you at the peak of your game. Wayne Gretzky the famous Hockey player said his key to being a great player was to skate to where the puck was going not to where it was. That is how we win the game.

I have used this with entrepreneurs for over 10 years to gain insight, reflection and create action around gaps in their time management strategies. Most people focus on planning and organization and hit a plateau or are not able to create consistency because they do not incorporate how they manage their energy or take time to track and reflect upon what is working and what is not. People have a tendency to push away responsibility and blame the system or tool, and just accept and tolerate mediocre results. It is easier to blame than to take responsibility and push through the pain of doing what is best in the long run rather than doing what seems easiest in the moment.

Breaking down the definition of time management into its components and skill sets helped my clients to clarify and own the gaps in their practices and align their actions with their goals to change their relationship with time and their results.

Each of these areas has their own tips and tricks to become better, stronger, faster as it relates to your life, your health, and your business.

One client, by recognizing his biggest gap in this process was set on a mission that doubled his business. He put a computer in his warehouse to remove the paper handling, errors and extra work the paper created. Inventory was kept up to date and could be better managed. seems obvious but not when you are running your business. You can’t see the blind spots.

When he looked at the measurement of the data he had available to him from running his business- we ran trend analyses to see when most purchases were made, who was active and inactive and other key information. From this analysis, we ran targeted campaigns to get old customers back and increase orders by cross-selling. What does this have to do with time management? He was resetting his priorities and focusing his time and energy on what was important for his business. Investing in systems that would make him more efficient and effective in the future in delivery and sales. That is the result of time management.

How time management is defined will make a difference how you approach it and what you focus on. If you believe it is simply a form of organization, you will get more organized but you might not get the results you are looking for because one of the other elements is keeping you from enjoying it, consistently applying it or creating efficiency from it.

Take your assessment of the 10 fundamentals mentioned above and see your current status, your gaps and how you could close those gaps and monitor your progress here:

http://p10app.com/p10-assessment-landing/

Procrastination Good or Bad?

Procrastination is worryingly common and extremely damaging to most of the working and studying population – or is it? Depending on how you approach it, it is one of the main causes of low self-esteem and, in the worst cases, depression. In other cases, it is the springboard to creativity and getting more done. You get to decide what this habit creates for you.

procrastination books

There are many ways to overcome or approach this habit of delaying and get your work done, and avoid stress and self-deprecation. Motivation is the key when you’re planning to re-evaluate your ways and how you think about Procrastination. Obviously the motivation or inspiration you are seeking in the moment is missing or the fear you feel or the pain you are experiencing is greater than the motivation – talking you into waiting, pushing it off or not doing that dreaded task at all. The best and motivation comes from within yourself, however, more often than not, we have to settle for the outside motivation with the consequences of not getting it done. Here are some resources to inspire you, provide you methods, tips and tools as well as new ways to think about and approach this habit. If nothing more it will be a nice diversion.

Procrastination TEDx Talks

1.  Inside the Mind of a Master Procrastinator by Tim Urban

In this witty and informational TED Talk, Tim Urban brings an anecdotal attitude to the common yet irritating problem of procrastination. Both hilarious and educational, the few minutes of his talk will bring relatable content for serial procrastinators, but also a further understanding of their own habits and an incentive to quit them for a more productive and healthier lifestyle.

2.  An End to Procrastination by Archana Murthy

90% of teenagers are struck with procrastination. Procrastination creates a cycle of stress and anxiety. Archana Murthy shares her understanding of procrastination and its hold on her life. She talks about the types of procrastinators. She provides a solution that works for her, maybe it will work for you too.

3.  The vaccination for procrastination by Bronwyn Clee

Procrastination is the source of wasted time and energy. Bronwyn Clee provides 5 steps to put procrastination behind you and your procrastination.

4.  Procrastination is the key to problem-solving by Andrea Jackson

Head down and bum up productivity is demanded from today’s society. She has suffered from the guilt of procrastination until she realized it is a necessity to her creativity. Procrastination is not the enemy of success and achievement. So embrace productive procrastination.

5. The fundamentals of procrastination by Neel Deshpande

An 11th grade teenager on Procrastination. He provides quick tips and tricks guide to making your day-to-day business much more efficient.

