Why Multi-Tasking Doesn’t Work for Me

Years ago, I prided myself at being able to multi-task, working on multiple projects or tasks at the same time, seamlessly switching back and forth between each one at the drop of a hat.

Back in the day, it sounded like something everyone was supposed to be able to do, and do well.  But lately, I find myself defining multi-tasking more like the B.C. comic above – “messing up several things at once.”

Today, I find it is much harder for me to give my full attention to more than one thing at a time, and do them equally well.  Maybe it’s because I’m older (just turned 40 a few months ago) or maybe because multi-tasking isn’t all it was cracked up to be. [Read more…]

Are Online Distractions Limiting Your Personal Productivity?

The computer is one of 'I think I found the problem with your spreadsheet -- it's a sudoku.' - An Andertoons Cartoonman’s best inventions (in my humble opinion) for boosting personal productivity. It can also be one of the greatest time sucks when we end up checking email or surfing the web instead of doing the work we know we need to do.

Most of my work is done on my Macbook laptop, and it’s easy for me to fall into the trap of checking email too much because it’s just a click away.  Does anyone else struggle with this, or is it just me?

Here are some tips I’ve discovered to help improve focus and reduce or eliminate online distractions when working on the computer: [Read more…]

Time is Money

Is time really money?  It is for many millionaires.

So says Laura Vanderkam, author of 168 Hours:  You Have More Time Than You Think.

In an article she wrote Wednesday in USA Today, Vanderkam shared some interesting findings from a business contest sponsored by a non-profit organization called Count Me In, which provides support to women entrepreneurs.

Many finalists in its “Make Mine a Million $ Business” competition crossed the million dollar mark, so the staff began researching why these women were so successful.  The answer, as Vanderkam says in her article, may surprise you!

One thing they had in common was that they all used grocery delivery services, before they made their millions.

These successful business women made a shift in how they viewed time and money.  They made a conscious decision on how they would spend their time, choosing to focus [Read more…]

Reduce Work Stress: Do Your Most Important Work First

How do you organize your work day?  Do you focus on certain important tasks or projects first thing in the morning, before other things can get in the way?  Or do you just do things whenever you feel like it?  It’s an interesting question, as I believe how we approach our day can affect our level of stress and sense of work-life balance.

Has this ever happened to you: You get to the office, turn on your computer, and start checking email. Then you respond to a few calls and check more email. Then you surf the web and check the news and latest info on topics that interest you. Then answer another call.

All of a sudden, it is lunchtime. And you have no idea where your morning went? And you’re mad at yourself for not accomplishing the project or task that you [Read more…]

Can Time-Tagging Your To-Do List Help You Increase Productivity?

to do listI’m always on the look-out for time management tips to help me improve my personal productivity. I recently heard about a concept called “time-tagging” from Jack Cheng, and I’ve decided to give it a try this week.

Time-tagging seems like a simple concept. When you make your to-do list for the day or week, put a time-tag next to each item on the list, noting the approximate length of time you think it will take to accomplish the task. [Read more…]

Can E-mail Addiction Keep You From Achieving Your Goals?

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Don't let e-mail addiction ruin your productivity.

Earlier this week, in a mentoring group I belong to, we talked about the power that e-mail, Facebook, Twitter and other such communication tools can have over people.

I think everyone in the group knew someone who was, or admitted that they themselves were, addicted to checking their email, etc. every 5 minutes or so, either on their computer or smartphone.

I just did some quick addition, and was shocked to see how this adds up:

If you check your e-mail every 5 minutes when you’re at work, then you are checking it 12 times an hour. Multiply 12 times an hour by 8 hours per work day, 5 days a week, and 50 weeks a year (uh, that’s assuming you don’t check your e-mail when you’re on vacation). This adds up to 24,000 times per year!

Now, if you work in customer service, then checking your email frequently is an important part of your job.

But for most of us, if we’re checking our e-mail 24,000 times a year, we are probably sacrificing something somewhere, don’t you think?

For me, if I check email, Facebook or Twitter frequently at the office, I lose focus pretty quickly on the task at hand. I end up getting sucked into conversations, start looking at other links and sites that people recommend.  And all of a sudden, the day is done and I haven’t accomplished all that I had planned to.

At home, if I’m not careful, I could spend so much time connecting with others online that I neglect my family sitting in the same room.

What about you, could e-mail addiction keep you from being productive, achieving your goals and living the life you want?

Four Ways to Keep E-mail from Dominating Your Life

Here are four things you can do to maintain balance and keep e-mail from dominating your life:

  1. Track Your E-mail Time Usage – If you’re not sure if e-mail addiction is a problem for you, you may be in denial. Just kidding! You can know for sure by tracking how you spend your time for a week using a time tracking tool.  Lifehacker did a review of some of the best time tracking applications, including Klok, Manic Time, SlimTime, Rescue Time, and Project Hamster.
  2. Schedule time for e-mail – At the office, try checking email only once an hour and see how that goes for you.  Or maybe just three times a day – first thing in the morning, before or after lunch, and mid-late afternoon.  If you think you might forget to check it (personally, I know I would not forget) you can set an alarm to remind you when it is time.
  3. Handle each e-mail only once – We can save time and be more productive if we handle each e-mail only once, instead of letting it sit in our in-box for action or a response at later time.
  4. Unsubscribe from lists and e-newsletters that you rarely read anymore or that don’t add value to your life.

Has anyone else struggled with e-mail addiction…and do you have any other tips or suggestions?  Please share them in the Comments below.

You might also like:
How to balance your time
Behind on work?  You need a catch-up day
Why is work-life balance important?