Archive for the ‘Time Management & Productivity’ Category

Your holiday is over and you’ve got to go back to work. You resist, don’t want to.  If  your work place is your home office, you wonder if anyone would notice if you didn’t do much for a day or so?

Of course, you could try to catch up once you feel a little more inspired. That’s exactly how I often feel after a holiday. You are so relaxed and chilled out and want the feeling to go on forever.

Even when  you have an important deadline coming up and a high workload to go with it, you figure that your work will make you the opposite of relaxed and chilled out. And perhaps you don’t really want to go there.

That happened to me too once. And then, two days later, not only had I tackled a long to-do list, including a whole long list of emails and a great number of calls, I had caught up with my social networking sites and made some important decisions in between.

After resisting on day 1, I ended up at my desk for 12 hours (not non-stop I hasten to add), enjoying my work against all the odds! I was totally focused too, got so much done and each accomplished task felt really good.

Here are a few tips you may wish to try if you feel reluctant about starting your work.

  • Make sure you write a task or to do list, and prioritise the items on it. It’s no good having jobs, projects or tasks in your head, where they can often cause more anxiety than necessary.
  • Use the timer trick to get you started. Plan to do 5 or 10 minutes on a particular task and before long, you’ll notice you don’t mind carrying on.
  • If you don’t want to use a timer, having a visible clock in your office may be OK. The best ones are the ones with an audible tick- they remind you that time doesn’t stand still.
  • After working for a couple of hours, make sure you have a break. Have a hot drink, stretch your legs, open a window, read a paper. 10-15 minutes should be fine.
  • Getting back into work mode after a break can be hard, so I do something that I enjoy – reading and updating one of my social media sites for 10-15 minutes (keeping an eye on the clock). This also makes me feel connected to the outside world. If you don’t do social networking, then why not make a call to a colleague instead?  Always keep an eye on the clock though.
  • Never ever be tempted to multitask thinking you’ll be quicker! Don’t have social media sites open in the background in order to go back to them from time to time. Single tasking is key to higher productivity – cutting out interruptions gives you higher levels of concentration. Task switching can not only be hard on the brain but will lose you time as your brain takes time to adapt to the different tasks.
  • Getting a difficult job out of the way first, will feel liberating and your work will flow much easier afterwards. Again you can use the timer method to get into the task.
  • At the end of the day, update your prioritised list for the following day, as it will help you to switch off!

What else has worked for you that you could share with our readers?

Ute Wieczorek-King is an experienced trainer, mentor and business & blogging coach. She helps busy passionate solopreneurs build a thriving small venture by being more visible and focused on what matters to them. Sign up for her free ‘Passion to Profit’ ebook at http://www.successnetwork.org.uk

(PS the above post was first published in 2010)


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achieve new goalsWouldn’t you just love to set new business goals knowing that you will succeed easily?

But all too often our new goals fall by the wayside at the first hurdle. Failing to achieve goals at the beginning of the year is very common and can be the result of trying to pack too many new goals into an already jam-packed agenda.

There may be an expectation that simply working smarter (or being more productive) will help you to do and achieve much more in the little time you have.

What’s wrong with working smarter?

The secret is usually not ‘working smart’, but working smart on the right things.

Applying Pareto’s Principle, which is also known as the 80/20 Rule,  this means focussing 80 percent of our time and energy on the 20 percent of the work that really matters.

Applying this rule is easier when you know what you spend your time on, and can let go of anything that doesn’t contribute to your overall effectiveness.

What do you need to stop doing?

It is strange how we sometimes continue to do something that may not actually help us.

How often do you get distracted by the phone or the internet and social media sites?

Or attend the wrong networking events for the wrong reasons?

Or plan to start work early knowing that’s when you’re most productive but somehow struggle to get out of bed?

Most of us will be unproductive at some point – we are human after all.  For example, in my early days in business, I frequently didn’t plan or prioritise my daily tasks, which led to a fair amount of fire fighting, and sometimes even missing deadlines.

In the last couple of years I have ditched all those interesting but somehow ‘unnecessary’ projects!

I’m a bit of an innovator and my passion for new ideas can make me want to get involved in everything interesting that comes my way. Then before I know it –  ignoring my gut instinct – I feel resentful when I ran out of time for the activities that really matter.

Not saying YES to all these tempting new projects felt uncomfortable to say the least. I thought I might get bored. But the opposite happened to me.

Ditching unproductive tasks as well as bad habits and behaviours can be very satisfying as you are able to give even more quality time to what really matters. And the rewards may surprise you!


What will you say NO to?

This year, why not say ‘No’ more often and allow yourself more time to do what you know will make an impact in your business?

Maybe you want to have more personal time for yourself as well, something you value very highly?

If you are ready to say NO to something, then two techniques can really help you:

  1. Ask yourself, ‘What’s really in it for me?’  Answering this question will help you to discover whether what you are planning to do (or not) has any really benefits for you and your business.
  2. Reward yourself every time you manage to ditch an unproductive activity and do something more productive or meaningful instead. Without a suitable reward it is unlikely you will feel motivated enough to create a new habit. And you will probably go back to your old habits very quickly. Rewarding yourself is, therefore, very important.

