How My Apple Watch Has Helped Me Manage My Time

time management apple watchMy husband is pretty wonderful. He got me the Apple Watch I wanted a few months ago for Christmas. When it was on my wish list, I didn’t think of it as a time management tool, but turns out it has helped me with my focus and productivity in a big way.

My Reasons

When I first laid eyes on the Apple Watch, I wanted it for 2 reasons:

  1. My phone is a little big to carry in my pocket all the time and I often don’t hear it in my purse
  2. My toddler daughter tries to steal my phone any time it’s out.

…ok, ok. Three reasons. It’s the cool thing, and I’m a sucker for the appeal of Apple, and if you try to tell me there is a smarter non-Apple smart watch out there I will politely nod and smile, and go back to my MacBook Air, iPhone 6, Apple TV ways.

But I digress.

A Productivity Solution

After using the Apple Watch for a few months, I discovered an interesting productivity side benefit. I’m used to keeping my phone out when I work. I’m on the go so much, that my cell is my primary mode of communication so I never want to miss a call.

When my phone is out, however, I’m all too tempted to go on Facebook, or check the weather, or scroll through the latest news stories, or do any of the other 10,000 things we do on phones now that aren’t texting or phone calls.

Now that I have the watch, I keep my phone out of sight and I’m far less distracted! I know that if I get a call, my wrist will buzz and I won’t miss anything. I disabled the email alerts so the only thing that comes through are texts and phone calls.

Your Turn

Don’t have the couple hundred bucks for a tiny phone you wear on your wrist? No big deal. You can do the same thing and put your phone out of reach while you’re working, but I probably never would have taken that self-discipline leap, or realized how helpful it could be, without the watch pushing me there.

So what about you? Do you feel the need to stay in communication but can’t stand distracting allure of your smartphone? How do you balance the two?

Have you checked out the newest book from Dr. Emily Schwartz?

Time Management Workbook for Students– a teaching or parenting tool for high school and college. Get it on today!

Time Management Student Workbook

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Procrastination or Good Excuse?

time management starsAre you waiting for all the stars to align in order to start a dreaded task? Sometimes we procrastinate on a task without realizing it. We say we have good reasons for not starting our work, but if we dig deeper, we notice those “reasons” are really excuses. Learn how to tell the difference.

What Are You Waiting For?

Picture this, you’re staring down at your to-do list, and see a task that’s been sitting there for a while. You “want” to start it, but insist that you should wait until you’re less tired…or you’ve heard back from 3 more people, or it’s not raining, or not Monday, or not Friday, etc… Does this sound familiar?

We have to realize there will NEVER be the perfect set of circumstances to be productive. There will always be a distraction, or one more piece of information you could have had, or bit of research you could have gathered, but at some point you have to admit you have enough to start and just…start.

Questions to Ask

Instead of asking “Do I WANT to start this task today” ask yourself “CAN I start this task today.”

Notice the question isn’t “Do I have time to FINISH this today?” Sometimes we put off large tasks forever because we don’t think we’ll be able to finish it in a day. Break these tasks into smaller pieces so you can tackle 1-2 hour chunks at a time.

If you look for excuses, you’ll find them. If you look for reasons to be productive, you’ll find those too.

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4 Time Management Strategies for Finding a New Job

time management job searchWe’re not even two weeks into the new year, so you’re probably still going strong on those new year’s resolutions. Did you resolve to find a new job? If so, you might be a little overwhelmed with the magnitude of that decision. Don’t despair. This year might be just the time to move your career to the next level, so don’t waste another second. Follow these four steps to streamline your career searching process.

1. Follow up

Before you start cold calling companies, maximize your network to see who you may already know that’s connected to a potential employment opportunity. Reach out to past colleagues, classmates, even past professors, to see if they can help connect you to a potential job. Most people are eager to help their friends and would welcome the chance to pass along an opportunity. Becoming active on LinkedIn is another way to quickly see which companies your friends and acquaintances represent.

2. Save all cover letters

For most jobs, you’ll likely need a unique cover letter that addresses specific qualifications of each job description, but that doesn’t mean you need to start from scratch each time. Scan past cover letters to see if you can re-use portions, or even adjust a few sentences to make the letter fit each opportunity.

3. Don’t get lost in the listings

With the popularity of online job postings, it’s easy to get “lost in the listings” and spend hours upon hours browsing for possible opportunities before preparing application materials. The quickest way to get serious about your job search is to start applying. Each time you tweak your resume or write a new cover letter, the processes gets easier.

4. Assess if you need a new job

Before you pour hours and days into a new job search, make sure you really want one. Perhaps what you really need is a new project at your current job, or to distance yourself from a specific colleague. Minor frustrations become big problems when left unaddressed, so make sure to look for solutions in your current situation before deciding to take the leap.

Finally, remember that finding a new job is daunting, but exciting! Savor the feeling of starting a new chapter in your career and best of luck.

