Category Archives for Time Management

How to stay on track, get more done & feel satisfied at the end of the day

My father-in-law, a 75 year old ex-engineer, military cook  turned chef for the past 45 years who still works hard yet lives a fairly uncomplicated life (and who will NEVER retire nor get a computer) asked me  tonight, “Christina, are people getting crazier than they were 50 years ago?”

I answered honestly, “Yes.”stress man desk

He asks, “Why do you think that is?”  Again, my response was quick … “TMI” and realizing he would have NO idea what that meant, quickly added, “Too much information …”  and I added … “… too quickly.  And lack of human connection.”

Giving the term “crazy busy” new meaning.  Can being too busy cause insanity?  Yes, the clinician in me answers.  I see it everyday.

Dis-ease of our physical and mental health.  Symptoms of ADD, anxiety, depression, sleep problems, substance abuse and dependence, high blood pressure, heart attack, immune system dysfunction to name just a few.

Dis-ease in our relationships, both at home and at work.  Too “connected” to electronics and not enough real conversation, dialogue, curiosity or listening to each other.  Distractions rob us of our ability to connect with other people by being present, to deeply listen and care.

Dis-ease of our cognitive and intuitive ability to think, create, solve problems.

On a functional level, remember this:  “Your brain is not designed to HOLD IDEAS, it is designed to HAVE IDEAS.”

If you paid to think, piling more on or “stuffing 10 lbs of s*$@” in a 5 lb bag” will compromise your most important asset – your brain!

When we are juggling such a tremendous amount of information coming at us from the outside AND all of our worries, fears that come from the inside, we get “crazy busy” and can’t get it all done, much less do anything well.  Much less see obvious solutions because there’s too much crap in the bag.  Stop thinking.  Play.  Laugh.  Breathe deeply.  Be.

Getting things done and doing them to our satisfaction allows our brain to release serotonin (the neurotransmitter of satisfaction) and dopamine (the neurotransmitter of engagement, interest).  Connecting with someone also cleans out the bag and creates a space for solutions, creativity and inspiration.

Can I see a show of hands if you’d like to experience these feelings once a day? Twice a day?  Several times a day?

Solution #1:  Slow down.  Say “no thank you” more often.  Or don’t say “yes” so quickly, “Let me think about it and I’ll get back to you” is a respectful response that buys you time to give it thought after you look at your calendar and respond rather than react.  Bonus points for public accountability and post it below!

Solution #2:  Choose a KISS from Suzie @Aceconcierge.net.  Commit to taking action on just 1 or 2 of the 35 Tips to Stay on Track and TAKE ACTION.  Keep track of the time you save and the peace of mind you gain after just one or two weeks (whichever feels more do-able to you).

Solution #3:  Practice saying, “If it’s not my genius, it’s not my job …” and consider hiring a Suzie (or Suzie herself @AceConcierge.net) to outsource a task or two that’s a brain drain and a time drain on your productivity!

Have a great week!

PS.  Call your Father in Law (or other-in-law, sibling, child, significant neighbor, friend or mentor) and let them know you are thinking of them and just how much they mean to you.  They can’t hear you think … say it out loud!

Christina

 

5 (more) tips to eliminate distractions, get more done to feel happier and satisfied at the end of the day

What if you could get easily more done in less time AND you felt happy and satisfied at the end of your 8 hour day that you’ve truly given it your all and done your best work …stress man desk

Fantasy, you say?

Sure … because here’s how it really looks:

Your day starts out at a jog or maybe even a sprint and you’d swear you’ve run a marathon by the end of the day (and you haven’t even left your building OR your office).

“Yes, but … I’m very productive … ” you say, with an air confidence in your voice.

Yes, but …

I’ve heard it all from highly successful executive coaching clients  and you, too may believe you can get it all done in 10 or 12 hours, but are you truly doing your best work and feeling satisfied at the end of the day?

Here are a few more questions to ask yourself (and answer honestly, please):

Who in your personal life or family loses out because you want to “do just one more thing” before you leave the office and you end up getting home too late more than once a week?

Does just looking at your never-ending- to-do list cause your stress level to rise?

