LifeDev https://lifedev.net Helping Creative People Create Sun, 22 Sep 2019 18:16:19 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.2.4 145399285 How to Set Quarterly Goals https://lifedev.net/2019/09/22/how-to-set-quarterly-goals/ https://lifedev.net/2019/09/22/how-to-set-quarterly-goals/#respond Sun, 22 Sep 2019 17:44:49 +0000 https://lifedev.net/?p=4067 A 5 step process to set and achieve your quarterly goals.

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So you’re convinced that quarterly goals are the way to make measurable progress toward your objectives in life.

Now how do you decide what those goals should be?

And what are the keys to writing goals you’ll accomplish each quarter?

Here are five steps to choosing, writing and pursuing quarterly goals.

1. Gather ideas

I don’t pull my goal ideas out of thin air. I do a journaling exercise to get clarity on where I am and want to go. I also have a mindmap of life areas so I have a visual overview of what needs attention.

Another approach is to list out your biggest pain points currently. You could tackle a big, disorganized mess that keeps you from concentrating. Or you could improve your diet so you have more energy.

You might have five or more ideas at this point. But everything we know about new goals and habits tells us that we have to start small.

2. Narrow it down

Start with one goal. The most productive people pick a max of 3 things to work on. They know there is overhead for goal seeking, and we have a hard time focusing on more than three things. 

You could pick one thing from an area of your life each quarter to create balance (e.g., health, finances, relationships). You could also create them according to your different roles (parent, boss, developer, artist).

The key to narrowing down your goals is to understand how much you can achieve in one quarter. Think about when you will be working toward the goal: on your work time, a few hours a week, or a few minutes a day.

Depending on the time you have available, you could: launch a new website, establish a workout ritual, or pack lunches 80% of the time.

Consider what else is going on during this quarter. Do you have a big vacation coming up or are you expecting a disruptive life event? Reduce the number and scope of goals accordingly.

The sweet spot for quarterly goals is ambitious enough that you must get started now, and clear enough that you know how to take action.

3. Get specific

Where do you want to be on this goal in three months? Write that down, and include how you will measure the success of the goal.

For example, I want to keep in touch with my 10 favorite friends and relatives. By the end of the quarter, I want to have contacted each person at least once. For those who live nearby, I want to make the effort to meet up in person. I can measure that by writing down my 10 people, and marking them off as I go.

Now consider whether the goal depends on your action only.  Meaning that you can achieve it without depending on other people or circumstances.

I can’t control whether someone will have time to hang out with me, but I can control whether I reach out and try to arrange a time.

You know you can work out three times per week. You don’t know for sure how many pounds you can lose or gain.

You know how many sales calls you can make. You don’t know how many people will say yes.

4. Write your goals down

People who write down their goals are more likely to achieve them. One good place to write your goals is a goal planner.

In addition to inside a journal or a file on your computer, you could also put your goals on sticky notes where you’ll see them daily.

5. Review Your Goals Daily

Look at your goals every morning if you can, or at the very least once a week. Put it on your calendar or in your to-do system and make it a habit. Make sure you prioritize taking a step toward one of your goals before doing other, less important work.

You’ll want to check in periodically to make sure you’re on track. Remember, quarterly goals should be ambitious enough that you have to take some action in week one. Weekly review time is a good opportunity to see how you did for the last week and see if you need to adjust course.

Celebrate small wins along the way to stay motivated. In just 13 weeks, you’ll make more progress than you thought possible.

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Habitify Review – a Detailed Look at the Habit Tracker App https://lifedev.net/2019/08/03/habitify-review/ https://lifedev.net/2019/08/03/habitify-review/#respond Sat, 03 Aug 2019 16:00:20 +0000 https://lifedev.net/?p=4034 What to look for in a habit tracking app and my review of Habitify after using it for a couple months.

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running habit

The productivity world can’t stop talking about good habits. I can tell you from my own experience that a foundation of a few good habits makes it easy to be productive each day. It can be tricky to form habits, and that’s where habit trackers come in.

Habit trackers like Habitify remind you when to complete your daily goals until they become ingrained habits. These apps reward you by showing your progress. The reminders plus the reinforcement make it easy to learn new habits.

I’ve used Habitify for a couple months now. I’m impressed with how easy it is to use and how well it makes me stick to my goals.

Things to consider before choosing a habit tracker

Number of habits to track

In the excitement of making positive life changes, it’s easy to take on too much. It’s best to start with one habit when you’re new to building good habits. Once you master that, you can add one more, and so on.

Consider how many habits you can track with the system you’re considering. Three is enough to get started.

Available tracking frequencies

What type of habits are you working on? An ideal habit tracker can accommodate not just once-a-day habits. There should be options for multiple times a day and for a number of days per week.

Longer time periods (like a few times per month) aren’t habits. You can use a calendar to remind you of those types of tasks.

Design and notifications

An interface that’s intuitive and free from distractions is going to reduce the friction in the habit tracking process. When looking at a habit tracking solutions, consider whether it has the right number of features. If there are too many bells and whistles, they will just distract or annoy.

Consider whether the tracker can remind you at the right times to do your habits and record the results. Configure the notifications for your device so that they use pleasant sounds and pop up at the right times.

Stats and graphs

The aggregated data is what will keep you interested and checking the app to see your progress. More ways of viewing the data is usually better. Focus on the visualizations that can change your behavior. For instance, a day-of-the-week trend shows you what days you’re most likely to complete your habits. You could commit to doing your habits earlier in the day or earlier in the week if you notice your willpower draining over the course of the week.

Platforms and data portability

Does the tracker support Android, iOS and web? I prefer apps that are flexible, in case I change platforms in the future.

If you’re all about the quantified self, you might want the ability to export your tracking data.

Cost and privacy

Free is nice, but consider how the app makes money. Apps cost money to make, support and market. If the app is always free, consider that the developer may be selling data about your activity.

The privacy policy is usually a good indicator of what’s happening with your data. Yeah it’s a bit nerdy, but hey, that’s me in a nutshell.

Also consider whether you can lock the app itself. Sometimes you want someone to have access to your phone but not to specific apps.

A bit off topic, but if you’re concerned about privacy, never use the social login option (e.g., login with your Facebook account). Always make an account using your email instead.

Disclosure: Links to merchants mentioned within this post might be using an affiliate link, which means that – at zero cost to you – I might earn a commission if you buy something through that affiliate link. I only recommend products I’ve actually used and found valuable.

Habitify Review

My first impression of Habitify was that it was easy and intuitive to start using it. You just download it for free and start adding a few habits, no account required.

When you see it, you’ll immediately notice it has an elegantly simple color scheme and design.

Habitify is fairly flexible. It tracks habits with different frequencies, such as daily or twice a week.

