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

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Document Everything

Our ever-growing to-do lists, reference materials, resources, process outlines, checklists, websites to visit, shopping lists and much, much more... The amount of information we need to remember is constantly getting bigger and bigger. How can we possibly remember it all, let alone act upon any of it?!?

Where do you keep lists & references?
As we attempt to keep track of everything, it is important to remember that our brains are meant for strategic and creative thinking, not remembering things. Therefore, get it out of your head and document everything. Whether you choose a paper or electronic solution, do a data dump and collect all the information in a solution other than your brain.

While you probably use a calendar for dates to remember, an address book for contacts' information and a task management solution for your must-do items, where do you cull together everything else that is overflowing your brain? Do you prefer a paper notebook, a mobile app or something accessible everywhere?

I prefer to document everything in Evernote as it empowers easy reference while moving it all from to-do to done. Evernote gives me one username and password to access all information synced across my devices (smartphone, tablet, laptop, desktop as well as accessible via the Internet), it has unbelievable search capabilities to find exactly what I need when I need it, it allows for uploading an extensive list of different content types in various different ways, and it empowers me to easily share content with others to boost collaboration. Whether I'm retaining typed text, web clippings, photos of handwritten notes, checklists, audio or video recordings, bills from my service providers or documents, I can easily add those to my Evernote database; plus, when adding new content, there are so many ways to accomplish it: manually, scanning, IFTTT, emailing, FileThis and many more options.

As an Evernote Business Certified Consultant, I often post about ways to implement Evernote for your greater success, how you can utilize Evernote to boost productivity and ways Evernote will help alleviate your stress as you achieve harmony through work-life integration. To find these many helpful hacks and tidbits, simply search Evernote in the top, left-hand corner of this blog.

What tool do you use to remember everything? Your brain or an external place for dumping out all that information? Have you tried Evernote for culling it all together?

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Dress for Success

Consider this: 55% of another person's perception of you is based on how you look. Every day, people are constantly developing conclusions based off the way each of us dresses. As explained in Business Insider's "Here's How Your Clothing Affects Your Success", the impact of your attire is vast: "Research shows that your appearance strongly influences other people's perception of your financial success, authority, trustworthiness, intelligence and suitability for hire or promotion." There is validity to the saying of "Dress for the job you want, not the job you have." However, it can be challenging to dress to your potential when you aren't clear on what your style might be, you don't have your clothing choices organized in your closet or you are not comfortable pulling the components together.

Amidst all the challenges to dress for success, there are plenty of resources to help. A quick online search for "make sure you dress for your success" is a solid way to get started; however, utilizing all available resources would involve reaching out to experts that can help.

North Carolina has several folks with whom I've enjoyed working and received quality feedback:

- Geralin Thomas of Metropolitan Organizing shares her wardrobe wisdom via one-on-one consulting, during public workshops, with social media, on her Managing Modern Life blog and through complimentary printables from her website.

- Mary Michele Ndiffer of StyleFinder Boutique writes and speaks as a Master Style Coach all over the world, empowering women to discover their own specific style of beautiful through her trademarked StyleFinder ID assessment tool.

- Kate Leser of The Makeover Expert guides you to find the one thing about your look that you can change to have a profound impact on life, both personally and professionally, bringing out your authentic self, working both virtually and in person with clients.

How does your wardrobe measure up in conveying your authentic self? Does what you wear accurately transport your positive attributes? Do you get dressed easily each morning? If not, which of the aforementioned ladies will you contact for assistance moving forward?

Friday, January 29, 2016

Breathe in Aromatherapy for Productivity and Peace

Aromatherapy includes using essential oils to soothe stress through scent and can be a powerful tool to boost productivity. You can choose from such great flavors as peppermint and lavender, and I have found a diffuser to be very effective in spreading the scent around my office. Do you use aromatherapy already? If so, for what needs? How can you utilize this tool for greater success?

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Use a Timer to Boost Productivity

Whether you use the timer built into your mobile device, a simple kitchen timer or the Time Timer app, I have found a timer to be one of the most powerful tools in your productivity toolbox.

Maybe you are struggling with procrastination and simply cannot get started. Maybe you get easily distracted once you are working on something. Maybe you are overwhelmed by all that needs to be done and are drowning in what you're doing. No matter what is your productivity challenge, fully utilize timers to get more done and make every minute matter.

Get started on a "big, hairy, audacious" goal. When you are struggling to find the time do what needs to be done, it could be that you are looking at all the time needed for the entire task; however, setting a timer for 5 minutes, 10 minutes or, even, 30 minutes will get the ball rolling and, probably, give you a more realistic view of how long the entire action item will require.

Activity breeds activity. In the world of task management, working on any given task for a limited amount of time might propel you towards assigning it more time and, thereby, making more progress towards its completion. Further, working on a to-do item can energize you to get it done completely.

You can do anything for a short amount of time. If the task you have been avoiding is something you really do not want to do, knocking it out in shorter sessions of time can make it much less painful. When you envision something you truly dislike doing, it can be much less bad for a shorter time interval.

Stay on task. Particularly when creating content for social media posts, blogging, articles or books to write, client solutions and public speaking presentations, it is easy to get pulled away from the task at hand and run off on a tangent. Does "Oooo... Bright shiny thing!" or "chasing butterflies" sound familiar? If so, setting a timer for however long you would like to invest in any given task can keep you on track. Better yet, setting a timer for a shorter interval and repeating that for whatever number of times needed can empower you to stay on track until the task at hand is finished.

Shorter spans of effort energize greater results. If you have all afternoon to work on something, it is likely to take all afternoon; however, if you set a timer for a much shorter amount of time to complete the task, you will race to beat the clock. You are likely to get the task accomplished much more quickly, maybe even finishing the entire task in that shorter amount of time.

Do you utilize a timer to boost your focus and productivity? If so, what have been some of your greatest success stories? How can YOU use a timer for better results?

