In this video, Beth talks about how a calendar is a tool, meant to HELP you. If you receive this by email and cannot see the video well, click here.
The concept of multi-tasking has gotten a bum rap. Articles such as this one are tell us that we are not as effective when we multi-task. We are being told to slow down, focus on one thing at a time, and not over-commit ourselves. That’s great advice–but it’s harder for some to implement than you think. What if your personality is one that thrives on having several things going at once and being fast paced?
As a seasoned multi-tasker (seasoned meaning I’ve been doing it for a long time, not that it is always succcessful for me) I am challenged by this new wave of thinking (some call it “uni-tasking.”) However, I have my doubts that swinging the time management pendulum from one extreme to the other is the best way to go. I think there is a middle-ground that can be a healthy place.
The idea of multi-tasking is to have several things going on at once. The idea of single, or uni, tasking is to focus on one thing at a time. Let me pitch to you a compromise: complementary multi-tasking. This approach embraces doing two (or possibly more) things at once, but being intentional that they complement each other, not distract from one another. Common sense and safety are key components of this idea.
When you are planning your “to-do” list, ask yourself the following questions to see if you can apply complementary multi-tasking to your list. (For the sake of simplicity, we will consider planning two complementary tasks, although sometimes you could plan three or more.)
1. Are there two tasks that can be done in the same general vicinity? For example, making sandwiches for tomorrow’s lunch while waiting for water to boil for tonight’s spaghetti works better than leaving the kitchen to check email in another room.
2. Is one task relatively hands-off and one hands-on? While a new software program is downloading, I can organize one drawer in my desk.
3. Can two things be going simultaneously, safely? My laundry can be drying while I work on a blog post.
4. Could I mix a mindless “task” opportunity with a “people” opportunity? With the help of a phone earpiece, I can fold laundry while talking to a friend, which would be better than trying to answer email while also talking with her on the phone.
5. Will doing these two tasks at the same time add cause more mental fatigue or less? Listening to a podcast or some music while cooking may help pass the time nicely, while trying to help your child with homework while also preparing a meal can become frustrating for both of you.
So before jumping on the bandwagon that all multi-tasking is ineffective or wrong, consider that complementary multi-tasking may be the way to accomplish two important tasks without driving yourself crazy.
Question: What are two tasks that you can do at the same time without misusing the idea of multi-tasking? Join the conversation by commenting!
You may be an overwhelmed professional, but you can manage your energy better if you move regularly. My thanks to Dave McDonald of The Great Outdoors Fix for this guest post and infographic. (If you receive this by email and cannot see the infographic well, click here.)
The lack of physical activity might be the biggest factor why you are gaining weight. This is why if possible, you have to keep moving. The nature of your work is not important. The point is to do exercises just to keep the fat burning. Even if your job requires you to sit in front of the computer for the entire day, there are still activities that you can do. For instance, you can do some stretching or leg exercises without disturbing other people in the office.
Another strategy is to wait until everyone goes out for lunch and start doing the exercises on your chair. This is if you worry that your officemates will make fun of you. Again, these are simple exercises that won’t make you really sweaty. Therefore, even if you are attending a meeting with your boss in the afternoon, it doesn’t matter. You will still look fine. Just keep doing these exercises to stay in shape.
Once your work is done, head to the gym for more intense exercises. Just keep doing these strategies so you won’t worry about gaining weight anymore. It is just a matter of discipline and consistency in your weight loss strategies. You can do more if you want as long as it doesn’t interfere with your job.
For more information about these exercises, check out the infographic below. It provides the right steps that can be done with ease. Start doing the exercises now before it’s too late.
Calendar month is in the books and our winners are listed below! I hope you found the tips, articles, contest, freebie, etc. helpful to you. The “Conquer Your Calendar” Course will remain available with the new price of $49.00.
April was a very full month with content on the blog almost every day, longer than usual emails, and an unexpected personal twist for us (we’re fine) that is bringing a project/purchase to our lives that we hadn’t anticipated. (We hope THAT will be handled in time to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary later in the month.)
For many of YOU, May probably feels as busy as December, and your minds are yearning toward that summer breathing space.
So, I’ve decided that on the blog and my social media channels, I’m going to “go with the flow” and be less concerned about a publishing schedule or structure. It will be more of a “May Mashup.” I’ll be posting a few helpful items here and there, many of which has already be created (or shared with me) in the past. You’ll still receive a digest through the typical Monday email if there has been material added to the blog during the prior seven days.
This will also give me a good opportunity to go deeper with some thinking/visioning I’ve been doing for the content portion of HOPE Unlimited…in other words, what the blog, social media platforms, and extended resources like books/courses should or shouldn’t look like for the immediate future.
Our world has SO MUCH INFORMATION out there now, that I don’t want material and products from us to just get lost in the noise and add to your feeling of overwhelm, or be too similar to other things you can find that there’s no need to duplicate efforts. I’ll be doing some praying and listening to discern what, if anything, HOPE should continue to provide in terms of regular content through blogging, social media, and fee-based content. And if inspiration hits me, I’ll still be writing and creating behind the scenes.
You can be a part of this if you like. I appreciate the feedback that several of you have provided through surveys, and if you have a strong feeling about what content you’d like to see from HOPE, (or if you don’t feel it’s necessary) please contact me with your thoughts.
I wish you all a pleasant May and if we can be of help to you, get in touch! (And congrats to our winners, listed below!)
Congrats to Our Winners!
$25 Surprise Gift Card: Paula K.
Calendar Lover’s Pack: Nancy D.
Coffee with Beth session: Beth L.
Thanks for participating!
NEW 60-90 minute course (self-paced.) Click to learn more and enroll!