You can get daily or time of day reminders to complete your habits for the day. The notifications were just right for me on the defaults. I get a reminder at 7am of which habits are available that day. In the evening, I get a reminder to log which ones I completed.

The best feature of this app is the charts. They show daily, weekly, and monthly performance. I found this motivating in the short term, and I look forward to seeing the long term trends. With the paid version of the app, you get a yearly view, too. This is great for inclusion in your annual review.

There are even more charts, like hour of the day and day of the week trends. You can look at these for clues to increase your success rate.

Who is Habitify for?

People with smartphones who want to build good habits! If you have a paper tracker that’s working for you, maybe you don’t need an app. I switched from paper to electronic tracking to try Habitify, and I haven’t been tempted to switch back. Paper tracking looks cool, but it didn’t give the kind of detailed feedback I wanted.

Pros of Habitify

  • Multi-platform (Android, iOS and web)
  • Intuitive interface makes it easy to get started
  • Habit archiving (paid version only) lets you put habits away and bring them out again later
  • Many charts to show different perspectives on your data
  • Data export capability (paid version only)

Cons

  • To track a habit you want to perform more than once a day, you have to create separate habits. That uses up your habit allotment in the free version, and you can’t visualize the data as one habit.
  • Some charts are not very useful. I don’t find the overall completion rate useful because some of my habits are by the times per week. I can comply 100% with my goal, but it doesn’t show 100% for the day unless I do all of the habits every day.

Features and benefits

Habitify is available for Android on the Google Play Store and iPhone on the Apple App Store.

The free version tracks up to 3 habits. That’s the perfect amount for getting started.

tracking 3 habits at once

You can track the same habit at different times of day.

The monthly calendar view is the best way to view the spread of habits you don’t do every day. Access it by tapping the name of the habit in the Journal view.

monthly view in habitify

They’ve recently introduced a web app, which looks the same as the mobile app. The web version makes it easier to use the Habitify Community.

The user community is available from the website or right within the app. Community members have experience and ideas to share. You can get tech support or help with your habits.

Habitify Premium Features and Cost

You can pay as you go, but the best deal is the $39.99 one-time payment for a lifetime of Habitify Premium.

Either way you pay, you get these extra features that aren’t available in the free version:

  • Unlimited habits
  • Skip a habit to keep your record through illness or vacation
  • Archive habits as you master them
  • Yearly calendar
  • Dark mode
  • Data export for analysis
  • Privacy lock (TouchID or FaceID)
  • Habit notes for journaling observations on your habits
  • Unlimited reminder to help you with habits that you struggle with

Alternative habit tracker apps

  • Way of Life for iOS and Android. My partner has been using Way of Life for over a year now and seems to like it. You get clear green/red (pass/fail) indicators for your habits. For when you need tough love.
  • Done for iOS. The main strength of this habit tracker is that it easily tracks things you want to do multiple times a day. You can track progress throughout the day on things like how many glasses of water you’ve had. This could work well in combination with Habitify.

Conclusions – Should you buy Habitify?

So should you pay for a habit tracker? If you’re just starting out and have never intentionally created a new habit, then start with a free version. But for everyone else, yes, I think it’s worth the money. Here’s why.

Think about the kinds of positive habits you’ll be able to start with the help of Habitify. Healthy actions like regular exercise, drinking enough water, or abstaining from alcohol. Think about the healthcare costs of an unhealthy lifestyle.

When you choose to add healthy habits, you’re saving yourself tens of thousands of dollars later. What’s a few dollars for an app compared to that?

Feature photo by Gemilang Sinuyudhan on Unsplash.

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Browser Profiles – A Productivity Toggle Switch https://lifedev.net/2019/05/19/browser-profiles-productivity-toggle/ https://lifedev.net/2019/05/19/browser-profiles-productivity-toggle/#respond Sun, 19 May 2019 17:33:59 +0000 https://lifedev.net/?p=3996 How do you start your work day? Do you need a few minutes to check news and socials before you really get started? Then a glance at email is next, right? 10am comes around pretty quick, and you haven’t done anything meaningful. The trick is to get into a productive context that snaps your attention where […]

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How do you start your work day? Do you need a few minutes to check news and socials before you really get started? Then a glance at email is next, right? 10am comes around pretty quick, and you haven’t done anything meaningful.

The trick is to get into a productive context that snaps your attention where you want it to go. The browser is the first place you go, so set it up to lead you straight to productivity.

I do that with Chrome profiles.

Chrome profiles can have unique plugins, pinned tabs and bookmarks. I have one profile for regular web browsing and another profile for working. You can see my productive browser setup in my previous post.

Get creative and test out what works for you. Here are some ideas:

Productivity Profile

Use the bookmarks bar to show only work links. Put your to do list link in the most visible spot. Be honest, you don’t need a Reddit bookmark tempting you.

Pinned tabs can be even more compelling to get you straight into the productive context. To pin a tab, right-click on a tab, and choose “Pin Tab.” Your calendar and your to do list are good candidates. Pinned tabs always load, even when you restart your browser.

Set up the extensions in the productive profile to keep you focused and get your work done faster. I love OneTab, which lets me collapse all my tabs and save them for later so I have a clean window. Do you get interrupted by coworkers sending you articles to read? Try the Instapaper plugin to send them to your account to read later.

Web Browsing Profile

Here’s your chance to have fun. Social site links, trashy internet news, and deal sites can all go in your bookmarks.

Curate a row of social posting extensions.

Pin YouTube and your favorite forum.

Now close that window.

Next time your brain is done but the clock says half past four, click the profile icon and switch over to the fun profile.

Share in the comments any browser customizations that help you stay productive.

Feature photo by sergey Svechnikov on Unsplash

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Hit the Esc button on boredom at work https://lifedev.net/2019/05/07/what-to-do-when-bored-at-work/ https://lifedev.net/2019/05/07/what-to-do-when-bored-at-work/#comments Wed, 08 May 2019 04:07:14 +0000 https://lifedev.net/?p=3976 What to do when bored at work – 9 ways to overcome boredom

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boredom

Whether you are working from an office or at home, at some point you get to that part of the day when time stops. All of the buzz from the excitement from the beginning vanishes. You’re left sitting at your desk wondering if you turned the oven off…when was the last time you called your mother…will Jon and Daenerys rule over the Seven Kingdoms…and when will you go to Bora Bora like you always wanted to.

These are all very valid questions that need an answer, but you must remember that even if Cersei wins, you still have obligations at your workplace.

What to do when you’re bored at work

Here are a couple of things you could do to either ward off boredom or to manage your time and workflow better and prevent boredom completely.