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Assign a "When" to Each "What" to Get More Done

I have yet to find a calendar that includes a "someday" on it; yes, every calendar has Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, etc, but there simply isn't a "someday" to be found. Therefore, when we talk about getting around to doing something during that magical time of "someday", it is much more likely to be a dream than a goal. Dreaming is certainly necessary to envision our aspirations and push us to think greater; however, a goal is result-oriented, where there is an achievement toward which effort is directed. Goals are more finite and, often, fine-tuned to be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound.

It is my emphasis that you achieve your desired results, which involves a focus on goals. Therefore, it is vital to remember this... Every "what" assigned a "when" is more likely to get done. What that means is that we should no longer talk about our to-do items in general terms.

When you have a task to do, make sure it has a deadline and, then, find specific time on your calendar during which the action can be completed. Perhaps you need to break the task into smaller components and find shorter intervals during which those tidbits can get done. Regardless, the takeaway is that you will have more wins if each action item has time assigned in your schedule for its completion.

Do you currently assign deadlines and schedule time for the completion of each action item on your to-do list? If not, are items sliding from one day to the next without getting done? Can you take time today to make sure each "what" is assigned a "when" for moving from to-do to done?

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Focus Your Task Management for Greater Success

With magazines like Woman's Day telling us to "Stand like a superhero to boost confidence", it is easy to feel like we are Superwoman or Batman and can accomplish infinite tasks each day. However, that is simply not the case... Each of us is human and, therefore, can accomplish only what is feasible within the constraints of each day. With work-life integration, we can often achieve multiple goals with a single action, but that does not change the facts: As we have only 1,440 minutes in each day, every human-being has limited abilities to get it all done each day.

While it is important to keep a running data-dump of all that must get done, save yourself the disappointment of not getting it all accomplished in one day by being realistic: Plan on no more than 3-5 must do tasks per day. Yes, it is possible that you will do much more than the 3-5 items listed; yet, there is also an equally strong chance of the phone ringing, email coming in or someone stopping by your office with an "emergency" that pulls you away from your own productivity. Leaving your must do list at only 3-5 items empowers you with buffers for unforeseen barriers to getting things done.

During each daily wrap-up, as you look at the running data-dump of all that must get done to cull together the next day's 3-5 must do items, consider all your options. What can be delegated to someone else or handled by technology? What can be deleted completely? What are the benefits of getting the item completed sooner than later? What would be the ramifications for holding off on completing the task until later? What best achieves your goals?

Highlight those 3-5 must do tasks amidst everything in your running data-dump of to-do items. Whether you choose to write them out on a 3" x 5" index card, jot them down on a Post-It note to keep visible throughout the day or set a reminder in your electronic task manager, it is important to make sure those 3-5 tasks are constantly in your top-of-mind awareness during the day.

How many items are on your to-do list for today? If you're looking at a never-ending list right now, what steps can you take to focus that on 3-5 items for this particular workday?

Monday, January 25, 2016

Organize Your Paper Files

Are your files bulging with too many papers in each? Is it hard to find what document you need as you have to dig through too many unnecessary pages? Are the actual folders falling apart due to all their contents? Do the labels fit what each file contains?

The same rule of "Keep only that which is accurate, applicable, useful or bringing you joy" that we discussed earlier for all the elements in your office is very applicable for what papers you retain in your file folders. Remove excess paperwork from your file folders. Is the information on that page still necessary for performing a task? Can it be found easily online when needed? If the old saying that "we use only 20% of the papers we keep" is true, how can we cut back on the other 80% so it's easier to find what we need?

If this seems a little too overwhelming, break this project into smaller pieces. Review only 10 files each day to determine what you really need, what can be scanned into an electronic form and what can be removed completely. Likewise, consider what should remain nearby in your workspace versus be moved to an alternative location. Maybe the contents need to be in a space you share with co-workers. Alternatively, maybe the contents need to be moved further away from you desk; keep in mind that the space closest to your desktop is prime real estate and should be reserved for items currently used frequently while less often referenced items need to be further out.

Once you have the contents of your files down to what you need, do a little homework... If what papers are being retained make the folder too thick, divide the contents into at least two different folders, continuing to group like with like. Don't overthink it, but do take it page by page through each file. If the title of the folder no longer describes what papers are in it, adjust how you label each folder to best reflect its contents. There is an art form in having enough file folder names that each paper to be retained has a home while not having so many folders that any paper could be filed in more than one place, but I know you can do it.

Invest some time in moving those piles of papers from the surface of your desk into action, active project or archive files, and you'll find less time wasted looking for what's needed, you'll be more comfortable inviting others into your workspace and you will be empowered to get more done in less time.

Are your paper files acting as another tool in your productivity toolbox? If not, which of these action items can you complete this week to better organize your folders?

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Document Your Ideal Clients to Attract Them This Year

There is a positive energy that invigorates us as we work with certain types of people; on the other hand, it can put a drain on our energy reserves when we are working with other types of individuals. As time is a limited resource, to the best of our abilities, it behooves us to invest our time with those who make life more enjoyable; however, it is not always easy to attract into our lives the types of people that invigorate us and bring us joy.

Block out some time to document your ideal client. Focus on those with whom spending time is delightful, client sessions which are such a pleasure that time simply flies. Make sure to write down those clients' age, gender, location, industry, role in company, attitudes, behaviors, beliefs and way in which they interact with others. Focus on the details because they matter!

Once you have a thorough visual of those with whom you want to invest your limited resource of time, it is much easier to attract them into your life, strategically focusing on places, events and activities that will connect you with your ideal client.

Then, take action... Go back to your calendar and schedule in time for the places, events and activities that will attract your ideal client to you, making sure you are not squandering any of your time with folks who drain your energy unless you absolutely must do so. Be strategic and proactive to utilize the comprehensive description created for your ideal client so you can fill your workdays with time spent helping those that create the best partnerships for you and your business.

