Procrastination the enemy of productivity – are you guilty?

Procrastination. Everyone is guilty of procrastinating once in a while.

You put off doing that one important task in favour of washing the dishes, doing the laundry, or playing a game. We all have some form of procrastination activity, but it’s the enemy of productivity and in business, there’s no time for it.

Encouraging Productivity

I’m a terrible procrastinator, and I hate it. So over time, I’ve tried to find ways to be productive and also to FEEL more productive.

There’s a plethora of books and articles that will tell you how to be more productive but a lot of the time those tips don’t work for me.

And even when I’m being productive I often don’t feel like I am.

Now I’m not saying what works for me will work for you but here’s what I’ve found helps:

Check Lists

When I have a checklist to mark off I’m able to tell if I’ve been productive and that in turn encourages me to be more productive.

It also works as a bit of a pseudo-reward, I love that feeling of accomplishment when I mark off a task.

There’s an App for that

And of course, in this technological age, there’s an array of apps for monitoring productivity and encouraging productivity.

Personal I’ve got two apps on my phone and a separate program on my laptop for this and I find them so helpful in avoiding procrastination.

My favourite is Habitica which a friend recommended as a way of tracking productivity.

It’s super helpful in that it’s designed to be a little like an RPG (Role Playing Game).  You get experience points and coins for completing tasks so you go up in levels and can purchase new equipment for your avatar.

For me, this format is really encouraging.  It feels familiar and even though the rewards are simply virtual I find them a great incentive for upping my productivity.

The other apps I use to keep myself productive are Anti-Social and Cold Turkey.

Forced time offline

Social Media and the Internet, in general, are some of the biggest tools for procrastination.

We’ve all had that moment where we go to check something on Facebook and then, one hour later, we haven’t gotten anything done. That’s why it’s so important to be able to take time off.

To unplug.

Although often times your work may require you to remain a little plugged in – emails need checking, research needs to be done etc.

For that reason, I’ve made blocking apps a part of my work habit. When I really need to buckle down and focus I turn on the apps and block off all access to social media.

Removing the temptation is a great way to push forward. If I slip up (and I do sometimes) I just get a pop-up that says the site is blocked – a great deterrent!

I’d love to hear about your productivity secrets, so leave me a comment.

Sasha Hanton

 

MAXIMISING YOUR LUNCHTIME

Maximising your lunchtime makes great business sense. And, I don’t mean having a sandwich at your desk as you pour over reports or jumping on LinkedIn, Facebook etc.

Making time to have lunch, to step away from your desk/place of business is essential to maintaining a helicopter perspective.

When you’re leading a busy life, especially if you’re running your own business, it can be really tough to squeeze the extra time out of your day.

BUT…here’s the thing…you need to eat! So maximising that time for your own benefit makes good sense – right?

Put down your phone – at least stick it in your pocket or handbag – stand up and walk out of the office.

Walking down the street, stopping to say hello to people and having a quick chat. Sitting quietly in a park/at the beach and absorbing nature, or having lunch with people outside of your normal circle all serve to help either ground or stimulate you.

What you choose to do each lunchtime depends on the outcomes you’d like to achieve.

The key is to make a conscious choice to utilise your lunchtime wisely. After all, it is time. Time is a finite commodity and once passed cannot be recovered.

Alone Time

Choosing to spend time alone, to sit in the park/at the beach will give you silence. In that stillness, you have the chance to reflect quietly. You’ll often get to hear your inner voice that has been drowned out by the chattering monkeys.

Many of our clients who work in front-facing roles that demand they are “on” for most of their business day love these kinds of lunch breaks.

Actively Being Out & About

If you’re working in isolation, then getting out and about helps to switch off that intense focus your work demands.

Walking down the street and stopping to chat with a couple of people can often provide that human connection that is so important to people who work alone all day.

Alternately, if your work causes lots of pent-up frustrations, busts of physical activity like a brisk walk, jogging or working out at a gym full of people can be a great tension reliever.

Group Lunches

Getting together with a group of like-minded individuals, from different industries is another productive way to spend a lunchtime. You gain a different perspective which is so very valuable.

I’m not talking about a boozy lunch at a fancy restaurant. You know, where everyone talks about how great they are and no one remembers anything much afterwards. I’ve been to a few of these over the years. Enjoyable but really very unproductive.

Rather, I mean a quiet place where you actually get to connect with authenticity and help each other out through the sharing of information in a supportive environment.

Lunch & Learn Sessions

Lunch and learn sessions are common in large corporations. Often used as a means to minimise downtime, and maximise employee engagement.