Procrastination Podcasts:

  1. 5 Strategies to Conquer Procrastination by Jeff Sanders

This open-minding episode of The 5 AM Miracle Podcast is one of Jeff Sanders’ best ones so far, and not only because it tackles this universal problem. The five strategies shared by Sanders during the episode are straightforward, simple, and, most importantly, doable. With a motivational attitude and relatable anecdotes, this episode is definitely worth listening to if you want to bring positive changes into your life.

  1. Iprocrastinate Podcast

This podcast is sponsored by the Procrastination Research Group (PRG, who have been researching procrastination for over 20 years. The research comes from around the world with an aim to seek an understanding why we become our own worst enemy at times with needless, voluntary delay.

  1. Procrastination on NPR

Can procrastination make you more productive? Procrastination expert Timothy Pychyl and self-professed “structured procrastinator” John Perry discuss the latest research on this type of behavior and how to prioritize what’s really important.

  1. Stop procrastinating now

This podcast assumes you know what do and how to do it, your challenge is that you just don’t do it. I talk about that in my programming. This podcast is dedicated to mastering your mindset and getting around those excuses.

Procrastination Books:

10. Procrastination: Why You Do It, What to Do About It Now by Jane B. Burka
Burka is an expert in procrastination and she will change your outlook on your lazy and time-wasting ways. Whether you are a student, a teacher, a researcher, a doctor or simply someone trying to get a project done, this book is perfect for you. From an in-depth explanation of procrastination and its effects on the mind, to an attack plan to fight it, Burka’s book is the read that will change your way of looking at your own life.

11. The Procrastination Equation: How to Stop Putting Things Off and Start Getting Stuff Done by Dr. Piers Steel (2010-12-16)

Piers Steel is considered as the leading expert on procrastination. He shares in his most popular piece of work all of his knowledge on procrastination and how to fight against it. The Procrastination Equation brings real psychological research into your daily lazy decisions, explaining the depth of the reasons why you put off important tasks and actions and waste precious time daily.

12. The Art of Procrastination: A Guide to Effective Dawdling, Lollygagging and Postponing by John Perry
John Perry shares his theory about Procrastination. Perry feels that he is more productive due to his procrastination so many other things get done in the procrastination process. He always gets the procrastination project done but also a host of other smaller projects and tasks that otherwise might not have gotten the attention if he was so focused in the original task.

Check out my interview with John Perry on iTunes.

13. The Procrastination Cure: 21 Proven Tactics For Conquering Your Inner Procrastinator, Mastering Your Time, And Boosting Your Productivity! by Damon Zahariades

Do tasks build up and create overwhelm and frustration for you. Is this an ongoing challenge? Is procrastination affecting you and those around you? Good news! There is a cure! There are 21 proven tactics to boost productivity and do away with the procrastinator you once were.

Now you have a better insight into how to beat procrastination and boost productivity. You have been able to reflect on how the habit of procrastinating impacts you, how to use it to your advantage and how to avoid it and get around or breakthrough your procrastination.

Share with us your favorite resource or distraction.

4 Ways To Get Unstuck and Prioritize

Prioritization is a skill.

how to get unstuck and prioritizeThe challenge is that everything seems to be a high priority and it’s difficult to decide what is more important than the next. Everything is important and urgent. Urgency is one of those things that can be a gift because it creates drive to get more done but when not balanced creates overwhelm and overload. Entrepreneur or not you have pressure coming from all directions: your boss, your client, your family and your personal needs.

Sit Down & Prioritize in 4 Steps

There are four steps to consider when you’re sitting down to prioritize so that you can balance urgency and importance in a rational way. The key that these methods bring is to get you out of an emotional state and practically work through what you have to get done.

1 – Make a List

One of the first and most important thing is to make a list of all of the things that you need to do in each category. Putting them into categories is the first step in being able to get specific as to what needs to get done. Dumping everything out of your mind and seeing it on paper helps.

Formats for creating this list can be a table, Eisenhower matrix, as seen below, or simply deciding one by one which one is more important from a gut and group feel. Mind mapping is also a valuable tool for this overview.

