Time Blocking to Achieve Your Goals

Time blocking is such a valuable tool that it is well worth spending the time to master.

Choosing how you set your time blocks will depend on what you are wanting to achieve, the nature of your business and personal circumstances.

The minimum blocks that I find myself always recommending are:

1. Me Time

Time dedicated just to you. Only you.

It’s at the top of this list because you must have time to recharge your batteries and do what feels good for you.

I use my “Me Time” to go paddling, sit down with a book, walk along the beach or chill out with Netflix.  I schedule these time blocks into my day.

“Me Time” can also mean a short break away for a few days when I switch everything off to simply refresh, reframe and relax.

2. Business development time

This is the time that you spend on developing your business.

You need to be spending time daily on business development because it is a way of ‘feeding your funnel’ and ensuring you have ongoing connections. Don’t just do this when you are searching for new business.

Remember that people like doing business with those they know,  like and trust. So maintaining and developing relationships is essential to your ongoing business success.

For Dragon Sisters, business development time includes catching up with former clients, spending time on social media interacting with other business pages, being a guest speaker, writing a blog post, newsletter, doing some phone catch-ups or investigating a business tool.

3.Work time

Just like it says, it’s all about getting your core business done – it’s about working IN the business.

It looks different for everyone. Some may have regular office hours, others may have flexibility. But whatever the case, your working time needs to be blocked out and you need to be sticking to a schedule.

If you’re a mechanic it means working on the cars, for a writer it’s the time you spend writing, as a coach it means the time you spend coaching or working on material, a B&B means this is the time you’re dealing with guests and making sure your premises are in tip-top condition.

4. Family Time

It is essential to be slotting in family time. What your blocks look like will very much depend on your circumstances.

Family time can take many forms, but the key ingredient is being present it the moment and putting work aside.

My children are adults, so family time for me means;  1:1 time with my daughter over coffee, time visiting my elderly parents every couple of days; dinner with my kids each night if we are all in the same house.

The rest of the time is flexible – according to your circumstances.

Time blocking is not easy

Yes, it can be a struggle to get the time blocks happening.

I’ve been there. The struggle with the juggle is real.

However, I also know from first-hand experience that unless you get this happening, you will struggle to achieve your goals. Being torn in too many directions without sufficient time blocks is not sustainable for the long term.

You may like this resource on How to Set Your Priorities.

To your success!

Michelle

Why “Me Time” & Self-Care need to be a priority in your life

Practising self-care and taking time out for yourself is something everyone should be doing.

The importance of “Me Time” should never be underestimated. Yet so many women in business fail to take care of themselves first and foremost.

It makes no sense and yet it is such a common practice.

Why is this?

We operate in a busy and demanding world. I understand the outside interferences that can make it tough to carve out time for yourself.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the hectic day to day. And then what happens is that we often put ourselves last on the list of important things to take care of.

I’ve been there myself and it’s definitely not a good way to operate.

Making yourself a priority is not a luxury. It’s an essential.

So why do we do this?

Feelings of Guilt & Fear

At a subconscious level, you may be experiencing a feeling of guilt. And of fear.

For instance, it’s common for working mothers to be feeling that time at home needs to be spent with their kids, or doing something for the family – things like cooking, baking a batch of cookies etc…you get the picture.

And, dare I say it, a sense of inability to leave “the team” to cope?  I mean your family, your staff and colleagues.

Does this sound familiar? If it does, you are not alone!

But, guess what? They’ll manage. You are not indispensable – no one is.

Yes, we are each unique and valuable, but that is not the same as being indispensable.

The world will go on without you

Yes, it really will.

I learnt this first-hand many years ago when I was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Before my diagnosis, I would feel guilty of leaving the family. I felt I needed to be there for them all the time.

Time to pursue my own activities would be once they grew up; my daughter was 3 and my son 12 at that time.

I was a mother, a businesswoman and a homemaker. My life was busy and I was needed everywhere – I was the glue holding everything together.

Being diagnosed was a slap in the face and a case of a very rude awakening. The reality that I might not actually live to see my children grow up made me realise…

I was doing them no favours by making myself indispensable to the family.