1. Find your triggers

Boredom hits when you’re not productive. This is why you need to pinpoint and make a list of things that are making you less productive and that are causing boredom. Surely this won’t be a short list, however, it will help in the long run. It is one of the most important steps in ”recovering” from this ”symptom”.

The next time you turn to some of the numerous distractions you’ve pinpointed, whether it be a phone call, an e-invite or a gossipy Slack chat with your co-worker, be sure to write it down and track time to see just how much you waste on them daily.

This way you will know the exact distractions and just how much time they are taking, while at the same time killing your focus and making you bored and unproductive.

2. Make a list of tasks for the day

It’s like the previous advice, but this time you write down the tasks you need to complete on a certain day. When you have your workday planned out as precisely as possible, you will have no time to get bored.

Depending on your preference, you can arrange your tasks to alternate between the difficult and easy ones. This way you can make your work more dynamic. You get boosts of confidence by completing short and easy tasks between those which need more focus and willpower.

The other approach is to write down and organize your tasks according to their importance. The ones that are close to the deadline should be first on your list. After completing the first, you should feel like a heavy burden has been lifted and other tasks should be done in a jiffy.

But, you still need to be careful!

Oftentimes, after doing the most difficult assignment, there will be resistance towards completing other tasks. That’s why it is crucial to have your list in front of you to remind you of ALL of them. It is quite pleasing to tick off the ones that are done. As you see the list becoming smaller and smaller, you start feeling happier and happier.

No matter which way you organize your day, the important thing is to have it organized and to leave as little room as possible for boredom to creep in.

3. Use a website blocker

While we are tied to our mundane jobs, we might glance at Instagram, or Reddit, or Facebook. You suddenly notice the clock and, oh my, it’s already five o’clock and you haven’t done anything yet!

It’s a tricky business, being so close to all these fabulous social media platforms and web magazines and not browse them. That’s why you can help yourself by activating a website blocker. There won’t be any more temptations guiding you away from your schedule and responsibilities.

4. Take breaks

Sitting at your desk all day with your eyes glued to the computer screen does not give a good result. You then start to feel uneasiness and mental tiredness that tends to turn to boredom. Go outside to breathe in some fresh air, eat something healthy, and maybe stretch a little. You can even meditate if you work from home or if you have a quiet corner at work. It’s good for our mind as well for our body to relax a little.

A good rest can do wonders for the brain. After a short rest, mind clearing, and oxygen boost, you’ll feel ready to take on any tasks and challenges.

Source: pexels.com

5. Don’t let boring phone calls distract you

It’s a good thing we have caller ID. That way you know which phone calls are work-related and of great significance and which are from relatives asking if they can bring their cat with them.

In case you find yourself stuck in an endless conversation, try to cut to the chase or just sent them to voicemail. You can have shorter calls by paraphrasing: try making a few short notes on the specific topic, keeping your sentences precise and clear so there won’t be a need for another call.

6. Don’t read all emails

Reading all emails as you receive them is a sure way to lose your will to live. Your inbox can be filled with messages which you don’t need to open right away, often never. Emails from all sorts of subscriptions, articles, travel guides and recipes, promotions, and countless others. Even those work-related can overwhelm you, so you need a smart system to deal with it.

To avoid getting bored by reading them all, categorize your emails by importance and urgency. That way you can answer right away only to the urgent and important ones, while others can wait for a more suitable time.

A system called the Eisenhower Matrix can be useful for determining which emails should preoccupy your attention and which ones shouldn’t.

Source: Wikipedia CC

Also, by making your responses short and clear, you are saving yourself and other people a lot of time. There should be no more than five sentences, which should also be short. The points should be clear and the closing should be pleasant.

Don’t bore other people with long and wordy emails just like you don’t want to get bored by reading those yourself. After drafting your message, read through it to make sure the recipient knows exactly what you need them to do.

7. Streamline meetings

Without a plan and timetable meetings can lose cohesion and turn into random ramblings that get tiresome and boring fast.

While planning a meeting, make an agenda with the main points. This way it’s less likely that the conversation will change its course. The agenda should be planned a few days prior to the meeting. You should take in consideration who would attend the meeting and the meeting objective. Set the time limit for each topic. It’s not necessary to stick to it blindly, but it’s reassuring to have a plan.

If you’re an employee, give your managers some constructive feedback if the meetings take too much time and get off track.

Also, if you are working from home or if you are a freelancer, apply the same principals to your Skype meetings with clients. It’s the same thing.

8. Get healthier

Exercising is good for your physical as well for your mental health. Exercising has an anti-age effect on the body and brain cells. It also makes you energized, thus making it easier to conquer the difficulties you face at your workplace that make you bored.

When we exercise, our body gets more prepared for everyday activities and gets tired way less. When you have more energy you will have more desire to work and boredom will stop being an issue for you.

And don’t forget your breakfast! Find those ten minutes in the morning because they pay off. Breakfast gives you the energy to start your day. Stick to high protein food such as eggs or yogurt. They give you long lasting energy.

9. Get bored in your free time

I know, it’s a tough thing to plan, but give it a try. Leave your schedule open on some afternoons and evenings for doing absolutely nothing. Lay on your sofa, read books, watch Netflix and chill. Or just chill with some music in the background.

These are just some of the tips for what to do when bored at work. But, in the end, we are all unique human beings and we all find other things or situations boring. Is there something that you find particularly boring during your workday and do you have a system for dealing with it? Let us know in the comments.

About the author: Marko Maric is a marketer and a blogger. He frequently covers topics on business, marketing, and productivity. Marko currently works at Clockify where he’s trying to make the world a more productive place. You can follow him on Twitter @mmmaric for more tips and ramblings.

Feature photo by Hutomo Abrianto on Unsplash

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6 Ways to Help You See Your Projects Through https://lifedev.net/2019/04/06/6-ways-to-see-your-projects-through/ https://lifedev.net/2019/04/06/6-ways-to-see-your-projects-through/#comments Sat, 06 Apr 2019 16:19:45 +0000 https://lifedev.net/?p=3963 Many people fail to finish what they started. Here’s what you can do to finish off your projects.

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Many people fail to finish what they started. Here’s what you can do to finish off yours.

Imagine yourself running a marathon. You had a good start compared to other competitors. Halfway through the race, you saw a beautiful garden of tulips. “I have a considerable lead. I run faster than the others too. I’ll just take a break.”

Not long after, you find yourself walking farther and farther from the race track. Other runners have already passed you by. But you are too busy chasing butterflies and grasshoppers to notice.

You lost sight of the finish line.

You got distracted.

Learning to finish what you started is one of the biggest and most impactful lessons in life and in business. A backlog of initiatives, tasks, and projects will not get you closer to success. Do you have a habit of not finishing what you started? Perhaps, the tips below can help.

How to Finish What You Start

1. Decide to finish what you start

“Begin with the end in mind.”

