Brought To You By Emily Parks
Productivity Consultant at Organize For Success, LLC...
Helping You Make Every Minute Matter!

Friday, February 28, 2014

Minimize Morning Madness to Dash Out More Easily

 If the time between your early morning wake-up and the moment you're dashing out the door seems to be shrinking, it might be time to evaluate how you are getting ready to face the world.

Here are a few ways you might be able to minimize your morning madness so you are ready on time and your exit is less stressful.

Start practicing an evening routine to properly prepare for the next morning... Each night, check the next day's schedule to plan what you'll need for all activities. Verify the weather forecast and lay out your clothes for the day as well as any accessories you'll be wearing. Think through what you have for breakfast so you aren't scrambling for something to eat. Go ahead and prepare the next day's lunch; likewise, if you have a tendency to forget grabbing your pre-made lunch from the fridge, leave yourself a "remember lunch" note on the door or by your keys. Have a set place near the door for any items that need to go out the door with you, preparing your keys, work files and purse / wallet / backpack the night before; keep a morning checklist by the door to verify you have all you need. Make sure you have gas in your vehicle. Plus, ensure you don't awake groggy with low blood sugar by consuming a tablespoon of unsweetened almond butter.

Eliminate any unnecessary actions from your mornings... When the goal is getting out the door, it is important to stay focused, but it's easy to get distracted. Can you declutter the night before so there are less distractions? Can unloading the dishwasher wait until after work? Can you absorb the morning's news on your commute to the office instead of in the morning news on TV? For some, these actions are necessary to properly start the day and can put those individuals in the right mindset; however, for others, they are simply distractions that lead to tardiness in getting out the door. Determine in which of those groups you fall and respond appropriately.

Simplify how you accomplish certain parts of getting ready... Choose a hairstyle that is easy to maintain. Choose a breakfast that is easy to prepare, embracing convenience foods, like cereal, yogurt with pre-made granola or frozen waffles. Choose wrinkle-free clothing. Look at each element of your morning; there might be lots of areas to streamline.

Make the most of every available minute...
- Set your alarm clock for 15 minutes earlier than you expect needing to awake, allowing you a brief block of peace before everyone else in your home is up and giving you a buffer in your morning prep timetable.
- Get moving early, remembering that activity breeds activity. Further, our brains and bodies need oxygen to function properly; getting up and moving can open your lungs for more oxygen. I recently started using the 7 Minute Workout app and have been very pleased... It's "just enough" for me!
- Start your day by drinking a tall, cold glass of water with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, which boosts your energy, promotes good digestion, boosts your immune system, detoxifies the liver, helps you lose weight, encourages better skin and kicks off your day hydrated.
- Proceed through a routine each morning so you take out the thinking, go into autopilot and ensure what's important gets completed each day. Likewise, if you live with others, knowing beforehand who gets in the shower first can be hugely helpful.
- Break each element of the routine into a "zone" so supplies for each action are grouped together and located in the area where they will be used, like tools for getting dressed, tools for prepping your face / applying your make-up, tools for preparing your coffee and tools for making breakfast.
- Use music to motivate yourself. Further, motivate your family's youngest members by making the morning routine a game, like completing set tasks within the duration of set songs.

With just a little planning, preparation and routine-building, it can be much easier to get out of the house and on to your day's activities more quickly and with less stress... Which of these action steps can you incorporate into your life to make an impact on getting ready each morning?

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Were You & Your Business Prepared for Recent Winter Weather? Be Prepared For Future Emergencies

 Did last week’s winter weather catch you off guard or were you safe at home with all your supplies before a single flake fell from the sky? When Mother Nature throws us a curveball, there are many different details to be considered; in addition to physical safety, businesses must consider how to get the word out about schedule or service changes and how to fulfill commitments.

Still, it is not just weather-related issues that can be emergencies for you and your company…  An emergency is any situation posing immediate risk to life, health, property or environment, which can include computer crashes or viruses, contagious diseases, earthquakes, fires, floods, hurricanes, ice storms, random power outages, shootings, terror alerts, theft, tornadoes, tsunamis and, even, death.

While the thought of something bad happening might be too difficult to consider, it’s vital to take simple steps to protect yourself, your team and your overall business. Here are steps to get started.

First, make a plan. What types of disasters are possible for your area? If you must evacuate, who makes that decision, what should be the exit plan and who do folks contact to check-in that they’ve made it to safety? What essential equipment must be taken from the premises as you are evacuating? How do you turn off water, gas and electricity at the main switches or valves? Where is your fire extinguisher and how do you operate it? From where can employees obtain important updates, especially when and where to return to work, particularly if there is a back-up location or if team members will be working remotely? How will you facilitate payroll in an emergency situation? Might it be helpful to keep some cash in the office, just in case you can’t get to the bank? Engage your entire team in this planning as each employee will have a different perspective and bring new ideas to the process. Further, it is important to keep these business policies and procedures in writing.