Plus, I was also cheating myself out of my life. All those things on hold might NEVER happen. A very frightening thought!

Suffice it to say I went through an emotional roller coaster over the course of my treatment. It was no picnic.

But… as I emerged out the other end of the treatment tunnel – a dark and lonely place – I knew that I needed to make time for me. For lots of different reasons.

The world will not end if you step away for a few days.

In fact, being constantly “on” does no one any favours. Not you, not your Board, not your team, not your clients and definitely not your family.

Sure you might be there in body.

But being present means a lot more than just your physical presence.

You need to be there in mind too – to be able to enjoy and concentrate on the moments you are in.

Being on auto-pilot is cheating both yourself and those who you are with.

Me Time

Taking time for your own self-care is absolutely essential. It’s not always easy, but you know what?

Where there’s a will…there’s a way.

Nurturing yourself makes sense on so many different levels.

After all, if you’re not in tip-top condition – how will you service your clients or look after your family?

Making yourself a priority is fundamental to being happy in your life.

Happiness comes from within

No matter what surrounds you externally, it is how you feel within that makes you happy. It is not about money, other people or possessions.

People, places and things do not make you happy.

Yes, they might be giving you a short boost but it does not last…because it is driven by external factors. If you do not value yourself enough to create “Me Time” and practice self-care, you may appear outwardly happy, but internally it is a different story.

Part of being happy, at least in my experience, is making a date with yourself for “Me Time”.

It comes down to making a conscious effort to devote a part of each and every day to self-care. Time dedicated to you.

Using Your Me Time

How you choose to use that time is very much a personal decision.

It’s got to be a space or activity where you get to still the chattering monkeys in your mind and replenish your energy.

Speaking personally, I have a very busy schedule that includes travel, family to care for and a business to run.

This means I need to use a range of techniques that are quick and easy to practice depending on where I am. It’s not a lot of time, but it is some time each day and that is the key.

My Personal Practices

I usually practice 10 minutes of meditation when I first get up, go walking or paddling. Depending on where I am and what my schedule is like that particular day will determine my daily practice.

I never listen to music, podcasts etc as I walk. I like to be in the moment and absorb what is around me and allow my mind to just be. Nothing to think about.

I journal and write regularly as a way of clearing the brain, and I also take time out to sit outside for lunch whenever I can.

Working across time zones makes routines a challenge so I need to maximise my business days. My small daily self-care activities keep me in a positive mindset and allow me to rest and empty my brain sufficiently to have the space to give more of myself to those I am working with and looking after.

Need help getting started?

So often I hear “It’s alright for you Michelle, but I can’t do that”.

My answer is “YES, you can – if you really want to. ” 

It all begins with EMPOWERING YOURSELF! If you need help understanding HOW to do this – reach out to me for some additional tips.

Are taking care of yourself first and foremost? Let me know in the comments.

Fly like a dragon!

Michelle

Happiness – what makes you happy?

20th March (yesterday) was International Day of Happiness. Today, we are celebrating Harmony Day in Australia. It’s a day where we celebrate cultural diversity and the wonderful multiculturalism that makes up Australia.

I thought this would be a great day to give a big shout out to all my wonderful friends, family, clients and colleagues that I’ve worked with from all corners of the globe. You have contributed to my happiness metre. Knowing you has helped me develop, grow and become the person I am today.

What does happiness mean?

Happiness, in my book, is being contented with living in the moment. It’s all about embracing what you have and being grateful for each and every opportunity that comes your way.

Yes, I have experienced some tough times in both my personal life and business life. But each moment that I’ve been through has grown me as a person. It has made me who I am today.

If you are one of my clients or students, you’ll know I often refer to FAIL as First Attempt In Learning. If we do not fail, then we often miss out on extremely valuable lessons.

The biggest happiness lesson

Happiness is not measured by how much you have or by where you are. Rather it comes from within.

You and I are each responsible for our own happiness. We cannot blame others if we are unhappy, nor can we expect them to fix things for us.

I’ve met so many people with so very little in their lives, yet they are happy. In contrast I also know people surrounded by abundance, with not a monetary care in the world, yet they are desperately unhappy.