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The Time Management Rule That Almost Killed My New Book

Time Management Student WorkbookI’m starting off 2016 with some really exciting news! I officially have a new book out starting NOW. “Time Management Workbook for Students” is a little different than my previous publications. This work consists of 30 exercises for high school and college students to not only TEACH time management but help them APPLY it to their lives. It’s basically a teacher/professor/parent’s dream come true. If you’re a teacher or parent of a high school or college student, you’ll definitely want to check this out as supplemental course textbook, or summer homework assignment.

Now for the bad news…this book has been 90% finished for about 6 months. #TimeManagementFail. Here is what happened and what we can all learn from the process.

The Last 10%

I’ve found, that as a general rule, the first 10% and the last 10% of any project are the hardest to complete. The first 10% is difficult because you’re just starting out, you haven’t found your groove yet. That’s understandable. It’s that last 10% that is frustrating. You’re almost done, but for some reason you stop. Some call it laziness, some call it fear of completion, I like to think of it as a nasty trick our brains play on us.

Teachers who use my “Time Management for College Survival” book as a text in their classroom kept telling me they wanted another book that was easier to assign as homework. I worked for months on a workbook that contains 30 worksheets designed to help students with their organization, focus, and motivation. I used feedback from teacher friends and students I’ve met on the road, and was really pleased with the result…except I didn’t finish it.

What Happened

In my brain, I was done with the project. I mentally checked it off the list, but it wasn’t quite finished. Then, the more time that passed, the more I lost track of it. By the time I went to finish it, I wasn’t in the “groove” of that project anymore. I forgot where I left off, forgot my train of thought, and forgot where I was going with the ending.

I finally had to devote a whole weekend to finishing it off. An easy Vegetable task had become a difficult Meat. Here is what I did wrong:

My Missing Steps

I left out steps in my to-do list. I knew I needed to research, outline, edit, etc…but I forgot about the extra “stuff” that goes into a book: coordinating with the graphic designer, assigning an ISBN, formatting, things like that. I didn’t add those tasks to my to-do list and forgot about them until I had mentally checked out.

For your big projects, don’t forget to add those last finishing details to your list of needed tasks, so you don’t end up like me with an awesome project that’s almost done for half a year.

BTW- if you’re a teacher looking for a time management text for your class, I can do bulk Purchase Orders for your school bookstore if you email Thanks!

My Weekend Trick To Finishing House Chores

time management house choresSome days I feel like I work about 6 bazillion jobs (only a slight exaggeration.) I have enough people crowding my inbox and my time during the day, that house chores usually take a back seat until the weekend (reality: until forever.) This weekend though, I tried something different and was really proud of the results.

My problem with house chores is I always build them up to be much bigger than they are. This weekend, I woke up and set a timer for 1 hour. I decided I was going to clean as much of the kitchen as I could in an hour, and then I was done. An hour isn’t too bad, I figured. It’s one TV show, one Southwest flight to LA, one round trip to work.

How I Spent My Hour

I quickly scrubbed whatever I could, had some time left over, so I even dried and put away the dishes. When the timer went off, I looked around and couldn’t believe how much I had accomplished. Normally, this work would have taken the whole morning because I would allow myself to be distracted, but something about the tick-tock of the timer forced me to just buckle down and do it.

What Do You Put Off?

What thing do you put off? What task always ends up last on your list? Using a timer is far from a novel or unique idea, but it’s a trick I always forget to use and am always pleased with the results.

Lest you think this only works for chores, I used the timer trick writing this blog. I gave myself 10 minutes to write my initial draft. It forced me to get sentences down on my laptop and edit them later rather than allowing my mind to drift while I searched for the perfect words. Try using a timer this week, either for work or home, and let me know what you think!

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How One Famous Artist Tackles Unwanted Work

Time Management violinItzhak Perlman, a world class violinist, will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom this week recognizing his lifetime achievement in the arts. I listed to an interview he gave to NPR discussing what got him to this point in life. He was asked about his rigorous practice schedule as a young boy and teen and his answer to these questions made me want to find this man and give him a high five (If that’s appropriate for a 70 year old world famous musician.)

Practice Makes Perfect

When speaking of his practice schedule growing up, he joked to the interviewer that he hated it. “Any child that tells you they love practicing is lying to you,” he continued. He explained that even though he hated it, he came from a small town and like all small town aspiring musicians, he knew the way to “make it” was to perform on the international stage, and that’s the type of hard work required to get there.

I love this.

Work is Work

We look at successful people and assume that they somehow enjoy work, like they have some gene in their DNA that makes them enjoy the arduous, difficult, repetitive tasks it takes to perfect an art. That must be what makes them great. It’s refreshing to hear that they are just like the rest of us.

While they may enjoy their craft, or their profession, or the cause they are furthering, all greatness requires hard, difficult, work at its core, and it’s not necessarily “fun.”

Embracing the Negativity

The next time you’re faced with a difficult task you know needs to be done, and you catch yourself thinking, “Ug, I really don’t want to do this.” Answer yourself with, “…and?” You really don’t want to do it. So does that mean it’s not important? Does that mean you’ll feel more like doing it later? Instead of looking for an excuse, think of Mr. Perlman, embrace your disgruntled feelings, and do the task anyway.