Now, if you’re a small business or solo operator you won’t have this luxury BUT… a group lunch and learn for others in the same boat is not too hard to organise.

We know because we’ve facilitated quite a few over the years.  Topics are always varied so attendees choose which they are interested in.

The objective is always that participants leave having learnt something of value – not just had a great lunch. Details of upcoming sessions are always on our Facebook page.

Scheduling

The key to successfully maximising your lunchtime and being able to get away all comes down to scheduling.

Consider it an important appointment with a very important person. Yes, that’s you!

If you are struggling to get started with this habit, begin with a day a week, and gradually increase it over a period of a month. Once you start to consciously work on maximising your time, you’ll be surprised at how easy it can become. More importantly, the benefits that you gain are invaluable.

Speaking from a personal perspective – my lunchtime habits are one of the ways that I have been able to keep sane during the challenging times. As an added bonus they’ve also brought Dragon Sisters new business connections.

Fly like a dragonFly like a dragon!

Michelle

PS – let me know in the comments how you spend your lunchtimes – I’m always curious 🙂

Success…being successful – what does it take?

Success and being successful, whether it is in life or in business, means having a mindset that enables you to move ahead towards your goals.

A bunch of obstacles will always put themselves in your way. That’s life. What separates those who achieve success from those who don’t is how obstacles are handled.

In my experience, one of the biggest obstacles is often of our own making.

It’s called procrastination.

Procrastination presents itself in many different guises. The secret to avoiding being caught by this sneaky little disease is…

Being organised and….being disciplined!

This applies to both your personal and professional life.

Controls need to be in place to help maximise your time. This way you’re moving forward toward the results you want.

By being 100% honest you can easily pinpoint where you can cut down, chop out or build up your schedule.

When you truly want something you make time for it.

How much time do you spend on social media or watching TV, YouTube clips etc?

Ask yourself these two questions and be HONEST with your answers:

1)   Is it really necessary?

2)   Is my business really benefitting from this?

Sure we all need to have time out to refresh, reframe and relax BUT…

Spending a bunch of time watching and reading about what others are doing to move their businesses forward is not really helping you.

Think of it like this…they are telling you what they have achieved, persuading you to buy from them…their business is moving forward, but is yours?

Taking Action

Unless you are actively taking ACTION, rather than just consuming content, you are wasting your precious time.

When I started my career, many moons ago, there were no social media channels online.

Yep, I’m a dinosaur.

Instead, there were hard copy newsletters, conferences and key business events where there would be some top quality speakers. They were expensive – very expensive – so it was important to choose wisely.

BUT…here’s the thing…

Once the event was over, there was no Googling more information, listening to more Podcasts, watching more YouTube clips and more experts.

The conference, the piece you read in the newsletter or the event you attended would inspire you to take ACTION.

And that my friend, is the secret of success…taking momentum building steps each and every day that moves you forward towards your goals. Watching and listening is not ACTION!

This is why being organised and disciplined is so very crucial.

Getting organised

This means knowing what you need to do and when you need to do it.

In the early days of my career, I had a young family at home. Today I have adults in my life that I am caring for. My schedule needs to accommodate the time to go shopping for them, to spent time engaging in meaningful conversation and to take care of my own health.

Unless I am able to organise my work time, family time and “Me Time” there is no chance of everything getting done.

My secret weapon? It’s not exactly a secret…

Creating a plan and then using a MAP – measurable, achievable and progressive steps.

Having a MAP helps you keep on track.

It’s easy to meander – and hey, we all do this from time to time. That’s where the power of the MAP lies – getting you back on track after a meandering moment.

Just like all journeys, you need to plan your route. You need to know how you will get to your destination. By mapping out the key milestones, rest points, the quick look around and linger longer stays on your personal MAP you’ll be able to achieve your goals.

It doesn’t need to be highly complicated. Simple is best. The key is following that MAP once you have laid it out.

Time Management

Unless time is used wisely it slips away unnoticed – just like when you’re driving along and not paying attention. It’s so easy to miss a turn-off, especially if you’re on a busy highway with all the hustle and bustle of traffic flying past. You get in the zone and before you know it…

Darn! Missed your turn-off. You end up travelling further down the wrong road before you can come back in the right direction.

There’s a myriad of different tools and methods to choose from depending on what aspects of your time you are needing to manage. Different systems work for different people.

100-day blocks

One of my favourite methods is working in 100-day blocks.

Why?

Because it is enough to make sure things get done, and not too long that I am able to procrastinate – at least not for too long!

It means deciding in which blocks of time I’ll be implementing ideas and actions identified in my business journal.