Of course our happiness metre can increase when in the company of certain people or doing certain activities, but that is just a short-term boost.

If you constantly feel unhappy, you may be suffering from depression, and there is no shame in that. There is help available and I would encourage anyone who has been feeling low for more than a couple of weeks to seek out professional support. You do not have to travel this road alone.

Happiness and business

Being in business is tough. Being in business for yourself is even tougher. It can be stressful. Heck, it is stressful.

BUT, it does come down to your attitude and outlook. Being willing to reach out, by maintaining a positive outlook and being prepared to adapt and change to suit circumstances all contribute to your internal happiness with your business.

Setting achievable goals, working with a business plan, utilising expertise and mapping out time for yourself to refresh, reframe and relax away from your business are all contributing to your happiness equation.

I’ve had my back to the wall, struggled to pay bills and had to negotiate payment plans. What I teach and espouse is all based on personal experience.

My personal experience is what has added to my knowledge base. It has actually been of benefit because I have gained capacity to truly understand the needs of my SME clients. I did not learn just via a course or text-book, but in the school of life, and this is what now affords me testimonials like these:

I have found working with Michelle to be very valuable. She provides clear, easy guidance with keen insight to your particular business needs.

Linda Emslie

Helping others

You may feel that in tough times you need to tighten your belt. Yes, you do.

But that does not mean you cannot afford to help others. Donating your time is one of the most valuable gifts of all.

As a business, at Dragon Sisters, we have always offered pro-bono support rather than cash. Our inkind services are far more valuable than any cash contribution we can afford to make, and as a result of the pro-bono support we get a nice warm and fuzzy feeling inside. It makes us feel happy to have helped someone else.

You can help out in so many different ways, a few hours a week, a month or a year. It’s all valuable and valued.

Your happiness metre

It’s a little place inside you.  A place where you store up all the wonderful feelings and experiences.

Each good thing you do, each experience and each achievement, all feed your happiness metre. The more you feed the metre, the more reserve you have to tap into when there are tough moments to encounter.

Wishing you happiness today and everyday.

Michelle

Michelle Hanton is a multi-award winning bespoke business strategist, working internationally as a consultant, coach, speaker and writer. She has a keen interest in the not-for-profit sector and is the former CEO of Lifeline Top End, and founder of Dragons Abreast Australia, a national charity dedicated to the promotion of breast cancer awareness.

 

The Value Of Using A Journal

The value of using a journal cannot be underestimated.

Just in case you’re one of those people who hears the word journal and immediately thinks diary, let’s get clear that they are two different things.

Sure, a diary is a daily record of your life, thoughts, hopes and wishes or, in the business sense it can be a record of your appointments and movements.

A journal is much more valuable. Whilst similar to a diary, it does not need to be written in each day, although you can if you want to.

A Journal is Your Journey

A journal is your personal record of the journey that you are taking in your life.

Each of us is at a different point in our life journey, so we will each have varying needs at different times.

With a journal, there is no wrong or right way.

It is entirely up to you as to the type of journal you keep. There could be aspects of your life that you want to change, explore or expand upon. Once you have begun identifying the area, then you’re ready to begin your journal journey.

Download my tip sheet to get started with your own Journal Journey 

What kind of journal should you keep?

This really depends on which areas you feel the need to work on and is very much a personal choice.

For instance, if you are feeling stressed and overwhelmed, a “Me Time” journal could be in order.

Consider a “Relationship” journal if you need to work on your relationships, or perhaps a “Memories” journal to help keep a record of special people and special moments.

If you are unwell or facing a difficult illness, then a “Healing” journal can offer immense value.

When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I started to maintain a wellness journal. It was so valuable in the sense that I was able to reflect back at the end of each week and month to see how far I had progressed.

I was able to visibly notice how much better I was coping with each dose of chemotherapy. Yes, it was making me sick, but with each dose, my recovery time was shorter rather than longer. As I reflected and read back over the entries in the journal, I felt more empowered. More in control over my own health. I was also able to pinpoint the activities that had taken place to make me feel better or worse.