Do you have a clear understanding of which clients invigorate you, make your sessions more joyful and with whom you really like working? If so, how do you proactively attract them into your business? If not, what steps can you take towards doing so today or this week?

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Enlist Your Energy Level as a Productivity Tool

Imagine this... You walk in the door of your office to start your workday, holding the list of your 3-5 "must do" tasks for the day, but you simply can't get started. So much for that "hit the ground running" idea you had, right? Not exactly!

Instead of assuming the day is lost, take a moment to assess your energy level. Different people have peak energy levels at different times of day. While some folks are "morning people" who have higher energy in the morning, that is not true for everyone. It is important to attack challenging work when your energy is at its peak, understanding that will vary from person to person.

If your energy peaks first-thing in the morning, you may choose to enlist your energy level as a productivity tool by "swallowing the frog". This means that you tackle your most difficult tasks first.

If your energy peaks later in the workday, you may choose to adopt the mantra of "activity breeds activity", starting with easier tasks and building momentum to do your more difficult work later.

Similarly, if you have lots of meetings, it becomes even more important to be aware of how your energy fluctuates during the day. Since meetings are designed for discussions and shared decision-making, it is important to have enough energy to address those activities. If you find your energy waning right before an important meeting, glance at my suggestions posted yesterday for how to quickly boost your energy reserves.

Are you more of a morning person, night owl or something in between? How can you adjust when you attack certain work functionality to utilize that for greater productivity?

Friday, January 22, 2016

Take Time to Replenish Your Energy Reserves

In this day of "do, do, do" working and "give, give, give" living, it can be very challenging to retain enough energy. Replenishing our reserves can be imperative. There are habits you can work into each day that will aid replenishing your energy, and there are tactics to quickly boost your energy reserves as needed.

As part of the Simple Change Wellness team, I am well aware of the ramifications on my productivity from diminishing or replenished energy; however, like for many of you, taking action to improve my energy can be challenging.

Although what works best will be unique to you, here are a few examples to get you started:

- Listen to upbeat or calming music, singing and dancing to it.

- Ask for help, especially for clarity or to delegate.

- Create a vision board and refer to it often for inspiration.

- Spend time with those people who matter to you, whether in person, via video chat or over a phone call.

- Take a brisk walk, especially if you can get out in nature. Physical activity oxygenates blood cells; breathing outdoor air while absorbing vitamin D is invigorating. If you're tired, a short walk for about 15 minutes will generate about 90 minutes of energy.

- Appreciate what you have, who you are with and what lessons you have learned along the way; gratitude is so powerful, and acknowledging how each of us is blessed helps.

- Find something to make you laugh, like laughing at yourself.

- Feel compassion for yourself as well as those around you, finding forgiveness for everyone's shortcomings.

- Eat well... Healthy foods spread throughout the day fuel our energy, especially when we increase our intake of magnesium and antioxidants. I really enjoy a power shake for a snake during the day: Put 1 small, ripe banana that's been sliced, 2 tablespoons of creamy peanut butter and 1 tablespoon of honey in a blender until smooth; then, add 1 cup of cold milk and blend until foamy.

- Stay hydrated... Keep a water bottle with you at all times and drink from it frequently during the day.

- Have something to look forward to, whether you are planning for an upcoming vacation or bought tickets to a special event. That feeling of anticipation and excitement can boost your energy.

- Meditate... Sitting quietly to relax your mind will relax your entire body and bring oxygen to your cells. Apps like Calm, Buddhify and OMG I Can Meditate make it easier to get started.

What tactics do you use currently to replenish your energy reserves? Are you feeling a little low on energy today? If so, which of these can you give a try right now?

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Automate Your Computer Backup

For most folks, it is not a matter of "if" but "when" regarding whether your computer will crash, get a massively destructive virus or be destroyed by a natural disaster. Instead of worrying about your data, take action. You can be prepared with automated, remote storage, which eliminates having to plug anything in for backing up your information and provides offsite backup in a remote area with totally different natural disasters. Compare current offerings from Backblaze, Carbonite, CrashPlan and Mozy to see from whom you can get the best deal; then, after creating your account, download your choice's software from its website, follow the instructions for setting the parameters of your automated backup and relax because your information is being secured as you continue working. There's nothing to remember, but I do recommend occasionally checking that your set-up is functioning properly, which you can plan for once a month or so.

How do you currently backup your data? Might you implement one of the tools I've mentioned here?

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Does Your Workspace Support Your Productivity Goals?

When you look around your workspace, whether it is a cubicle, automobile, corner office or table in a coffeeshop, what do you see? Does the clutter overwhelm you? Can you quickly find what you need? Is there a process set for how your work flows throughout?

If it is not helping achieve your goals, take time now to make your space a tool in your productivity toolbox.

- Take time to review the contents of your workspace. Retain only what is accurate, applicable, useful or bringing you joy... It is easier to find what is needed when there is less to look through. As you are editing, consider what can be easily found online as needed. There is no need to clutter your space with what can be found quickly with a simple online search. Further, always take into account any legal ramifications.

- As you purge accumulated excess, be strategic. What can be recycled? What must be shredded? Particularly for technology, what can be sold via NextWorth or Gazelle and what could you recycle? Speaking of tech tools, what functionality can be consolidated so you have fewer devices?

- Assign homes to what will be kept, storing items in zones closest to where they will be used. Remember the quote "a place for everything and everything in its place" to stay organized. When you know where something goes, it is easier to put it away after you've used it and find it when you need it again later. Also, keep "like with like" in mind as you assign homes, grouping like items together so they can be found at the same time.

- As if you were considering a real estate purchase, when organizing your workspace, think "location, location, location" and separate "active" items from those considered "archive". Things you are using currently or use more frequently should be in the prime real estate closest to where you are situated most often; then, items used less frequently get positioned further out.

