Productivity Today

Unplug and Reclaim Productivity

June 11th, 2013 · No Comments

As much as we claim that our electronic tools help us become more efficient, there are times when these are actually working against our best efforts to keep up with the demands on our time.

An article from OnlineColleges on this topic of unplugging ourselves offers ten good reasons to reconsider some of your routines.    Here are the myths busted:

1.  Benefits are overrated:  Multiple short breaks, like Facebook and Twitter checks, do not create more energy.

2.  Reading Slower:  A Nielsen study in 2010 found readers go 6.2% slower on iPads and 10.7% slower on Kindles.

3.  Creativity Stifled:  Even if all this technology is helping American workers do their day-to-day jobs, they’re hindering our ability to stop and think about creative ways to work more efficiently.

4.  Multitasking Unproductive:  Instead it makes each task take 25% longer on average.  Find out if you are suffering from Attention Deficit Disorder or from Modern Life Syndrome.

5.  Unhealthy:  Nearly three-fourths of the participants in a study claimed they saw an improvement in their time management on days they worked out instead of staying plugged in.

6.  Poor Sleep:  Late-night computer use can lead to sleep problems and increased stress.  Read about sleeping your way to greater productivity!

For more reasons to unplug frequently, read their full article.

Before you jump into the next electronic device, make sure that, as a time management saving:

  • It really is something better than what you currently use.
  • You have the time to learn how to use all of the components.

 

→ No CommentsTags: Computer Productivity · Multitasking · Time Management

Napping as a Productivity Tool

May 29th, 2013 · No Comments

Is there such a thing as a “power nap,” or is sleeping the day away a sign that you are lazy or unmotivated?

As a time management and productivity trainer, I think it’s an incredibly interesting question. That’s because, although naps have traditionally gotten a bad rap in our goal-driven society, there are a lot of reasons to think that napping is actually a great habit. In fact, it may decrease your stress while increasing your productivity, alertness, and creativity all at the same time.

There are a few important details behind this understanding. For one, most of us just don’t get enough sleep during the night – and even if we lie in bed for the requisite eight hours, the quality of our sleep might not be sufficient to leave us rested. Add in the fact that we often rush our way through unhealthy lunches that don’t properly fuel us, and it’s easy to see why a little extra rest can help. Plus, numerous studies suggest that napping is actually natural, and something that healthy humans have been doing for thousands of years.

Many companies now accept this as a productivity tool.  If you are in a position where you can consider this, how do you turn napping into a healthy and productive habit? Here are a few tips to help you get started:

Take a short nap in the afternoon. The afternoon is when most people have their lowest natural energy levels. A good 20-30 minute rest should do it; anything longer, and you might wake up feeling groggy.

Remove light, sound, and distractions. You want a dark, cool, and quiet place to take a nap. If that isn’t available in your office, try using a sleep mask and/or noise-canceling headphones.

Lie down, shut your eyes, and forget. At first, you might find that it’s hard to relax with nagging concerns about work projects and other thoughts filling your mind. Practice shutting them out and simply relaxing – the things you’re thinking about will still be there when you wake up.

Set the alarm. If you’re having trouble waking up from your nap, get more sleep at night. Otherwise, set an alarm to ensure that you don’t go over your 20- or 30-minute limit.

Skip that third cup of coffee. Napping, like all forms of sleep, is easier if you don’t have too much sugar or caffeine in your system. Adjust your diet and habits accordingly.

Over time, taking quick naps in the afternoon can become a habit that’s not just great for your work, but also for your health, creativity, and stress level.

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Less Stress with Children in the Mornings

May 14th, 2013 · No Comments

Although a lot of productivity and time management advice focuses on what you do at work, the reality is that your morning routine can be every bit as important (and sometimes, even more important) than your work habits. After all, starting the day feeling rushed and stressed out is no way to prepare for an energetic eight hours or so.

Sometimes, smoothing out your morning routine is just a matter of making some simple changes – many of which we’ve outlined in the past on our blog. For parents, however, the challenges can be bigger.

So, if you’d like to have an easier time getting you and your children ready in the morning, and could do with less stress before you get to the office, here are five great tips to try:

1. Get up a little earlier. This probably won’t work if you’re already suffering from sleep deprivation, of course, but one of the easiest ways to rush less is to simply have more time. Set the alarm half an hour earlier if that’s what it takes for you to feel more relaxed in the morning.

