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10 Time Management Activities To Try with Your Employees

Your employees are very busy! You want to do what you can to help your employees create an environment contributes to productivity. You want them to jump into their day’s tasks and be as focused as they can to get the job done. You can positively influence this in a fun, professional manner by engaging in the best time management activities.

time management

What Is It About Time Management?

Are your employees feeling like time slips by quickly and that the day goes by too fast before tasks get completed? If so, you’re not alone with wanting to get a firmer grasp on time and how to manage it. This is a major concern for people and fortunately there’s no shortage of time management activities you can try with employees.

It’s a matter of putting the right tactics into place. Time management also needs to be personalized. You’ll notice that one suggestion will feel more natural than another. Start with these activities so you can have your employees get engaged with various methods.

Benefits of Time Management

Managing your time is the basis of managing everything else in your life. The benefits of doing time management activities are that it helps assess where you currently allocate your time and what you need to adjust to re-allocate more productively. Time management activities help you identify what priorities to do first, how to avoid distractions and knowing when to have productivity bursts.

10 Time Management Activities to Try with Your Employees

The workplace is an ideal place for a manager to reinforce how to balance time through time management activities. Rather than give a lecture or make suggestions during a review, why not set up specified days to work on improvement? This makes the learning process more enjoyable and interactive where employees can build strengths together. Here are the top 10 time management activities that will inspire more focus and productivity.

1.Counting Minutes

Since the lesson is to use time effectively, then why not start with getting a firm grasp on how we measure and perceive time. Right down to how we perceive the length of a minute! For this activity, once you’ve covered any clocks or devices showing the time, have each person share their perception of how long a minute feels like.

With everyone siting quietly, you’ll start a timer and ask them to stand up when they think a minute has passed. You will see each person stand up at various moments, showing the range in perception of what a minute is. The results may surprise the employees about the accuracy of their perception.

2.Time Squared

Some of the best time management activities require writing. For the Time Square exercise, give your employees 3 sheets of paper that have 24 squares on each one. Each square represents an hour of the 24 hours in a day. For the first sheet, employees will fill in routine activities of their regular day outside of work.

With the second piece of paper, the employees must fill out the boxes representing the time they spend on non-productive time at their workplace on activities they may deem as time wasters. With the third paper, have the employees merge the first two pages together. Whatever empty squares remain on the third page will represent productive time. The outcome will help identify any time wasters and highlight the amount of time spent on routine activities.

3.Mayo Jar

When considering time management activities, you’ll want to consider one’s that have a visual component like the Mayo Jar. This activity highlights prioritizing with a hands-on approach to see the process. After dividing your group of employees into teams, give them each a glass container and the materials needed for the activity. The materials consist of varied size rocks and stones, and sand or gravel, or similar items you use.

The larger rocks will represent the most important tasks and smaller rocks will be for other daily tasks. You can define these more specifically based on your discussion with the group, delineating anything from home activities to work tasks. You can also use the sand to represent projects that need completion. This can help represent work/life balance for the participants.

You can let them choose which materials they want to represent the different life activities and tasks. Let them fill in their container without too detailed of instructions. When the containers are full, you can have them share about the order selected and what each of the materials represented.

4.Understanding Parkinson’s Law

Divided into 4 groups, your employee groupings will have 5 tasks to complete in 20 minutes. Have 2 groups do the tasks in an open-ended timeframe. Have the other 2 groups divide the 20 minutes into 4-minute segments for each task. See which of the groups complete all 5 of their tasks efficiently.

Since Parkinson’s Law states that the work will expand to fill the allotted amount of time, the open-ended groups will probably have a more difficult time fully realizing the 5 tasks. In contrast, Parkinson’s Law predicts that if you have several tasks with set timeframes, you’ll be able to work them into that amount of time since you have no other choice. Don’t let the group know about Parkinson’s Law until the end when assessing everyone’s experience.

5.Colored Blocks

Take a large bunch of colored blocks and scatter them over a surface. You will instruct each employee to gather as many blocks as possible within a minute timeframe. They can only grab one block at a time and they can only do so with their non-dominant hand.

Let each employee play multiple rounds. You can assign points to different colors after each round. As they play each round, you can discuss how high priority tasks are represented by the colored blocks worth the most points.

6.Circadian Rhythms

Have you ever tried to tap into getting a better understanding of your internal clock, otherwise known as your circadian rhythm? The idea is to determine when you are best energized for doing different tasks within your work day. Rather than pushing through periods when you have lower energy, you can schedule your tasks accordingly. You’ll want to work on your mentally demanding tasks when you’re at the highest energy levels and do your automatic and more mechanical tasks when your energy is low.

