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

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Gift Guide for One's Many Work-Life Integration Needs

It is the holiday season, and chances are good that your shopping list feels endless. While there are plenty of smart home kits or home monitoring hubs and wireless charging options, not everyone needs such expansive tech tools in their lives. Instead, when determining which gifts to consider, it is important to think about lifestyle elements for the recipient of whatever gift you're giving. Here are some of my favorite clutter-free gift options:

- If the person to whom you are gifting is a runner, a walker or just someone who likes working out, assuming they don’t have an Apple Watch or similar toy, something to attach their phones to their arms would be helpful. Sprigs offers the Phone Banjees with up to 2 pockets so the phone goes on one side, their personal items go on the other side, and it slips right onto the arm. While you can purchase directly from Sprigs' website, there are alternative designs on Amazon, eBay and

- For those fashionistas who love their current gloves but are frustrated by not being able to use their smart devices while styling and profiling, consider NANOTIPS. These transform any leather, rubber, fabric or fleece gloves into touchscreen compatible smart gloves and work well with iPhone, iPad or Android devices.

- I like having a “drop zone” by my entryway so my keys have a home and I can easily find them as I’m leaving; however, that’s not feasible for everyone. Lots of folks spend plenty of time searching for tiny objects, such as the car key when rushing to get out the door. There are several options for solving this, like Tile, TrackR and SecuriTag, but they all function the same: You attach a tile or tag that’s a little bigger than a quarter to the object you want tracked, sync that to an app on your smartphone and, then, track the object with your phone. Your gift recipient doesn’t have to limit use to just car keys; there are endless options for tracking!

- Cords are always an issue so a solution to wrangle in that problem is welcome by everyone: With CableDrop from BlueLounge, you can keep cords plugged in but not falling down as you plug in and unplug your devices. Simple peel and stick the adhesive backs to your desktop or wherever your devices sit to be charged, clip a cable through each CableDrop and it stays put whether connected to a device or not. Kableflags are tags you attach to each cord’s plug so you can identify which cord goes with which item, and you’re protected from ever pulling a wrong plug again. Neet’s Cable Keeper comes in many different colors to organize, protect and identify all your cords; with its inner wire to hold its shape, insert your cable, zip it up and wind, squeeze, loop or tie a bowtie to keep the cable together. If you put each device’s cable in a different colored Neet Cable Keeper, you go beyond just protecting them and can identify at a glance which is where. Likewise, the Cord Wrap from Bobino comes in 3 sizes and 6 different colors, allowing options for wrapping various cords for easily transporting them. CableKeeps secures the cable and charger for your iPhone or iPad together; adding a bit of fun and color while Cordlupa stays on your cord's plug cube so it's fast and simple to wrap up when ready to travel or store your cable. When planning your holiday gift giving, you could give these cord solutions individually or bundled together.

- Whether at home, in our offices or while traveling, plugs can be an equally big issue. Acoustic Research offers a travel plug with USB charger slots, perfect for airports, train stations and hotels where there are never enough plugs for all that needs charging, especially not located close enough together to be truly helpful. The PowerCube offers big, colorful outlets for 3-prong plugs on all 4 sides as well as 2 USB outlets for devices. The ChargeHub plugs into a wall outlet or an automobile to provide 7 USB charging options, and Easy Hub cleverly converts a single USB port into 4. Then, the Pivot Power Flexible Surge Protector offers variety in the angling of each outlet so chunky adapters and chargers can fit better side-by-side. Plus, with Quirky's Pickup Power, you can gift a surge protector for 3-prong plugs that includes USB charger slots and a portable battery pack. Wow!

- These days, we all have a love / hate relationship with our mobile devices, but I’d imagine most of us don’t have many days go by without using them at some point, making gifts related to our mobile devices especially popular. ZAGGLogitech and Belkin each offer keyboard folio options to add a real keyboard to our iPad tablets, making it easier to type while working or playing on-the-go. Or, if your gift recipient is notorious for letting his or her smartphone batter go dead, there are tons of battery cases, like Mophie, Anker or Tylt Energi. Native Union's JUMP Cable offers a 2-in-1 cable and battery solution with attractive, brown leather case for easy portability. To protect the connections on charging cords, a Klip Cable Protector can be slid over the sensitive area of any plug. The Mist Screen Cleaner and Microfiber Sponge from AM Company includes antibacterial all-in-one spray and microfiber cloth designed to clean computer, tablet and smartphone screens. If you’d rather avoid liquids, the iRoller Touchscreen Cleaner is a liquid-free, reusable option for removing fingerprints, smudges and bacteria from touchscreen devices. The PhoneSoap Smartphone Sanitizer uses UV light as a safe, effective way of cleaning, sanitizing and polishing devices.