2. Healthy habits for everyone. Skipping breakfast to save time is never a good idea, since you always pay for it with less energy and decreased focus later. Make a few extra minutes to have something healthy. Better yet, do a few minutes of exercise before your children wake up – these healthy habits will do wonders for your productivity throughout the day.

3. Make it easy on yourself. If you’re thinking that there is too much to do in the morning to put these tips to use, you might be right. Try putting together lunches, laying out outfits, and even arranging things like shoes and car keys before you go to bed. That will make it a lot easier to be efficient in the morning.

4. Keep everything in its place. In the same way, one of the biggest time-wasters in the morning is looking for items that are out of place. Make sure you and your family knows where important things (like briefcases, backpacks, and cell phones) go, and you won’t have a hard time finding them.

5. Get some help. Kids can be wonderful helpers in the morning, if you will let them. Make sure they have little jobs to do, and then reward them for taking care of them. These little habits save you time and give kids a better sense of responsibility.

Mornings don’t have to be so stressful, so try these tips and see what it feels like to show up at the office in a different frame of mind.

→ No CommentsTags: Stress Management · Time Management

Office Layouts for Your Productivity

April 2nd, 2013 · No Comments

What kind of office layout is the best for getting more work done, and hence a greater profit for the company in general? First, let’s look at two different office plans.

Open Concept

An open office is a modern kind of office; there are no individual office rooms (for the most part), no walls and everyone can pretty much see everyone in the same room.

The benefits of this kind of office plan include easy communication with other team members, and the lack of walls means more floor space for more staff. Similarly, there are decreased prices in heating and air con bills, and fewer walls means more natural light – which is important, as you’ll see later.

Putting aside the physical benefits of having an open plan office, you also improve the social structure of the office team. Everyone can share information easily without the need to email. If the office is a creative office, this is great because now everyone can fire ideas at one another.

On the downside, the main disadvantage of an open plan office is that it can get noisy. This is a little distracting when people have strict deadlines to reach, or need to communicate with clients on the phone.

Cubicle

The cubicle style office consists of each desk separated by a partition, which offers privacy to the employee. In each cubicle is the usual workstation set up; desk, computer, paper bin and shelving.

One of the benefits of the office cubicle is that each cubical offers the potential for extra storage space in the form of shelves and even small filing cabinets.  Each cubicle also has a degree of privacy associated with it – perhaps ideal for programmers or sales people who need personal space to focus.

The downside of a cubicle is that it can present a dehumanizing environment for some people to work in; they may  feel like a drone worker in an ant colony. Even the original designer of cubicle office partitions George Nelson said it had a dehumanizing effect on the workforce and separated him from projects.

Environmental factors

After the spacing issue, look at some environmental factors that affect a worker’s performance and efficiency.

Temperature:  The optimum working temperature to make the most efficient office worker is between 72 degrees Fahrenheit and 77 degrees Fahrenheit.
Light: Natural light is most beneficial. Studies have concluded that a lack of full spectrum light such as natural light causes quite a negative effect on a worker. In 2008, two thirds of 1,000 city workers who were exposed to less than 20 minutes of natural light a day suffered from depression. Four out of five of these blamed it on their working environment. If you happen to be lacking windows, purchase full-spectrum light bulbs.

Humidity: Keep the office at a comfortable humidity level or your workers will get sinus complaints; a level of around of 50% is a good.

If you’re looking to increase your office’s productivity, choose an office layout that fits your business type and style, then try to keep it clutter-free to enhance focus and productivity.
This guest post is by Marianna Jenkins.  She is a part-time journalist from North Wales in the UK and is a CAD designer of office spaces for Spacelink on a full-time basis. You can read more at www.spacelink.co.uk.

 

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Top 10 Time Killers–How Do You Compare?

March 19th, 2013 · No Comments

How do you compare with others as you try to manage your time each day?  Here are the results of OfficeTime.Net’s annual survey:

  1.  Email–33% spend 1-2 hours per day on this, while 22% spend more than 2 hours each day.
  2.  Internet Surfing–8 out of 10 people spend more than 2 hours per day doing this.
  3.  Watching TV–22% spend 1-2 hrs a day, with 16% spending over 2 hours.
  4.  Procrastination–19% spend 1-2 hrs each day procrastinating.  1 in 10 do not procrastinate.
  5.  Meetings–7 in 10 people spend up to 2 hours every day in meetings.
  6.  Non-business related conversation–9 in 10 people spend up to 2 hours a day on this.
  7.  Commuting–13% take between 1 and 2 hours a day to get to and from work.
  8.  Social Networking–75% spend up to 2 hours a day.
  9.  Cell Phones/Texting–1 in 10 spend more than 2 hours a day.
  10.  Red Tape–8% spend between 1 and 2 hours each day dealing with these issues.

