Managers and Meetings

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We recently watched this Ted Talk by Jason Fried.

He suggests that people need long stretches of uninterrupted time to get things done and that Managers and Meetings are the two things that really prevent people from getting their work done.

If you’ve got a 15 minute break between your meetings (ha!) and want a new theory on why you feel like your work keeps piling up- this is the Ted Talk for you!

Enjoy- and let us know your thoughts on Jason’s theory!

There is so much to do!

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It feel likes you are running around like a chicken with your head cut off (literally running between departments and meetings and/or mentally churning with all the projects you’ve got to get done!).

It would be GREAT if you could set priorities – but how in the world do you do that when you can’t even seem to get your thoughts straight?!

This week, we’re going super practical on some tips!

Tip 1: Make and keep a list

At the beginning of each day start out by writing out all you’ve got to accomplish.

And, as more things get added onto your plate, update your list!

Feeling a little sad about the length? That’s ok! It’s better to have all those tasks identified in one place than scattered around your brain.

Tip 2: Mark all your items in order of importance

My guess is that almost everything you are working on is urgent (or you wouldn’t feel so overwhelmed) and you probably feel like everything is important, too.

But, there are only so many hours in a work day and you can only get so much done. So, pick out those 2 or 3 or 5 things that you HAVE to get done today and mark them one color.

Mark those next 5 or 7 times that would be great to get done in a separate color and take all the remaining items and mark them a 3rd color.

Now you’ve got your starting place!

Tip 3: Set time goals for yourself

Look at those items that you have to get done today and think through the following question: if you are at your best and totally focused, how long should each of those take you?

Now, plan out when you’ll work on each of those items and set your goal to be to finish in a specific amount of time.

Zone in, get your coffee in hand, and set your mind to execution mode!

Now – get it done!

Pace Yourself

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Working from home can come with many challenges—it’s part of the territory! However, there are just as many benefits, and as the world continues to convert to a predominantly digital space, working from home is a new challenge that many people are facing every year.

Screen Shot 2016-03-04 at 11.52.43 AMOur Team member, Jeff, has some helpful tips:

I used to work from home 1-2 days a week until recently, when I converted to working from home full-time! It has certainly come with it’s challenges, but the benefits outweigh these ten-fold. Here are a couple of ideas and strategies that I’ve used to help this process go smoothly.

Thought #1: Use your Time Smartly

Is there a particular time of the day where your creative juices are really flowing? Maybe there are certain times of the day that you find yourself more self-motivated than other times. Find that time, exploit it to your benefit, and plan your day’s work around those times. Is it in the morning? Do the draining tasks then! Save the motivating work, the work that gives you energy, for the time of day that you’re struggling to stay on-task.

For myself, I’m WAY more motivated in the morning. So this is the time that I save for time-consuming tasks that don’t inspire me, they don’t give me energy, but they simply have to be done. Once the clock hits 2:00PM, my morning coffee is wearing off, and my eyes start to wander to the book on my table, or my mind towards the many pleasure of the Netflix app. This is when I do the tasks that inspire me, that give me energy, and feed my brain and soul. I have meetings in the afternoon, and am re-inspired by these tasks and these people to finish the day strong.

Thought #2 – Pace Yourself

Throughout each day I always remind myself this: pace yourself. Know that every day will not be the productive, butt-kicking day that you want it to be. You’re not a task-churning robot, and that’s okay!

Be okay with failing at productivity some days. Don’t beat yourself up. Push through it, and know that tomorrow can be better! Some days I’m extremely motivated; and other days I’m not. Some days, I get 10 hours worth of work done in 5 hours. Other days I get 2 hours worth of work done in 7 hours. And often, these results are no different when working in a traditional office environment.

Thought #3 – Don’t Do it Alone

Lastly, if I’m really struggling to finish a report that has to be done that day, but my Motivation Meter is reading 0, I’ll video-conference a co-worker (or friend!) and ask them if I can “sit” with them while I finish this up. Just being able to have some banter back and forth can help “humanize” the work and get me through that home-stretch.

So let’s recap:

  1. Use Time Smartly – Do the right tasks at the right time of day
  2. Pace Yourself – Don’t expect perfection, it’s okay to fail some days
  3. Don’t Do it Alone – Develop a work from home group of friends, and support each other through motivation and virtual relationships

Thanks so much for listening, and I hope that these ideas help you on your adventure in the growing group of people who work from home!

Set It Up

Set It Up

We all have different ways of organizing our homes, lives, and creative spaces. But what about our offices? When you have the freedom to work from home (and cube walls won’t be the defining factor of your office space), where do you even start to organize yourself into a productive zone?

Kelly EllisOur Team member, Kelly, has some helpful tips:

Organization – my favorite topic! I have worked in two types of set-ups since beginning the work at home journey: a cramped desk in my kitchen and my new dedicated office room in my home. Here are a few things I’ve learned about organizing in both types of office spaces. 

First – minimize distractions as much as you can. Clutter (even creative clutter!) can form a thought barrier between you and your task at hand. My tip would be to focus on what you need and have those items as your mainstays on top of your desk.

THAT’S IT.

I’m pretty disciplined about this – I typically only have my extra monitor, laptop, notebook for to do’s and tasks, and my trusty pack of pens on my desk. And sometimes my cat – but that’s really not my choice.

