In Defense of The Dress

the dressIf you’re reading this blog sometime in the near or distant future, let me set the stage for you: in February 2015, someone posted a picture of a dress on the internet and social media exploded. People disagreed on what color it was. Families were torn apart. Marriages ruined, households were forever divided. (Possible exaggeration)

No sooner had the Facebook comments started, than the cynics began shouting, “What a waste of time! We have more important things to talk about!” From a time management perspective, I’d like to offer an alternate opinion.

My Thoughts

Do we have more important things to talk about? Absolutely. Does that mean we can’t sometimes use our time to engage in debate about something more frivolous than politics, religion, or current events? The two aren’t mutually exclusive.

Social media in itself can be a real Time Killer, but I noticed something interesting about the “dress debates.” A lot of them happened offline. My sister called me to say, “OK, this dress thing, we need to discuss.” I overheard it talked about at coffee shops, college campuses, and dinner tables.

Could Be Worse

I’ll also argue, that of the other frivolous conversations out there, it’s not too bad. We’re not discussing a celebrity wedding, divorce, or scandal. It’s not vulgar, inappropriate or disgusting. This dress simply got people asking each other if they saw things the same way they did, and at its core, I’m not certain that’s such a frivolous thing anyway.

So, in summary, yes: I’m kind of sick of hearing about “The Dress.” But before we cynically dismiss it as a waste of time, let’s just be amused by the fact that the internet all came together one week to argue about something silly, and we all deserve a break from the serious once in a while.


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Balancing Your Schedule With Your Family’s Schedule

time management familyManaging your own schedule: Difficult
Balancing your schedule with your significant other’s: Very difficult
Balancing your schedule with your kids: There is no balance, there is only survival

Balancing a hectic schedule with your family, girlfriend, husband, child, or even roommates can be extremely difficult. Before you rip up the calendar and scream about it, try this:

1. Regular check in

Pick a time during the weekend to discuss the coming week’s schedule. When are your most stressful points? When are your partner’s? When will you need help? When can you offer help? When can you plan some mutual relaxation time? When is that unlikely to happen? Going over the week from a more global perspective can help set up realistic expectations for the week ahead.

2. Priorities

When family time management conversations break down it’s sometimes a result of conflicting priorities rather than conflicting schedules. Your husband does his best work in the evening…but that’s when you want to spend together time relaxing. You are a morning person and feel a burst of productivity in the morning…but that’s when you’re scrambling to get the kids ready for the day. Talking about each other’s priorities can help pre-empt schedule arguments later on.

3. Flexibility

When we over schedule ourselves or have an unexpected emergency, it’s frustrating, but we have nobody to be frustrated with but ourselves. When other people are involved, it’s tempting to blame them. Remember, spouses have bad days too. Babies know when you’re in a hurry and choose THAT MOMENT to blow out their diapers. (That’s what they babble about when they get together. I’ve seen it happen.) Cut the other people in your life the same slack you cut yourself.

There is no magic solution that makes the balancing act easy. It’s hard work, but we do it for the people we love.

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Brilliant Time Management Advice My Grandma Gave Me

time management grannyA few days ago, I had the pleasure of chatting with my Grandma (“Granny”) on the phone and she told me what my blog needed to be about this week. Remember, no matter how many degrees you hold or how much experience you have, your grandma is wiser than you, so you should generally listen to what she has to say. That’s why, this week, I present time management wisdom from Emily’s Granny…

Make Time For Family

According to Granny, we should never become too busy to make time for family. Whether it’s a note, a call, an email, or even a visit, family connects don’t happen by accident. We have to purposefully protect time in our days, weeks, and months to make them happen.

For me, this is tough because my family is spread out all over the country. Visits are expensive and logistically challenging. Instead, I used to reserve weekends to call family and friends. Now, weekends have become hectic too ever since our little peanut, Avery, was born. So I’ve revised my plan.

Now, instead of listening to the radio on my way home from work, I use the time to call family or friends. It’s 30 minutes every day that I know will be there and it’s a great way to clear my head from work and catch up with the people I love.

Save Your Communications

Granny’s other piece of advice: save the letters people write to you. We hardly write letters anymore, and when someone takes the time to do so, save it in a special place. You may not want them now, or even next month, but years from now you’ll be glad you saved these precious communications.

Your Challenge

This week, I challenge you to make time to reach out to your family, wherever they may be. And if you’re fortunate enough to still have your Grandma in your life, write her a letter. She’d love to hear from you.

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Why We Lose Focus

time management lose focusFocus is one of the biggest buzzwords when it comes to time management. I’m so unfocused today! I can’t seem to focus on what’s important! I keep getting distracted! Sound familiar? It’s true, focus is one of the vital components of a productive day. So then why is it so difficult? Here are the three main reasons we lose focus:

1. Looking for excuses

Whether we realize it or not, when we’re doing a task we dislike, we look for reasons to stop. We call these things “distractions,” but they can function as excuses. For example, “Oh darn! I can’t finish this task because these emails just came through.” Try not to catch yourself prowling for reasons to switch tasks.