Second, prepare for communication gaps. There are many groups of individuals who will want to know what your company is doing in various circumstances. Where should employees look for necessary directives? Which team members will need to know what? What questions will arise from vendors about how business will continue? How will you notify your customers of operating plans and ways to interact with you? Will you continue to offer customers support via email, phone, online chat, eFax, snail mail or what? How soon will customers’ experiences with your company return to normal, and what should be expected in the interim? Is a press release necessary to alert the public of your business’ plans? An excellent example from this past week is how local florists were impacted by winter weather over the days leading into the Valentine’s Day holiday… If your business depends on certain dates, it may be even more important to alert consumers of your plans related to those dates. How can you utilize your website and marketing materials to communicate your emergency game plan?

Third, ensure you have the right supplies should it be unsafe to go out and you get stuck at work, at home or in your vehicle. While basics like first aid kit, matches in a waterproof container, food / water, flashlight with extra batteries, whistle, dust mask, moist towelettes, garbage bags with plastic ties, wrench, pliers and local maps from remain very important for us all, your specific needs might go beyond that list. Should you add bug repellant, sunscreen, compression stockings, small sewing kit, safety pins, pocket knife, generator, plastic sheeting / tarp with duct tape to shelter-in-place, heavy-duty work gloves, buckets, gas can with funnel, solar-powered chargers and fire escape ladders for higher stories? Plus, be sure to stock each company vehicle just as you have supplies in offices or at your home, including a flashlight, reflective vest, life hammer, flares, tire repair kit, vehicle battery booster, compass, bottled water and basic tools. 

Fourth, prepare your personal and company’s property to withstand disaster. Taking into account what hazards are likely to hit your property in each type of disaster, like flooding, extreme wind, piles of snow on your roof and electrical blackouts, what can you do to safeguard your essential business equipment? Do you utilize hosted email exchange server, hosted VoIP and cloud storage to backup messages as well as secure vital documents should your physical location be impacted by natural disasters? Further, does your building meet current safety standards to survive what disasters might strike? Should you earth or elevate equipment for its protection? If there is advance notice for any emergency, how early do you take proactive steps to prepare property?

Fifth, keep important paperwork ready for your business, just as you would for your family or yourself. Do you have your insurance policies and related contact options easily accessible? Have you scanned business licenses, permits and property deeds into the cloud so they’ll be available if you must relocate? Is there an easily accessible list of your company’s service contracts with applicable contact information as well as financial account details and their associated contacts’ details? What should be stored in the cloud? What should be stored in fire- and flood-proof safes? Are there needs specific to your industry or your location?

Sixth, keep all contact records up-to-date. While I always recommend utilizing a Customer Relationship Management Tool, in the instance of an emergency, where you are storing the information is not nearly as important as having accurate and up-to-date contact information. You’ll need to notify customers, vendors and employees alike of your plans to continue operating as usual or re-open on a specific date as well as how to communicate / interact with you during every step of the recovery process. If you don’t have their contact preferences, you cannot convey this necessary information, and that may delay getting back to normal.

Maintenance is important! Once you’ve established a solid foundation, be certain to review your plans and supplies at least every 6 months. Train each new hire immediately as he / she joins your team. Conduct fire and emergency drills regularly, scheduling regular reviews of how to operate fire extinguishers, changing smoke alarms’ batteries and conducting regular training for team members on First Aid, CPR and AED. Finally, to support ongoing success, when disaster strikes, document what worked or didn’t for future planning.

On a related note, I am a huge fan of Evernote as a tool for helping me “remember everything”. It’s not just about making notes or keeping information available in the cloud so that it’s easily accessible everywhere; it’s also about finding what I need quickly when I need it. Emergencies are an excellent example of where Evernote is useful. Whenever an emergency strikes, it’s easy to slip into a panic. Well, checklists are helpful in panic-prone situations, and Evernote is an excellent location to store those necessary checklists. Beyond that, though, many details related to your company’s tech tools, products, service contracts and accounts could be easily stored in Evernote.

Take action today… Think about all the possible issues that might face your company. Create a contingency plan so your business operates with continuity regardless of the situation and circumstances that you and your team shall face. Will you be prepared when Mother Nature strikes next or when we are faced with a terror attack? What is your game plan for your business when facing various emergencies?