Congratulations, your very human (and limited) brain is raising a white flag … the question is, do you notice and do something about it or ignore the stress, hoping it goes away?

If you are paid to think … here are 5 tips to make the highest and best use of your PFC (pre-frontal cortex) which is the part of your brain that got you your job or your last promotion … and hopefully continues to work well enough with some TLC so you can keep it.

Primarily your PFC is responsible for:

  • Avoiding distraction and staying focused
  • Deciding between two options
  • Reasoning or comparing two things
  • Understanding another’s position
  • Learning new concepts

Here are 5 (More) Simple Strategies you can use to make small changes that can have a HUGE payoff only if you:

  • TAKE ACTION by picking one or two and practice for a full week
  • Decide what will be your evidence that “it works!”
  • Document your positive change along the way

Understanding is overrated — Action will get you somewhere else!

5 Brain-Friendly Tips So You Can Be Satisfied You’ve Done Your Best Work At The End of The Day:

1. Avoid noise distractions.  If your office is a revolving door or worse, a cubicle farm, use headphones and listen to lyric-free music to increase your focus and eliminate distractions.  Here’s some examples at http://300hrs.com for classical ideas or http://www.menshealth.co.uk/healthy/brain-training/boost-your-office-productivity-with-music

2. Turn off ALL text/email/social media notifications on your phone and computer.  Notifications are a fear trigger for our brain that leads you to believe “PAY ATTENTION or YOUR’E GONNA MISS OUT!”  It’s probably not that critical.  Really.  Set a time (preferably after you have completed the first one or two most important things on your to-do list) to check your email and respond to the top 5 most urgent (and NO they aren’t all urgent!), giving yourself a time limit (30 minutes) to respond to email.   Then get back on track with your next to-do!

3.  Manually manage your time.  If you spend too much time on not so productive activities, or have difficulty transitioning from one part of a task to the next (or doing research on “how to” do X and not begin to do X), time may be the issue.  Take a “to do” from your list and PUT IT IN YOUR CALENDAR blocking out the time you believe it will take as if it were an appointment you would keep with someone else.  Set a timer for 5 minutes less than the actual time (if it’s a 30 minute appointment, set a timer for 25 minutes, then when it goes of for 5 minutes more.  The 25 minute alarm is “time to wrap up” and get to a stopping place, for now!

4.  Be accountable to someone other than yourself.  Put your calendar (what I’m working on today list) up where others can see it (on your door, in the break room on a Google group calendar).  Not that anyone really cares, or will check on you (but then again you never know).  However, the brain friendly tip leverages your social brain so you will naturally hold yourself more accountable for showing up at the meeting you scheduled with yourself in #3.

5. Take a few 5 minute breaks.  If you can’t do something for 5 minutes … you have bigger problems.  Schedule in 5 minutes and hour at the busiest time of day to walk, stretch, play, gossip, daydream, listen to lyric full music or play a quick game of Angry Birds or Solitare.  Set a timer for yourself … this brief break will help recharge your PFC, your spirit and help you get in touch with solutions so you can disengage thinking brain and open up your eyes to your intuitive solutions that are just waiting there for you to STOP THINKING SO HARD so it can present it self … and you will notice!

For more tips so you can become a Sustainable built to last Leader – Enter in your name and best email in the opt in box on your right for a FREE one hour video “7 Simple Strategies to Eliminate Stress” AND be the first to receive upcoming articles, programs and resources from Christina!

What are your favorite tips to be more productive, happier and fully satisfied you’ve done your best work at work?  Feel free to post your comments below.

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Leaders: How to Manage Work Stress So You Can Leave Work at Work & Become a Sustainable Leader

Leaders:  You cannot lead with excellence if stress is an underlying problem!  To become a sustainable leader, you must first resolve or eliminate unnecessary stress:

For your free video:  7 Simple Strategies to Eliminate Stress for Busy Managers & Leaders – Get access now by signing up for access to the video to your right:

Here’s a terrific article on how to manage work stress for everyday or extraordinary leaders:

5 Daily Rituals to Manage Work Stress 

How ordinary (and extraordinary) leaders can use the practice of mindfulness to feel happier, satisfied and more productive at work.  Oh, and leave WORK at work so you can truly enjoy your family time … read Judy Martin’s blog post on Forbes.com here: 5 Daily Rituals to Manage Work Stress

Post below and share your favorite daily rituals to manage work stress:

 

 

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3 Steps to Confront Procrastination … (and a confession!)