In the workplace

If you’re self-employed, or a first time manager a business journal is also another great way of holding yourself accountable and debriefing.

Your business plan is the official roadmap, but your journal is the place where you have the luxury of exploring how you are travelling in terms of personal feelings, experiences and fears.

Writing a journal is a wonderful way to slow down and take the time to analyse situations and our reactions to them.

The mere act of sitting quietly and handwriting helps to still chattering monkeys of our minds.

Thoughts should be allowed to flow unbidden onto the paper in front of you. They do not need to be in a specific order.

Once the mind has emptied itself, you can go back and read over what has been written.

It’s quite incredible what insight you will often gain by re-reading your own words.

Discipline

It’s not always easy to get into a new habit and finding time to journal can often be a challenge.

The secret lies in being disciplined.

Set yourself up for success by allocating a set time to journal.

First thing in the morning, last thing at night or during a lunch break are times that seem to work well for many. Allocate the time in your calendar and stick it.

Taking Control

A journal is a great way of taking control, being empowered and keeping track of where you are heading in your life, your business, and even your relationships or finances.

The way you chose to use a journal is very much a personal choice.

There are many products on the market that provide visual prompts for your journal. They come at various price points, and it is very much a personal choice how you choose to journal.

Often simple is best. A blank notebook and a quality pen are all that you need to start your journal journey.

There’s also a great article here on the 10 Surprise Benefits you’ll get from keeping a journal.

Do you currently keep a journal? I’d love you share your experiences of the benefits you’ve discovered in the comments below.

Michelle

Download my tip sheet to get started with your own Journal Journey

Time out – are you craving it?

Do you need time out? Ever look around and feel that you want more out of life? Feel like having a tantrum, stamping your feet and screaming at everyone?

Hey, it’s okay to admit it. You’re not alone!

If you’re in a busy career, a high-pressure job, or just generally undergoing some serious stress in your life it’s pretty normal to feel that you’re going to have a meltdown. The pressures of day to day living can really mount up.

Maybe you’re juggling a family.  Kids, partners, elderly parents or perhaps all of those. Maybe your workplace is putting on extra pressure.

Whatever the reason…..

It’s important to give yourself permission to get off the crazy train. Permission to take time out.  Time to be kind to yourself. Time to refresh, reframe and relax.

In my own life, I am constantly juggling a series of demands placed on me by family and business obligations.

I avoid the crazy train by carving out time for myself each day.  Time to meditate, time to reflect and to journal as well as several times a week getting out on the water in the dragon boat. It’s my personal self-care plan, and how I refresh, reframe and relax.

It’s not an easy thing to do. To make time for yourself. It takes discipline and cultivating a habit.

If you’re not in tip-top condition then how can your business thrive? How can you be expected to look after your family? How can you make solid decisions?

Make a little time for yourself today

5 minutes to meditate, 10 minutes to journal, 20 minutes to go for a walk.

Whatever you can manage. Anything is better than nothing.

Do one or better yet do all of these things. The main point is do something for yourself.

Go on, give it a go and see if you feel any different. I bet you will.

If you’d like to discover more about looking after yourself why not join me in beautiful Bali for 5 days dedicated to Brand YOU?

A sacred time out where you’ll discover how to make time each day for yourself, how to stay on track in your busy day to day life by empowering yourself each and every day.

Our sojourns take place twice a year and have been put together by Andrea Wicking, and myself especially to help you refresh, reframe and relax. 

Michelle

If you are experiencing a crisis Lifeline is available 24/7 on 13 11 14

Michelle Hanton is a multi-award winning bespoke business strategist, working internationally as a consultant, coach, speaker and writer. She has a keen interest in the not-for-profit sector and is the former CEO of Lifeline Top End, and founder of Dragons Abreast Australia, a national charity dedicated to the promotion of breast cancer awareness.

Is Brand YOU in Tip Top Condition?

Is Brand YOU looking a little frazzled around the edges? Perhaps you’re feeling a little overwhelmed?

If you’ve answered yes to either of the above questions, then it’s time to start thinking about taking time out.  Time dedicated to Brand YOU, refreshing, reframing and relaxing.