2. Don’t have a goal

It’s hard to focus when you don’t know what you’re focusing on! If you catch yourself jumping haphazardly from one task to the next, you may realize it’s because you haven’t clearly defined what you should be working on. Try taking out a blank piece of paper and writing the task or goal in the middle. It may sound silly, but the clear, visual reminder of what your focus SHOULD be helps tune out the other tasks that aren’t on deck just yet.

3. Failing to predict distractions

Many of the things that distract us aren’t unexpected and in fact we can take proactive steps to prevent them. For example, putting your smartphone out of reach, filtering your email, and asking coworkers to come back later. Also remember to use your knowledge of your energy patterns to your advantage. Not an afternoon person? Don’t save your most challenging tasks for the afternoon!

Focus is not something that just “happens,” we must actively take steps to achieve the mindset!

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Focus is not something that just “happens,” we must actively take steps to achieve the mindset!

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Three Time Management Hacks

time management hackI’m always fascinated with the creative ways people find to keep themselves focused and reach their time management goals. This week, I spoke with my sister, Gretchen, who shared with me three time management resolutions she had for the new year and the time management goals they were meant to achieve. (When you write a time management blog, these are the kinds of things you discuss with your family.)

Check out her interesting ways of changing her behavior. Could any of them help you too?

1. Put a book near the TV remote

Gretchen wants to find more time to read, but she knows that flipping on the TV to watch Netflix is much more tempting and convenient. Worse yet, as soon as the TV is turned on, it’s difficult to turn off! By putting her book near the TV remote, she’s more likely to use that time to read instead of binge watch House of Cards.

 2. Put the candy bowl away

We all have our Time Killers, those little things that steal our focus while we’re working. Gretchen analyzed her day and realized her Time Killer was snacking. She tells herself she’s hungry, but she’s really just looking for a distraction. To help achieve her goal of staying focused, she’s putting her candy dish away.

 3. Wear a watch

Smartphones are distracting. We know this. But Gretchen noticed that when she looked at her phone to see the time, she was consumed with email and Facebook alerts. Checking the time could turn into a 15 minute distraction. Instead, she’s going to wear a watch and avoid pulling out the phone all together.

This week, I challenge you to ask your friends and family for the creative ways they meet their time management goals. You might find a strategy that works for you too!

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NPR Told me I Don’t Have Time To Think and They Are Right

78321193 thinking“I’m so busy I don’t have time to think!” Do you feel like that sometimes? I know I do. The thing is, I realized this week that I DO have time to think, I’m just spending that time doing other things instead.

My Gut Reaction

I’m an NPR junkie, and I heard a story called “bored and brilliant” this week that made me instantly feel defensive. The premise was that because of the instant and constant availability of Smartphones, we don’t allow ourselves to be bored anymore. My gut reaction was, “What’s so wrong with that? Sure, I use my phone a lot during the day, but it’s to be efficient with my work and squeeze every moment out of my workday. I never pull my phone out during family time. This is just another story making technology out to be evil. Grumble grumble grumble.”

Then I listened more closely to the story. The author makes the point that we’re more likely to get our most brilliant ideas when we’re bored, daydreaming, or thinking about something else. Makes sense. That’s why we come up with our best ideas in the shower right?

My Realization

Then it hit me. The shower is one of the last places we still let our minds wander, and when waterproof phones are everywhere, that will probably change too.

Now I notice my aversion to being even the slightest bit bored all the time. Waiting in line at the post office? Pull out my phone. Arrive a few minutes early for a meeting? Pull out my phone. Out to dinner and my hubby gets up to go to the bathroom? God forbid I sit and enjoy the ambiance of the restaurant for 90 seconds. That’s 90 seconds I could be using to check my very important email.

There is a very fine line between being efficient, and never allowing your brain any moment of downtime. I’m going to try to manage that balance much better. Because you know what? I DO get my best ideas when I’m not trying. So I’m going to try to “not try” more often.

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Do You Do This Before A Meeting?

time management meeting reminderI’m a living, breathing, reminder app. Are you? If I have a meeting with someone, I email 24 hours before to confirm we’re still on for the meeting. I’m like that little digital calendar message that pops up to say, “Hey don’t forget! You’ve got that thing tomorrow!” Even though I’ve done this for years, I’ve recently starting weighing the pros and cons of the practice. Here is what I’ve come up with:

The pros: You’re minimizing your risk of wasting time. If you block off time in your day, or worse yet, drive out of your way to a meeting only to have the person not show, you could have spent that time doing something else. Plus, even the most organized person forgets appointments from time to time and a gentle reminder can avoid an oversight. Finally, a reminder email also tells the other party that YOU didn’t forget either.

The cons: You’re contributing to the world’s epidemic of superfluous email communication. Email is so easy to send that sometimes we end up sending unnecessary messages, making it more difficult for the recipient to find messages that really matter. Reading email has become more like a treasure hunt- quickly sorting out the junk to find the important stuff. If you sent too much email, you might risk being associated with the “junk” and having your important communications glossed over.