- Move shared files and tools into a common space for team members to easily access.

- Determine if your personality is more "out of sight is out of mind" or "visual clutter paralyzes" so you can choose appropriate storage tools, and contain what you retain in the best storage tools to create applicable limits, whether files, bins, baskets, drawers, boxes or cabinets. A great example is how I use document boxes to keep related items together while their project is active and being addressed regularly, but you have to utilize whichever containers best meet your specific needs.

- Utilize labels and color to enhance the effectiveness of organizational solutions. Labels allow you to quickly determine what is housed where within your space; likewise, different colors can group together similar items as well as drive desired behaviors. There is no "right" or "wrong" verbiage to use when labeling, but balance carefully between generic and specific labels to enhance effectiveness. For example, "miscellaneous" creates a black hole to contain just about anything. If you struggle to determine in which file something should be kept, how will you ever be able to find those contents when you need to retrieve them later? It can be an art form to make sure you have enough files for everything you need to keep while not having so many files that you potentially create duplicates or struggle to file anything away.

- Remember "horizontal is hidden; vertical is visible"; I recommend using file holders that will not bury one folder under another and hanging an inbox by your door so those delivering you items won't lay them in your chair or atop what's on your desk.

- Finally, utilize all the walls and backs of doors in your workspace. These areas of your space provide valuable square footage that can be wasted and go unused but will help to give you more options for storage and easily accessing necessary items.

With what do you struggle in your workspace? What steps can you take to make a more organized workspace, which will empower more efficient workflow processes?

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Steps to Stop Letting Email Consume So Much Time

The average professional receives over 150 email messages every business day; however, many executives can get upwards of 300 or 400 emails per day. The idea of reading all those emails can be overwhelming, let alone responding or doing anything with them. Quite a few of my clients groan as soon as we start discussing emailing, noting that their emails can be very time-consuming.

Control your email instead of letting it control you. With a few action steps, you can take back power over how much time gets invested in your emails.

- Shift your mentality from "checking" to "processing" so your inbox is never a holding zone and each email is no longer handled more than once, limiting wasted time; move tasks to a running to-do list, appointment requests to your calendar, reference emails to your personal folders and those messages no longer needed to your trash file.

- Employ tools to help... Technological tools like Boomerang, Mailstrom and SaneBox can assist in automating your email processing so it happens without your time doing it.

- Send fewer emails out to get fewer replies back; sometimes, a quick phone conversation can replace multiple, back-and-forth email messages, even if you have to follow that call with a summary email for documentation purposes.

- Unsubscribe from subscriptions you are no longer reading. I realize that deleting an email takes only a second; however, those seconds add up, and the time it takes to unsubscribe is likely less than the accumulation of all the time deleting those multiple messages received. While the content might've been of interest to you when you signed up for it, if your need for that information has changed, take the time to unsubscribe.

- Bundle together when you get the subscriptions you read. If you are subscribed to an eNewsletter via AOL Mail, Gmail, Google Apps, Hotmail, iCloud, MSN,, Windows Live or Yahoo! Mail, you can utilize to get all of the subscription emails received each day in a "rollup", which is one email with all your designated subscriptions that appears in your inbox every day at the time you choose. As you are choosing which emails go into your "rollup", you can unsubscribe directly from with one click. Further, offers this bundled email for free... Yes, that's right; it's free. If you are not already subscribed to lists via one of those email services, simply create a free Gmail account and, then, update your subscriptions with it. For FAQs, click here.

- Strategically utilize rules in your email tool. Whether you check your new messages in Gmail, Mac Mail, Outlook or somewhere else, you can create rules for certain emails to bypass the inbox and go directly to a designated folder. For example, if you get Google Alerts, you could have them culled together into their own folder rather than processing them from your inbox. Likewise, if you have a few VIP contacts needing more immediate responses, give each of them his or her own folder and, then, create a rule for messages from that person to go directly into the specified folder, which will draw your attention into them needing a reply sooner than finding them amidst other messages in the inbox.

- Establish others' expectations. As human-beings, when there is a lapse in information provided, we inherently fill in the blanks ourselves. When it comes to how quickly you are going to get back to someone sending you an email, you probably do not want anyone creating this expectation for him- or herself. When you are clear on your own goals for how you plan to use email as a tool in your productivity toolbox and you are aware of your time constraints for when you will realistically be able to process newly received messages, you can designate what are appropriate expectations. Then, it is your responsibility to clearly communicate those to others, whether it is via initial meetings with new clients, in your email signature or through your actions as you respond to emails at regular intervals each workday.

Do you find email time-consuming? If so, which of these tactics will you implement to better control your email?

Monday, January 18, 2016

Put an End to Procrastination

When we procrastinate, it is often because we are overwhelmed by all that needs to get done, we are unclear as to what is expected of us for a requested task, we cannot decide which to-do has the highest priority level and should be done first or we simply do not know how to start the task at hand. Sometimes, procrastination can be a good thing as it gives us time to ruminate and gain clarity on how to proceed; however, more frequently, it is important to put an end to procrastination before it has a negative impact.

Simple Steps to Get Rolling
If you are uncertain how to stop procrastinating, here are a few ideas to help:

- Break projects into bite-sized actions so each step in the process is less daunting.

- Ask for help or seek direction on anything that is ambiguous.

- Nike was right... If a task will take 5 minutes or less, just do it.

- If a task will take longer than 5 minutes, set a timer for a short interval of time (like 15 minutes) and simply get started.

- Assign rewards for celebrating successful completion of tasks; likewise, implement ramifications for not meeting your deadlines.

- If problems prioritizing the tasks on your to-do list is what's holding you back, consider what negative consequences would result from not doing each item as well as what benefits would come from completing each item; then, address first those items with either the worst consequences for not getting them done or the greatest benefits from their completion.