If you’ve got kids and family to look after it’s not always so easy to get away. I get that. I know there’s often that feeling of guilt when leaving them behind. Going off without them. Or if you’re in business perhaps not wanting to leave the business.

You know what?

You need ME Time. We all do.

ME Time is dedicated to looking after your own needs because if you’re not in tip top condition, then you cannot look after your family or your business properly.

Time away – dedicated to Brand YOU

Have you ever considered a retreat?

There are many different kinds of retreats. But the common element is that a retreat is dedicated to focussing on yourself.

It’s usually means everything is taken care of for you.  No need to worry about being alone to fend for yourself in a strange place.

No meals to think about, no pressing deadlines – just time to be in the moment dedicated to yourself.

Some retreats are dedicated to weight loss, natural foods and all that other great stuff. Some even have curfews and no talking times. It’s horses for courses BUT that’s not my kind of a retreat.

If you like being pampered, eating delicious meals that you didn’t have to prepare,  perhaps sipping the odd glass of bubbly, a cocktail or two and… learning new things then we’ve got something in common!

Doing your homework

There are some great retreats around the world, but before committing your money it’s important to check out the organisers.

Do they have solid business reputations? Are their behaviours ones you respect? Have they got integrity?  You’ve got to know these things as you’re spending time with them! To be able to relax and know you’re in good hands is so important.

Bali is widely recognised as the Island of the Gods. There are the real touristy sides but there is also a whole other side to this country.  Andrea Wicking of Salty Plum Events really knows Bali well having been there countless times!

Andrea and I are combining my experience teaching, training and leading groups of women on travel adventures, with her wonderful event management skill, attention to fine detail and deep knowledge of Bali.

The result is we’ve put together a delightful sojourn in Bali, planning every little detail to ensure the very best experience!

Designing the sojourn especially to refresh, reframe and relax has been paramount.

Pampering massages, a bit of shopping, delicious dinners each night and your own beautiful double room complete with ensuite – no twin sharing – in a tranquil private villa.

You do as much or as little as you like! The perfect way to revive Brand You!

There’s also the opportunity of working one on one with me.  You can have your sessions focussed on personal or business development in total confidentiality.

Sound interesting?

Discover more about joining us for 7 days dedicated to Brand YOU.

Michelle

Michelle Hanton is a multi-award winning bespoke business strategist, working internationally as a consultant, coach, speaker and writer. She has a keen interest in the not-for-profit sector and is the former CEO of Lifeline Top End, and founder of Dragons Abreast Australia, a national charity dedicated to the promotion of breast cancer awareness.


Number One Tip for Better Time Management

Do you struggle with time management? If you answered yes, do not despair.

The good news is that you’re not alone.

Time has a habit of running past all too fast. When you’re in business it is essential to have great time management skills and the reason is simply this – time is money.

Good time management can be achieved through discipline.

It’s not easy, but it is doable and like anything else it takes training.

The more you do something, the more you are training your brain into great habits.

So here’s the thing …..set your priorities and stay in your lane. You can grab my free e-guide here if you need extra help with this.

One of the simplest ways to wrestle more time is to take control of your inbox.

When you control your inbox, as opposed to it controlling you, you’ll soon notice that you’re able to achieve a lot more.

Trust me, this works!

How to gain control

You must TAKE ACTION!

Your own action. It begins with switching off your inbox.

Switching off  your inbox is NOT closing it down.

When you switch off, means you are in offline mode. No new emails can drop in to distract you.

Gain control by working in offline mode.

If you’re not sure how, here’s a little demo clip.

The benefit of offline mode

You still have your inbox open.  This means you can action and refer to the content while working.

You can even write responses, but the responses won’t be sent till you go back online.

By working offline, you are no longer distracted by emails as they drop in.

Yes, yes, I know – you have will power, but that’s not exactly true is it? I mean to say, out of the corner of your eye you will see that email icon. You’ll register at some level that there is new mail.

By being in offline mode you won’t be tempted to take a peek.

Here’s how peeking wastes your time

The moment you peek, you become distracted. When you’re distracted your attention is no longer focussed on the tasks at hand.