This quote from Stephen Covey will always be among my favorites. It highlights the importance of having a clear vision of the end goal in your mind before even starting a project. I suggest that you write down your goal and place it somewhere where you can see it regularly (maybe on your bathroom mirror?). This will serve as your daily reminder of the things you want to achieve. If you have already started your project, take a minute and write down the vision you had before.

Review these goals regularly and then, decide to finish them. Tell yourself that no matter what, these lingering tasks will no longer linger. Commit to yourself that you will change your behavior so you can finish what you started. This could mean saying no to other tasks so you’ll have enough time and energy for projects that matter most.

2. Divide a big project into smaller milestones

“Nothing is particularly hard if you divide it into small jobs.” – Henry Ford

It’s easy to back down when you are faced with a big, daunting task. Dividing your project into smaller, more manageable milestones helps you avoid stress and beat procrastination. People who fail to finish what they started often comment that they feel overwhelmed. Below are some steps on how you can break tasks down to make them less intimidating:

  • Have a look at the big picture. Review your end goal in tip number 1.
  • Examine different parts of your project. Figure out each step you need to make to finish it.
  • Rank each step accordingly. What should you do first, second, third, fourth, etc.?
  • Create a timeline for each milestone. Having a deadline creates a sense of urgency and will help stay focused all throughout.
  • Have a plan. Put the time and resources you need to finish each task. Stick with this plan throughout the entire project. Remember, a plan is only good if you see it through.

3. Budget your time and energy

Putting your big project aside, you still have your entire life to deal with. So, how do you make sure that you have enough time and energy to complete each task

After you’ve made a list of small tasks that you need to do, your next step should be to create an outline detailing how much resources (time, effort, money, etc.) you need to complete each one.

Integrate this timeline to your to-do list. Plan your day around your tasks to make sure that it doesn’t get pushed around. Also, don’t forget to give yourself some buffer just in case things don’t go as you expected.

People who underestimate the amount of time and effort needed to complete a project often fail. Time and energy are finite resources. So, make sure you manage yourself appropriately.

4. Things don’t have to be perfect

How many times have you delayed or derailed a project because you want to get it right? Don’t get me wrong, perfectionism is a good motivation. However, it’s a double-edged sword. Perfectionism can also prevent you from getting things done.

If you find yourself stalled and spending more time than needed on a task because it doesn’t feel right, put it aside first and move on to the next. You can always come back to it later with a fresh perspective. And when you do, you’ll notice that what you are fretting on is not that much of a big deal.

Another helpful tip is to constantly refer back to tip #1 and #2 to remind you that the objective is to finish the project. You can always do the polishing later.

5. Reward yourself for finishing off small tasks

Rewarding yourself for each milestone you complete will keep you motivated. One of the reasons why many people fail to finish what they started is because it’s hard to put in consistent effort when you don’t see immediate results. You don’t have to wait for the completion of the entire project before you start patting yourself on the back. Here are some things you can do:

  • Enjoy a hot bath
  • Watch a movie
  • Eat out for dinner
  • Go on a hike
  • Enjoy a local attraction
  • Night out
  • Buy a new book
  • Watch sports
  • Pamper yourself
  • Get a massage

6. If things are not really working out, don’t force it.

I love this quote from Michael Jordan:

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

Sometimes, things just don’t go your way. Maybe something more important came up. Or you lost complete interest on the goal. These things do happen and they are normal. People change. Every day, we get new ideas, find new interests, and discover new passions.

Is it a waste of effort? Many will say yes. But no, it’s not when you take with you some lessons from the experience. Before dropping a project consider this question first:

Are the benefits of completing the project still worth the efforts and future resources that you will spend on it?

If after careful and thorough consideration, the answer is no, then drop it. Don’t get tempted to push yourself to go on. Given that you already lost interest in it in the first place, continuing on will be like pushing a car uphill.

It’s not worth it. Move on the next project and do better.

Bonus: Sounds to Help You Focus When Working on a Task

Can music really help you finish what you started? Researchers from the University of Illinois found out that listening to music at work increases productivity by 6.3% over a control group. So, I guess, it helps! I, for one, love listening to music when working.

Below are some types of music (and where to find them) that’ll help you get pumped up when juggling a task:

1. Classical Music

Do you love Mozart? Baroque classical music like Bach’s Concerto #3 and Vivaldi’s Four Seasons are getting a lot of attention because of their mind-boosting effects. Experts say that listening to classical music increases brain wave activity which is linked directly with memory and productivity. Plus, it sparks creativity and reduces stress levels!

Here’s a good selection of Classical Music that you can try.

2. Ambient /Nature Music

Ambient music provides you with a great way to relax. It helps relieve stress and is not too distracting when you are at work. Here’s a playlist that you can try if you are in the lookout for a calming forest ambiance. Prefer the waves? Here’s one for you.

3. White Noise / Background Sounds

The key to focusing in a noisy place, like a coffee shop or open office, is masking the sounds with white noise. Noisli is my go-to for soothing sounds like rain or the sounds of being on a train. I use the browser plugin for quick access.

Counter-intuitively, to block out people talking around you, add layers of chatter on top so your brain stops trying to listen to the words. Coffitivity takes you straight into a productive, creative mood.

4. Video Game Music

Epic video game music is full of intensity. And maybe that’s all you need to keep you going! After all, it’s crucial that you dodge that attack and defeat hordes of enemies! Here’s one to keep the adrenaline flowing!

Are you ready to finish off the project you started weeks, months, or years ago? Great! To recap, keep these tips in mind:

  • Commit to finishing it!
  • Divide your project into smaller tasks
  • Budget your time and energy
  • Don’t worry if it’s not perfect
  • Reward yourself after completing every small task
  • Boost your productivity with classical, ambient, or epic video game music!

 

Norberts Erts is the co-founder of HR software company CakeHR, that streamlines attendance and performance management for customers worldwide. He keeps a sharp eye on HR, marketing, business, finance, science, technology and the connections between them. Connect with Norberts on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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90X Goal Planner Review – Reach Your Next Goal in 90 Days https://lifedev.net/2019/01/26/90x-goal-planner-review/ https://lifedev.net/2019/01/26/90x-goal-planner-review/#comments Sat, 26 Jan 2019 17:37:31 +0000 https://lifedev.net/?p=3930 Hands-on review of the 90X Goal Planner

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I’m intrigued by the many new goal journals becoming available. What a brilliant idea to embed productivity principles right into a planner!

Following my successful experience with the SELF Journal, I wanted to explore the other options. The design of the 90X Goal Planner caught my eye.

Before I get into my review, let me quickly go over goal journals and how they’re different from old school planners.

