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.

Why?

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

Get it on Amazon today!

Public speaking book

Photo credit: Freedigitalphotos.net

How to Win At Your New Year’s Resolution

Time Management New Years ResolutionIt’s that time of year again. The time of false hopes and broken promises. (a.k.a. New Year’s Resolutions!) This year, don’t waste your time with a resolution that won’t even last until the New Year’s Eve party is cleaned up. Follow these three tips to increase your chances of keeping your resolution and making it a habit.

1. Choose One

We have so much we want to change! It can be tempting use our (temporary) New Year’s motivation to fix everything at once, but this wastes your time. You’re better off putting all your time, energy, and focus into overcoming one obstacle. Then, use your satisfaction as motivation to tackle something else.

2. Plan Your “How”

A resolution is just a thought in the air until you have a plan to complete it. “I want to spend more time with my family” is a nice thought. “I want to get to work half an hour earlier each day so I don’t have to bring work home on the weekends” is a plan. Don’t make a resolution without also making a plan to complete it.

3. Pick a Partner

Making something a habit is the key to keeping your New Year’s resolution, but until it’s a habit, it’s helpful to have someone to hold you accountable. Trying to lose weight? Ask a friend to go on the journey with you. Trying to stay organized? Ask a colleague to conduct a “desk inspection” once a week. It’s not enough to just tell someone what your goal is. Unless you have a specific procedure in place for that person to hold you accountable, they’ll forget about your goal just as quickly as you will.

Happy New Year readers! See you in 2014!

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Photo Credit: Freedigitalphotos.net

The Multi-Tasking Myth

Popular Time Management BookAs 2012 winds to a close, I am proud to release my third book in The Time Diet series: Digestible Time Management.

Make this the year you actually enjoy your weekends because you’ve finished all your work by Friday afternoon. Learn why Time Killers are making your work take longer, your to-do list isn’t helping you, and a simple re-ordering of tasks could save you hours of time. Pick up your copy on Amazon today for $12.99 and check out this excerpt below:

“The Multi-Tasking Myth” from The Time Diet: Digestible Time Management

“One of the things that makes Time Killers so dangerously invasive is our obsession with multi-tasking. We are trained to think that not only is it OK to do multiple things at once, but it’s desirable. We think it’s fine to be on the phone while answering emails, or creating a meeting agenda while cleaning our desks, because in today’s fast-paced world, if we’re only doing one thing, we’re simply not doing enough!

Multi-tasking is not as glamorous as it appears. There is no substitute for focus. When we try to complete multiple tasks at once, something is going to suffer, be it quality or time of completion. Remember what your mother told you: Chew one bite and swallow before taking another.  The same is true with tasks in your Time Diet.

It is an art to manage multiple projects at once, but you do so most effectively by focusing on one at a time. Switching haphazardly from task to task, never concentrating long enough to accomplish any of them, is one of the worst Time Killers of all.”

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My 10-Second Time Management Resolution

How long does it take you to complete your most dreaded “Vegetable” task on your to-do list? Easy, mindless Vegetable tasks are the easiest to put off because they “just take a few minutes.” However, if you knew exactly how little time they took, you’d be more likely to just get them over with.

While many people resolved to eat healthier in 2012,  my time management resolution is to stay on top of my Vegetable tasks before they build up and become more difficult Meat tasks.

My Time Management Resolution

The tasks I chose to tackle are keeping my office and kitchen clean. Filing a paper, or putting a bowl in the dishwasher hardly takes any time at all, but when I’m faced with a long afternoon of work to do, tidying up is the last thing on my mind.

But we all know how that story ends don’t we? Pretty soon, it isn’t just one bowl, it is a sink full of dishes. Pretty soon, it isn’t just one paper, it is a whole stack of papers. Then I’m left with two messes that will take a more substantial amount of time to tackle. My two easy Vegetables tasks have become Meats.

How Long Things Actually Take

Well this year is going to be different.

It takes exactly 10 seconds to file a piece of a paper.
It takes 6 seconds to put a dish in the dishwasher.

I know this because I timed myself.

Now, when I go to set a document down on my desk, instead of telling myself: “This will only take a minute to file. I’ll do it later.” I will instead say, “It takes 10 seconds to open the filing cabinet and put this away. I’m going to do it now.”

Why This Works

When we really don’t want to do something, we start to convince ourselves that things take longer than they actually do. If we know the exact amount of time it takes to complete a task,  it is easier to find the motivation to do it.

This year, pick your most annoying Vegetable, whether it is for work, home, or school, and time how long it actually takes you to complete. Then, when you catch yourself trying to put it off, ask yourself if it’s really worth saving it until “later” and letting it become a Meat task, or is it better to just take the allotted time now and finish it.

Good luck with your Vegetables and Happy New Year!

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An Easy Resolution for 2011

New Year’s Day is rapidly approaching, which means millions of people will be making resolutions for how they can better themselves in 2011. One of the most common resolutions seems to revolve around dieting to shed those holiday pounds acquired by indulging in a bit too much eggnog and Christmas cookies. I propose that your diet be of a different kind. What better excuse to finally hone your time management skills and start taking back control of your day? If you haven’t already, make January 1st the day you start your Time Diet.

Here are 3 simple things you can do on January 1st that will get your Time Diet off to a great start for the year:

1) Pick a time that you will sit down and make your choose-to list every day. Remember, having a daily list of things you are choosing to do for the day helps keep you focused and organized. Setting aside a few minutes at the same time each day to write down your choose-to list will help make it a habit and ensure you never start a day without a plan. Tell someone, whether it is your spouse, roommate, boyfriend, girlfriend, family member or other person close to you, when you plan to make your list so you are accountable to someone other than yourself. Telling someone about your resolutions makes you more likely to follow through with them.

2) Pick your worst Time Killer and eliminate it. Time Killers are those little things that waste our time without our permission. They distract us from our work and cause tasks to take longer than they really need to. Conquering all of your Time Killers at once can be overwhelming, so pick the one you feel is the biggest distraction and modify your routine so it no longer interferes. For example, if you just can’t resist texting with a friend or checking Facebook for updates while you are attempting to work, vow to silence your phone or put it in the other room while you do your work from now on.

3) An important part of the Time Diet is spreading out big “meat” tasks that require a lot of work over a longer period of time so they are more manageable. Pick one big task you already have planned in 2011 and write in your calendar when you plan to start it so that it will be done in time. For example, I already know I have a huge paper due for my PhD program in May. I am writing down a date in March that I want to have all of my research completed by, and I’m writing down a date in April that I want to have a finished rough draft. This way, I’m not tempted to save all of my work for the end and I will have successfully spread it out over a more manageable time frame.

Good luck as your start your Time Diet! Feel free to leave a comment either here or on Facebook letting me know how your diet is going. Happy New Year!