- If the person you are gifting lives with several others that have similar-looking mobile device cords, vinyl labels from Whooz can be a welcome gift; they help to differentiate which cord belongs to whom while adding character and color with all different options.

- Or, if the person you are gifting likes to work on plugged-in mobile devices but the outlet is far from where they’d like to be working, REACHarge offers extended lengths of charging cords for Android, iPad and iPhone devices.

Hyper’s Pearl is a compact, LED-lit mirror with a built-in USB battery pack to charge devices on-the-go.

- Although I personally use my Grid-It from Cocoon to organize my tech-related gadgets, gizmos and accessories, the ways in which this marvelous tool can be used are limitless and can apply to so many of the folks for whom you’ll be seeking gifts this holiday season. Golfers can keep tees, a divot repair tool, ball markers and even an extra ball or two snugly secured in this ultimate organizer. There are plenty of little objects that new parents need on-the-go which can be secured in the family’s bag with this tool. Even the items usually thrown loosely in a woman’s purse can be better contained with this gift. It comes in various sizes and has little rubber lines on each strap to secure things.

- Any time our car batteries go dead, we’re used to needing another vehicle to connect to ours for charging. Well, now, we have an alternative… Juno Jumper is the most portable smart jump starter available, offering a battery pack that connects to your car’s battery for jump-starting your own dead battery. It’s that easy! This would be an ideal gift for anyone that travels regularly, particularly folks that drive alone.

- As a huge fan of all types of music, I’m also a huge fan of the iHome Bluetooth mini speaker, which streams tunes from any Android, Blackberry, iPad or iPhone that has been paired to it. The volume is adjusted on the paired device; battery is rechargeable.

- Since the holidays are a peak time for traveling, this next item could be a good gift to give others or for yourself: PacSafe offers several tools with RFID-blocking, and I encourage considering the RFID-blocking passport protector as well as the credit card sleeve… Very important security tools!

- Although not tech-related, the Pocket Monkey fits in your wallet, is TSA compliant to fly with you and performs 12 different functions, including bottle opener, flat and Phillips screwdrivers, phone kickstand, orange peeler, Hex wrenches, earbuds wrap, letter opener, ruler, straight edge and door latch slip.

- For kiddos aged 5 to 13, I am loving Osmo, an award-winning game system that aids children's learning with hands-on play. Start with Tangram, Words, Newton and Masterpiece; then, choose if you'd like to add Numbers for an additional emphasis on math.

- Finally, since it is hard to go wrong with gift cards and gift certificates, consider Gyft to buy, send, organize and redeem eGift cards while Yiftee lets you send certificates to what's local for any recipient via text or email.

While my go-to resources for finding unique, useful and tech-related gifts are usually The Container Store, The Grommet and Uncommon Goods, there are other sites for you to check as you are shopping around this holiday season. Consider shopping,,, and, and use each site’s filtering options to make the gift options less overwhelming; there are some very cool gift ideas floating between these sites.

If you are looking for more information to have an organized holiday and about giving clutter-free gifts, please check out my interview with Julie Coraccio in Episode 86 of her "Clearing the Clutter Inside and Out" podcast, entitled "Technology Tips for an Organized Holiday and Clutter Free Gifts Ideas", which can be found by visiting this website.

What gifts do you have in mind to help your loved ones boost productivity while taming technology? What tools do you currently utilize in your own work-life integration?

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Stay Productive & Limit Stress This Holiday Season

Whether folks in your office are celebrating Hanukkah, Christmas or Kwanzaa, the time between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day can be a precarious time for productivity. You want to honor requests for vacation and time to rejuvenate; however, work must still get done. The holiday season is stressful for most everyone, especially business owners, particularly as your busiest day at work is often the same time as your personal to-do list is a mile long.

It is during this time of year that being proactive, getting organized before the holiday rush and best utilizing your entire team can empower you with the focus necessary to achieve all of your work-life integration goals, even with this season's additional distractions. Start with these 6 steps to stay productive and make this your best holiday season thus far:

- Be clear about your priorities: Between family traditions, friends' parties, the annual company shindig, making sure the kids get to class with the holiday-themed snacks promised and much more, there are simply not enough hours in each day to accomplish everything you may wish to do. With time being a very limited resource, it is important to invest each minute in what really matters. Knowing what matters most to you and your loved ones up front makes those choices easier. Therefore, take time now to set your priorities and choose activities accordingly.

