Tag Archives for " planning "

Enjoying the beach having planned your work
Aug 26

Schedule yourself some free time

By Felicity Dwyer | Career change , Productivity

What is your approach to writing something for publication, or to meet a deadline? Do you plan and complete the piece of writing well in advance? Or do you tend to wait until the deadline is almost upon you, to prompt you into writing?

I confess to the latter. When I started this blog in June 2014 I made a commitment to publish at least one post a month. And I have kept to this for over a year. But sometimes, it was only at the end of the month that the blog was actually written and published. The month-end deadline galvanised me into action!

This time I am writing this blog in July, to be published in August. This is so that I can prioritise time with my family over the summer school holidays.

In theory, this is one of the joys of self-employment: to have more freedom to schedule our time as we see fit. In practice, it’s easy to let work creep into our precious family and leisure time. It can be hard to resist temptation to check our email, or social media accounts. But most of the time, it would do our businesses no harm to take some time away from the screen.

Here are three of my favourite tools, to help you with scheduling. And they are all easy to get to grips with.

Mailchimp and other mailing systems allow you to set up and schedule emails to go out at a time to suit you. This is a brilliant tool and one that I use a lot for group emails. But be careful if you plan an email campaign in advance. You need to be sure you are around to deal in a timely manner with any responses or queries that arise from it.

Buffer is my favourite scheduling tool for Twitter. It’s easy to use, and allows you to stagger publication of tweets, or to plan and schedule tweets in advance. You might still like to check your notifications now and again so that you can respond to any replies or re-tweets. And my advice is not to over-schedule. I tend to switch off now from tweeters who just churn out stuff day and day out without engaging. Social media is much more rewarding if you use it to be social, not just to broadcast your own stuff.

Pocket.  This tool is your friend if you have a tendency to find interesting articles on the internet, and then get distracted from what you’re supposed to be doing. Install the bookmarklet on your browser, or set it up on your phone. You can quickly bookmark articles for later reading, at a time that suits you. Pocket does one thing, and does it well.

What tools do you use to manage your online life? Please share below (that’s if you’re not too busy having a holiday – and if so, good for you!)

Overwhelmed at Work
Feb 04

6 ways to use your time more effectively at work

By Felicity Dwyer | Career development , Motivation , Productivity

It is common to feel overstretched or even overwhelmed at work. Our culture often seems to value busyness and expects us to be always switched on. If this affects you, there are steps that you can take to regain control of your time.

It is vital to keep your values and priorities in mind, and either find space for them in your life as it is, or find a way to change jobs or careers so that you can do more of what you love everyday.

Here are six strategies that I have used successfully to overcome overwhelm and be more effective at work.

One main focus

Try to keep to one main focus or objective each day – decide on the most important thing to get done, and fit other tasks around that. If this seems unrealistic, choose a focus for the morning and one for the afternoon. This doesn’t mean you throw away your to-do list. But if you give absolute priority to one objective each day, you’ll go home with a sense of achievement, and probably find you get a lot of other things done too.

Group similar tasks together

I try to allow a solid hour or two at a time for more complex tasks such as writing blogs or proposals, because it takes less energy doing it that way that picking up on odd bits here and there. This works well for phone calls too. Experiment with different patterns. If you have a blog or report to write, does it work better for you to spend a solid two hours on it. Or does it suit you better to start with a rough draft and then come back to it later in the day or week or work on it in small bursts.

Follow your energy as much as you can

If your energy levels are low, then it can make sense to switch to basic admin tasks, if you are feeling energised and creative then tap into that as much as you can. But don’t let low energy be an excuse for delaying an important piece of work. If you are struggling to get started then…

Chunk it down

If you have a big and possibly daunting task, then break it down into a series of small ones. Keep breaking down a task until you have an action that you can do now. Even if it’s the first action is just looking up a phone number, or a quick piece of internet research, or sending an email, or even just scheduling the next step into your diary – DO something to make a start.

Sorting your emailsHave a system for emails

Keep on top of emails. Once I’ve opened an email I either delete it, move it to a suitable folder for future reference, action it now, or flag it for future action.

If you get a lot of email newsletters you can use software like unroll.me to collate and organise them for you. If you find yourself regularly deleting the same newsletters before opening them, it’s time to unsubscribe.

Tidy up to get unstuck

When I feel stuck or unmotivated at work, I tidy my office. I find it easier to think with a tidy space, and it provides a sense of satisfaction that can then motivate me to tackle my other tasks. Nigel Risner has said that space management is even more important than time management. This makes sense as working in a mess slows you down and brings your energy levels down. But one person’s idea of tidy is another person’s clutter – you will know what works for you. For me, it’s about having a clear desk, and organising my project work in tidy piles or magazine folders.

I’d love to hear your tips, please share in the comments box below.