Goal Planners

Typical planners have lots of lined spaces to enter your appointments and to-dos. It’s up to you to plan what goals you want to set. You have to decide for yourself when to do the activities that will get you there.

Goal planners are workbooks that step you through the process of setting and getting goals. We aren’t born knowing how to accomplish large goals or projects. Most people have to study books and blogs to learn about that. Then they use trial and error to figure out what works. Goal planners shortcut all of that by showing you what to do.

The most popular goal planners span about one quarter – 90-100 days. That’s not surprising, since quarterly planning is probably the most effective time horizon.

The goal planners I’ve worked with are based on scientifically sound productivity principles. The creators of these planners are experts in productivity. They’ve incorporated everything you need to set up achievable goals and then line up the actions to get there.

Disclosure: Links to merchants mentioned within this post might be using an affiliate link, which means that – at zero cost to you – I might earn a commission if you buy something through that affiliate link. I only recommend products I’ve actually used and found valuable.

90X Goal Planner Review

The 90x Goal Planner is a substantial hard bound book with thick pages. Everything about it feels high quality.

The structure of the setup leads you through setting goals. There’s a weekly cadence of reaffirming those goals, AND what you’ll do to work toward those goals.

No goal journal is perfect. In the 90x Planner, the use of five lofty example goals could look discouraging if you’re just starting out. So that’s the only modification I did in setting up my 90x Planner – I set up two challenging but achievable goals. That way I can focus my energies and not get overwhelmed.

One great thing I’ve noticed in using the 90x Planner is that when you restate your goals each week and how you’ll achieve them, it wipes the slate clean from the previous week. If I didn’t hit my target, it felt good to start fresh the next week.

The Hardware

The 90X Goal Planner is about 8.5” tall, 5.75” wide (closed), and 1” thick. It has a good heft to it.

90X uses smooth, thick paper in a sewn binding. What I like about the binding is that the pages lay open.

The paper is thick enough for most pens and highlighters. I only saw significant bleed-through with Sharpies. No surprise there!

There is one satin bookmark, an elastic band to keep it closed, and a pocket inside the back cover.

The edges of the pages have a progress indicator that reminds you how far along you are in your goal progress. I liked that it emphasized the sense of urgency to work on my goals.

Who the 90X Planner is for

Entrepreneurs who direct their own work schedules will be the most aligned with this planner’s methodology. There is nothing about the 90x Planner that assumes you work 9 to 5.

You can start on any day of the week or the month because it’s numbered by days of your goal timeline. That makes the planner quite flexible. It also emphasizes that you have three segments of 30 days to work toward your goal and so it marks off the passage of time.

I found it strange to have what looks like a month calendar but with no dates, so I wrote in the important dates for my goal milestones.

The other aspect of this planner that makes me think it would be good for entrepreneurs is the fact that there are places for five goals. For personal goal setting, I would never recommend more than three goals at once. And that’s if you’re really phoning it in at your day job.

Entrepreneurs, on the other hand, could pursue 3-5 goals at once because those goals could be a combination of personal and business goals. It’s a lot to keep track of, but it would be possible.

90X recently added a slimmer three-goal version of their goal planner called the Action Planner.

People with a lot of energy to pursue multiple goals would enjoy the 90X Goal Planner. The goal suggestions in the 90X Planner are quite ambitious. The quotes throughout this journal are Gary V. style – high energy and no excuses. Like this quote from Mark Cuban: “Work like there is someone working 24 hours a day to take it all away from you.”

Pros/Cons

Pros:

  • You don’t need any prior experience with setting goals or with productivity practices.
  • Lay-flat binding encourages you to leave it open to refer to it multiple times a day.
  • Undated pages let you start on any day.
  • Detailed example pages and videos make setup easy.

Cons:

  • The 30 day overviews don’t align to months.
  • The suggestion of five goals could be overwhelming.

Features and Benefits

Based on Trusted Productivity Principles

The goal planning process asks you to talk about why you want to achieve each goal. Writing down your reason creates an emotional connection and commitment to the state you want to reach.

The real strength of the 90x Planner is in the execution. Restating my goals and how I would get them each week gave me a fresh start. I completely missed my weekly goal one time because life happened. Instead of feeling demoralized, I was encouraged because I got to start over the next week.

The daily “5 Actions Toward Your Goals” area is the most powerful part of the daily page. It makes you stop and remember each day that you have an opportunity to take the next small steps toward your goals.

Facebook Group

90X has a Facebook group you can request to join. There you can find extra goodies [insert pic] and members requesting advice and responding. This group isn’t as mature as the one for the SELF Journal. The 90X Facebook group does appear to be positive and supportive. You can find an accountability partner or mentor from the group.

90xMindSet.com

The written examples in the front of the planner were detailed enough to get started. If you like more explanation, there are videos available on 90xMindSet.com. I recommend signing up there to see the training portal.

Once you’re in the portal, you can access paid coaching and a mastermind, as well.

Alternative Goal-Getting Journals

SELF Journal, which I used and liked, has many similarities to the 90X Goal Planner. It has a full spread for each day. While the 90X has the weekly check-in pages before each week, the SELF Journal has all the weekly planning pages in the front.

Another popular alternative to the 90X Goal Journal is the Productivity Planner from Intelligent Change. I have not used this one, but the main difference appears to be that the Productivity Planner incorporates pomodoro tracking.

A newer option, which I also have not tried, is the Freedom Journal from John Lee Dumas of Entrepreneur on Fire. It’s a little more expensive than the 90X. It breaks down your 100 day goal into 10-day sprints. It includes a gratitude prompt every day and frequent check-ins.

Conclusions – is the 90x Planner worth it?

I’m glad I bought the 90x Goal Planner. It showed me a few new tricks for setting and achieving goals. The overall quality of the planner is fantastic.

As long as you’re not turned off by the aggressively motivational style, this planner should work for you. I would be surprised if anyone said it wasn’t effective.

If you’re not an entrepreneur, consider the pared-down three-goal version of this planner, the Action Planner.

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Productivity for Entrepreneurs – Link Roundup December 2018 https://lifedev.net/2018/12/08/productivity-for-entrepreneurs-link-roundup-december-2018/ https://lifedev.net/2018/12/08/productivity-for-entrepreneurs-link-roundup-december-2018/#respond Sat, 08 Dec 2018 18:18:03 +0000 https://lifedev.net/?p=3909 Timeless advice for entrepreneur productivity

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finding your way

It’s a good time to be an entrepreneur. There are countless sources of information on how to be productive. I’ve rounded up just a few that really stood out this month.

Follow Up Boss published a list of ways to manage your time better. It does a great job of explaining how to make sure you’re working on actions that give you the most leverage. I especially agree with the advice that you should know your best hours to work.