Have each employee write everything they did the day before while listing the energy level they had for each activity. You can use descriptive words and phrases to describe energy levels like: on fire, vibrant, cruise control, distracted, slowing down, tired and hungry. You can also signify energy levels by percentages like: at 100%, at 70%, at 30% or any rounded number to express the feeling.

7.Ace of Spades

This activity will have two volunteers using two decks of playing cards. You will give one deck of cards to each person with the goal of having them find the Ace of Spades as quickly as possible. With no one knowing, you will have one deck in order with all the cards facing one direction from Ace to King in each of the four suits.

The other deck will be mixed up with some cards facing opposite directions making it more difficult to find the Ace of Spades. The employee with the mixed deck is at a disadvantage, but it’s a fun way to show the importance of good organization skills to time management.

8.Organizing Cards

Give each group of employees a deck of playing cards. Have each team place the cards exactly as you outlined by the example. The aim is to complete the task in the fastest time while placing the cards neatly in a row without touching one another.

Give the teams 5 minutes to prepare a strategy and practice the task using any resources in the room to assist in the task. After the 5 minutes of prep time, each team must submit an estimate time in which they think they can complete the task.  Set a timer so the team will then try to complete the task against the clock. You can do multiple rounds to see if teams improve their time.

9.Breakdown and Prioritize

Employees need to juggle their commitments, so they need a time management exercises allows to plan quickly and stay on top of things. Once they’ve listed their commitments, have them take the big tasks and turn them into smaller steps. Next they must prioritize their tasks.

Organize each thing under 3 headings: now, soon, and later. Deadlines will be a top priority, but other minor important task can go under soon. It’s recommended to determine the top priorities and put them into the “now” heading, then go back to the other tasks and put them in order.

10.Ribbon of Life

Give one of your employees a ribbon that’s 100 centimeters long. Let everyone in the group know each centimeter represents a year. First have the employee cut it to the length that equals the average lifespan. Then have the employee cut off the group’s average age. This will show the group the amount of time remaining for that lifespan.

From there, you can instruct for things like sleep and obligations not related to work to be trimmed away. Eventually the employee will have a short ribbon left. This time management activity provides a perspective on the relatively small amount of time there is to get work done.

Conclusion

Time management is crucial to business success. Often we waste time mostly because we don’t realize it’s happening. Use these techniques to help your employees understand the importance of time and how to manage theirs.

5 Ways to Foster Creativity in the Workplace

Creativity is the best way for your company to be more innovative. Innovation is what makes your company get the competitive edge in the business world. It will give an advantage for businesses not only in product development but also because it improves problem-solving skills that can help to make your business even smarter. Smarter businesses make more profits, keep employees engaged and happy, even improve employee health as a result. These are reasons why you need to foster creativity in the workplace. By reading on, you will learn how to foster creativity in the workplace to make your business even better.

Encourage Brainstorming Sessions

Everyone has their own way of looking at a problem, so it can be incredibly beneficial for everyone to get together as a group regularly. During these sessions, give everyone the opportunity to give their input on how to solve a problem. After everyone has stated their opinion on a topic, have a productive discussion among the group about which of the ideas are the best and can be accomplished by your company.

Take the ideas and group them into categories. You will actually find that there are groupings of ideas that go together. Then you can vote on each group and select the path forward as a group. Group selection creates group ownership. This is a powerful source of added accountability that stems from supporting what you yourself were a part of creating.

Celebrate and Activate Diversity

It can be a great idea to get a diverse group of people together when working on a project or problem. Be sure to mix up groups regularly to ensure that people who don’t normally get to work together to get some fresh ideas. Putting together people who think alike will not foster innovation or creativity in the workplace.

Get people started by discussing books in a book club, or party planning ideas, or any other random non-work related topic to get them comfortable to share their ideas. On important element is that there is no judgment, Just brainstorming, and open discussion. Judgment will shut down the creative process and people will be afraid to share their ideas and be put down if they feel stupid. It is often a good idea to set ground rules to support the process.

Sharing ideas will get things going and create a greater connection between the diverse group and will crush it with solving business problems together from that point forward.

Optimize the Workspace

There are things that you can do within the workplace that can make it more conducive for creativity. Create workspaces that are open and clutter free for your employees to stretch out and be comfortable, which is important to the creative process. You are not going to get as much of a freedom for creativity if you stick your employees in a cubicle by themselves for the entire workday.