- Write it all down: Our brains are meant for thinking, not remembering; it is vital to write down what we need to remember, including shopping lists, baking needs, holiday card recipients, work deadlines, gift ideas and the endless list of tasks needing attention. Regardless of whether you choose pen and paper or an electronic solution, getting those items out of your brain and into a documented list will make it much easier to efficiently, effectively and productively address the season's commitments.

- Create a habit of being strategic: Take time weekly to establish your game plan. Then, since priorities can change quickly and new issues can arise, take time at the end of each day to wrap-up the ending workday while planning accordingly for the next day; take into consideration tasks that must be completed, preparations for time commitments, personal and professional growth as well as keeping your physical space in order.

- Take time off to handle holiday obligations: While you cannot add hours to your day, you can accomplish more in the limited time you do have by managing your actions to more singularly focus on what you are doing at any given time. With that in mind, it's important to schedule time off for shopping, cooking and decorating so you are fully focused when at work. Likewise, whenever possible, avoid the mall madness by shopping online, and use available apps or sites to optimize your savings, like Flipp, ScanLife, Shopkick, Shopular, Shopsavvy and SlickDeals.

- Plan and schedule vacations accordingly: Since many people want to be off during the holidays, it is essential to balance employee vacation requests with business needs. Consider having a policy for no vacations on especially busy days or limiting the number of days that team members can take off during the holidays. Plus, you will most likely want to limit how many employees can vacation on the same day, choosing whether to give the day off based on seniority or first-come-first-served.

- Know when to ask for help: Ask your team members to take tasks off your plate. Determine what can be automated, like with IFTTT, Podbox and Zapier. Then, consider outsourcing through Fiverr, Guru, Task Rabbit, Thumbtack, Upwork and 99Designs. These services allow you to find help without the obligation of a full-time or seasonal employee; plus, they fit nicely within budgetary constraints. Meanwhile, when hosting, invite your guests to pitch in, and, as you pick up your purchases around town, always opt for in-store wrapping options.

Take time for a little planning and employ all your available discipline to be proactive and productive in this dash to year-end. You'll better maintain your sanity while meeting so many more of your goals, which will lead to a successful fourth quarter and build a solid foundation for the new year.

What tactics do you employ to limit stress during this time of year? Which of the approaches mentioned above will you utilize for this hectic season?

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Use the Thanksgiving Holiday to Boost Productivity

Taking time off to rest, rejuvenate and replenish our reserves can be one of the most productive things to do. Not taking breaks can increase risk for depression, heart disease or premature death, but integrating downtime has been found to boost strategic and creative thinking, making professionals more effective. Still, the thought of carving such time out of an already busy schedule can give folks heart palpitations, and the idea of stepping away from work to celebrate the holidays can be quite overwhelming. Contrary to what it might seem, there are steps you can take today to make celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday more enjoyable and, thereby, more productive.

- Focus on your "must do" tasks for this week. Once you are clear on your priorities, you can dedicate your limited time towards those 3 - 5 most important or urgent activities that absolutely must be completed before taking vacation. Rather than dwelling on what "should" be done, focus on what truly drives you towards achieving your goals. For anything else on your running to-do list, identify where each stands, determine next steps for each and schedule when those next steps will get done upon your return. If you feel compelled to attack every item on your to-do list, ask yourself what might be the worst possible outcome for not getting each item completed; then, determine if that possible outcome is really possible or simply your fear taking over your logic.

- Communicate your intentions clearly. Let clients know which of the tasks being done for them you anticipate completing before the Thanksgiving holiday, and share with your clients related updates on anything that will wait until after the holiday to be addressed. Alert members of your team as to when you will be accessible, if / when you'll be checking emails or voice mails while away and what items of note impact what work they are addressing. Who will you offer clients as a point of contact for any days your office will be open while you're away? What information would be most helpful to include in your out-of-office email reply, like who to contact in which scenarios?

Schedule time to regroup upon your return. Yes, things will happen while you are away from work; folks might call or email, and you'll need time scheduled for addressing those loose ends. Since there is no "someday" on your calendar and time to catch-up doesn't magically appear, it is imperative to book an appointment with yourself for the day you return. If you can't block out the entire day, at least give yourself that morning to process new emails, return voice mail messages, communicate with your team and generally reassemble your working systems.

Take time now to prepare yourself for really enjoying the Thanksgiving holiday, fully take hold of the time for rejuvenating and use this opportunity to boost your productivity. Meanwhile, THANK YOU for being part of my world, investing your time to read what is written on this blog and providing feedback for how I can better share content that will empower your greater productivity. I am thankful for you and wish you a safe, happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Schedule What Needs to Move from "To-Do" to "Done"

Assign Deadlines to Fuel Success
I have yet to find a calendar that includes "someday". I've seen Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, etc, but Someday keeps escaping me... Wouldn't it be great if "I'll get to that someday" could remotely mean that we'd get it accomplished?!?