So, what business activities, temptations, habits or behaviours will you say NO to this year?

Ute2013-150x150About the author: Ute Wieczorek-King helps female midlife entrepreneurs to be visible, effective and profitable in business. Sign up to her monthly newsletter on the Success Network Website to receive a free ebook that shows you how to make a living from your passion.


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In business everyone knows that to succeed, taking action is a must. I am talking about major and minor actions, carried out constantly and consistently. Action should always be driven by your desire to make a success of your small venture.

However, to be fair, there may be times when things are not quite going to plan. You sit in front of your computer, really wanting to take action, but you seem to lack focus. Something seems to be holding you back.


Feeling stuck? Not sure what to do next?

Perhaps your potential action list is too long?

Or your long ‘list’ is only in your head?

Resist the temptation of taking the wrong actions

An important cause of inaction can be feeling overwhelmed and not knowing where to start.

Also, attempting to tackle too many actions in one go can be counter-productive too. Not being able to complete your tasks can make some people feel they are always failing which may then lead to procrastination.

If you’re feeling slightly unclear about your next step whilst taking action, then this action could be the wrong kind. This is something I think of as ‘panic action’, which can make you feel busy (albeit only temporarily). In reality, ‘panic action’ often contributes to confusion or overwhelm.

One sure thing is that the way to getting results is not by rushing into action, nor is it by sitting at your desk telling yourself you ‘should’ be doing something, which is also counter-productive.

The best way to plan your actions

To get all the actions right in business, it helps to de-clutter your thinking first.

Unless you clarify and prioritise the actions that are REALLY  important, you will be straight back into doing what you’ve always done and unable to break the ‘panic action/ inaction cycle’.

Instead why not ask yourself what you need to ‘do’ now, today, that will make a difference to your business?

The power of a daily ‘mantra’

Set a clear intent every day to focus on the actions that will positively impact your business. This is like having a daily mantra.

Start small, with just one action to focus on every day. Say to yourself…”Today, I write/create/reply to/ attend (etc)… and I will do this to the best of my ability”

The good thing is that you won’t just start taking one right action today, you will become more focused and proactive … every day!

Ute2013-150x150About the author:

Ute Wieczorek-King is a UK-based German mentor and blogger who helps passionate midlife women to stay focused, work smarter and stand out from the crowd.

If you’d like to take your small venture from good to great, why not download Ute’s free “Passion to Profit” ebook.

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A guest post from Carole Connolly of Life Matters:

As I was belting out an Alanis Morisette song today the line ’Your Sweater’s on backwards and inside out’ reminded me of how often I am more productive and creative when I make a conscious choice to do something completely new, back to front or upside down.

Doing things, over and over again, in the same way, creates pathways in the neural networks of our brain so that things become automatic, which is great for remembering the route to work and how to type but not so great when coping with change, thinking creatively or problem solving.

Ben Fletcher, creator of the ‘Do Something Different behaviour change technique’ estimates that we live our lives on auto-pilot for around 90% of our day, which means that we are only consciously choosing how to behave for 10% of or day!

Worrying, right?

So, in no particular order (obviously!), here are some tips to get your creative juices flowing, bring a lightness into your day and put you back in the driving seat.

I guarantee that they will have a ripple effect on the rest of your week!

  • Start your day with something that is purely for pleasure.  Watch an episode of Breaking Bad before the business plan, or have a sing along to a favourite song prior to social media.
  • Write a ‘What I won’t do today’ List – this is such a liberating thing to do!
  • Select a weird and wonderful font in a crazy colour when you’re struggling to get something on the page!  Helps to see things more lightly and you can change it back when you’re done!
  • Change your mind– Yes, do a U-turn!  Don’t do something that you had intended to do just because it’s on your list.  Go off-piste and do something that you hadn’t intended to do. Go see a film or read a book in a genre you wouldn’t normally consider.  Or try a class you haven’t done before at the gym.
  • Change your attire –  if you usually hang out in your trakkies – put your ‘face on’ and dress to impress, even if no one will see you!  If it’s more your style to be suited and booted, then resist the urge and stay in your jammies for the day.
  • Eat exactly what you fancy today.  Ice-cream for elevense’s anyone?  Or porridge for supper?

So if YOU fancy being a routine rebel for a day, I’d love to hear what you will turn on its head this week?

If you’re serious about this rebellion, then how about taking a complete break from the routine of life and giving yourself an early Xmas pressie, by joining us at the Mindfulness Retreat.

About the author: Carole Connolly is a Mindfulness Teacher, Trainer & Coach who supports people to build resilience to life’s challenges and prioritise what matters.  Visit www.life-matters-uk.com for more information.

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I know that some micro-entrepreneurs find planning rather challenging — having to look months into the future and gauging what you can realistically achieve in that time can easily fill you with dread, especially if you have previous experience of not achieving goals.