It is possible to get everything done, but we cannot get it all done at one time or by the snap of our fingers; however, these tactics can make the process of moving from "to-do" to "done" easier.

What types of tasks typically cause you to procrastinate greater? Do you utilize any of these techniques to overcome procrastination currently? Which can you put into action?

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Sharing is Caring

Theodore Roosevelt famously said, "People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care." In today's relationship-driven society, where people are said to do business with folks they "know, like and trust", building that foundation is so integral for one's success. Such an endeavor takes time and energy but is paramount for connecting with others.

I have found the basis for building many of my most valued relationships stems from the understanding that "Sharing is caring", whether I am sharing information, time, a listening ear, a helping hand, a little bit of happiness or whatever might be of value to the person with whom I am sharing. It is about reaching out and creating a connection.

There are so many options for what can be shared with those about whom you care, but here is a sampling of ideas to consider:

- book, eBook or article you've written that might be helpful

- someone else's content that might be of interest to that person

- flowers to brighten up that person's office or home

- a handwritten note to convey your appreciation or share news

- time in-person over coffee, tea, frozen yogurt or a cocktail

- a phone call to catch-up and see how that person is doing

What do you share with those about whom you care to deepen the connection? How can you take action today to share something new and different with someone?

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Music Matters

Retailers have been integrating music into marketing campaigns for years to drive behavior, boost consideration and fuel sales. There is a great deal of research about how music affects our moods while driving, particularly for teenage drivers. Researchers have found that time feels like it is moving more quickly while we listen to music, and there is even a book named The Psychology of Music, written by Diana Deutsch, which can be purchased from here. It goes without saying that, yes, music does matter!

Yet, the reach and influence of music's abilities do not stop there. Music can be a very powerful addition to your productivity toolbox. Depending on the type of music you are listening to at any given time, music can help you accomplish all of the following:

- Set the mood

- Motivate behavior

- Stop procrastination

- Drive focus and concentration

- Energize

- Fuel performance

- Calm our spirits

When you are looking to plow through a daunting task, increase the challenge of your workout or recuperate from a stressful day, turn on a song that will help you achieve your desired results. If you are seeking inspiration, Lifehack offers "30 Inspirational Songs that Keep You Motivated for Life" or you can do a quick Google search for "music to ____" and insert what you are attempting.

Is music currently one of the tools in your productivity toolbox? If not, how can you utilize music to drive results?

Friday, January 15, 2016

Delegate or Automate When You Can

As time is a limited resource, it is not possible for any one human-being to do everything on his or her own... There simply are not enough minutes in the day. Still, since our inability to get it all done alone does not eliminate the never-ending to-do list, it is imperative to come up with alternatives, particularly until cloning becomes feasible for us all or we get our Inspector Gadget tools.

When evaluating your to-do list, consider what requires your unique skill set versus what can be accomplished by someone else; alternatively, consider what can be done more quickly or more thoroughly by another individual. Delegate or automate when you can. In any instance that you delegate or automate the completion of a task, you open up time in your schedule to allocate elsewhere.

Resources for delegation are not limited to existing members of your team. There are endless options for delegating many different types of tasks via Help TapUpwork, Fancy HandsFiverr, Guru, MoonlightingTask Rabbit, Thumbtack and 99Designs. These websites include options for all instances of budgetary constraints and many skill sets. Likewise, consider automation as delegating to a computer, and evaluate the many options for automating tasks to best fulfill your needs. If This Then That, Podbox, Zapier and social media managers, like Buffer, Edgar, Falcon SocialHootsuite, SocialOomph or Sprout Social, are all excellent for automation. Once you know which of your to-do items can be delegated or automated, find the resource to do so.

Delegation and automation are powerful tools for getting more done in less time and, thereby, boosting your productivity while maintaining your peace of mind and not missing opportunities.

What are some tasks on your to-do list that could be delegated or automated? Which of these tools might you be able to implement in your own productivity toolbox?

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Practice The Power of One

Although many claim that one is a lonely number, I contend that one is a very powerful number for boosting your productivity. When you have one place to look for information, one place to update content and one place from which data feeds, it is easier to quickly find what you need when you need it, to update data as it changes and to verify information is processing correctly. Take action! Streamline your toolbox to have one tool for each of these:

Calendar - Each of us is only one human-being, whether at work, at home or somewhere in between; if you have one calendar for both personal and professional commitments, you are less likely to double-book yourself, more likely to remember where you need to be when and able to easily reference where you are spending all of your time. Choose whether a paper or electronic solution works better for your specific needs, and test out solutions to see which you prefer, like Cozi, EveryThink, Google Calendar, iCal, Kalendi, Outlook, Sunrise or Yahoo.

To-Do List - Since our brains are meant for thinking, not remembering, it is imperative to write down all that needs to get done. When tasks are jotted down on a Post-It note beside our computer screen, a napkin in the drive-through lane and the paper from our meeting notes, it becomes challenging to know what tasks need to be completed by when; however, when all tasks are culled together in one running data dump, it is easier to funnel what needs your attention into a daily to-do list, either paper or electronic. Tech tools like Any.Do, Asana, Azendoo, Carrot, Clear, Google Tasks, Mavenlink, Nozbe, Pocket Informant, Producteev, Remember the Milk, iOS' Reminders, Todoist, Toodledo, Trello, Wrike and Wunderlist offer reminders, easier carryover, repeat options and integrations, whether working independently or in collaboration with your work teams, committees and family.

Address Book - If your contacts' information is synced between your computer and mobile devices, you have one database (or address book), which means you can more easily update any contact's information as it changes because we all know people move, change jobs and get new email addresses or phone numbers. Plus, if you have your contacts' information in such an electronic address book, it is easier to utilize tools like EasilyDo, Humin, Sync.ME, Brewster, EverContact and FullContact to double-check the accuracy of each connection's contact information.