Peeking at emails means you spent at least 2 minutes each time (and it’s usually more than 2 minutes) trying to regain your though pattern and get back into the ”flow”.

This is not productive.

Imagine you do this for 10 emails over the course of the day – that 20 minutes you’ve lost.

20 minutes just getting your thoughts back into the flow.

Then there’s the time you spend reading, and I’m betting you didn’t action it immediately, so will go back later and deal with the matter.

So can you see how you’d pretty quickly waste 60 minutes?

That’s a scary thought because if you repeat this pattern each day (and you get more than 10 emails) you’ll be clocking up several hours a week of wasted time.

This precious time is something you will never get back. So don’t waste it.

The beauty of good time management

With good habits, you’re freeing yourself up to have more hours to spend on things that really matter.

Stuff like family time, getting out with friends, or just precious time for yourself to veg out with a good book, Netflix or whatever takes your fancy.

When you carve out time for yourself, your business grows and thrives.

The reason is simply this – you are in a better frame of mind. You are relaxed and refreshed, so you are more focussed when you are working.

From a personal perspective, I’m as guilty as the next person of wanting to peek at emails. BUT, I control this urge by working in offline mode – it’s part of my secret sauce formula for day-to-day self-management.

How often should you look at emails?

This very much depends on how your work comes in and your day flows.

I suggest 3 – 4 times a day.

I work across the globe, so my routine has to factor in the time differences in the US, Europe and Australia.

Work out what works for you and start to establish your own routine – there is no one size fits all – because each place of business is somewhat unique.

I guarantee you’ll love this way of working once you get into the habit – although it might scare you a bit at first to be offline.

Got questions about trying this routine? Ask!

I’ll personally respond to each comment and query, so go ahead and leave one.

To your success!

Michelle

HOW APPEALING IS BRAND YOU?

Staring down the barrel of the of the last quarter of 2016 can be daunting.

We’re coming up to the year-end sprint finish. Time to turn on an Olympian effort. I’ve got to say I’m feeling less Usain Bolt and more Used Up Burnt.

I need a holiday.

Hah! Fat chance. I’m as likely to get one of those as I am of beating Bolt off the blocks. Snowball in Hell stuff.

I’ve got commitments. A stacked Inbox. A backed up Task Manager. Things to do. People to see. Deadlines to meet.

I’ve got to be on point. Too bad if I’m feeling less than rapier sharp.

Rather than cutting a swathe through it all, maybe I’m bashing along with a baseball bat, but it gets the job done. Perhaps with less panache than I’d like.

But hey, it’s been a big year and I’ve got enough bags under my eyes for a trip to Bali. Eye luggage only.

Truth is, Brand Me is looking a bit tired.

Like a billboard poster left out in all weathers. Not a great advertisement. And I’m not the only one.

Bali RetreatAlmost all my personal and business friends are muttering about needing a break.

So why don’t we take one?

Because we’re women with an inbuilt martyr syndrome?

Because we’re control freaks who won’t trust our associates further than we can throw them?

Because we are our business?

We are our brand.

When was the last time you looked at a brand, one with a weather worn billboard and thought, that looks great, sign me up, I’m in!

Answer – never!

Whether you’re working for someone else, or for yourself, people buy people.

They buy in to Brand YOU. Always.

Maybe we can’t justify a break. But shiny new brand development?

Now we’re talking!

Dragon Sisters & Salty Plum Events have teamed up to run a unique retreat, focussing on Brand YOU refreshing, re-framing and relaxing.

These gals know what they are doing.  Click here to learn more  about what they’ve organised for invigorating Brand YOU!

Yvonne

Yvonne Toering is a business development consultant who has worked with leading organisations and brands including Securicor Group, Vodafone Group, ASDA as well as most of the UK’s major high street retail chains including Marks and Spencer Plc, the National Health Service, Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Mars UK, and the Grand Metropolitan Group, owners of Burger King, Smirnoff, Samuel Webster Brewers, Haagen Daas, Cinzano and other iconic brands.

Memory Monday #2 – In the Air

We’ve dug through our archives to bring you this article for Memory Monday – something light and uplifting.