(This is a follow up to “What do you do instead of what you are supposed to be doing?” I introduced 10 things people (like me) do when we should be doing something more important.  It also introduced the idea that shame and fear came from BS inside our heads. To catch up, check out the previous post.)

BS: The SHOULDS and the SUPPOSED to’s

What do I mean by “BS?” Okay … let’s go with that one.

BS also can refer to our “Belief System” which for the most part is full of BS.

Now I’ll put the shoe back on my own foot: If I believe I SHOULD NEVER PROCRASTINATE or I SHOULD NEVER WASTE MY TIME DOING SOMETHING UNPRODUCTIVE especially because what I assist others to do is to be productive, and if I procrastinate, then I must also be hypocrite.

Now who’s the one with the big dark hairy secret? That would be me. And I feel incongruent because “I don’t practice what I preach.”

Are these rules similar to what you heard growing up?

This BS or belief system will not make me feel very confident, creative, inspired or motivated. Just guilty and inauthentic … and those feeling states will not get me very far today.

Read more about the 3 Steps to Confront Procrastination at LeadChangeBlog

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Are you a procrastinator?

What do you do instead of what you are supposed to?

Top 10 Things You’re Probably Doing Instead of What You are Supposed to be Doing:

  1. Eating
  2. Checking your email every 3 minutes
  3. Looking for inspiration from others’ work
  4. Reading just another article about “how to do …”
  5. Checking LinkedIn for who’s viewed your profile
  6. Saying TY for RT’s to all of the Twitter Followers in the past 3 days
  7. Looking on Facebook for people you went to high school with you never really cared about anyway
  8. Cleaning your house
  9. Watching the news
  10. Editing the promotional page for your upcoming program for the 7th time today

I have a confession.  With the transparency and humility of a character-based leader (Dan Rockwell, Max Brown and Chad Balthrop – my esteemed co-authors writing about “humility” will appreciate this) but most of all because I am also one of the co-authors of The Character-Based Leader I have to walk my talk:   I JUST finished delivering a presentation to HR Professionals at the HR.com Leadership Conference on how stress negatively affects productivity and teamwork.

AND I am guilty of doing all of those 10 Things instead of what I should be doing at one time or another.  In fact, it happens much too often.  Maybe I should re-title this:  The Top 10 Things I Do Instead of What I Am Supposed to be Doing.  At least then I could add Personal Integrity to my list, too.

I could take this a step farther and feel guilty or ashamed about being so imperfect – and we could take it one step beyond that and say I’m a hypocrite.

Yet I choose not to … I choose instead to offer my humanness up to you as an opportunity to learn and grow, for myself and for you, too … (read more here –  LeadChangeBlog.com)

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What Your Brain Wishes You Knew About Leadership Stress

Whether you see yourself as a leader (or not), have the title of CEO behind your name or have a corner office (or not),  if you are in a position whereby you are responsible for managing and motivating others,  you are a leader. 

The fact is, no matter what our title is, all people experience stress (and to a certain degree we need stress to get motivated into action). Yet, have you ever felt overwhelmed, irritable, frustrated, exhausted or have difficulty focusing?  How about physical symptoms of stress: having difficulty sleeping, increased or decreased appetite, using alcohol or prescription medication to reduce anxiety, panic attacks, high blood pressure … there’s many more.

But here’s the thing:   Stress will diminish your brain’s capacity to solve problems, think creatively, make decisions, learn, reason and understand another person’s perspective?   And to make matters worse, did you know stress is contagious?

Left unchecked, even low levels of chronic stress will not only reduce your ability to solve problems and make decisions, your stress will reduce your team’s productivity and engagement.

If you would like to Discover 5 Practical Solutions to Eliminate Leadership Stress, join me on Thursday, May 10th for a free webinar.