Our April Theme Month was on the topic of calendars is to introduce you to my new course, Conquer Your Calendar. Each week, I’m providing one reason for joining into HOPE Academy and being part of this course, specifically. Now it’s time for the last reason.
Reason number 4: Your professional development is important, and it is your responsibility. This course gives you an opportunity to take a look at something you use every day, and determine if you are using it in the best way to help you serve others, reach goals, and stay sane.
Beth shares a two-minute hint about using a calendar as a tool, but not being controlled by it. If you receive this by email and cannot see the video, click here.
Have you ever tried to manage your calendar in a way that doesn’t actually work for you?
You got a new scheduling tool. You invested time and energy to bring it into your life. It was supposed to focus you and increase your productivity and creativity. But all it did was add another layer of work and stress — without any real benefit.
Maybe you just didn’t stick with it long enough. New habits take a while to settle in.
Or — maybe what you need to do your best, most creative work isn’t more detailed scheduling, but less.
To discover if this is true for you, consider the following:
How do you develop your best solutions?
“I get my best ideas in the shower.”
Have you ever said something like this? Maybe not about the shower, specifically, but about any other non-work environment that triggers your best thinking?
There’s a reason why your best solutions come when you’re not scheduled to be working on them.
Epiphanies — your best, most creative solutions — develop incrementally. They aren’t instantaneous. They may feel like they are, but they’re actually a long time in the making.
Before an epiphany occurs, you’re actually busy developing it. You’re gathering bits of information and ‘weaving’ them together without even realizing that weaving is taking place. At some point — often uncontrolled and unscheduled by you — the last ‘thread’ gets pulled in, and a pattern emerges. The solution becomes clear to you.
You may recognize the pattern in an instant, but you didn’t create it in an instant. The creation took time. And plenty of cognitive spaciousness within which to ‘weave.’
Think about it. Can you imagine trying to weave a large, intricate rug in a cramped closet? Even if you wouldn’t recognize a loom if it fell on your head, I’m sure you can envision what happens to a creative process when it gets cramped and confined.
This is why blocking rigid times to work on a specific problem (and isn’t every piece of work about solving a specific problem?) may not produce the results you want. If it doesn’t, it’s because you haven’t allowed time and space for the weaving. The creating.
For most of us, creative flow isn’t an on-demand resource. And for most of us, our most vibrant creativity occurs when we’re doing the opposite of demanding it. Hence, the shower epiphanies.
Does your calendaring process support creative flow?
I’ll be honest. Years ago when I first started freelancing, my inability to schedule my creativity drove me nuts. After all, I was being paid by the hour to be creative. Every productivity expert I came across told me I needed a defined schedule to boost my creativity, and therefore my productivity.
But when I tried the standard “task batching” guidelines they recommended, the opposite happened. Instead of blocking out time to work, my creativity got blocked and my productivity plummeted. I appreciated the set times to focus on a specific client and their needs. But I didn’t do my best work during those periods. Not even close.
There seemed no point in setting a detailed calendar if it didn’t support me to do my best, most creative work.
You don’t have to be a writer to need access to your creative flow. We all need it. Your creativity is your differentiator, regardless of your profession.
You owe it to yourself to ask yourself: does your schedule keep you on task without blocking your creativity?
How can you calendar to increase your creative flow?
Strip your calendar down. Drop the fussiness. Add only actual events, small repeatable tasks, and final deadlines.
Every Monday morning, study your calendar for the next two weeks. Visualize your deadlines. Map them in your mind. This will trigger the subconscious weaving process for each problem you need to solve.
As your week unfolds, check your calendar every morning to remind yourself of your deadlines and trigger additional deep thinking. Make short notes of the solution narratives that are forming in your mind. Or don’t. Do whatever feels most effective to you to organically facilitate the weaving process.
As deadlines draw closer, instead of pre-scheduling blocks of rubber-meets-the-road working time, wait until an idea is ripe and then sit down to document your solution.
Each time you sit down, if you hit a wall, stop working and stop the clock, even if that wall comes only after 10 minutes of actual work. Hit pause, let go, and let the weaving process resume. Let the cognitive barriers untangle themselves until you’re ready to work on the problem again. Because they will untangle themselves, if you let them.
Fair warning: From the outside, this process can look undisciplined and inefficient.
Culturally, we’re used to rigidity in our scheduling. It’s a social norm. And it can be hard to step away from. It’s easy to feel that if you don’t have a tightly managed schedule, you’re disorganized.
Or even worse — that if you’ve scheduled a block of time to work, that’s the same as actually working.
Inject white space into your calendar. Give yourself elbowroom to weave. Not with laser focus on each thread, but with holistic understanding of the pattern.
If you do this, your creative solutions and productivity will improve.
You will become both disciplined and efficient.
Most importantly, you’ll actually give your clients the creative expertise they’re paying you for.
Allyson Baughman is one of our Strategic Referral Partners. She specializes in thought leadership writing coaching, editing and ghostwriting. I thought this was a very interesting take on calendar management…something that can prompt us all to think a little differently. Learn more about Allyson here. – Beth
We also thank Greenville Office Supply for supporting Calendar Month.
NEW 60-90 minute course (self-paced.) Introductory price $29. Price increases to $49 5/1/17. Click to learn more and enroll!
How do you feel when you look at your calendar? Does it stress you out? Or do you feel reasonably fulfilled by the commitments you’ve made?
Part of my April Theme Month on the topic of calendars is to introduce you to my new course, Conquer Your Calendar. Each week, I’m providing one reason for joining into HOPE Academy and being part of this course, specifically.
Reason number 3: The price. Conquer Your Calendar is currently $29. The price will be increased for the month of May to $49. The course contains over one hour of information and practical help that you can absorb at your own pace. Don’t delay in enrolling while the pricing is lower!
And click here to answer one question about how your calendar makes you feel.