When a Dragon Sister mentioned going on holiday to Venice and a luxury cruise, I thought, ‘Well that’s OK for some. Some of us have a job to hold down, a family to hold together and myriad obstacles to abandoning all responsibility in favour of racking off on some self-indulgent girls-only jolly!!’

However, where there’s a will, there’s a way; and the more I thought about it, the more I thought: “I will!!”  Mindful of the fact that it may well be a very long time before I ever make a dash for Dragon Sisterly debauchery on this scale again, I kept a little travelogue of all the happy happenings along the way.

‘Jetting off’ to Europe has a connotation of speed, glamour, pizzazz about it, which in the interests of honesty, I have to say is a far cry from reality. The trip from here to there in cattle class is more akin to a slow boat to China but is it ever worth it!!

Oz – Dubai:   A 14 hour flight with Emirates Air manned (bizarrely) by an entirely Spanish cabin crew. I discover early on that my movie gubbins are not working and I finally give up the ghost after being pinged back to the beginning of Benjamin Button for the 3rd time.

The steward who promised to check it out vanishes without a trace. Which doesn’t matter since it is obviously a technical problem only fixable by NASA and handsome as this Spaniard is, he seems more at home with the coffee pot than mission control.

Speaking of which, the coffee is curiously scarce, being served a la Manuel chez Fawlty Towers in the middle of the meal. The options are (especially if you’re slow with your nose bag) to drink coffee before your main course, cold at end of your meal, or do without. I ask one trolley dolly “will you be back with coffee?” She says “No!!” but smiles prettily before whipping away the precious pot. And, obviously, don’t hold your breath for a refill – because you’ll need an oxygen mask before that happens!

Happily, all drinks are free except champers ($8 a glass). Sadly, I choose the white wine which is barely chilled (tepid) and if you want more than one drink you have to go on a “seek and detain” drinks trolley mission.  In short, beverage hospitality is not at all forthcoming!! Otherwise, the cabin crew are very nice in an overall charmingly inattentive way!

I have a long chat with a lovely elderly Rhodesian (now Zimbabwean) chap most of the flight. We amuse ourselves with quips about the Latin lack of alcohol and whether Basil Fawlty is in fact the captain. Total sleep managed: 2 hours.

Transit c.4 hrs Dubai, United Arab Emirates:   I find I am disappointed in the airport, having heard of it being lavish, luxurious, spacious and everything you’d expect from one of the world’s oil sheik capitals. No doubt it normally is but as luck would have it, a new airport is under construction, consequently the current terminal has us jammed in like so many sardines in transit. The only seating available is in eateries or lined up at the departure gates. Duty free shopping, taking up all available space, which is quite understandable. So, with nothing better to do, I go shopping. Alcohol is delightfully cheap and smarting from my recent in-flight depredations I purchase 1L each of Gordon’s gin and Bailey’s liqueur for a paltry AUS $46.00.  Ah, things are looking up!

Final leg Dubai-Venice 6 hrs.:   The closer I get to Venice the better everything becomes: I find myself seated next to a Brad Pitt lookalike and the movie thingo is working perfectly. I am however, too knackered to enjoy either.

I really should have slept when in the company of the aged Boer and the defunct movie, then I could have had lovely eye candy and in-flight entertainment for this leg (both featuring Brad Pitt!). How daft am I?! Instead, I move to get an extra spare seat, stretch out and manage 2 hours zeds. (Dreaming of Brad punting me down the Grand Canal, singing something soppily romantic in Italian).

Touch down!!   I arrive at Venice airport where I am met by a Dragon Sister. We jump on a bus for the 20 minute ride (which costs E3) to Piazza le Roma, Venice’s bus station. This is the end of the line for all motor vehicles. From here on you have to get about on leg power or on various modes of canal craft.

Luggage with wheels and travelling light suddenly become a crucial for the jet-lagged traveller. I’m relieved that Dragon Sisters have factored this in and it is only a 2 minute walk over only one bridge (ponte) to get to our destination, the Sofitel Venezia.