So much of success is made up of consistently doing tasks that might scare us or intimidate us because we know they’ll lead to a desired result.

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The Time We Lose To Waiting

time management waitingLet’s say you have a phone call scheduled for 1:00. 1:05, they still haven’t called. 1:10, 1:15, still haven’t called. 1:18, they finally call and you begin your meeting. What did you do for the last 18 minutes? If you’re anything like me, I bet I know the answer. Nothing. Here is what to do about it.

Why It’s Frustrating

Waiting is frustrating because we’ve already mentally prepared for our new task, the other person just hasn’t shown up yet. We are hesitant to start a new task because that will require changing our mental state again and we’re afraid that we’ll have just gotten started when the person finally shows up.

What To Do

We can make this easier on ourselves by having a list of tasks ready to go that can fill this time. The Vegetable tasks in your Time Diet are good candidates for this role. Remember, Vegetable tasks are still important, they just don’t require the same kind of mental dexterity as your Meats. These are often short, easier tasks that you can knock out quickly. Do those while you’re waiting.

Or, when you’re making your to-do list and you have a big difficult Meat task, break it into smaller chunks so that when you’re glancing at your list for something you can tackle in a few minutes, those smaller pieces look more do-able.

Time Management Karma

Finally, remember the golden rule of time management: treat other people’s time the way you want your time to be treated. It is frustrating when people make you wait. Remember this frustration the next time you’re tempted to leave late for a meeting or appointment. It will also help you remember that sometimes even when we plan to the best of our ability, life still happens and makes us late occasionally. There are times we can also be understanding.

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What Blogging Has Taught Me About Time Management

time management bloggingI’ve written a time management blog nearly every week for the past 4 years. I didn’t realize that the very act of writing the blog was doing amazing things for my non-blogging productivity. Here’s what I discovered.

The results

I write much faster. Everything from emails, to summaries, to project descriptions to formal proposals. I’m able to get my ideas down on paper much faster than I could in my pre-blogging days. Not only am I faster, but I’m more concise. I get to the point more quickly and it’s boosted the response rate of my written communication.

Before blogging

Before blogging, I had the tendency to be verbose and include long run on sentences of excess information, but there is no time for that in blogging. In a blog, you need to get your information out in a few hundred words so you need to make each one count.

Blogging has also helped my writer’s block. I used to stare at a blank screen for a while waiting for inspiration. However, when writing a weekly blog, I don’t have time to wait for inspiration. Sometimes I have to just start writing and see what comes out. This process usually kick starts some ideas and I can pull something good out of the random pile of sentences.

My recommendation

I recommend that everyone write regularly. Whether it’s a blog, or a personal journal, or poetry, or letters to a friend, written communication is such an essential tool and our writing skills only get better with practice. Do you have your own blog project? Tell me what it is!

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3 Reasons We Overschedule Ourselves By Mistake

time management overscheduledFaced with a packed calendar? Wonder how it happened? We don’t mean to schedule too much into our day, but sometimes it happens anyway. Here are three ways to stop over-scheduling yourself.

  1. Be realistic with how long tasks take

Your one-hour class at the gym doesn’t take an hour. You need to add getting ready and travel time. Your 30 minute meeting is only 30 minutes if it starts on time. When scheduling your day, plan for the real amount of time tasks take so you don’t over-schedule.

  1. Trust others to help you.

If you want something done right you need to do it yourself. Are you a believer in that mantra? Then you’re probably over-scheduled because you refuse to let others help you. Before you can work on delegating, you must first develop the trust that delegating is worth it. Let go of the notion that everything must be done your way. There are many “right” ways to do things and having it DONE is what’s important.

  1. Learn from your mistakes

How many times have you said yes to too many things, found yourself stressed, vowed to never do it again, and wind up in the same position 6 months later? Learn from your mistakes. If you over-scheduled yourself once, don’t accept the same combination of tasks again. Learn to say no.

Nobody is a super human capable of cramming more than 24 hours of work into a day. You’ll frustrate yourself trying!

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Why Time Management Relies on Honesty

time management honestyAre you struggling with your time management? You might need to do an honesty check-in. Despite great goals and plans, honest plays a role in time management in two big ways.

Honesty With Yourself

We lie to ourselves all the time. Phrases like: “I’ll just check this ONE email” or “I’ll feel like doing this task tomorrow instead” echo in our heads as we come up with excuses to not finish what needs to be done. Too often we KNOW what our priorities are, but we’ll engineer excuses or succumb to distraction as we avoid doing what we need to do.

You know an excuse when you hear it. Don’t let that little voice distract you from your focus and priorities.

Honesty With Other People

Learn how to say no. When someone asks you to add another thing to your plate, say no if you know there isn’t room. It’s better than saying “Yes” only to let them down later. Be honest. Explain that you aren’t able to give this task the time and attention it deserves. You might even suggest another resource for the person to try.

If saying no makes you feel like a bad person, remember that time is a limited resource and simply wishing you had more doesn’t make it so.

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