Instead, when a spare moment arises, we're rarely motivated to put that towards those unscheduled or procrastinated tasks; we must schedule what we want done. Every "what" assigned a specific "when" is more likely to get completed. It is in pairing a task with a realistic deadline and scheduling its completion during an actual date and time that we convert dreams to goals.

As we come to the conclusion of third quarter, I have a challenge for you... Which dreams can you convert to goals, assigning a specific "when" to each "what" that must be completed?

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Utilize Daily Rituals to Fuel Your Success

Making the most of each day's limited time relies heavily on having the right rituals built into each day. Beginning with a morning jump-start and ending with evening preparations for the next day can really fuel your success.

When the goal is getting out the door, it is important to stay focused, but it's easy to get distracted. First, eliminate any unnecessary actions from your mornings. Can you declutter the night before so there are fewer distractions? Can unloading the dishwasher wait until after work? Can you absorb the morning's news on your commute to the office instead of on TV? For some, these actions are necessary to properly start the day and can put those individuals in the right mindset; however, for most 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.

Second, streamline your processes for getting ready each day. Choose a hairstyle that is easy to maintain. Choose a breakfast that is easy to prepare and can be replicated each morning. Choose wrinkle-free clothing. Look at each element of your morning routine, and determine what can be simplified. Doing more without thinking makes the whole process better. Doing more without thinking makes the whole process better. Proceed through a routine each morning so you take out the thinking, go into autopilot and ensure what's important gets completed each day. Plus, if you live with others, knowing beforehand who gets in the shower first can be hugely helpful. While streamlining, break each element of your morning routine into a “zone” so supplies for each action are grouped together and located in the area where they will be needed, like tools for getting dressed, tools for shaving or applying make-up, tools for preparing coffee or tools for making breakfast. 

Third, use hacks to boost your energy at the beginning of each day. Get up and moving soon after you awake to open your lungs for more oxygen, which helps our brains and bodies function properly; I use the 7 Minute Workout app, but use what works for you. Start your day by drinking a tall glass of water with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, which boosts energy, promotes good digestion, encourages immune system functioning, detoxifies the liver and kicks off each day hydrated. Then, use music to motivate your desired behaviors.

To get a solid jump-start, enter each day with only 3-5 “must do” items for that day. Then, use your personality style to get all of them accomplished. If you are a morning person and at your peak energy first-thing, follow the philosophy of “swallow the frog” and do the most difficult and vital task first. Still, if you build momentum as the day rolls along, kickstart your productivity with a simple task first, following the philosophy that “activity breeds activity”.

Finally, end each day with the next in mind. Check the next day’s schedule to plan what you’ll need for all activities. Verify the weather forecast and lay out your clothes as well as any accessories you’ll be wearing. Think through what you will do for breakfast so you aren’t scrambling for something to eat. Go ahead and prepare the next day’s lunch; likewise, if you often forget to grab 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 that for any items you’ll need to grab as you’re headed out the door, like your keys, work files and purse / wallet / backpack. Make sure you have gas in your vehicle. Finally, finish your evening with a tablespoon of unsweetened almond butter, which will ensure you don’t awake groggy from low blood sugar.

Do you have habits that keep you organized for success? How do you create a morning foundation on which your daily results can be built? What works best for your specific needs?

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

11 Ways to Limit Distractions and Do Your Best Work

Stop Feeling Held Back By Distractions
Do you feel as if workday distractions are depleting your productivity? Are you getting less and less done as you're pulled in more and more different directions? If so, you are not alone. As outlined in this article, "on average, most of us experience one interruption every 8 minutes or approximately 6-7 per hour... The average interruption takes approximately 5 minutes, (and) research has shown that, for every interruption, it takes an average of 25 minutes to fully regain your cognitive focus." Wow! That could mean 210 minutes or 3.5 hours of time wasted each workday, driving you further from meeting your goals.