You will:
·         Learn the latest discoveries in neuroscience (or brain science) about the strengths and limits of your brain (which alone might scare you into making some drastic changes in how you work).
·         Discover why saying “it’s just stress” can be the end of your career more quickly than you think.
·         Realize how your stress negatively impacts creativity, productivity and motivation, both your team’s and your own.
·         Know how to make 5 simple changes in your day so you can get more done, more efficiently in less time than ever before
·         Realize which words we use daily in our communication with others that create “fight or flight” reaction in others and which 4 words to use instead to motivate rather than deflate.
·         Learn about a unique type of stress leaders experience and a brain-based solution to eliminate feelings of responsibility and helplessness that come with the job.

There will be an opportunity to submit your questions about the topic of stress and leadership prior to the workshop, as well as an opportunity for Q & A at the end.

Be sure to click here to register for your FREE webinar (space is limited!):  Leadership Stress: Myths & Solutions for Today’s Managers and Leaders

Add your comment to this post:  What is your biggest stress-related challenge today? What’s your best solution to reducing leadership stress?

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Never Underestimate the Power of a Shower

(Originally written by Christina Haxton for LeadChangeBlog)

A client opened his coaching session today with “I had the most incredible thought in the shower this morning …”  I waited, remembering to breathe and keep my eyebrows up.

As he proceeded to describe his idea about what he could do to understand his staff at a human level, which will in all likelihood catapult his leadership potential to greater heights, I exhaled with relief.

How many great ideas come to us in the shower?  Or while we are engaged in a seemingly mindless activity?

Compare it to how many great ideas come when we are focused on finding THE PERFECT SOLUTION, staring at a blank screen or whiteboard, frozen in time.  I got nuthin’ … is what everyone sitting around the silent conference table is thinking.

Because the HR Manager would need CPR if anyone suggested community showers be made available so the team could get inspired, what else can we do at work to stop looking so hard for the solution and take a PFC (Pre-frontal Cortex) break?

Our brain only needs a few minutes of non-focused attention to create a space for the creative solution, the Aha! thought to present itself.

What might be some small signs to you that it’s time to take a mental shower?  What does your mental shower look like while you are at work?

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Are you paid to think? 5 Strategies to make better decisions, solve problems and get more done!

Are you paid to think?  Sustainable Leaders® know that the secret to success is not only managing time, but also managing energy, is an essential practice to making great decisions, especially under stress.

Are you paid to think?

Successful leaders also know being efficient with their energy is critical to their success.

The latest research in the field of neuroscience (how our brain works) describes our pre-frontal cortex as the part of the brain that’s responsible for thinking.  However, since it’s relatively newly evolved, it is also very inefficient as compared to the basal ganglia, the part of the brain that stores our hard-wiring,  what we can do “automatically” without too much thinking power.

David Rock, author of Your Brain at Work, describes the pre-frontal cortex as “powered by rechargeable batteries” and needs frequent re-charging, in the form of sleep, glucose (and Ill add play and fun!).

How do you know when you’re pre-frontal cortex is running on empty?  Here are some common signs:

1.  (More) easily distracted by sounds, visual stimuli

2.  Difficulty focusing

3.  Irritability

4.  Unable to make a decision

5.  Unable to remember things you “should” be able to remember (like your bosses’ name)

Here’s an ironic conflict of interest.  The pre-frontal cortex is responsible for higher order thinking or “executive functions” such as:

  • Inhibiting (keeping out distractions, both internal and external)
  • Decision-making (comparing two or more possibilities)
  • Reasoning (if-then thinking)
  • Understanding (listening, reading or watching a new idea and integrating it into existing knowledge base)
  • Memorizing (learning or hard wiring new ideas, concepts)

In order for us to increase the odds we are being most economical with our brain’s limited brain-power, we must take time to recharge, and make time for our self, and preserve our limited brain power.

5 Strategies to make better decisions, easily solve problems and get more done:

1. Unplug/Disconnect for 10 minutes a day no cell, no tv, no radio, no computer – Turn off notifications on your phone, your Blackberry, your computer email program.  Go for a walk without your phone. This is completely doable even if you are marginally neurotic.