Password Manager - Today's workflows often involve logging into many different platforms in addition to online banking, social media and bill-paying. Listing those usernames and passwords in one place can be a lifesaver, and an electronic solution is more secure, allows easier access while on-the-go, creates more secure passwords for you and can alert you automatically when any site has been hacked for more quickly resetting your password. Consider these low cost options: Dashlane, LastPass, Roboform, SplashID, Sticky Password and 1Password.

Reference Tool - If you have one place for all the information you must reference and remember, it is much easier to find what you need when you need it. Personally, I prefer Evernote to boost my workflows' effectiveness because it allows me to cull together all different types of information (typed text, handwritten notes, video, audio, web clippings, photos, documents), to add content via multiple methods (typing it in, photographing it, scanning it, emailing it in, File This, IFTTT), offers ubiquity of syncing all my information across my various different devices, allows me to annotate images, empowers great collaboration and provides superior search capabilities. No matter what option you choose, keep all your notes, checklists, research, process outlines, reading materials and more in one place for efficiency and easier access.

Cloud-Based, Automated Backup - Computers crash. Fires can destroy all your devices. Emergencies happen. Yet, you can be prepared with automated, remote storage. Unlike a hard-drive that you attach to your computer for backing up data, a cloud solution isn't at risk of natural disasters in your physical proximity, doesn't require you remembering to hook it up for activating the back-up and has multiple points at which your data storage is duplicated. See whether you can get the best deal for your specific needs via Backblaze, Carbonite, CrashPlan or Mozy.

File-Naming Structure - Whether your paper files, electronic documents or emails, having each folder and individual file follow the same naming conventions will allow you to know what goes where and more easily retrieve content later. If you have to ask "where should I file this?" when assigning a home to newly received or created content, how will you ever be able to find it later? Keep your file-naming structure simple so it is easy to replicate between platforms; then, make sure you have enough folders for all the content you will be storing while not having so many folders that any one item could go into more than one.

Weekly Strategy Session - Proactively create the direction in which you will proceed for the week ahead rather than starting in reactionary mode, focusing more on your priorities instead of being pulled to address others' priorities. You can take control of your productivity by being strategic and mapping out a specific game plan for addressing all that needs your attention. Click here for a checklist and make time in your schedule to complete this Friday afternoon or over the weekend.

Daily Wrap-Up - To keep your weekly strategy on track amidst all the curveballs that life will throw your way, end each day with your daily wrap-up, where you address each of the work-life integration items covered in the checklist linked here.

By streamlining your personal and professional tools for better organization, you will best make every minute matter.

What are some ways you can practice "the power of one" to boost your productivity via work-life integration? On which of these toolbox needs' will you take action today?

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Regularly Perform a Time Audit to Avoid Burnout

According to, burnout is "fatigue, frustration or apathy resulting from prolonged stress, overwork or intense activity". Often times, this burnout directly results from a lack of alignment between your actions and your goals or priorities. Your health depends on taking action to avoid such burnout.

Since burnout is usually due to a misalignment between your goals and your daily actions, regularly complete a time audit to verify your actions are in alignment with your goals, priorities and values. 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, set goals and a need for input from all there. Invest your time wisely to focus on what's most important as each day has only 1,440 minutes.

Our individual circumstances change at different stages in our lives so be ready for the percent of each day devoted to each element of your life to vary from time to time. Some days will have a greater investment of time in work while others will focus more time on community; keep your focus fluid as needs shift between work, home, community or society and the private realm of mind, body and spirit. Still, as emphases shift, focus all actions on your goals.

How do you monitor the ways you're investing your time to make sure they align with your goals, priorities and values? Will you implement a time audit to achieve better work-life integration and avoid burnout?

Limit Distractions to Boost Productivity

According to Time Magazine, 50% of American employees say they work for only 15 minutes before becoming distracted while 53% of those same American employees report wasting more than an hour a day because of disruptions. Likewise, a typical office worker gets only 11 minutes between each interruption while it takes up to 25 minutes to return to the original task after an interruption. Wow... Makes it challenging to get any work done, right?!?

As you jumpstart your productivity at the beginning of this new calendar year, take action to limit your distractions. Here are a few steps you can take to limit distractions:

- Whether you prefer Facebook, Google+, Instagram, LinkedIn or Pinterestset a timer for how long you will use social media. You can easily use the timer on your mobile device, a kitchen timer or one of the many options from Time Timer.

- Turn off the pings and dings for notifications. Each time you get a social media notification, a preview for a newly received email or an alert of a new text message received, that is an unnecessary distraction; eliminating those allows you to take control over your tech tools and choose to check for those new messages when it works best in your schedule.

- Send your phone directly to voicemail as needed. When you are in a meeting, you do not take time to answer every call that comes in. Think about working on tasks and priority projects in a similar way, holding off answering those requests for your time and energy until after the task at hand has been completed. Plus, turning off the ringtone removes another distraction.

- Consider working remotely at times. Research shows that working in a coffeeshop can be excellent for getting more done because any conversations around you or noises in the store become background noise and drown out distractions.

- Employ tech tools to block distracting sites temporarily. For example, at KeepMeOut's site, you tell it the site to be avoided and in what timeframe to warn you if you visit it more than once. LeechBlock is an extension for the Firefox web browser that lets you block whichever sites you deem to be time-wasting for you. Nanny for Google Chrome is added to your Chrome browser for blocking specific URLs on set days for more than what you tell it is the max number of minutes you can visit that website. SelfControl is a free Mac application to help you avoid distracting websites while StayFocused is another tool to add to your Chrome browser for limiting the amount of time you can spend on time-wasting websites. Choose whichever best meets your unique needs!

What tactics do you utilize currently to limit distractions? Which of those I have listed here can you add to your productivity toolbox for greater results?

Monday, January 11, 2016

Delete and Discard Can Be Our Friends

When you look at the space in which you work, do you see clutter and piles? The more we have, then the more we have to sift through to find what we need when we need it, and those wasted moments can be better invested with other activities.