My Conclusion

So what’s a person to do? After much deliberation, I’ve decided that the pros outweigh the cons in this situation. I will continue to be a meeting reminder, but I’m curious to hear your thoughts? What do YOU do before a meeting?

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How I Kept My Time Management Resolution Even When I Wanted to Quit

time management resolutionIt shouldn’t shock you that my New Year’s resolutions are usually of a time management nature. Last year, my resolution was to write my fourth book: How to Speak so People Will Buy.

While this was challenge in itself, I had a few additional hurdles to overcome. The subject matter was different than previous books, I was also finishing my dissertation, and, oh yeah, we had a baby! I’m proud to say that on December 30th, two days before my “deadline” I received my first shipment of the books in the mail. Here is how I met my goal:

 1. Ask for help

I usually like to do a lot of the formatting, editing, and graphic design layout on my own before handing it over for final checking. Not this time. I asked a fabulous graphic designer to layout the cover, and asked my wonderful husband to be my extra set of eyes on the rough manuscript before doing the “official” edit. Did it mean giving up a little control? Yup. Did it save a tremendous amount of time? Absolutely.

 2. Break it up

Whereas previous books received whole weekends of work at a time, I didn’t have that luxury this year. Instead, most of the work was completed in 90-minute segments. I used to tell myself that I needed a whole day to write, that I needed to be “in the zone” all day to get anything done. It’s amazing what you’re capable of completing when you take away your excuses.

3. Always be prepared

My computer followed me everywhere this year. If I had an extra 30 minutes in my day, that was another bit of book work, no matter where I happened to be. On a plane, eating lunch, waiting at the doctor, etc…Instead of scrolling through Facebook to pass the time, I pulled out the book.

I’m not going to pretend that this process was easy, or that I similarly completed ALL of my time management goals, but this one I was particularly committed to. My time management books started when I noticed that had a lot to offer in terms of solutions to the productivity problems of others.


As I started my speaking and coaching business, I began to meet a lot of other business owners and sales professionals. I quickly realized that being brilliant in your field didn’t necessarily mean having the public speaking skills to present information most effectively. Again, I knew I could help people and was committed to bringing this book to life!

And now, I’m happy to say, it’s done!! So if you ever need to speak about your business to others, I hope you’ll check it out. Here’s what one reviewer had to say:

“I’ve been a business owner for more than 12 years and speaking with confidence is critical for success. Emily’s tips on how to be a more proficient, interesting, and engaging speaker will completely transform your approach to speaking in front of any group.”

Dorothy Wolden
President, National Association of Women Business Owners, Phoenix Chapter.
Gravity Web + Design

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How to Give The Gift of Time Management

time management giftWe struggle to find the perfect gift for everyone on our list. Something that will make them smile, add joy to their lives, be fun but practical, special but economical, and most of all, say “You’re important to me!” If you’re striking out at the mall, and gift cards just aren’t right, why not give a gift that requires no shipping and is sure to be valued?

The gift of time.

Time is one of those things we all need but never have enough of. If someone gave you an extra few hours of free time in a weekend, would you be able to put a price on it? Here are three ways to give someone the gift of time:

1. Organize

Do you have a talent for organizing? Offer to organize a friend’s home office. Not only does it check a task off their list, but it makes their daily tasks easier to manage because they can find everything.
2. Clean

I have yet to meet the people who love reserving part of their weekend to clean their bathrooms and mow their lawns. Offer to come over for a morning and clean their kitchen, mop their floors, trim their yards, whatever they need. Not feeling up to the task? Take that money you would have spent on a gift card and hire a maid service.

3. Cook

When we’re crunched for time, we end up eating out or grabbing a frozen bag of something. Help your friends free up some time in their evenings by cooking a homemade meal in a disposable container ready to pop in the oven. No cooking AND no cleanup. The perfect time saver.

The perfect gift is fun to receive, but even more fun to give. You’ll never go wrong by helping people with their time management by giving the gift of time.

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Time Management for the Holiday Season

time management for the holidaysThe year is almost over, and all of the stress, hurry, and bustle of December is upon us. A busy time like this calls for a return to The Time Diet basics. Feel like you have a million things to do before the end of the year? Pull out your list and consider these three things when you’re planning your day tomorrow.

 1. Difficulty

Remember, when everything is a priority, NOTHING is a priority. That’s why you have to categorize your tasks before you can figure out which should be your focus. While everything might be important, not everything is difficult.

Everything you do is either a Meat (difficult), Vegetable (easy) or Dessert (fun.) A “balanced diet” of each will keep you stress free!

2. Distractions

We know we do our best work when we are completely focused and free from distractions, but distractions are rampant this time of year! When you know you’ll have an hour of focused time, prioritize your difficult Meat tasks. Save your Vegetables for those times when distractions are likely to pop up.

3. Time of Day

Are you a morning person? Great! Complete your difficult Meat tasks in the morning when you are most alert. Not a morning person? Don’t fight it! Whenever you can, schedule your Meats for later in the day when you know you’re likely to be more efficient. Different people focus best at different times. Only you know what works best for you!

Remember, everything might be important, but not everything can be important at the same time. Use the basic Time Diet principles to plan your December days most efficiently!

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