You might think these young companies that have ping pong tables for their staff is crazy. They are just playing and not working. They may be playing but they are also working. It boosts their level of creativity, rejuvenates their energy and often they discuss business ideas while they are playing. Haven’t you ever had a great idea for something you were working on while you went biking, were in the shower or driving somewhere. The creativity comes out when you are more relaxed and not working so hard to make it happen.

Be Supportive

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As a manager, it is crucial that you are supportive of your employees if they are thinking outside of the box. This creative thinking is what will make your company stand out from the competition. Do not be judgmental or dismissive, otherwise, your employees will be too intimidated to share their ideas and creatively participate in the problem solving. Encourage your employees to be creative.

Also, make sure you allow them the time for innovation. Great companies such as Google, Microsoft, and apple appreciate the value of fostering creativity and innovation in the company and provide time and space for this to occur. If people are overloaded with project work and don’t have dedicated time to be creative, they won’t be. It is that simple.

Reward Creativity

Employees ultimately need to be offered incentives for their hard work and creativity. When an employee has solved a problem through their creativity, give them a reward that fits within the budget of your company and be sure to recognize the person and the idea across the company. This could be something as simple as a small gift card or tickets to a local event.

Daniel Pink in his book Drive talks about the drivers of motivation. He says that motivation works the opposite of what we think about compensation for non-menial tasks. Often monetary incentives for problem-solving can be counterproductive to their level of creativity. People want to solve problems. Perhaps the financial part is just a token but the real reward may be in giving them greater responsibility or a bigger role in further problem solving.

Here are some creativity quotes

  • Henry Mintzberg: “Management is, above all, a practice where art, science, and craft meet.” As a manager, it is your responsibility to create an environment where creativity is encouraged and supported.
  • Maya Angelou:  “You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”
  • Steve Jobs:  “Creativity is just connecting things.”
  • Danielle LaPorte: “Doubt is part of the creative process.”
  • Erwin Raphael McManis “True Creativity does not come easy, it is born out of risk and refined from failure
  • Pablo Picasso: “The chief enemy of creativity is good sense;”
  • Sylvia Plath: “The worst enemy of creativity is self-doubt”
  • Peter Drucker: “The best way to predict the future is to create it.”
  • Einstein: “Creativty is seeing what everyone else has seen, and thinking what no one else has thought.”

These creativity quotes are just a few that represent what it takes to create innovation. A good manager understands that their employees have valuable ideas that can only make their company more innovative. Innovation is what makes a business thrive because they offer unique solutions to their customers’ problems. By following these tips, you will be able to foster creativity in the workplace.

 

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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Interview Suzanne Yvette Seg 3 | Overcoming Mediocrity

Welcome Back to the last segment.  I am joined with Suzanne Yvette author, speaker and philanthropist.  Suzanne’s new book is coming out next February.  She is the co-author of Overcoming Mediocrity stories from courageous women.  The title of her chapter is called Accidental Courage.  Welcome back.

S:  Thank you Penny.

P:  Tell us about this book and the chapter that you have written.

Overcoming MediocrityS:  It’s a group of women that have written two books.  The first was about stories of women who have created lives of significance.  I met the publisher of this book and I actually know one of the authors in it.  I couldn’t wait to get my story out.  I had to get into the next book.  With some help I wrote my story.  I talk about the different aspects that I mentioned earlier.  Joining the military.  There are a couple things I talked about.  One was about being adopted.  Nobody loves you or I was given up.  I found out that I really was loved.  When I started to write my story, the theme I found was that I was accidentally courageous.  It was an eye opening expression.  I think all of us have accidental courage in us.  What do we actually write down?  What do we acknowledge? 

P:  That courage coming from our passion.  That passion might just to be to live.  Passion in all areas.  Its great when its accidental and even better when its conscious.  Creating that courage where and when we need to.  So, tell us where can listeners find out more about you and your current projects, how to get a copy of your book, where do they need to go?

S:  Suzanneyvette.com and that will give you an area in there to shop.  You will find my books there.  You can also contact me at Suzannegirlonfireworldwide.com and I would be happy to talk with you about any issues you might have.  How we can work together to support women’s empowerment. 

