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

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Step-By-Step Tactics for How to Thrive This Holiday Season

The sprint from Halloween to New Year's Day can be a blur, particularly without planning how you really want to enjoy each of the many holidays throughout this season... Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday, Advent, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Boxing Day, New Year's Eve and more. Now that we are only 50 days away from Christmas, it's the perfect time to be proactive. Here are a few simple steps to get started. ⠀ Step 1: Detail your vision. How would each perfect holiday look, smell, taste, feel and sound? With whom would you be spending time? What would you be doing? Consider every aspect. ⠀ Step 2: Choose your priorities. Every what that has a when is more likely to get accomplished so schedule on your calendar what earns your time: holiday traditions, kids' performances, local events, gift-giving, new opportunities to celebrate. ⠀ Step 3: Integrate your holiday priorities amidst your existing commitments for work, home, community as well as self-care, including what you need to keep your mind, body and spirit fueled. Work-life integration proves so much more productive than the dream of work-life balance. Which of your non-holiday commitments can you delegate, delete or delay? Should you use some PTO from work to address holiday needs so they cause fewer distractions? ⠀ Step 4: Create a budget. Include everything for gifts, decorations, entertainment, food, beverage and travel, taking into account from where your resources will come to cover these additional expenses. Have you culled finances into a special account for holiday needs? Should you be aware of the limit for what credit card you'll use? ⠀ Step 5: Secure your travel details. What are your desired travel dates, and will you be going by plane, train or automobile? Should you get your vehicle serviced? How will you book hotel or other accommodations? Can tech make your trip better? ⠀ Step 6: Outsource what you can. Apps can enable automating certain functionality or you can delegate via sites like Fancy Hands, Task Rabbit and Thumbtack. Better yet, consider a local concierge service to help, such as Errand Girl, Consider It Done! or Metro's Other Woman. They do offer affordable options. ⠀ What steps can you take now to worry less, avoid hectivity and savor every moment? A little work now will make the holidays less overwhelming and empower you to thrive while enjoying it all.

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Organize a Successful Tailgate Party

Sports fans everywhere are studying up on their favorite teams' starting quarterbacks, injury reports and expected totals for wins as well as losses, but that's not the only conversation circling around football.

Pregame festivities are the ultimate excuse to gather with friends for cornhole, crack open a cold beverage and fire up the grill. Maybe you are an ACC fan celebrating the season for your Demon Deacons, Tar Heels, WolfpackBlue Devils and Clemson Tigers or you're an SEC fan excited about the prospects for this year's Gators, Bulldogs, LSU Tigers and Crimson Tide; maybe you're an NFL fan who's eagerly awaiting the start of the 100th season coming up on Thursday. No matter what logo is on your jersey, chances are good you'll be tailgating soon.

Whether you're planning a football tailgate for tomorrow, next week or next month, here are some tools to make the process of planning your pregame festivities a little easier:

  • Make sure you bring the right supplies. If you know right off exactly what you and your crew need, don't rely on your unreliable brain; capture the checklist for what to prepare, pack and bring within your Evernote account. If you are an Android user, you can use the already drafted list within the Tailgating Planner app, which is easily customizable as your list evolves and syncs between all your Android devices. If you are an iPhone user, you can create food and drink menus as well as collect attendees' fees from the Tailgate Nation app, making it easy to host the party.
  • Efficiently answer your friends' "What can I bring?" question. Whether you update the list built into the Thing2Bring app on your iPhone or you use an event list from, having folks choose from a list will better ensure all elements needed are covered without too many folks bringing the same thing. Ice is important, but you don't want everyone bringing only a bag of ice, just like too many desserts won't cover all needs.
  • Be weather aware before and during your tailgate. Check the weather beforehand to be sure you dress appropriately as well as take whatever accessories will be needed for what Mother Nature is sending, like tents, jackets, umbrellas and sunglasses. Then, setup alerts from your preferred weather app to be notified when there are changes or a weather system gets nearby, whether that's via the app for your local TV station, what's built into your mobile device or from The Weather Channel.
  • Ensure attendees painlessly find the party. The Map My Tailgate app on Android as well as iOS allows hosts to share exactly where the tailgate is, choosing to share that with invited guests or inviting anyone with the app to come share your fun. Alternatively, if you used the Tailgate Info app to plan who will be bringing what, it includes Point to Point Navigation for easily finding your precise location. Plus, whether stars, footballs or something else, a bundle of helium balloons from Dollar Tree will last a long time, giving great visibility for those roaming the lot in search of your tailgate. 