I’ve also found it extremely important to make my deskspace ‘Kelly-zone’. When I am in Kelly-zone, I am working and focused. I don’t sit in Kelly-zone while watching TV – being in my office chair is a signal that I am ready for business-time. Also, no TV in my office! I have a hard enough time focusing on the task at hand, but when a TV is blazing it’s multi-colored glory – I’m a goner.

Organizing your space is easy, but I’ve found the hardest part of organizing an offices space is the mind. Even though the word ‘routine’ sometimes gives people mental hives, it is AMAZINGLY helpful to have one when working from home. Without the visual cues to end (or start!) your day, it’s very easy to work way into the evening or not start on time.

Try out a few routines to see what works best for you. Always try and start with some way of gathering your thoughts and documenting them – to do lists are magical – but even getting out on paper what you’d like to accomplish today will make you ten times more likely to get it done.

Lastly – and this may be the most important – keep one thing nearby that makes you smile. If a color makes you happy – paint a canvas in that color and hang it in your line of sight. That awesome picture from your most recent vaca? Put it front and center on your office bookshelf. Even though your colleagues can’t see your space, it will make you feel a LOT better about the time you spend in your zone if you make it your own. 

Thanks, Kelly, for your tips!

What’s your work-at-home situation? How do you organize your space and mind when working from home? We’d love to hear from you!

Working At Home

Working At Home

As the world gets more and more virtual, so does our work. Studies have shown that 3.7 million employees (2.5% of the workforce) now work from home at least half the time and more and more companies are moving to be totally virtual.

Sound exciting? We agree – at CRN, we’re proud to be in those ranks as well.

BUT – if you have worked from home for even a small portion of your week, you might have found some interesting traits about yourself and home/work style:

  1. You are so PRODUCTIVE. When you’re not concerned about the commute home, worrying if you locked the front door, or if you have to sign for that delivery – some of the typical stress of being away from your dwelling is completely out of mind and taken care of. You also don’t have the social cues to head to Starbucks with a colleague, or spend a bit more time at the proverbial water cooler, so those extra minutes are spent knocking things out!
  2. Some days, it’s harder to stay focused on the tasks at hand. AND stay motivated. The joy of working from home is that you’re, well, at home. The not-so-joy? All of the off-work distractions are front and center – and there’s no one physically there to hold you accountable.
  3. I’m kind of lonely. It’s harder to fulfill that basic human interaction need when all you’re doing is staring at a computer screen!

What other aspects have you found out about yourself while working from home?

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be looking at a few of our Team’s tips and tricks on how to keep the work-at-home productivity rockin’ and the distractors at bay – to have the most productive, work-at-home day ever.

Stay tuned!

More Action Planning for Your Goals

ODL- ImageHow’s your week been? Did you get a chance to try out Wunderlist? What’d you think?

Maybe you wished the app was similar to a weekly planner – if so, we’ve got just what you need!

Let’s check out App #2: Opus Domini Lite

Who tested it?

Spencer- Blog ImageSpencer Haney

  • Project Coordinator for multiple internal, high-visibility projects with dispersed stakeholders
  • Fast learner who loves crossing things off a to-do list and staying ahead of colleagues and clients
  • Husband, Sport Enthusiast, and avid Board Gamer

Why I like it:

  • Works like an easy day- by- day planner, just like your paper one would look!
  • The search function pulls up different buckets to narrow down the results
  • Easy to track tasks with the selectable status icons
  • Syncs with google calendar and you can create new calendar appointments on the app
  • Simple goal tracking, with a fun progress bar to show how far you’ve come
  • Cool “compass” to help you keep tabs on your physical, mental, social, and physical goals
  • Ability to forward tasks to a selected date
  • It’s free!

What could be better?

  • No alarm feature for tasks
  • Not able to share lists or tasks
  • Only available for Apple products

Our bottom line:

Opus Domini Lite provides the chance to keep tabs on goals in all different areas of your life. It is a solid one stop shop for calendar and task productivity.

Try it out—let us know what you think!

Moving Forward on Your Goals

Wunderlist

 

How have your 2015 goals been going? Making some progress? Hoping to make some headway soon?

Sometimes (we’re not pointing fingers here!) it’s hard to remember the goals or deadlines we’ve created for ourselves. It’s also exponentially harder to get things done if we don’t have some accountability.

Want to create that accountability for yourself? We’ve found some apps for that job!

Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll review a productivity/tracking app road-tested by one of our teammembers that will help you focus on (and hold yourself accountable to) the goals you’ve created.

Let’s check out App #1: Wunderlist

Who tested it?

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Ashley Clark

  • Program Manager for 5, global, complex projects
  • Lover of learning and thinking strategically
  • Wife, frequent Instagrammer, and Mom of 2 kids (under 2 years)

 

Why I like it?

  • Multiple to-do lists for today, this week, this month, this year, etc.
  • Sharing capabilities for some (or all) of your lists with your friends
  • Simple layout, making it very user friendly
  • Easy task management that includes due dates, reminders, stars, and list groups
  • It’s free!

What could be better?

  • No sub tasks on created tasks
  • No option for reoccurring tasks

Ashley’s bottom-line:

This app is very easy to use for both you and sharing your goals with others!  I found it easy to create to-dos and it was helpful in keeping track of all the different things I have going on in a day!

Stay Tuned: More reviews coming your way next week.