With the negative impact of interruptions throughout the workday, it is important to take steps to eliminate distractions. Here are 11 suggestions of easy ways to get you started:
  • Break projects into bite-sized actions. Then, you can feel empowered to complete each task in a single work session.
  • Utilize a timer. Some folks use a timer to just get started, setting it for 15 minutes and capitalizing on that momentum to keep going towards completion of the task at hand. Other folks like using a timer to stay on track, setting it for different intervals during however long the task being done should take and making certain to still be working on it at the end of each interval. With either option, it's a powerful productivity tool.
  • Wear noise-reducing headphones. Particularly when you focus on strategic thinking or creative production, wearing noise-reducing headphones can block out what's happening around you, even if not playing any sort of music at all.
  • Turn off the pings and dings of tech-related notifications. Set your smartphone to silent and remove the vibrate that goes with silent mode. Stop the pop-ups telling you when you get a new comment on social media. Deactivate previews of newly received email messages. Instead, schedule times for handling calls, social media and emails. Then, for folks that do require an immediate response, like key account clients or your direct supervisor, make them VIPs so you can utilize Do Not Disturb on iOS and Priority Mode on Android.
  • Be realistic about task management. While we all wish we were superheroes, we are humans that can only accomplish so much each day; unforeseen items are going to pop-up and need your attention. Therefore, schedule only 3-5 "must do" items each day, and make sure that each "what" which must be done is assigned a "when" for getting it done.
      • Schedule "office hours" during your day. In these blocks of time, you can focus exclusively on assigned projects while blocking out distractions... Tell others you will be available before and after these times; then, during this timeframe, send calls to voice mail, don't check emails and hold off on answering knocks at your door. It is as if you are away in a meeting, but you can attend more intently to the work that must be done.
      • Limit the impact of drivebys. If you have an extra chair in your office, make sure it has something resting in it to keep others from plopping down into it or position it somewhere more difficult to access. When someone comes into your office without an appointment, stand up and move towards your door, conveying to the visitor that it's not a convenient time. Keep an outbox near your office door so you can take those items down the hall as someone is coming to your office, always encouraging those that make unplanned visits to schedule an appointment. You want to help them, but it has to fit in your schedule such that it supports your workflows and productivity.
      • Make sure your scheduled tasks fulfill your goals. Burnout comes from actions being out of alignment with your priorities and can certainly derail your productivity, limiting focus and making you more susceptible to distractions. I find it helpful to regularly audit how my actions align with my priorities.
      • Work remotely when you most need to focus intently. While a library might help, research shows that a coffee shop can act as "white noise", enabling you to block out everything around you. New surroundings can boost your concentration.
      • Reward yourself for successes. While we live in a "do, do, do" society, it is difficult to stay motivated to keeping achieving when we fail to celebrate each achievement. No matter how small or large is the carrot you dangle in front of yourself, having something to look forward to upon competing the task at hand makes it easier to stay focused.
      • Practice mindfulness. For some, this means doing one thing at a time with complete focus. For others, this means being fully present in the moment, no matter whether in a meeting or working on the computer. Yet, for different folks, this means scheduling more intense tasks for when you have your peak energy, whether you are a morning person, a night owl or someone that uses caffeine for top focus in the mid-afternoon.
        How do you keep yourself organized, focused and productive amidst all of the distractions? With what distractions do you struggle the most? Do you use any of these tactics already?

        Monday, August 10, 2015

        10 Easy Ways to Boost Your Productivity and Stay Sane with Work-Life Integration

         I disagree with the concept of “work-life balance”. When thinking about “balance”, it often conjures up the image of a scale, which forces a perception of tradeoffs or costs necessary for success. I do not believe my “work” competes with my “life”, regularly seeing how they complement each other. Although balance would be static, life is certainly not and requires fluid solutions.

        Whether you call it “work-life integration”, “work-life harmony”, “work-life efficiency”, “work-life mash-up" or something else, it’s important to recognize how each element you choose to have in your life can add value to each of the other elements. Conflict and stress are certainly not inevitable; instead, harmony is possible.

        As explained by Lifehacker in its “How to Master Work-Life Integration and Find Harmony in Your Schedule” article, “instead of thinking ‘what work can I easily integrate into my home life’, focus on the bigger picture: Integrate all areas of your life the best way you can."

        Since 1984, Stew Friedman has been at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, where he is the Practice Professor of Management and founded the Wharton Leadership Program in 1991. Friedman has done a good deal of research related to the interactions between all the elements encompassed in life: work, home, community or society and the private realm of mind, body and spirit. I agree wholeheartedly with Friedman’s finding that “you don’t have to sacrifice, tradeoff or balance to have a sane, productive and meaningful work life and home life”. Amen!