Always remember that delete and discard can be our friends! Whether email, paper, electronic documents or physical items, keep only what is accurate, applicable, useful or bringing you joy, and you'll better utilize your workspace as a tool in your productivity toolbox.

If you are struggling in deciding whether to keep something, consider what would be the worst-case results if you discarded it but needed it later. Are there legal ramifications? Can the content be easily found online or recreated? There is nothing wrong with keeping things, but I encourage you to be strategic (and selective) about what you choose to fill your workspace.

What is your current process for deciding what to keep or discard? Once you've reviewed everything in your space, how will you maintain such order, including an ongoing review of what you have kept as well as what's new?

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Take Time to Send Hand-Written Notes

Today's busy professionals can benefit from productivity hacks that make the most of the time we have each day. Each day's 1,440 minutes go by quickly so it is imperative to make every minute matter. However, at times, there can be additional value in taking a few extra minutes to distinguish ourselves from others.

Since it is so easy to shoot off an email or text, be different... Take time to send hand-written notes.

There are many instances in which a hand-written note is a great idea, such as the following:

- to say thanks for someone's support or extra effort

- to congratulate someone on an achievement or new job

- to share an article you think might be useful or of interest

- to let someone know you have been thinking about him or her, whether out of the blue or during a difficult time for that person

- to acknowledge a special event or holiday, particularly less acknowledged holidays like the start of a new day, Valentine's Day, the anniversary of working with a client or someone's birthday

My only caveat in recommending hand-written notes is that some folks like to hold onto every note they have ever received, which creates additional clutter. Sending and receiving hand-written notes can be great; yet, you might want to include a message that encourages the recipient to recycle the note after reading.

Do you like sending or receiving hand-written notes? In what instances do you find them most valuable?

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Which of Your Tasks Can You Do in 10 Minutes?

Throughout your day, as you move seamlessly between time commitments, free blocks of time do not regularly appear. However, in those magical moments when a meeting wraps up early or you are waiting for your next appointment, you definitely do not want to waste those precious moments determining what can be done within the available timeframe. 

If circumstances gift you with 10 minutes of free time but you spend 5 minutes determining what can be done within the available time, you lose time to get more done. Alternatively, if you keep a list readily available of which to-do items can be completed in a 10-or 30-minute time slot, you are ready to hit the ground running when such blocks of time become available.

As you are documenting your running list of to-do items, denote how long you anticipate each taking, particularly for those that fit within smaller blocks of time. When free time occurs, you can glance at your list to see which of the denoted times for completing listed tasks will fit within what time is available.

Do you know which of the items on your running to-do list can be completed within 10 minutes? If not, for which tasks can you add an estimated time to complete it?

Friday, January 8, 2016

End Each Day with the Next in Mind

With each morning laying the foundation for how things will go throughout that day, the importance cannot be overstated for anything you can do the night before to help remove unnecessary actions from your morning routine and streamline processes for getting ready. Be proactive and better make every minute matter.

Boost productivity by ending each day with the next in mind. Here are some ideas to help:

- Plan what you'll need for the next day's schedule. If you are headed directly to a meeting from your home first-thing in the morning, do you have any files or notes you'll need ready to take with you as you walk out the door? Where are your wallet and keys?

- Verify the weather forecast and prepare your next day's outfit. Make sure you have all the appropriate undergarments and accessories that you will need. Are your clothes ironed? Do you need to shine your shoes? Pay attention to all applicable details.

- Think through the details of what you'll eat for breakfast. If you eat cereal each morning, maybe you set your bowl and spoon beside the cereal box on your countertop. If your coffeemaker allows for programming a start time, have you filled it with coffee and programmed in when it is to start?

- Prepare your lunch plans. If you take your lunch, go ahead and make it, but leave a note beside your car keys to remember to retrieve it from the kitchen. If you go out for lunch each day, think through a location of preference and check its online menu.

- Make sure your vehicle has gas. How often are we racing out the door, running a few minutes late, and realize our low fuel light is on immediately upon turning on the ignition, when we definitely don't have time to stop by the gas station?!? If you take care of that the evening before, it is one less issue to potentially create morning madness.

- Finish with a tablespoon of unsweetened almond butter. This will maintain anyone's blood sugar overnight so you wake up more refreshed. I've also heard that melatonin can help, and MidNite is a quality option for a drug-free sleep aid.

What actions do you take at the end of each day to ensure the next day starts the way you want? Are there any items listed here you'll incorporate into your daily habits?

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Jump-Start Your Morning

How you start each day can lay the foundation for how things will go all day long. When you oversleep and race frantically out the door, it can make you stressed and frazzled throughout your entire day. Alternatively, if you have a set morning routine that builds up your energy, keeps you happy and smooths your way out the door with time to spare, that positive energy can fuel your day.

Jump-start each morning with these 3 simple steps:

- Remove unnecessary actions from your morning routine. Do you really need to empty the dishwasher or pick-up your child's toys? If the task is not getting you closer to walking out the door, at what time can it be scheduled for doing later?

- Streamline your processes for getting ready each day. Is there a breakfast option which is easier to prepare that you can have daily? Might you be able to simplify styling your hair or how you apply make-up?

- Use hacks to boost your energy from the start of each morning. What can you do to get up and moving immediately? Would there be any early workout you could start or should you try the 7 Minute Workout app? Do you have an upbeat playlist in your music that you could incorporate in your morning routine? Plus, drinking a tall glass of water with a squeeze of lemon juice will certainly improve your morning energy level.

How do you regularly start your day? Have you found success with anything I've shared? Which of these will you be incorporating in your upcoming mornings' routine?

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Always Complete Your Daily Wrap-Up

As we discussed in yesterday's post, it is imperative to create a weekly strategy so you are proactively taking control of how your time is invested; however, we live in the real world, and things happen to derail even the best laid plans. You get pulled into an unexpected project, an emergency arises, a colleague calls in sick or your client desperately needs your help immediately.