For more details, and to find some solutions, visit http://www.officetime.net/top-10-time-killers/.  If you continue to struggle with finding enough time each day, consider time management training to help you develop the needed skills.

 

 

 

 

 

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Office Organizing Tips

March 5th, 2013 · No Comments

Any office environment’s orderly and organized state is vital to the operations and effectiveness of a company or individual. Without proper organization you won’t know the location of all the items you need around the office when the need arises. For that reason you need a system to work by if you have a tendency for “organized chaos” in your workplace. That is why time management training encompasses the physical layout of organizing an office as well as the scheduling of hours.

Follow these tips to begin the optimization of your office space:

 Sort out the papers:  The last thing you want to have is tons and tons of paperwork littering your desk. This can be easily avoided by the use of a simple filing cabinet or a paper organizer to fit all the documentation that needs organizing and storage. Make use of a paper shredding machine to rid yourself of old and irrelevant paperwork that has no further purpose.

 Keep the desktop clean:  This applies to items you don’t use on a regular basis, for example pens and pencils should be stored and organized in such a way that they could sit on your desk or inside your drawer. You can have separate containers for small stationery or paperclips, staples, pushpins and so on to avoid clutter.

 Keep within reach:  Whatever items you’re using on a regular, daily basis should be kept on hand. Your computer will be the focal point of this setup however everything else should be within reach yet not too far away on your desk. The main idea is to have a cleaner desktop which allows you to function properly without stacks of paper and useless doodads.

Organize your drawers:  Have everything separated by function and theme such as important forms inside dividers placed within their respective drawer and the rest of what you don’t need right away such as office supplies in another. Avoid mixing things together or otherwise you’ll just create an environment which will be very difficult to work with.

Organize wiring:  Any cords, cables and wires you have that have been turned into a chaotic mess can be easily. You can bundle all of them together while attaching them with a zip-tie if the IT department have not done that already. You will enjoy a time where moving your legs around won’t pull on cables.

Office layout:  It is something vital to organizing an efficient and productive office environment – the layout of the space has to be ergonomic and comfortable for use. If you need to  move about your office a lot you’ll be able to do so with ease with a typical office chair, however being positioned against the window may distract you and blind you as sunlight streams through. Proper blinds or even better turning the desk in another direction if that is possible will help quite a bit. If you have family photos do your best to place them in a place where you can see them but they’ll be out of the way.

Personal items:  These can go in a separate location such as a drawer or someplace else where they won’t be in the way. What we mean by that is purses, messenger bags, cellphones and so on as these will only get in the way once the day begins.

This guest post is by Ella Andrews.  Ella is a blogger and also writes articles focusing on office organizing themes. 

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Creating a Home Office from Unused Spaces

February 19th, 2013 · No Comments

Today’s computers and cell phones work harder, look slimmer, and travel farther. And since these technologies hold more information than an old-school file cabinet and require significantly less square footage, why shouldn’t the home office follow suit? Residential workspaces no longer need to comprise an entire room with wall-to-wall bookcases, complicated filing systems, and an oversized credenza that invites clutter.

With a bit of creative converting, you can repurpose a small area of your house as a functional, organized office space perfect for paying bills, checking email, or juggling your job at home. Having thing closer will help you better manage your time.  And since  sleeker tech tools only necessitate a sliver of surface area, you can install a streamlined workstation in a previously under-utilized spot.

Here are five ways that you can promote a currently unemployed section of your home to a hard-working multitasker.

1. Don’t get hung up on using a bedroom closet for clothes. Outfit your guest room with a slim desk, a few wall shelves, and a stylish table lamp to establish an excellent hideaway for a home office. Even the small closets found in older homes usually have enough room to sport a dainty corner desk. Keep the doors in place in order to close off your work world when not in use, or replace them with a long curtain for a softer look. When visitors do come to stay, clear the desktop and dress it as a vanity with a stand table mirror and apothecary jars filled with cotton balls and Q-tips. Since the closet will no longer serve for hanging guests’ garment bags, consider adding an armoire to the furniture arrangement or installing a sturdy hook to the back of the bedroom door.