2 – Prioritization Criteria

Create a system or method to determine the criteria by which you’re going to prioritize. If you’re working in an organization, that might be something that you work out together with your boss, or that you look to use the support with your team. Items to consider as part of the criteria would be the value of the result (Money to be made for example), the time it takes to complete the task when it’s due, the level of intensity of the work, if it can be delegated, consequences for delays and so on.

3 – Decide

Then when you have all this information laid out you can decide which things are going to be most important and the highest priority. Each criteria area can be weighted to show its impact on the end prioritization. Now you have a system that helps you decide. Rate each task according to the criteria.

4 – Schedule your priorities

Now that you have identified what your priorities are, it is important that you schedule a time in your calendar to work on those priorities. This helps you assess the time each item will take as well. If you don’t schedule you may find that you are getting caught up in urgencies, distractions and unnecessary interruptions that keep you from focusing on your priorities. Scheduling is a MUST!

By actually taking time out to evaluate the tasks at hand and prioritizing them, it in itself reduces stress and overwhelm because you have committed to a plan. Of course, now you will be able to communicate that to your team or boss so you have a basis for discussion in the event that someone wishes to shift those priorities. If you are managing yourself, you have a basis to turn to when situations change.

Managing Stress

When ever you have a structure to fall back on, it reduces the stress of figuring out what is next. Can you imagine what chaos and stress emergency rooms would be in if they didn’t have rules to prioritize who was next. These rules help people focus on the task at hand.

Delegate, Automate or Eliminate

During this process, it is important to make sure that you are evaluating each task: Can it be delegated to someone else? Is it something repetitive, and could it be automated? Is it really necessary or could it be eliminated?

Thinking time

It is also important to look at the time it takes to do this task and challenge yourself to find new ways to do it that are more effective and efficient. Giving yourself some time to think makes all the difference to create greater flexibility and creativity in finding an even better solution.

  • What would you prioritize if you simply had half the time that you do today?
  • What items are not getting done now and what is the consequence?
  • How much energy is lost in the stress over what you’re not able to accomplish?
  • Who suffers short and long from this stress?

Letting go

The biggest and most important part of the prioritization process, is to manage your emotional intelligence in how you handle things that are not getting done.

Are you beating yourself up? Are you allowing others to beat you up? How does that affect the efficiency and effectiveness of the work that you are able to do?

I was working with a man in the technology field. He worked for a small company with 15 people on staff. His job was to wear the hat of the consultant, the Chief Technology Officer and the right-hand man to the CEO. He had so many responsibilities and was split across three very important areas that were all urgent and important in nature. He accepted all new projects from the CEO, he was driving the internal ISO project and had a demanding consulting client. Did I mention, he also had 5 children? Needless to say, he didn’t manage things well. He ended up putting himself in the hospital for all he tried to pile on to himself.

Why did I say all he put on himself? I said that because at the end of the day he created the result of the situation. There were 4 simple things he implemented from our work together that made all the difference in him managing the responsibilities that he had.

Those 4 actions were the following:

1. Ask more questions:

Instead of accepting the deadlines asked of him in each area, he spent time clarifying specifics of the deliverables and negotiating options.

2. Challenged Urgency:

He challenged himself with the question – Does this need to be done today? To ensure he didn’t get caught up in his own sense of urgency that was a big part of his problem.

3. Schedule Priorities

He created a schedule of time spent in each area to ensure he was planning his activities.

4. Set Rules

Lastly, he set some rules and boundaries to live by that looked like this:

  • No work is brought home
  • Fixed work end time
  • Do not accept deadlines without clarification and review.
  • Communicate early and often around problems or set backs
  • Take 5 minutes to take notes on what was completed and what was next before starting a new task
  • Take short breaks for transition
  • Get to bed by 11 PM

What do your rules look like and where can you ask more questions? Managing your sense of urgency is just as important as managing the expectations of others. You are on your way to a more productive version of yourself.

Multi Tasking Research Can’t Be Wrong

Multi tasking is one of those skills that people brag about having. But is it effective?

The Research

Research conducted at Stanford University found that multi tasking is less productive than doing a single thing at a time. The researchers found that people who are regularly bombarded with several streams of electronic information cannot pay attention, recall information, or switch from one job to another as well as those who complete one task at a time.