        There are a number of well-known examples for how “work-life integration” leads to greater success:
        • Andre Agassi, tennis legend
        • Craig Cincotta, VP of Brand Communications at
        • Barbara Corcoran, “Shark” investor
        • Jennifer Dulski, President & COO of
        • Julie Foudy, soccer champion
        • Eric Greitens, Mission Continues founder 
        • Robert Herjavec, “Shark” investor & CEO of Canada’s largest IT security provider
        • Fay Johnson, Founder & CEO of deliberateLife
        • Indra Nooyi, Chairperson & CEO of PepsiCo
        • First Lady Michelle Obama
        • Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO
        • Max Schireson, former CEO of MongoDB
        • rock icon Bruce Springsteen
        • businesswoman & television personality Martha Stewart
        • Tom Tierney, Bridgespan co-founder, and many, many more.
        As Dulski explains in a post on LinkedIn, “I’m still a parent when I walk into work, and I still lead a company when I come home. If my daughter’s school calls with a question in the middle of a meeting, I’m going to take the call, and, if a viral petition breaks out in the middle of dinner, I’ll probably take that call, too… I have accepted that work and life are layers on top of each other, with rotating levels of emphasis, and I have benefited from celebrating that overlap, rather than trying to force it apart."

        According to that same post by Dulski, in tech-speak, a “mashup” is a webpage or app created by combing data and / or functionality from multiple sources while, in music, a “mashup” is a piece of music combining two or more tracks into one. As Dulski explains, “one of the key concepts of a mashup is the resulting product provides value in a way that neither originally did on its own; each layer adds value to the other”, revealing why she calls handling all of life’s elements a “work-life mashup”.

        Looking at your own life, are you wondering how to make this integration, harmony and efficiency possible? Here are a few action items to consider today:

        1. Do great work. When you are good at your job, you can position doing something for yourself, your friends or your family during “normal” work hours as a complement, communicating clearly your “why” and showing how it empowers you to do even better work and better help the team.

        Per Dulski’s post, “If colleagues and managers know they can trust you to deliver high-quality results - beyond what was asked - … they’ll be less concerned with when and where you get that work done."

        2. Recognize which small changes are a good beginning. As Friedman explains, aim for “4-way wins, (where there’s) improved performance at work, at home, in the community and for yourself.” Greater productivity and satisfaction come with small changes that are under our control, and, yes, you have more control than you think.

        Turnover, absenteeism and disgruntled workers are costly; therefore, when your harmony leads to the business achieving its goals, there are options. What are activities you can do to release stress in the midst of your workday? Would working from early morning to mid-afternoon and picking back up once the kids are in bed help you produce better work by letting you attend to your children’s needs for attention?

        3. Offer your flexibility as a “temporary experiment”. When you frame how your solution benefits your team, explain how it will be evaluated and can be discarded if it just doesn’t work out as expected. Then, when you achieve enhanced productivity with greater outputs, everyone will support your tactics.

        4. Be creative in ways to achieve multiple goals with individual actions. The Lifehacker article stated, “With a clear set of general priorities, you can plan tasks to fulfill more than one priority at once”. For example, walking your dog meets your goals to live a healthier life as well as take care of your pet simultaneously; however, if you brainstorm a big pitch for work at the same time, you can accomplish even more via this “work-life integration” tactic. Attending business conferences is another excellent example for addressing multiple elements at the same time: you're learning new information, networking with other professionals and visiting great locations.

        5. Focus on outcomes over activities. Rather than doing things you think you are “supposed” to do, have specific goals mapped out for your week and incorporate actions that will drive those results. I use my Weekly Strategy Session and Daily Wrap-Ups to create a game plan and stay on track, fueling results with actual value. By focusing my actions on achieving my desired outcomes, I know whether I’m being successful.

        6. Plan for all elements of your life in the same daily, weekly and monthly game plans. With a clear awareness of your priorities, you can include actions that address goals for all of those priorities, rather than segmenting your life, and you'll be able to focus on activities that will address your needs in multiple elements at the same time. Instead of compartmentalizing activities by individual elements in your life, schedule your priorities, and figure out how to bring your priorities together so multiple goals can be accomplished simultaneously.

        7. Acknowledge how technology can help. In today’s technology-infused world, people seek a more blended, harmonious existence, but it’s important to honor your boundaries, using technology to stay connected when it boosts your desired results while disconnecting when that better meets your goals. Likewise, there are many ways technology can eliminate steps in a process to open time for other actions; can technology make you more efficient so you can better address all the elements in your life? How can technology empower you to get work done without needing to be at work so your hours can be more flexible? If a business owner, can you be more connected to the data you need?

        8. Complete a regular audit of your harmony. Experiencing burnout is usually due to a misalignment between your goals or values and your daily actions. On a daily, weekly and monthly basis, make sure your actions are consistent with your values, including an accountability partner in your efforts if needed. For example, are you attending meetings you don’t really need to be in just so you can be seen there? Verify meetings you attend have a structured agenda, a need for input from all attending and set goals. Since our individual circumstances change at different stages in our lives, the percent of each day that needs to be devoted to each element of life will vary, meaning we must keep our focus fluid.