Zapier’s blog has an article about making difficult decisions that I found really insightful. One key takeaway for me was to think long term when making decisions. Importantly, it also talks about committing to your decision to avoid the what-ifs.

Taylor Pearson posted on Medium about how to overcome the fear of failure – a topic especially relevant for new entrepreneurs. He shows how to reframe your thinking from worker to investor. From there, you can build systems to get quick feedback from your efforts.

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How to Prioritize Your Work Like a Successful Entrepreneur https://lifedev.net/2018/11/04/how-to-prioritize/ https://lifedev.net/2018/11/04/how-to-prioritize/#comments Mon, 05 Nov 2018 04:07:29 +0000 https://lifedev.net/?p=3871 Follow these four steps to prioritize your work correctly every time.

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We live in a time when ‘multitasking’ is a way of life. An era, where technology – vital, necessary and indispensable – has made our life even more tangled. That means more to-do lists than ever. How to prioritize work has become a special skill you have to learn.

On one hand, emails, chats, social media, constantly help us stay in touch with everything and everyone out there. On the other hand, they have become intrusive, a feeding point to our ever-growing to-do list.

I am in no way negating the benefits of technology. Life would not be what it is without technology – easy and convenient. But, there is a downside to everything. Because we can do more, we expect more to be done.

In my professional life, I wear many hats. I am a co-founder of a Digital Marketing Agency, I am a startup & entrepreneurship blogger; also, I do a million other things like running an IT company, currently in the midst of venturing into resourcing.

Not that my personal life is any simpler. I am a husband and a father of not one but two very active young kids.

So, how do I prioritize work with so many competing priorities or ideas jostling for space on my ever-growing to-do list?

Here are the steps I have been following for the last few years to efficiently manage my workload:

a. Start by writing all the tasks

To Do List

I have figured that the first step to manage your workload is by writing all the tasks somewhere.

If you are someone who hates technology and uses mobile phones only to take calls and access internet, you can start by carrying a diary to write tasks.

And if you are a part of the millennial generation, I don’t have to ask you whether you love your mobile phone or not?

You get the point.

Find a good task management software to set up a task list.

I use Teamwork for official tasks and Momentum (a browser-based task management system) for personal work-related tasks.

Once you have all your tasks written in a single place, you are ready to move to the next stage of managing the workload.

b. Prioritize the tasks

Prioritizing a task list is one of the most difficult steps in managing your workload.

I must confess – in the initial years of my business, I was a horrible task planner.

My workload was controlled by my emails.

Add to above, my bad habit of procrastinating. I would keep the easy tasks at the top of list and the difficult ones or the ones I hated doing – at the bottom of the list.

And then, I would procrastinate.

It led to total chaos in my personal and professional life. The procrastinated tasks would come home from work with me. I would stay awake late at night working at my lowest efficiency on the tasks which required the highest level of attention.

Predictably, the end results were sloppy work. And it all came at the cost of our valuable family time.

In fact, as a proven fact – Procrastination is a horrible habit.

As per a survey conducted in 2017:

  • 40% of people have suggested financial losses because of procrastination.
  • 1 out of 5 people procrastinates so so badly that they end up jeopardizing their family, health and relationships.

It’s human nature to pick easy battles first and then do the heavy lifting.

Anyways, all this continued until I decided to get my act together and prioritize my workload.

Today, I arrange my tasks based on the Eisenhower Matrix, the simple concept of task management explained by Dwight D. Eisenhower. He emphasized prioritizing your tasks on two dimensions: important and urgent.

As per Dwight D. Eisenhower “What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important.”

Today, on top of my priority list goes:

Urgent and Important Tasks. i.e, tasks which are important for my work and tasks that have to be addressed immediately.

Some of the examples of these tasks are:

  • Taking a scheduled client call.
  • Responding to an urgent email.
  • Responding to a VC. (Money matters!)

Next on the list comes the important tasks that are not urgent and so on. Prioritizing my task list and my workload has helped me better manage my workload.

c. Plan – how you will complete each task

You have the list of tasks and you have prioritized them. Now comes the difficult part about planning how to execute each task.

When I am working on how I will knock off each task from my task list, I make my decision based on two simple scenarios:

i. Tasks that can be delegated

My work involves interacting with teams and delegating work to managers. Though I’m the point of contact for clients, the task has to be completed by the team lead.

I immediately assign tasks to the team leads along with the deadline. I mark myself and the team lead as responsible for deadlines to ensure I’m in the loop with upcoming deadlines.

ii.Tasks that require my direct involvement

After completing the above step, my workload usually looks manageable. Now I move to the tasks which require my direct involvement. I allocate them to myself and assign a time to complete the task.

The key to success in tasks which require your direct involvement is time allocation. Take an example of a meeting where you are the presenter. A meeting which has to be wrapped up in 30 minutes should be wrapped up in 30 minutes.

Decide in advance, what should be done to finish the task in the stipulated time.

Plan beforehand what external factors might delay the task and plan accordingly. For example, keep some extra time for questions and answers or keep a strategy in place for a colleague who tries to take the meeting off track.

Another situation where you might end up spending more than the estimated time is aiming for perfectionism. I know perfection is always appreciated, but there are tasks that do not require perfectionism.

You must get them done on time. It’s a simple choice in doing a perfect job at the expense of delaying other tasks or delivering all tasks on time.

d. Getting the Task completed

finish line

At this point, you’re done with the strategy and planning. Time to get the work done.

Here are a few tips to help you complete the tasks and stick to the schedule set by you:

Learn to cut the distractions

I hate it when someone looks at their mobile phones in the middle of a meeting to check their WhatsApp messages or Facebook feed. It very clearly means they are not in the moment. Social media and the internet in general are one of the biggest workplace distractions.

When you’re working on important and urgent tasks, social media should be the last thing on your mind. Keep them away from your life and you will swiftly complete your tasks.

Also, avoid opening emails which can wait. They will distract you from the work you are completing. Focus and channel your energy to finish the task at hand.

Learn to say No

As an entrepreneur who has been a part of multiple ventures, let me tell you a secret. If you do not learn to say “No,” you will never finish your task list by the end of the day.

Your work as an Entrepreneur involves a lot of multi-tasking and a lot of last-second work that will come out of the blue. Learn to say “No” to the unimportant and not so urgent tasks, and you will be able to manage your workload as per your plan.

Learn to be fluid with your work

By being fluid, I obviously do not mean putting all your workload aside to finish one task and letting your plan for the day go haywire.

Imagine a scenario where you’ve been waiting to hear from a client for weeks to close an important deal and the client calls you. They have a board meeting tomorrow and want you to make a presentation to the board.

It’s once in a lifetime opportunity. You know what to do ?

But before you set aside everything planned for the next day, delegate the work that can be done by someone else and re-plan the task list to accommodate the workload based on the new task (highest priority).