Going beyond these basics, make sure to checkout BuzzFeed's 41 Tailgating Tips That Are Borderline Genius. These best practices are guaranteed to take your pregaming from great to amazing in the snap of your finger, and you will certainly say "Wow!" when reading at least one.

Once you have nailed how to organize a successful tailgate party, if you are in the state of North Carolina, consider submitting your next tailgate to the David Glenn Radio Show to win big prizes as the tailgate of the week or of the year via the Big Tailgate Tour. DG will definitely bring even more excitement to your already fantastic celebration.

What's your favorite way to prepare the ultimate tailgate? Which element is essential for your most fabulous tailgate?

Thursday, August 29, 2019

4 Ways to Integrate Life's Various Elements for Greater Success

Whether you're rebounding from vacation mode, barreling into new routines with back-to-school season, building a side hustle into something more, increasing the intensity of a countdown to a big event this fall, racing from the office to a nonprofit meeting or simply squeezing all you can into these last almost 4 weeks of the summer season, my client's words about the value of work-life integration ring true.

People often refer to work-life balance; yet, I believe work-life integration is more realistic. In thinking about "balance", I see a scale or seesaw, forcing a perception of costs needed for success, and I don't believe my "work" competes with my "life". Instead, the various elements regularly complement each other, each one adding value to the others with the ongoing mix of priorities. Although balance would be static, life is certainly not, and successful productivity requires flexible, fluid solutions to address one's ever-changing priorities for work, home, community or society and the realm of self-care for mind, body and spirit. As the various elements are layers on top of each other, the emphasis needed for each element continually fluctuates, and each layer enhances the others, making the sum greater than any part.

Here are ways to get starting putting work-life integration into effect for the results you desire:

1️⃣Account for your priorities in all elements of life via your one, individualized game plan on a daily, weekly and monthly basis.

2️⃣Aim for activities that accomplish wins (or improved performance) in multiple elements of life at the same time, like brainstorming a big pitch for work or listening to an audiobook at the same time as walking your dog.

3️⃣Acknowledge how the resources around you can help, like creating an organized workspace, outsourcing what needs to be done but not necessarily by you and utilizing any applicable technology tools that are available.

4️⃣Audit how you invest time regularly, making sure your activities align with your goals for greater success as well as less burnout.

Known as the Wharton Work/Life Integration Project, Stew Friedman's research at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania focuses on the interactions between all the elements encompassed in life, empowering each of us to be real, whole and innovative by integrating all elements to make each better.

The above from Joyce Chen of La Marca Prosecco gets to the heart of why work-life integration better enables crafting the lives we want to live. "I hate that 'balance' word. The reality is: It's a rhythm. We're in rhythms where it's high and it's low, it's high and it's low. And I think, in those rhythms, it's ok to let some things go for a little bit, and maybe you get back to it later."

As productivity is about efficiently working to effectively achieve results desired for all elements of life, the most powerful tools in the toolbox of highly successful individuals have been found to include flexibility, streamlining, resourcefulness and a focus on outcomes over the specific activities we "should" be doing.

What tools do you put to work for crafting the life you want to live, fueling what results you want, moving you towards achieving your priority goals and truly helping you organize for success?

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Simple Tactics to Boost ROI from Your Investment of Time

Each day offers only 1,440 minutes. Unlike dollars invested in the stock market that we anticipate will give us back more dollars to reinvest, each minute can be spent no more than once. Are you getting the desired return on investing your limited time?

If you're experiencing hiccups, consider these time management tips to boost productivity:

1. Stay true to your priorities, intentionally aligning your actions with those areas of importance and better avoiding burnout. As priorities shift, it’s important to be flexible, shuffling how your time is invested to keep your actions focused on achieving your highest priority goals. It's important to regularly revisit this alignment, assessing how well you are staying focused on what matters most and investing your limited minutes in those priority actions.

2. Learn to say "no". What actions are being asked of you that don't actually need to be done? Are there tasks on your to-do list that could be delegated to someone else who can do them equally well if not even better so you open time for what only you can do? Alternatively, should you consider "not now" for something that can be delayed until a later deadline?

3. Utilize work-life integration for more overall success. Create harmony with goals for home, work, society and yourself by allowing them to complement one another rather than compete with each other. Focus on actions that can accomplish multiple goals at once, plan how you can invest your time with each of your most important priorities at the forefront of your emphasis and maintain pliability to easily address your priorities as they evolve over time.

4. Cut back on distractions with fewer pings and dings. When distracted, it can take us an average of 23 minutes to fully re-engage in the task at hand. Each time we receive a notification for a new email, social media update, text or voice mail, those are the distractions that steal our time. Stop bleeding minutes throughout the day! Turn off the notifications and schedule set times to check each platform. For folks requiring immediate responses, make them VIPs to utilize Do Not Disturb on iOS and Priority Mode on Android.