        Corcoran has a strategy: When feeling exhausted, she makes two lists. One for “what I love” and one for “what I hate” about all that’s going on in her life. When she reflects on what she loves, she can dump the things she’s listed as what she hates.

        9. Control what you can control. Above all, only you are the boss of you and can control the fate of your week. Life will throw you curve balls, but you choose how to react and with what attitude you face those challenges. How much or how little guilt you experience in any element really is in your control, just as you control your responses.

        10. Encourage the right culture for “work-life integration” in your workplace. The growth of virtual workforces, where more people work remotely or with varying schedules, appears to be a result of the growing awareness related to how “work-life integration” boosts productivity. As Johnson explains, many people want "to live well while making a positive impact” and those businesses that respond appropriately will succeed greatest. Further, as Millennials (those born between 1982 and 1993) will make up roughly 75% of the global workforce by 2025, their desire to blur the lines between work and personal for a “healthy work-life blend” will continue to drive what businesses must provide, forcing more and more companies to focus on flexibility, outcomes and collaborative efforts. As entrepreneurs, we must celebrate how each of our employees and vendor partners brings value to our team in different ways. 

        At the Wharton School, students focus on the three core principles of the Total Leadership Approach: be real, be whole and be innovative. As Friedman explains, “To be real is to act with authenticity by clarifying what’s important to you. To be whole is to act with integrity by recognizing how the different parts of your life affect one another. All this examination allows you to be innovative."

        As you look at the relationship between all elements of your life, including work, home, community, mind, body and spirit, are you integrating layers into a mashup that drives harmony, satisfaction, enhanced productivity and greater outputs? If not, what small changes can you make now to be more real, be more whole and be more innovative for greater success in the future?

        Monday, August 3, 2015

        Proactively Stay on Track with a Daily Wrap-Up

        Successful professionals start each week with a plan, prepared to address what's important and having scheduled all priorities. Yet, then, things can get thrown off track. A client has an urgent, unexpected issue arise, desperately needing your time to get the situation fixed. Or a team member calls in sick, leaving you to help with some of his responsibilities. Maybe some of your employees need your direction on meeting a deadline, having had questions arise while working on the project. Whatever has popped up to detract from your game plan, it is vital to reboot as best you can and get back on track.

        I encourage you to end each workday with a Daily Wrap-Up, which can be imperative in getting your week back on track and helping to maintain what you created in your Weekly Strategy Session. Work through each item below to keep each day productive and help you organize for success:
          • Communications - Get end-of-day updates from appropriate team members, touching bases to drive awareness and get everyone on the same page. Verify you're up-to-date processing received emails and following up on voice mail.
            • Tasks - Review your to-do list from that day and look over the next day's to-do list. If something wasn't completed today, determine at what point in the next few days can time be allocated for completing it. 3-5 items on any given date's to-do list is realist and allows you to hit the ground running when you return to work the next day.
            • Time - Evaluate your schedule for the next day and verify that you are prepared for everything scheduled.
            • Space - Whether you're in 4 walls, an open office space, a vehicle or working from a bag, tidy up your workspace... File new items and put that day's work back into each item's home. Finally, make sure what items you will need for the next day's activities are ready and easily accessible.
            • Successes - We live in a do, do, do society, meaning we don't necessarily take time to celebrate when we achieve the goals for which we strive. When we take time to celebrate our successes, we are better motivated to keep working towards even greater accomplishments. Therefore, make sure you take time to celebrate daily successes, no matter how large or small.
            • Gratitude - While there is a vast amount of research regarding how gratitude improves productivity, you can click here for 20 such ways as shared by Lifehack. With that in mind, you can use the power of gratitude to drive your daily productivity. End each day's Daily Wrap-Up with gratitude, and make note of that for which you are grateful each day. 
            Share your story... Do you take time at the end of each day to properly wrap-up that day and plan for the next day? Alternatively, what issues have you encountered when you haven't been able to regroup and end each day by getting back on track.

            Friday, July 31, 2015

            Use a Weekly Strategy Session to Organize for Success

            It's Friday afternoon, and, as you look back on the week wrapping up, how productive are you feeling? Usually, when we come into the week with a game plan, we are able to address what's important, rather than getting caught up in putting out fires or handling what's urgent; we tackle our priorities. Yet, if we wait until we walk into the office to determine what must be done, the phone rings, we get an emergency email or someone stops by to ask for our time; then, we're pulled in totally different directions, not meeting our goals.