Plans are often discarded as quickly as they are written — think New Year’s resolutions! This may not matter as much if you can afford to go with the flow. But if you can’t and need to get new clients or new projects to bring some money in, you’ve simply got to find ways to make goals work.

A key problem with goal setting

In my work as a business mentor I have noticed that it isn’t always the goals we struggle with, but the unrealistic time frames we set ourselves. Since we are not able to look into the future, many entrepreneurs find it really hard to estimate how long something will take us with any kind of certainty.

As a result, setting goals can easily turn into a guessing game.

Imagine the flying visit to the supermarket. You plan to do it in 15 minutes, but how ofiphone 005ten do 15 minutes turn into 30 minutes or more? Once, when completely reorganising my office, my estimate — two days — turned into four. Yet another time, I set aside half a day for some paperwork, which in reality only took me two hours.

If you find it hard to estimate the length of time something will take you in your business, it may impact how you manage your time and your projects. A friend’s extension is a good example: it took three months longer to finish than the builder had estimated!

Of course unexpected things do happen, and so it isn’t always easy to estimate whether your six-month goals will in reality take you four or ten months.

A few things you can do

You could play it safe and always add some buffer time to your goals.

But to become more accurate with planning, it is always a good idea to break a big project into smaller chunks.

For example, the goal of having ‘X new clients by the end of the next quarter’ is in reality made up of smaller goals and tasks: ensuring you have an attractive offering that your potential clients really want and communicating your new or revised offering.

This can be achieved via email marketing, networking, social media, securing new speaking engagements, attending exhibitions, running a workshop or whatever else applies to your business that brings in new business.

Each of these chunks is easier to quantify in units of time than simply aiming to ‘bring in new clients’!

And if you’re still not feeling confident with your estimates — quite normal if you’re doing this for the first time — then break each chunk down into even smaller chunks. Indeed the smaller the chunks are, the easier it is to estimate how long something will take.

Make sure you allocate some time for inevitable delays such as when you’re ill or are having to wait for other people’s input. Then, when you add up all the individual chunks you will have a much clearer way to estimate how long things ‘really’ take and will never be as behind as my friend’s builder — bingo!

What helps you to reach goals on time? Please share your tips with other readers below.

Ute2010About the author: Ute Wieczorek-King provides business support for passionate fempreneurs who want to take their micro-business from good to great. Get Ute’s daily business tips on Facebook or sign up on the Success Network website to receive two free ebooks to help you grow your business and make it more profitable. http://www.successnetwork.org.uk

Copyright 2013 Ute Wieczorek-KIng

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The following blog post was republished on 14 November 2013 by Huffington Post – with my permission- on their Small Business Blog pages.

Most micro business owners experience periods where there is so much to do that it can be really difficult to stay in control of your time and get everything done – fileslike the first time you take on a major contract! Suddenly you find yourself juggling all your smaller clients, perhaps struggling to look after them as well as you used to. At times the pressure to keep up with the different demands on your time can be relentless!

A workload that stays consistently high may be the first sign that you can’t avoid outsourcing any longer, especially if you don’t want to risk losing any customers! But if you know your high workload is only short-term, why not try the following tips to help you stay focused and get everything done?

  1. Work with your natural biorhythm. Whether you are a morning or evening person, do your important work tasks when you know you’re feeling alert.
  2. Always do the most important thing first; this can take the pressure off you later, and also help with concentration.
  3. Stop reacting to everything that happens. Responding appropriately may not mean having to jump straight into action just because something has landed on your desk or in your inbox, or because you ‘should’ be carrying out certain tasks at specific times.
  4. When concentrating intensely during important tasks, it pays to have a break after about 90 minutes. This allows your brain to have a rest, as you continue with some less intense tasks. These may include answering e-mail or returning calls. Having a hot drink at this point may then also help you return to more intense ‘focus time’.
  5. During your ‘focus time’, avoid distraction from browser windows that don’t need to be open. Turn email reminders off, in fact why not close your inbox and even put your mobile on silent. Reducing other external noise (if possible) can help too, since your brain may thank you for not having to deal with interruptions, and you don’t lose the adjustment time your brain needs to help you switch between tasks.
  6. Set a timer for social networking tasks, or for reading articles (whether this is part of your work or not). Decide on a length of time before you start- just 15 minutes of totally focused time can be very effective.
  7. If you are stressed by having too much to do, it helps to write everything down. Particularly at night, when people often lie awake, feeling overwhelmed and anxious, taking notes of your concerns or writing a list can relieve your brain of some of the ‘weight’ and allow you to get the sleep that you need.

So, by using the old adage of ‘more haste less speed’ you will actually be improving your effectiveness, end overwhelm and find your overall work performance increasing.

What helps you to stay focused? Please share your tips with other readers below!

Ute2010About the author: Ute Wieczorek-King provides business support for passionate fempreneurs who want to take their micro-business from good to great. Get Ute’s daily business tips on Facebook or sign up on the Success Network website to receive two free ebooks to help you grow your business and make it more profitable. http://www.successnetwork.org.uk

Copyright, 2009-2013 Ute Wieczorek-KIng

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