P:  This program you have is an amazing support for women. The challenges that women face.  I love again, the three areas:  the heart of a fighter, soul of a woman and body of a survivor.  It brings the woman to her challenges and she fights through them from survivor to thriver.  So, thank you so much for being on this show.  It was a great discussion to make people aware of the components of championship psychology and how it can really support us through the most challenging times.  I am so moved by your mission and how many people will be inspired to support or be supported as a result.  I just wish you all of the best and uh, I think also one last note is that I talk about the rubber band effect and these women you are helping have gone through some incredible and monumental challenges.  I believe in the rubber band effect, the greater the challenge, the greater the spring board to growth and fulfillment.  When you have the right resources to support you, you get that rubber band effect you can grow with leaps and bounds.  I know you have that in your heart and will help those women in a tremendous way.  Thank you so much for being here.

S:  It was a pleasure and I always enjoy speaking with you.  I would be happy to do it again.

P:  Thank you.  If you like what you heard today send us a message www.facebook.com/pennyzperscpective  on Twitter www.twitter.com/pennyzenker.  Any questions just post them to one of these sights.  Join us next week as we continue to provide you with amazing experts to help create Quantum Productivity.  This is Penny Zenker reminding you to take charge of your time and energy.  It is a choice you can feel good about.

5 Reasons You Are Not As Good of a Listener as You Thought

10 Must Read Books On Leadership

There are dozens and dozens of books cited by CEOs, corporate managers, and employees on what gets them motivated to lead the day. It can come in a novel, a self-help book, or a non-fiction story that may not even be business related, yet be adaptable to the businesses. Here is a short list of books about leadership that should be read by all.

Books On Leadership

  1. The Art Of War by Sun Tzu – This book, written in China, is 2000 years old. Why do we still read it? It may be about the military and approach war in Asia, but it can be easily applied to business strategy, strategies, and achievements. It will help you find solutions to disruptions in different areas of your life.
  2. The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John C. Maxwell – The business veteran gives real stories and practical application around the 21 laws of success and failures as a business leader. Mixing in scenes of politics, sports, religion, and war, Maxwell gives his own constitution to leadership. It is a must-read for all leaders.
  3. Start With Why by Simon Sinek – Business is not just about the products and services. They are about the purpose and connections those products create. Great brands understand this concept and lead from the heart rather than the head. Start with why and you will touch the hearts of employees and clients alike and create a strong community that supports and promotes the business.
  4. Drive by Daniel H. Pink – What you thought you knew about motivation will be challenged in this book. Daniel Pink brings us into the world of psychology where autonomy, mastery, and purpose are the real drivers to drive managers and employees to reach beyond their goals. If you want to be a better leader, you need to know what motivates others and what your role as a leader is in getting people motivated.
  5. First, Break All The Rules by Marcus Buckingham &Curt Coffman – This book is a major influence on management philosophy. The two authors, both of them Gallup analysts, write that the leading factors to a successful organization involve zeroing in on strengths and giving each employee the right feel to fit in perfectly. Stories and examples come from a study of over 80,000 managers and what they do differently.
  6. Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven R. Covey – This is a classic has been inspiring people for over 25 years. Shift your thinking around leadership, time management, and productivity. It is to be practiced in everyday life. Read this book one a year and condition these habits. Attaining success is about building character and the habits you practice will define you.
  7. Built To Last by James C. Collins & Jerry I. Porras – The authors did 6 years of research asking the question “What makes the truly exceptional companies different from other companies?” The result was a list of companies they defined as visionaries (Disney, Ford, Sony). They write those companies’ characteristics that led to massive success, sustainability, and leadership in each business sector.
  8. Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink& Leif Babin – Using the lives of two Navy SEALs and their challenges through a mission gone wrong. The book details how they dug out of a hole and lead the way to survive and advance. It is all about leading in times of trouble at any given minute – which is what business leadership is about: taking a hold of a major problem and guiding them out of trouble.
  9. Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin – This might not be a common choice on your leadership reading list but a great way to learn about great leadership is to study great leaders. Lincoln was a strong leader and this book dives into the start of President Lincoln’s presidency and how he brought in his critics within the Republican Party into his cabinet. Lincoln is widely considered the greatest President in American history and this book provides insight how he became a full-fledged leader in the darkest years of the country at all costs.
  10. The New One Minute Manager by Spencer Johnson and Kenneth H. Blanchard – This is an updated version of the classic “One Minute Manager”. The classic book focused on the principle of mentoring and coaching to be a good manager and teach others to manage. This updated parable demonstrates the same principles in today’s business environment. Focusing on the right motivators and providing direct feedback creates strong teams.

These are all books that strike at the source of what it means to be a leader. They come from different perspectives and give readers an unlikely view of what the world – or business – can be. These books are great for business book clubs, management training programs, executive training, leadership training and any venue designed to develop leaders personally and professionally.

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