            I urge you this afternoon (and every Friday afternoon going forward) to take time for a Weekly Strategy Session, where you wrap up the week that's ending and properly plan for the week ahead. Going beyond prioritizing our schedules so we're scheduling our priorities can be extremely powerful. It's amazing what being proactive can do for achieving important objectives!

            Work through each item below to properly plan the week ahead:

            • Carryover Tasks - Evaluate which of the ending week's tasks were completed, determining what's left undone and to when those undone tasks must be carried forward.
            • Client Communications - If there are people with whom you've been meaning to connect, call or email to schedule a convenient time to chat in the following week. Likewise, connect with clients you've done business with previously but haven't heard from in awhile; remind them of how you enjoyed working with the in the past, suggest new ways you can help, share what's new in your organization and pass along articles you feel might be helpful to them.
            • New Tasks - Schedule time to complete any tasks moving towards their deadlines, making sure each what that must be done has a when for moving it from "to-do" to "done".
            • Time Commitments - Review next week's commitments to ensure you're prepared for related tasks and appointments, making sure there is time for preparation and travel to each.
            • Development Options - Determine opportunities for personal and professional growth, scheduling what will move you towards your goals and keep your priorities in focus.
            • Strategy - Map out a specific game plan for addressing the upcoming week's task and time commitments, empowering you to start each day with only 3-5 "must do" items.

            Especially when you first start implementing the Weekly Strategy Session, set a timer. Knowing you have a certain amount of time in which to complete this checklist will better ensure your planning doesn't run longer than necessary. Plus, shorter times lead to an extra burst of energy to get more done in less time.

            No football, basketball or baseball team would go into a game without scouting the opponent and creating a game plan. Similarly, you should never go into a week without properly planning, evaluating what's ahead and determining how you will address all that you must handle. It is with a Weekly Strategy Session that busy professionals can be organized for success.

            Share your story... Do you take time at the end of each week to properly plan the week ahead and proactively address your priorities? Alternatively, what issues have you encountered when you haven't been able to plan adequately?

            Monday, June 22, 2015

            Keep Communications in Your Preparedness Plans

            Communicate With Team & Clients
            When your business is impacted by an emergency, the normal and expected gets thrown off track; everyone must adapt amidst the new scenario. Team members want to know how they are expected to function, where to report and when they can expect payroll. Clients want to know how to reach you and how they'll obtain your products or services. These elements are crucial for your business to operate with continuity regardless of the circumstances, but no one knows the answers unless you communicate those details to them.

            First, since you'll need to notify customers, vendors and employees alike of your operation plans as well as how to interact with you during each step of the recovery process, sustain contact records so they are always up-to-date. You will want to make sure you have the most accurate phone numbers and email addresses to reach each of these partners in any emergency.

            Consider the following when creating your business' preparedness plan for any sort of emergency:

            1. Your team members need to know how to respond, including when to report to what location for work. Where should employees look for necessary directives? Will these be on a website, sent via email or text, recorded on a voice mail greeting to which they can call in or communicated in an alternative fashion?

            2. Different team members fulfill different functions for your company, meaning each employee might need different directives to continue their jobs in an emergency situation. Which team members will need to know what?

            3. Every business partners with others to function. What questions will arise from vendors about how business will continue? How can you communicate that information to those partners beforehand as well as reminding them of the details in the emergency itself?

            4. There is no business without customers, and your clients will need clarity on certain details. How will you notify them of your operating plans and the ways they can interact with you? If you have to temporarily relocate, will your contact information remain the same? How will this impact your hours of operation? Will there be a break in service or a change to how they make payments?

            5. Beyond your existing customers, there are always prospects considering your company's products or services. Is a press release necessary to alert the general public of your plans?

            Catch a summary video of these points by clicking here; then, as you contemplate each of the aforementioned details, engage your entire team in the planning process. Each employee will have a different perspective and bring new ideas to the process.

            Plan maintenance is key... Things change and evolve; therefore, make sure to review your plans and supplies every 6 months, ensuring all updates are clearly and completely conveyed to all concerned parties. Train each new hire immediately as that person joins your team. Conduct fire and emergency drills regularly for each possible scenario, including regular reviews of how to operate your fire extinguishers. Include regular training for all team members on First Aid, CPR and AED through your Red Cross or local medical facility. Test your smoke alarms monthly, changing the batteries twice a year and replacing every 10 years. Then, when disaster does strike, document how it worked for the future.

            Are you prepared with a communication plan for your customers, team members and vendor partners? What's worked well for you, and how do you maintain this plan?