It’s quite amazing what pops out of that journal. It’s my incubation spot.  Ideas pop into our heads very regularly.  If you’re like me, then you may not always have the time to implement them, but when you’ve  written them down, they are never lost.

Writing them down gets them out of your mind. It leaves you free to concentrate on tasks at hand. Writing your ideas in a business journal keeps them all in one place. Saves you losing them or having to hunt through a bunch of sticky notes or notebooks.

Concentrating in the present moment not only affords great productivity but allows you to fully focus on what you’re working on at any given moment.

When you focus on one particular aspect it’s very rewarding to see exactly how much you start achieving in a very short space of time.

What Success Looks Like

It’s really important to identify what success looks like to you. The reason being is that unless you know what it is that you want to achieve you will never be able to tell if you have got there.

You need to be able to measure and to identify when you have reached the goals you set for yourself.

And yes, goals can and do change over time.

It’s perfectly okay to set new goals but you must keep track of the ones you have already set, rather than dash off on another tangent. One step at a time is the key.

Life is very frustrating if you keep chasing something that always lies over the rainbow. You must enjoy the moment you are in. By embracing small successes along your journey you’ll start feeling so much more fulfilled, motivated and inspired.

A 360-degree successful life, to me, means being able to have the time to enjoy precious moments.

Moments to spend time with my elderly parents discussing garden plans and reminiscing. Time spent in conversation with my adult son. Girls sessions with my daughter. Going paddling, walking the dog and short sojourns devoted exclusively to me – that’s 360-degree success.

Having happy clients and feeling fulfilled by my work is integral to that life.  The fact I’ve received great testimonials, awards and recognition for my work is just the icing on the cake.

What does success look like to you? Let me know in the comments.

Fly like a dragon!

Michelle

PS You may like to join my private Facebook group The SMART Circle – a place dedicated to helping each other by sharing our knowledge and experiences. It is not a place where there are things for sale or a course to push. It’s simply about authentic connections.

 

When A Dragon Flies

Things have been hectic recently and, as the front woman for Dragon Sisters, especially so for Michelle.

She’s the one who does all the interstate and international travelling for the business. Her kids are adults. Mine isn’t.

Makes sense, yes?

Plus, she is a fantastic speaker, whereas I have the public speaking presence of a bratwurst. I’ve made one tiny appearance on Facebook Live – kind of a cowardly cameo – and I’m as eager to do so again as stabbing a fork in my eye.

A few days ago, I arrived to collect Michelle for an airport run. I gave the horn a quick toot, popped the boot and hopped out to give her a hand with her luggage. I heard her front door slam, so I knew she was bang on time and I headed up the path to meet her.

Her diminutive form came scuttling towards me, holding up an A4 piece of paper, like chauffeurs do at the airport arrivals gate, when they’re meeting someone they wouldn’t recognize from a bar of soap.

My first thought was that she was having a laugh.

It’s a standing joke that it’s a wonder Michelle knows where she is half the time, given that she often wakes up on an aircraft just in time to bolt out of the airport and into the first meeting.

But when I noted that she was talking at the speed of a fax machine – apparently to herself – I did wonder if she’d lost the plot.

Poor lamb.

It’s all been a bit too frantic perhaps.

Jabbering to yourself and charging about holding up a sign … before you’ve even left home base; well, that’s not normal.

Added to which, Michelle looked like she was having an identity crisis, or at the very least, a fashion victim moment.

She was wearing a jumper with a big penguin on the front of it and a pair of large mouse ears.

She looked like an escapee from Walt Disney’s sketch pad. Destined for the scrap that idea waste paper basket, before he came up with Minnie Mouse. (Who started out as Michelle Mouse – not a lot of people know that).

I peered myopically at her sign.

From a distance.

Not keen to get closer than I had to. Whatever was up with her could be catching. Sisterly support has its limits.

Then I read: on Skype with Exxxxxx.

Exxxxxx is a client in Europe. Obviously, the time worked for Exxxxxx in his time zone and Michelle was squeezing in a consult on the run.

Her mouse ears were bluetooth headphones.

And since she was travelling through the night, she was wearing the closest thing to pyjamas she could find.

I’ve always been in awe of Michelle’s time management skill. No one I’ve worked with has ever packed more into a schedule than she does.

Michelle – respect!

Shame I can’t say the same about your penguin outfit, but hey, Exxxxx couldn’t see it and I’m sure the Qantas flight crew have seen greater oddities. At least you weren’t wearing your onesie with the fluffy feet attached ?.

If you’re time challenged too, you’ve maybe already read our tips on the subject, so for a change, here’s a great article for you from Kristi Hedges writing for Forbes.