2. Could you fire up your fireplace’s functionality? If your living room includes a fireplace that juts out from the wall, the nook created between the side of the surround and the nearest wall begs for a built-in busy zone. Install a kitchen cabinet horizontally at desk height (roughly 30 inches from the floor), with the knob at the top so that the door folds out into a desktop — you’ll want to add thin chains on either side to lend support to the drop-down surface when open. For added storage, hang shallow wall shelves above the cabinet. Frame the fireplace with floor-to-ceiling curtains that serve to introduce texture and create drama in the room while also concealing your DIY desk.

3. Since most of us don’t host formal dinners regularly, here’s the dish on how to make your dining room do double-duty. If your home doesn’t boast built-ins, situate a buffet and hutch or a china cabinet along one wall. In place of a mid-level drawer, install a rollout shelf that will act as a desktop. (I also recommend adding a flip-down hinge to the original drawer front so that it camouflages your “desk.”) Designate a nearby lower cabinet to organize office supplies and hold a printer, if needed. The remainder of the shelves and cabinets on the built-ins or furniture unit can house your china and crystal, as they were initially intended. When you’re ready to dive into work, just turn a dining chair to face the convertible desk.

4. Get your act together in the family room by screwing a long, slim, wall-mounted desk to an unoccupied wall, an A-plus answer for a home office/homework hub, as it faces little backs away from distractions such as toys and the TV. Have fun with chalkboard paint and corkboard panels along the backsplash, and then divide the desk into individual sections using baskets that store each family member’s papers and personal supplies. Gain more hiding space by using storage stools in place of chairs.

5. If you aren’t keen on building and retrofitting furniture, then land on a simple solution with an unassuming hallway install. Just place a large lidded basket underneath a petite table (a Parsons table is perfect) that’s near an outlet, and tuck your work gear inside. Position an armless cane-back or bentwood chair alongside the table, and you’ve got an instant office on the landing. The table acts as a display for photographs or a sorting center for mail in your off-hours, and then goes to work as a desk when you turn the chair to face it and open the lid on your basket.

So, where will you find a small space that gets the job done?

This guest post is by Chris Long.  Chris is a Home Depot store associate in the Chicago area, where he has been helping customers since 2000. Chris is also a contributor to Home Depot’s Home Decorators.com website. His home décor interests range from wall shelves to home furniture.

→ No CommentsTags: Home Productivity · Office Productivity

Finding Time to Enjoy Life

January 22nd, 2013 · No Comments

Do you need a change this year?  Many people are numbly going through the motions of their lives, never once stopping to experience any excitement or joy. With this kind of existence, it is no wonder that so many people are tuning out of their lives and ending up having breakdowns and other emotional problems that seem to remove them from reality.

We Don’t Have Fun Anymore!

Somewhere along the way, between childhood and adulthood, you may stopped having much fun and became too serious. Whereas you once enjoyed life and were excited about the smallest of things, now you have become jaded and unresponsive when it comes to enjoying the things of this life. By embracing your inner child and the joy that life can bring you, you can become more productive and actually bring yourself back to reality.

Ideas for Becoming a Part of Reality

We all need a break from time to time. Sometimes, life just gets too hectic and you work and work, never taking a break or time for yourself. There are many ways that can bring excitement back to your life. Sometimes it only takes a small spark of fun to get you back to that place of peace again.

Adrenaline is something that we rarely experience anymore. A rush of adrenaline can do more for you than you can ever imagine. You remember the excitement you used to feel just when you were about to crest the top of a rollercoaster or how you felt when you were running through the woods at top speed because you heard a noise and thought a monster was after you. These kinds of excitements ruled our lives as children and kept us sane and happy.

Just because you are a responsible adult now does not mean that you must become boring and stagnant. If you want your life to turn around and actually help you get back to reality, then you need to follow some of these ideas or think of your own.  Work out your schedule using trusted time management training skills to fit more enjoyment into your life.  It will actually help you to become more productive and cut out some of life’s stresses.

Let the Fun Begin!