To stay on track amidst all the curveballs that life will throw your way, end each day with your daily wrap-up, where you address these items:

- Communications: Get updates from team members and "hot prospects", both new and returning; touch bases to increase your awareness of what is happening while keeping you in the other folks' awareness.

- Tasks: Review that day's to-do list; determine which incomplete items will be completed when. Ready the next day's "must-do" list, remembering that a list of 3-5 items will be realistic and allows you to hit the ground running.

- Time: Evaluate your schedule for the next day, verifying that you're prepared for it all. If not yet ready, when will you allocate time for those preparations?

- Workspace: Tidy up... File new items and put that day's work back into each item's home.

- Successes: Celebrate all you've accomplished in the day that's ending. If you got out of bed, you accomplished something!

- Gratitude: Make note of that for which you are grateful at the end of each day, whether one item or a list of things.

How do you resolve on the loose ends at the end of each day? What is your response whenever your weekly strategy is thrown off course? Which of the items in this daily wrap-up do you find most valuable? What can you start today?

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Be Proactive with a Weekly Strategy Session

If you have ever played or worked in athletics, you know there are many preparations that occur before each game, including scouting the opponent, preparing equipment and creating a game plan. Yes, during the game itself, there will be adjustments to the plan based off how the other team is playing, but coaches would never lead their teams into athletic competitions without creating a game plan prior to the start of that game. It is about proactively creating the direction in which you will proceed rather than starting in reactionary mode, not simply responding to the opponent's lead.

Make Every Minute Matter
This same philosophy is certainly applicable to your own work-life integration. Take control of your productivity by creating your own weekly strategy, where you plan specifically for how you'll address the following:

- Tasks - Evaluate which tasks from the week ending were left undone and should be carried forward. When will those incomplete tasks get done?

- Team Communications - Get in-depth updates, including what's working, what's not working and what needs attention.

- Client Communications - Catch-up on emails and calls. Then, reach out to schedule time with those who have been needing your attention; connect with those from whom you've not heard lately.

- Time Commitments - Review the upcoming week's commitments to ensure you are prepared for related tasks, leaving buffers for travel as well as unforeseen things to pop up.

- Development - Determine opportunities for personal and professional growth; what will move you towards your goals?

As you complete your weekly review of the ending week and plan for the one ahead, be strategic and map out a specific game plan for addressing all that needs your attention. With only 1,440 minutes in each day, we must make every minute matter.

How are you strategic in addressing each week's needs? Do you complete a weekly strategy session currently? If not, will you schedule that now for this Friday or sometime over the weekend?

Monday, January 4, 2016

Visualize Your Ideal 2016 to Make It Happen

One of the most successful methods for achieving a big goal is outcome visualization, where you create a detailed mental image of the desired outcome using all of your senses.

Succeed With Outcome Visualization
Today, take time to visualize your ideal 2016 so you can make it happen, paying attention to the details.

At the end of this year, how will you have spent your days? What will be your gross revenue? How many of what types of clients will have hired you? What did you start doing? What did you stop doing? What did you do more often than ever before?

Write your answers down; then, determine what needs to occur to make your vision a reality. What resources would help? What marketing efforts do you need to schedule? What types of networking do you need to incorporate in your upcoming plans? With whom do you need to interact more?

If you could use a little help getting started with outcome visualization, click here for Jack Canfield's step-by-step guide.

What is included in your vision for 2016? What needs to occur to make that vision a reality?

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Be Filled With Gratitude

I am blessed to live a full life, filled with many people, places, things, experiences and opportunties for which I'm very grateful, including my wonderful clients, my fabulous friends, having a roof over my head and not worrying about from where my next meal will come.

Gratitude can be very powerful! Whether via a note-taking app or paper journal, take time to jot down that for which you're grateful each day. Some days, you may be in a rush and have time to add one item to your list; other days, you may be able to go into more depth. Regardless of how many you list each day, the process of recognizing all your blessings will drive awareness, fuel gratitude and boost productivity.

Will you keep an electronic or paper list? What can you list as that for which you are grateful today?

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Build a Solid Foundation for Your Greater Productivity

For many people, getting organized tops the list of new year's resolutions. All around us, there are people talking about what works for them and experts sharing tips to help. It can be very easy to say "I'll do that" or "That would be great for me" to all the ideas you hear; however, in my experience, trying too many things at once leads to failure and will discourage future efforts.

Instead, think about achieving your goals like eating an elephant. How would you eat an elephant? I have always heard the only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time, which is the same way I look at attacking any project... Bit by bit by bit.

Attempt any productivity and organization tidbits one at a time, not all at once, and develop habits slowly so they really stick. Adopting new ways of doing things and making changes can be difficult, but it is much easier when undertaking smaller chunks instead of an overhaul all at once.

Once you've mastered one change, it is a much better time to move on to the next change than seeking to make multiple changes at the same time. Plus, each of those changes is rarely as challenging in reality as we envision it will be in our minds.

Which element of your productivity practices or workflow processes do you want to change first? Have you tried to improve previously and struggled due to attempting too many changes at once? I'd love to hear your experiences!

Friday, January 1, 2016

Happy New Year 2016!

Let's launch this happy new year with some tidbits to boost your productivity, help you get better organized and encourage greater happiness... Starting today, I'll be posting a visual here as well as on each of Organize for Success, LLC's social media channels with something to make this your best year thus far. Feel free to share with others and leave comments about how each tip impacts you.

With only 1,440 minutes in each day, make each minute matter by focusing on your priorities. Saying "yes" to doing one thing is saying"no" to doing something else; you cannot reinvest your very limited resource of time!

What are your rocks (or top priorities) that need your time the most? How can you better focus each day's 1,440 minutes on those first, working your pebbles and sand around those more important or urgent items?