Wednesday, February 10, 2016

#1 Productivity Tool : Schedule Your To-Do's

As part of my morning routine, I cruise LinkedIn to find interesting articles about the workplace. This morning, I came across Forbes's 15 Surprising Things Productive People Do Differently and one tip stuck out to me.
Throw away your to-do list; instead schedule everything on your calendar. It turns out only 41% of items on to-do lists are ever actually done. And all those undone items lead to stress and insomnia because of the Zeigarnik effect. Highly productive people put everything on their calendar and then work and live from that calendar. “Use a calendar and schedule your entire day into 15-minute blocks. It sounds like a pain, but this will set you up in the 95th percentile…”, advises the co-founder of The Art of Charm, Jordan Harbinger.

Now, I don't subscribe to this entirely. I still use a physical to-do list because writing down my tasks helps commit them to memory and prioritize what needs to be done. However, I do schedule my to-do's and let me tell you, it's a game changer. 

Here's why:

1. Forces you to set aside time to actually do work. Too often we get caught up running from meeting to meeting that we forget that we have tangible work that needs to be completed. Having your to-do's live in your calendar prevents you from missing items and BONUS! prevents you from being overbooked.

2. Increases your ability to properly time manage. As you designate time frames to work on items, you may find that tasks take more or less time to complete than your originally thought. Thinking that an expense report would only take you 20 minutes and seeing that it actually takes you an hour will help you better allocate your time in the future and identify areas of opportunity in your skills.

3. Helps you analyze how you spend your time. Many jobs require us to play multiple roles at a time. By scheduling to-do's, you can visually analyze where you are spending the majority of your time and if the need arises, speak to it with real data.

4. Keeps a record of projects. How many times have you gotten to your annual review and forgot most of the stuff you did that year? Wouldn't it be great if you could keep track without having to manage yet another document? Surprise! Your calendar holds the key.Scheduling your to-do's create the record without creating more work.

5. Helps you keep your word and prioritize. We've all uttered the words, "I'll get it to you by (insert day of the week here)." Suddenly, the day passes and there's the dreaded email/phone call/message asking if you've had a chance to complete the work you've promised. My schedule of to-do's gives me a visual analysis of my workload so I don't over-commit myself and saves me from the embarrassment of forgetting. I can just plop a reminder into my calendar to send so-and-so that thing on a date prior to what I promised them and TA-DA! I'm Ms. Reliable/Dependable/On-Time/Go-To/Get-It-Done. Additionally, if I've promised four people something by Friday and I can actually see that I don't have the capacity to complete all of the work needed, I can have the conversations to courteously reset expectations well ahead of time. 

Scheduling my to-do's has been a lifesaver in the workplace. It allows me to be a effective, reliable, highly-productive member of the office without increasing the burden of record keeping or documenting on my part. The extra bonus (because there hasn't been enough of those) is it severely reduces my stress level. I no longer worry that I've forgotten to do tasks or if I have enough time to complete them. I've carved out the time and documented what needs to be done, so I'm all set.

So now I ask you...

What's your favorite productivity trick?

Saturday, January 9, 2016

PopSugar Fitness 30 Day Challenge Combo

30 Day Challenges have always appealed to me. I don't have to think about them. I wake up, I put on clothes, I look at the list, and GO! Who wouldn't love that?! Squats, push-ups, crunches, planks, cardio... these challenges are everywhere.

I wanted to speed up my fitness progress so I decided to combine a few of my favorites from PopSugar Fitness. This printable covers four areas - push-ups, crunches, squats and planks.

You can find the originals below with instructions on each movement.

I found that it's best to start with the planks and then do the other three in the order of your preference. This also makes an AMAZING warm-up to do other exercises. I do this before runs, kettlebell workouts and even yoga. Give it a shot!

Find more inspiration and workouts on my Fitness Pinterest board.

Friday, January 8, 2016

What To Do With All of Those Quotes

Like millions of people across the globe, I love Pinterest. My love is simple. I'm a very visual person so I see, I like, I pin. This formula works tremendously well for me. Unfortunately, I use the same methodology for online shopping and as you can imagine, that's no bueno. But I digress...

In my time as a pinner, I've amassed quite the collection of quote images. Some for fitness motivation, some aspirational, some funny. Over time, I've dove into my boards to see the clever words but for the most part, once pinned, they are quickly forgotten. The true tragedy of this is I actually really love most of these quote images. They are beautifully styled. For a while, I've been looking for a way to bring these quotes more to the forefront of my life. Being a crafter, one would imagine I would print them out and have them in a clever display in my home. Unfortunately, my tastes change too frequently to commit to a certain set and by printing I'm limited to the number of images I can see.

On a typical Sunday morning, a brilliant idea occurred to me. Sunday mornings are my time for laundry and cleaning. I turn the music up and go putt around my home.  My AppleTV is always the source of my music - not only for Sundays, but for every day. Until this point, my screensaver was a system standard of floral images and I was curious if I could load my own images into the screensaver. You can do it on a laptop, why not AppleTV? Turns out you can! Thus, a dream was born!

The process is really very simple. On any Apple device (MacBook, iPad, iPhone), download the images from Pinterest into your iPhoto library. I found this part particularly fun because it felt like shopping, except I didn't have to spend any money and there wasn't any pesky buyer's remorse.

Next, create a new SHARED album. The "Shared" part is crucial. This won't work otherwise. On the iPhone and iPad, it's the middle navigation button within iPhoto with the Cloud. On MacBook, on the top navigation, select "Shared". Next, hit the "+", give it a name and start adding photos.

All set? Now, it's time to tell your AppleTV that you want to see that screensaver.

Here's your path...
Settings > Screen Saver > Photos > iCloud Photos > Select Album Name

You're all set! If your album is new, you'll need to give the iCloud time to catch up. My album ended up being about 60 pictures (can you imagine if I printed all of those?!) so it took about half an hour for the pictures to fully sync on all devices.

Play with your settings as well! I have my screensaver start after 5 minutes and have it set on "Flip-Up" style. But you do you!

Also, because I loved this idea so much, I added it as my laptop screensaver. To reset your laptop screensaver, here's your path...
System Preferences > Desktop & Screen Saver > Screen Saver > Source (change to your album)

The best part of this is how easy it is to add to it. Next time I find a quote I love, I just add it to my Shared Album and boom! It syncs everywhere.

Now, these beautiful quotables are in my face, reminding me to be ambitious, get my butt moving and stay rad.

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