  •  Go Skydiving – This is one of those activities that many people cringe when they see, but the rush that is felt when you are descending from a plane and floating over the world below you can create an excitement in you that you have never felt.
  •  Go to the Racetrack – Racing around a track at a hundred miles an hour or more is sure to give you that adrenaline rush that you need. It is an amazing feeling to feel so close to danger, yet survive it. That feeling of euphoria is what many live for.
  •  Run From Fear – That feeling of being chased by some unseen monster can drive you into such an excited state, that the high lasts for hours. Experiencing this feeling at a horror house, when running from the bulls, or any other type of scenario can help to bring back the excitement and joy that life is all about.

While you do not have to choose these ideas for your reality check, you do need to find something that is uncharacteristic for you to do. Step out of your cubicle or away from your desk just for a few moments; try to do something silly, fun, or exciting. You will be amazed at how much better you feel. This will allow you to step back into your reality, better prepared and more focused than ever before.

 

This guest post is by Jack Harding, a late-to-the-party adrenaline junky, he did his first skydive at 44 years old. He was coaxed into that experience by his friends, and has been hunting down adventures ever since. Visit Wish.co.uk for more adrenaline experiences.

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Managing Your Time in 2013

December 18th, 2012 · No Comments

As we wrap up the year, think about the time management tools that will help you navigate through a successful 2013.  Keep in mind that if something is not actually scheduled, chances are slim that you are going to accomplish it.  To decide what you need, ask yourself:

1.  Do I need an overview of the full year to share with staff or family?  If you like to see a full year at a glance, consider a wall calendar like the one offered by NeuYear, which is structured to show full weeks throughout the year rather than chopping up each month.

2.  Does an electronic calendar or paper calendar work best for my own appointments?  Although I generally support electronics, in the area of calendars many of my clients still find that paper calendars are faster for them.  Either one is fine.  What you do want to be sure of is that you maintain just ONE calendar for your activities as much as possible.  If your work environment allows you to record both business and personal activities, this is the best.  If you like paper calendars, WeekDate offers a unique approach.  You do not have to rewrite recurring weekly and monthly activities.

3.  How will I keep track of tasks?   Calendars should not be used to list tasks you want to accomplish each day.  Keep the calendar for set appointments–when you have to be in a specific place at a specific time.  For example, if you have three phone calls you want to make today, they should be on a task list.  However, if you have a phone conference set up for 2 p.m., that would go on your calendar.  When I see clients listing everything they hope to accomplish in a day on their calendars, it is hard to tell when you can actually book an appointment.  Everything becomes jumbled.

There is no single solution for the best calendar for you.  Just do not use multiple means of recording appointments.  As you start your office organizing for the new year, keep to one (or two if you need a separate personal calendar) so that you have faith that everything is in one place.  To develop more skills, consider time management training .

 

→ No CommentsTags: Time Management · Uncategorized

Working Productively with Limited Office Space

December 11th, 2012 · 2 Comments

Just because your company might be in a saving mode and can’t afford a large office space, it doesn’t mean that you can’t take a few steps to really make any space, large or small, work for you as part of your office organizing efforts.

Having a workable office is an important keys to any successful business and is a part of time management training.  Irrespective of the size of the company, and there are a few ways to make that happen.

Utilize Wall Space

If floor space in your office is at a premium, then make the most of the wall space that you have. Install shelving, mount televisions, white boards, or even computer screens to the walls, clearing up valuable desk and table space. You could even attach drop-down workstations to the walls that can be lowered when in use and stored up for an office meeting or holiday party.

Get Dual -Purpose Furniture

One of the best ways to best conserve space anywhere is to get some furniture that can be used  in multiple ways. If you have a waiting room or lobby area, try ottomans that can be opened for extra storage. Use short filing cabinets as the ‘legs’ of a desk, or turn a conference room table into a workstation for three or four employees when meetings aren’t in session.

Be Organized

In the world of small spaces, minimalists rule. Being organized is a key to really making a small office work. Make sure that you have enough file cabinets and storage spaces to keep any documents, manuals or other backup material neatly tucked away.  Get rid of clutter, including knick-knacks, souvenirs, multiple photos, and give-aways that you collect from conference.

Many people would look at a small office space and pass on it because they just didn’t know how to make it work. But, with some creativity, it can be really quite a bargain to snag an inexpensive space that will work perfectly for your company.

 

This article has been provided by Craig Barnes with Official Space, one of the UK’s premiere office rental portals.

→ 2 CommentsTags: Organizing Tips