Managing your workload is not rocket science. All it requires is proper planning and discipline.

Always remember, 20% of the work leads to 80% of the value. Prioritize that 20% and you will be able to manage your workload efficiently.

Jasmeet is an Entrepreneur, Avid Reader, Startup Consultant, and a Reluctant Blogger at Lessons At Startup. A regular family guy and a proud father of two adorable Kids.

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What is the Pomodoro Technique? Plus the Top 5 Pomodoro Apps https://lifedev.net/2018/10/21/pomodoro-technique/ https://lifedev.net/2018/10/21/pomodoro-technique/#respond Sun, 21 Oct 2018 15:24:11 +0000 https://lifedev.net/?p=3854 The Pomodoro Technique breaks down your tasks into shorter, focused sessions with regular breaks. It’s one of the simplest and easiest to implement productivity hacks around.

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The Pomodoro Technique breaks down your tasks into shorter, focused sessions with regular breaks. It’s one of the simplest and easiest to implement productivity hacks around.

 

The struggle to stay productive as a freelancer, digital nomad, or employee is a never-ending battle for all of us. There are times that it’s so hard to get things done. Sometimes, we feel that our brain just won’t function anymore.

According to Neuroscientist Dr. Gabija Toleikyte, this feeling is normal. Constantly shifting from one activity to another affects the brain’s ability to focus. And this has an adverse effect on our productivity.

Several techniques have been developed to help us stay productive at work. One of the most popular ones is the Pomodoro Technique®.

What is the Pomodoro Technique®

The Pomodoro Technique® was developed by Italian Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s. “Pomodoro” is the Italian word for tomato. Why the strange name? Francesco named the technique after the tomato-shaped kitchen timer he used as his personal timer. Cool huh?

This time management practice helps users achieve maximum focus, allowing them to finish a task or complete a project with lesser mental fatigue compared to working for hours straight. The Pomodoro Technique® divides a task into short 25-minute increments. After each increment, you take a 5-minute break. Then, after four increments or Pomodoros, you take a longer break — usually 20-30 minutes.

As you may have now noticed, this technique is built around short bursts of work and regular breaks to keep your mind focused and fresh.

How the Pomodoro Technique® Works

The Pomodoro Technique® is one of the simplest time management and productivity methods available. All you need is a timer! And thanks to technology, there are now Pomodoro apps that you can use (more on this later). The core of this technique involves only 5 simple steps:

Step 1. Check your schedule for the day

The first step is to know what your tasks are for the day. In terms of Pomodoros (25-minute sessions), estimate how much time you need to complete a certain task. List down your tasks and make sure they fit comfortably with your workday.

Don’t forget to factor in the 5-minute break after each Pomodoro and the longer 20- to 30-minute breaks after 4 sessions!

Step 2. Set your timer

Before starting your timer, make sure you have everything you need to complete your task. Feel free to use a traditional timer or one of the apps you’ll see in this article. Make sure you are committed to the task at hand. Remember, you only have 25 minutes to focus on it!

It’s best to turn off your phone, email, social media, and even shut your office door to minimize distractions. If you are working with colleagues, tell them that you don’t want to be disturbed.

Step 3. Work on the task at hand

Never multitask. Focus all your attention on the task at hand for the entire 25 minutes. Don’t allow yourself to be distracted by anything — even those out-of-the-blue lightbulb moments in your head. If they do pop up, write these thoughts down and set aside for later.

I completed my work before the time is up. What should I do?

If this is the case, use the remaining time for short tasks or routine activities. It’s a good idea to keep tabs on how many 25-minute sessions it takes you to complete a task. You can use this information for future planning or when comparing your productivity levels.

Step 4. Always take a short break

Even if you are in the zone, take a 5-minute break as soon as your timer goes off. Breaks are the perfect time to rest and recharge your batteries!

You might think that taking a break while in the flow is counterproductive. It isn’t. Regular breaks restore your energy and will greatly improve your productivity. Energy is more important than time.

When taking a break, walk away from your desk. Fetch a glass of water, take a short walk or exercise. Also, give your brain a break too! Avoid anything that requires too much thought such as your current project or the deadlines you need to beat.

It’s also helpful to stay away from electronic displays during your break. Resist the urge to check on your emails or social media. This will keep you from straining your eyes.

Step 5. Continue your work and take a longer break after 4 Pomodoros

When your break is up, go back to your desk, reset your timer and continue working on the task at hand. After completing 4 sessions, take a longer break. Feel free to do anything as long as it takes you away from your desk. Go eat lunch, have a snack, read a book — anything! Again, avoid thinking about what you were doing before and stay away from your phone.

Top 5 Best Pomodoro Apps

Now that you know what the Pomodoro Technique® is all about and how to use it, it’s time to look at the top 5 Pomodoro apps that can easily beat your handy kitchen timer!

1. Focus Booster, Free and Premium

The Focus Booster is a web and desktop based app that offers a simple Pomodoro timer and the ability to track the time you spent on each project. The free plan includes a desktop app which features a minimalist view that floats on top of all your windows without distracting you.

The free version is limited to 20 Pomodoro sessions every month and does not include any reporting tools. The premium version comes in two packages: (1) 200 sessions and data export (2) unlimited sessions plus reporting and revenue tracking.

2. PomoDone, Free and Premium

The best thing about this Pomodoro app is the ability to integrate it with popular work/project/productivity management software (Basecamp, Todoist, Asana, Wunderlist, and Trello). Like most Pomodoro timers, you can easily customize the default 25-minutes/5-minute sessions to your needs.

PomoDone offers a minimalist desktop app and powerful reporting features that let you share data with others. The app’s basic functions plus 2 integrations are free. Premium versions include the ability to integrate to an unlimited number of tools plus reporting features.

3. Pomodoro Keeper, iOS, Free and Premium

The Pomodoro Keeper is designed for iOS. It sports a very clean and sleek user interface. It’s very handy! And since it fits in your pocket, you have the ability to track your Pomodoro goals without the need to sit in front of a computer. The app automatically transitions from work to break timers after each session.

The basic features of the app are free. If you want to unlock various options like custom timers, you will need the pro version.

4. ClearFocus, Android, Free, and Premium

ClearFocus is a minimalist Pomodoro app for Android. It features a clean user interface and lovely design. It also packs various reporting tools and lets you track your progress as time goes by. Users love how the colors turn red when the timer is running and green when it’s break time! Basic functions are free. If you want the ability to pause the timer, you’ll need a premium license.

5. Pomodairo, 100% Free

Pomodairo is an Adobe Air application that works on any platform — Windows, Mac, or Linux. This AIR-based app works as a simple timer that can track your tasks, unplanned work, and interruptions.