This is radically different from the tower block Sofitel Hotels I’m familiar with in Oz. It’s a lot smaller with lots of marble, chandeliers, a curving marble staircase and other-worldly bijoux charm about it. My room is decked out in antique-style decor with an en-suite bathroom and two balconies (admittedly they are the size of airline loos) overlooking the canal and the Papadopoli Gardens and pontes.

Amazingly, all vestiges of fatigue disappear. Having briefly appreciated the merits of my new home, I dump my bags and hare out the door to explore. Ciao Venezia! Here I come!!

Nowette Awl

This article originally appeared in our Dragons Sisters Newletter 2010. The Sofitel is now Hotel Papadopoli Venezia – MGallery Collection. Nowette Awl is a fairly regular participant on our trips and a closet scribbler who keeps us entertained with her takes on the trip!

If you are interested in participating on our Jollydays, drop us an email and we’ll keep you posted of the next adventures.

My 7 Top Tips for Maximising Your Business Day

I’ve always got a pretty packed schedule, so maximising my time is absolutely essential.

Here are my top tips for maximising your business day.

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1) Checking emails – have designated times for checking your emails. First thing in the morning, midday and before I finish for the day works well for me.

If possible, shut down your email between those times. If you need to refer to information in your emails, set it to offline mode. This will allow you access to all your information whilst also ensuring you do not constantly feel the need to look at what is coming through.

When going through your emails, if there are some that you can deal with via a quick response, do it immediately. It’s quicker than flagging for follow-up and then having to come back to it later.

2) Social Media – this is very much a part of business today and we can’t do without it. However, we do need to be aware of what a time waster it can be. I’m guilty of getting sucked into reading funnies, articles, etc., so willpower is essential.

The solution I’ve found is to apply some rules, just as with emails. Unless you work in an occupation which requires you to be constantly on, then a similar schedule to email checking works very well.

Create a system for posting and checking your pages and stick to it!

3) Mute your phone and set your Skype to offline– this will avoid interruptions and allow you to concentrate so much better!

I actually have my Skype set to offline for the vast majority of my workday.  I also only answer my phone at set times. If you answer your phone when you’re busy on another project, you often end up losing focus and worst of all, you fail to give the caller your full attention.

If it’s necessary to have your phone on for the family, it’s a good idea to have a totally separate mobile number that is exclusively for very close family.

4) Keep a notepad handy – this is perfect for scribbling down any thoughts that pop into your head at random moments.

Have you found how when you’re not thinking about a particular area, a thought will suddenly form? I often find when I am working I’ll have an unbidden thought of what I need to buy at the supermarket, or a great idea for a client blog, etc – I don’t want to lose the thought, so my notepad allows me to get it down on paper. The act of writing it down, then frees my mind to continue to concentrate on the task at hand.

5) Break times – Set yourself designated break times and stick to them. Leave your desk, and if possible go outside into the fresh air.

Don’t eat at your desk, take the time to chat to colleagues or read a magazine/chapter from a book, listen to some relaxing music or whatever appeals to you.

This is not wasting time, it’s actually setting you up to be more productive. It’s amazing how much more clarity you have after a short break – even 15 minutes can make a difference. You’ll work more efficiently – guaranteed! I didn’t always used to do this, but once I started to implement this technique, it’s made a huge difference.

6) Make Life Easier – there are lots of great tools out there that can help make life easier.

Trello is a great tool for keeping all kinds of stuff organised, kind of like a virtual pin-board. I use it to put up task for my VA’s and pop my ideas that need to be “parked” so I do not get hit with Shiny Object Syndrome (SOS)

7) Set aside the last 15 minutes at the end of your workday for  review.

Use this time to:

  • Go over your emails
  • Delete and file anything you don’t need
  • Check your trusty notepad for the days unbidden thoughts
  • Look over your calendar and add in/delete/accepts as appropriate
  • Transfer any outstanding tasks to tomorrows
  • Finalise the next day’s priority list

I’d love to hear your feedback and of course please share, in the comments below, any tips you like to use to get more out of each day.

Michelle

This post originally appeared on Simple Team Meeting as 7 Simple, Proven Tips to Immediately Get More Out of Your Day.