2. Give up on perfectionism in areas where you don’t need perfection – What if you can get away with a C instead of an A?  Let your friends know from now on when they receive a return email from you and see: a   that means “I like it!”  This might not fly for business emails.  For work, do your response emails really need to win a Nobel Prize?  Will “C” work be satisfactory for some things so you can save “A” work for the really important things?

3. Schedule a one minute break every hour during the busiest time of the day – Set a timer/bell at the end of every hour or pick a number between 0 to 59 and at that minute in that hour, take a one minute  “bathroom” break.  Take 20 deep breaths, pay attention to your breath, nothing else.

4. Practice saying “I’ll check my calendar and get back to you” instead of “Yes.”  Think about how responsible you’ll feel saying this rather than irresponsible because you’ve over committed, again.

5. Schedule a 10 minute session with yourself (yes, put it in your calendar) once a day (with no deliverables) and totally unplugged.  Early mornings or right before bedtime is a perfect time to reflect and think.

How do you recharge in 1 to 3 minutes at work?  Reply to this blog with your suggestions and … Thanks for playing.

… I’m off to recharge with a 5 minute walk!

If you like this, click the link to sign up and get more free tools to become a leader who will be built to last here:  Sustainable Leadership, Inc.

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Are you paid to think? 5 Strategies to make better decisions, solve problems and get more done!

Are you paid to think?  Leaders who are sustainable, or “built to last,” are paid to think and to do so effectively and efficiently, also know that being efficient with their energy is critical to their success.

The latest research in the field of neuroscience (how our brain works) describes our pre-frontal cortex as the part of the brain that’s responsible for thinking.  However, since it’s relatively newly evolved, it is also very inefficient as compared to the basal ganglia, the part of the brain that stores our hard-wiring,  what we can do “automatically” without too much thinking power.

David Rock, author of Your Brain at Work, describes the pre-frontal cortex as “powered by rechargeable batteries” and needs frequent re-charging, in the form of sleep, glucose and I’d add play.

How do you know when you’re pre-frontal cortex is running on empty?  Here are some common signs:

1.  (More) easily distracted by sounds, visual stimuli

2.  Difficulty focusing

3.  Irritability

4.  Unable to make a decision

5.  Unable to remember things you “should” be able to remember (like your bosses’ name)

Unfortunately, this pre-frontal cortex is responsible for higher order thinking or “executive functions” such as:

Inhibiting (keeping out distractions, both internal and external)

Decision-making (comparing two or more possibilities)

Reasoning (if-then thinking)

Understanding (listening, reading or watching a new idea and integrating it into existing knowledge base)

Memorizing (learning or hard wiring new ideas, concepts)

In order for us to increase the odds we are being most economical with our brain’s limited brain-power, we must take time to recharge, and make time for our self, and preserve our limited brain power.

5 Strategies to make better decisions, easily solve problems and get more done:

1. Unplug/Disconnect for 10 minutes a day no cell, no tv, no radio, no computer – Turn off notifications on your phone, your Blackberry, your computer email program.  Go for a walk without your phone. This is completely doable even if you are marginally neurotic.

2. Give up on perfectionism in areas where you don’t need perfection – What if you can get away with a C instead of an A?  Let your friends know from now on when they receive a return email from you and see: a  that means “I like it!”  This might not fly for business emails.  For work, do your response emails really need to win a Nobel Prize?  Will “C” work be satisfactory for some things so you can save “A” work for the really important things?

3. Schedule a one minute break every hour during the busiest time of the day – Set a timer/bell at the end of every hour or pick a number between 0 to 59 and at that minute in that hour, take a one minute  “bathroom” break.  Take 20 deep breaths, pay attention to your breath, nothing else.

4. Practice saying “I’ll check my calendar and get back to you” instead of “Yes.”  Think about how responsible you’ll feel saying this rather than irresponsible because you’ve over committed, again.

5. Schedule a 10 minute session with yourself (yes, put it in your calendar) once a day (with no deliverables) and totally unplugged.  Early mornings or right before bedtime is a perfect time to reflect and think.

How do you recharge in 1 to 3 minutes at work?  Reply to this blog with your suggestions and … Thanks for playing.

… I’m off to recharge with a quick walk!

Free tools for Sustainable Leaders at Sustainable Leadership, Inc.