Fly Like A Dragon!

Yvonne

PS If you’re looking for great accommodation for a good price we always use this site

Time Is On My Side …..or is it?

The Rolling Stones

Time is on my side, yes it is …

Remember those lyrics?

I do!

Except for these days, I’m a cynical old rocker and sing along ‘Time is on my side, no it’s not’. So, sue me. Maybe Mick Jagger will … sigh … ?.

Well, daydreaming about rock gods of my generation doesn’t get stuff done, does it?

Ooh – now I’ve leapt into The Who talkin’ ‘bout my generation lyrics (from their album My Generation).

If you’re following Michelle’s Facebook Live Q&A, on the Dragon Sisters Facebook Page on Wednesdays, you’ll be noticing that managing your time seems to be a common recurrent theme.

We’re all of us always looking for tips, tools, resources to make it easier to keep pace with our super-fast tech-world and digital doings. To give us a hand in keeping up with our business, our clients – and our competitors!

The old saying the early bird gets the worm rings true. But how the hickory-dickory-dock do you get up early enough? With international time zones, it can seem like your clients never sleep – at least in terms of your time zone. And who wants a worm anyway? Not me! But a lively, wriggly prospective client? Sure. I’ll be up for that. And early! And rocking!!

How to keep a rocking

My favourite of Michelle’s tips is

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 with colleagues or read a magazine/chapter from a book, listen to some relaxing music or whatever appeals to you.

Three guesses what appeals to me … listening to the Rolling Stones, The Who, the who-ever – that’s my relaxation; plus, it gets me buzzing ?. Maybe not quite Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata in D Minor to soothe … but it does it for me. And she did say whatever appeals to you.

By the way, if you like the classics (other than rock classics) I do highly recommend Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata in D Minor. If you’re feeling frazzled that is definitely a go-to.

But for me … rock on!

Fly like a dragon

Yvonne

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 …..

One of the best way 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 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

PS – you may like to check out the helpful FREE resources on our website.

Do you control your inbox?

Do you control your inbox or does it control you?

If you’re ending up your week with a backlog of things you plan to get around to reading, a host of emails to reply to and a bunch of “look at later” stuff your inbox is out of control!

Living in a digital world it’s all too easy to lose control. Unlike a physical pile of paper you can see, with emails, it’s so easy to hoard them “just in case” or “I’ll get back to it later”.

How it happens

It sneaks up on you.

Scrolling through your emails and not actioning them is easy to do.

Similarly, if someone has a really great advertisement, you might be tempted to click, hand over your email in return for some kind of giveaway.

If you’re growing your business, starting to get your head around concepts and new ways of doing things or working in sales and marketing, then you’ve probably signed up for a cheat sheet, e-book or something similar.

But then…WHAM!

Email Overload

You’re inundated with emails.

Like every couple of days.  Or even every single day.  Worse still, a couple of times a day from some of the really aggressive ones.

It’s out of control.

I mean, I’m all for email reminders of an event I registered for, but not for a daily blast trying to sell something or telling me how I’m missing a great opportunity.

Have you also noticed there are a number of  “experts” all busy cross-promoting each other? Some are excellent, but most are pretty average.

There were a couple of people I really liked. I enjoyed their newsletters but then they overloaded me with messages cross-promoting stuff from another expert, then another.

The result? It turned me right off.  Instead of turning me on to their product, which I had been considering buying, they actually sent me heading for the hills!

For a while, I hung about watching on in fascination at this bombardment system. I wanted to see how far they would go.

It was basically overkilling, out of control emails.

No way in the world was I going to have time to read everything being sent. At least, not if I planned to get any work done!

Taking Control

Your inbox can and must be controlled.

  1. Unsubscribe from all the email lists that you do not have the time to read, or no longer have an interest in.

You’ll be freeing up more time for working on your business and concentrating on important stuff.

2. Concentrate on moving yourself forward, not whittling away the time absorbing what everyone else is doing and saying.

You must TAKE ACTION!

Let me be really clear – action does not mean reading all the guff that pours into your inbox.

Action means dedicating time for your own activities and avoiding electronic rabbit holes. Check out my post  7 Tips for Maximising Your Business Day

You’ll find that by adopting these two simple tips you’ll have more time. Precious time to spend with your family and on looking after your own sanity.

If you’re already on one of our lists you’ll notice we don’t send out too many bulk emails. We use our blog (the one you’re reading right now) and Facebook to share stuff  – allowing you to choose when and what you’d like to read from us.

Michelle

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.

iosphere

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.