How do you make sure the limited number of minutes you have in each day is moving you forward in crafting the life you want to live? Make every minute matter!™️

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Ways to Keep Productivity Soaring Throughout the Summer Season

With the hours of daylight super long this time of year, it's the perfect time to take steps toward boosting productivity as you enjoy this sensational season...

List out your goals. It's only by knowing what you want to accomplish that you can best integrate all elements of your life for your greatest fulfillment and summer productivity. Therefore, take a few moments to jot down all your must-do activities, projects and tasks for this season. Think of it like a bucket list but take into account your goals for work, home, society as well as your self-care via mind, body and spirit. Once everything is culled into one place, it'll be so much easier to assign time for each and work through your checklist.

Calendar the craziness! Line up calendars for the months of July, August and September on your wall so you can see everything at a glance. These might be wall-hanging paper or dry-erase calendars; the key is to have all three months visible at once. Then, add vacation details for you and your team members, holiday celebrations, impending deadlines and personal or family commitments, including swim meets and camp registrations alike. Include all elements of your life, considering a different color for each bucket. When you know what is coming, you can more proactively invest your time in achieving all of your desired results for each area of life and address "all the things" that matter most for the life you want to craft to achieve your highest priorities.

Establish your non-negotiables from the get-go. As summer schedules tend to become a little more erratic than normal, you and your team need to know which items have less flexibility than others. For me, I absolutely must maintain my weekly strategy session and daily wrap-up, but the good habits that keep each individual on track productively will vary from person to person. Do you expect your team members to have certain hours during which they always work in the office rather than operate remotely? Is there an expectation for how team members should request vacation time or notify the rest of the team about a hiccup related to impending deadlines, which can be especially vital with varying schedules for summer vacations? This would be a good time to communicate leadership's expectations to everyone. Be as clear, concise and transparent as you can. Then, when looking at your personal commitments, which can't be shifted as they help you energize, stay centered and maintain some semblance of sanity? Make sure those are highlighted on the calendars you've hung on your wall and communicate their importance to those who can help you keep them scheduled. Is it getting outside daily or going to the pool? Maybe it's a daily yoga session or movement? Whatever you need, be sure to ask for and commit to those fuel sources.

Focus your efforts on individual activities or tasks, not projects. It's not possible to check a project off your to-do list in one sitting. "Plan a party" is not a single action item; instead, there are many actions that make up that project. As you are mapping out the next three months, take time to break larger goals into smaller, bite-sized action items that can be completed as individual tasks. Make sure these are actions that move you forward with regards to goals in the areas of your life that matter most, avoiding the "shoulds" so you focus on your priorities. Start each task with a verb so as to fuel action, break each task down to as simple of a function as possible, estimate how long each action item will take to complete so you readily know those tasks taking 10 or 30 minutes, and assign a deadline for each task's completion. It is only in the instances that we assign a "when" for each "what" to be accomplished that we get more done so move your "someday" tasks to a specific date and time. Your future self will thank you for this emphasis on crafting the life you want to live.

Invest some time to reflect inward. With erratic schedules during summer, many companies have fewer meetings that would otherwise be held at normal intervals; this can be the ideal time to review and reset some of your organization's key elements. When was the last time your team updated its mission, vision, values, goals, processes and workspace organization? If it has been awhile, block out time during the dog days of summer to look them over, adjust as needed and, thereby, boost productivity for what really matters most. Maybe you'll want to freshen up clients' experiences, update what messages you are conveying across all mediums and put yourself in the client's shoes. Further, this can be an ideal time for a personal audit, where you assess what you have learned and achieved thus far this year, what priorities need attention in the coming months and what "someday" actions need to be scheduled so they move from to-do to done. Do your goals for work, home, community or self-care need to be adjusted, and how can you realign your actions to focus on achieving each?

Make time for fun and frivolity. If you block out time to truly enjoy the season, you'll be less distracted by what you are missing when you are focusing intently on getting things done. Brainstorm what cool things you can do to dive into summer enjoyment; then, once you've blocked off time for those activities, your mind will be less likely to drift from working towards wondering when you'll actually be able to celebrate summer fun. Plus, when you are taking time to enjoy all this season offers, you can truly take a break from everything else since you've planned for when those other goals will be addressed, boosting productivity overall.

What steps can you take today to get the ball rolling? With whom can you partner to hold each other accountable in creating your plan and, then, following through on that plan, even as things might need to be tweaked and your flexibility might get tested?