Multi tasking can have negative effects on the brain. Researchers at the University of Sussex in England compared brain scans of the time people spent multi tasking with multiple devices such as texting while watching TV. The results showed that high multi taskers had less brain density in the anterior cingulate cortex, a region responsible for empathy as well as cognitive and emotional control. Although more research needs to be conducted on the long-term damage we know for a fact that Multi tasking has an effect on the brain

The research done at Stamford has shown that when you think you are multi tasking, you’re actually not. We may have this notion that our brain is working hard at every task that you are trying to accomplish when you are Multi tasking, but you’re actually dividing up your brain power and reducing the focus on any one thing which ends up making you less effective when Multi tasking. In the brain, when you start another task while you are already working on one you are diverting your attention that is currently on one side of the brain to the other. In addition to taking away time from your activity, you are also taking up valuable resources and diverting them away from one task to another. It acts as a distraction and reducing individual concentration. The result of Multi-taking is your brain is slower to access your brain power.

There Are Many Negatives To Multi Tasking

Distractions:

Checking email in the middle of a task is an example of multi tasking. It is a self-inflicted distraction that comes from the impulse, rather the addiction to check email while we are in the middle of another task. Studies show that more than 30% of people check their phones 150 times a day. You can’t argue that is necessary. It is an impulsive addiction. Because we are so easily distracted by both outside and inside forces, Multi tasking has risen as a larger problem in the workplace as well as at home.

This is a topic that has definitely drawn a lot of attention when it comes to researching distracted driving. When you are on the phone talking or texting while driving, you are no longer focusing solely on driving rather you have diverted your attention from the road to your phone. That is why accidents happen. As a matter of fact, 1 out of every 4 car accidents in the United States is caused by texting and driving. That is bad.

Mistakes:

There are some other negatives and negative effects to Multi tasking. You are going to be more likely to make mistakes when Multi tasking than you would if you were just working on one thing at a time. Since you are not solely focused on one thing, your attention is divided, your reaction time is slower and you are going to be more likely to make mistakes. If you are doing two basic tasks at once, this may not be a problem but if both tasks require a lot of critical thinking you are going to make errors.

Stress:

Lastly, Multi tasking may stress you out. You may think that by Multi tasking you are getting your job done quicker or getting more done but it is actually hampering you from getting more done and not having to repeat your work due to errors, omissions or delays in the long run. The mistakes made from Multi tasking causes stress.

Having to keep multiple balls in the air at the same time creates a compulsive behavior to do more. It is because dopamine is being released in your brain when you complete something. When you think you are completing something, you get another hit of dopamine, making you want to take more on, only to suffer later from the mistakes and extra work it creates. Our brain is actually tricking us to think it is good for us. You need to have the discipline and foresight to set up rules for yourself to notice and avoid this compulsive, multi-taking behaviors.

Here are a few tips on how to avoid Multi Tasking

Use a timer:

By using a timer you are dedicating that segment of time to only one task and when the timer goes off you can move to another. The timer helps you stay concentrated and adds a little competitive pressure to get it done in the time allotted.

Schedule your priorities:

Make sure you schedule important tasks in your calendar. As this will show up as an appointment you can deliver dedicated time to this task and leave the multi tasking to other less important tasks. If you don’t schedule them, they won’t happen because other urgencies will show up to fill the time you have.

Work in Airplane mode

By putting your phone in airplane mode you are free to work without distraction form texts or incoming emails or any other notifications coming from your social apps. Block out distractions and gain greater focus. You know this, so why aren’t you doing it. Leave t in the other room, make someone hold it for you-just do it!

Listen to music

Listening to certain types of music can help increase your focus. Allow a part of your mind that gets distracted be occupied with listening to music and enjoy the focus it creates.

Increase awareness

Tracking your distractions and patterns and impulses to multi-task will help you to identify ways to stop it. You cant change what you are not aware of.

So now what is your answer- is it effective to multi-task? Next time, instead of multi tasking do your tasks individually. This will increase your productivity and minimize your errors, making your life a lot easier and happier.