The Good and the Bad of the Pomodoro Technique®

The Pomodoro Technique® offers several benefits. By breaking down tasks into shorter, focused sessions, you make daunting projects seem more manageable and less overwhelming. Also, the limited time you have to work encourages you to stay away from distractions, multitasking, and procrastination.

Regular, short breaks are good for your health. Aside from improving productivity and concentration, it also gives your brain the chance to assimilate information and “learn.” In addition, you experience less mental fatigue.

While the benefits are obvious, the Pomodoro Technique® is not for everyone. Some of you may find short breaks counterproductive, especially when you are in the zone. Developers may find that a 50-minute pomodoro and a 10-minute break is better suited to their work style.

The technique also requires a lot of effort to stick to a disciplined workday making it less ideal for those working in a fast paced environment.

Conclusion

The Pomodoro Technique® is very simple and easy to follow. All it needs is a handy timer or app and discipline! While it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, go and give it a try!

Norberts Erts is the co-founder of HR software company CakeHR, that streamlines attendance and performance management for customers worldwide. He keeps a sharp eye on HR, marketing, business, finance, science, technology and the connections between them. Connect with Norberts on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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How to Do a Full Time Audit [To Take Back Your Free Time] https://lifedev.net/2018/10/05/time-audit-to-take-back-your-free-time/ https://lifedev.net/2018/10/05/time-audit-to-take-back-your-free-time/#comments Fri, 05 Oct 2018 15:21:05 +0000 https://lifedev.net/?p=3834 The best way to reclaim your time is to do a full time audit. When your time audit is done you'll be able to increase productivity and reach your goals.

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Everyone thinks they know exactly how they spend their time – but do you actually spend your time the way you think you do?

Most of us are bad at estimating how long it takes to do a certain task. Are you ready to figure out how you spend your time and learn the secrets to time management? In this post, we’re breaking down everything you need to know to do a complete time audit and maximize your time.

Have you ever set aside 30 minutes to do something and then, when it’s done, realized it took you two hours? Don’t worry – you’re not the only one. Time is valuable. Time is money. Time is a limited resource. So if you really want to take control of your life, you’ve got to learn how to manage your time.

The best way to reclaim and manage your time is to do a full time audit. You can do one at work or at home, or both. When your time audit is done you’ll be able to increase productivity and lead a more fulfilling life where you can actually reach the goals you have.

Ready to get started? Keep reading to learn how to do your time audit.

What is a Time Audit?

You can think of a time audit as an investigation – a deep dive into what it is that you do and how long it takes you to do it. You need quantifiable and measurable results, so you have to be accurate as you track and record your time.

When it’s done, you’ll be able to see where time is being lost, and you’ll have the framework needed to build an optimized schedule. Evening opening up 10 minutes of time can have a huge impact on your day.

What You Need to do a Complete Time Audit

As we mentioned above, most people aren’t able to estimate their own time usage, so in order to get accurate data, you’ll need a time tracking app. With a tracker or a tracking app, you can get the data you need in order to produce accurate results.

Your time audit should be done over a 30 day period, so you’ll also need to have a calendar on hand. And before you can start, you’ll need to make a thorough to-do list.

Your to-do list should include everything you need to get done during your time auditing period. Don’t forget the time it takes to eat lunch, take breaks, and chat with your coworkers. Once we get further into the process, you’ll need to track the time for every single task that you need to do, whether it’s work-related or personal.

Steps to Completing a Time Audit:

1. Write Down Your Goals for the Month

Make a list of your main goals for the month. These overarching goals, combined with your to-do list, are what you’ll use to measure your success.

If you’re doing your time audit at work, make sure you include any major projects that are due in the upcoming month. If you decide to do your audit at home, your big goals might include cleaning your basement or purging your closet.

2. Track All Time for a Complete Month

To do a proper time audit, you have to track every single thing you do. There are many time tracking apps that can give you a good overall view of how you’re spending your time. If you decide to use a stopwatch instead, create a spreadsheet and record your data with precision.

Don’t think you can track every minute of every day for an entire month? It’s okay to start small and track your time for one week, but the longer you track yourself, the better your results will be.

3. Analyze Your Time Audit Results

Whether you track your time for a week or a month, once the results are in, it’s time to analyze your data. Take a detailed look at how you spent your time. It’s helpful to review your results by the amount of time spent on a particular task. Look at how long each task took you and ask yourself the following questions:

  1. What tasks took longer than I thought they would?
  2. What tasks took less time than expected?
  3. Aside from my biggest goals and projects, are there items that took up a lot of time? Look for things such as checking your social media, browsing the internet, and chatting with coworkers.
  4. What items did I not account for at the beginning of the month or week? Did I account for eating lunch? Commuting? Enjoying happy hour or having dinner with friends?
  5. Did I complete the big goals I set forth at the beginning of the month?

Once you identify which tasks took the longest and which ones are eating up most of your time, you’re ready to move on to the next step.

4. Set a Schedule for Times Blocked Out Based on Your Results

When you have a good understanding of how long it takes you to do certain things, get your calendar out. Set aside time every day and/or every week to meet your biggest goals and make time for everything you need to do. Use the average times from your tracking app to plan out every single thing on every day of the week.

Don’t be surprised if you find that your days fill up quickly with all the things you have to do. This is how you’ll learn to set realistic goals that you can actually meet and exceed in future weeks and months.

5. Block Out Times for Breaks, Meetings, and Interruptions

Set your schedule in a way that will make it possible to meet your goals. Account for time to commute, have lunch, and take breaks – and pay special attention to where you’re wasting your time.

If you find a task that takes you hours to do but doesn’t put your closer to your goals, see if you can cut back on that time. When in doubt, ask coworkers for some assistance.

It’s crucial that you set time for breaks and unavoidable interruptions. Without them, you’ll be less productive.

6. Set Realistic Goals for Next Month

With a proper time audit, you can set yourself up for success. There’s no point in telling your boss you can accomplish something in two days if you know it’s going to take you two weeks to work it into your schedule. Keep your goals and schedule realistic and you’re certain to enjoy more success.

By setting realistic goals and identifying wasted time, you should be able to create more time in your schedule for the important things. When you know what you can do and what you have time for, you can identify a problem before it arises and take a proactive approach. In some cases, it may be necessary to bring in outside help to assist you in your workload.

Putting it all Together

Doing an accurate time audit is the only way to know how you’re really spending your time. And when you know how you’re spending your time, you can adjust your schedule to accomplish what’s important.

Get a calendar. Download a time tracking app. Make a to-do list. Write down your biggest goals for the month.

Track everything you do throughout a week or month period and take some time to analyze your tracking results. Once you know how you’re spending your time and wasting your time, you can set realistic goals that you can actually meet next week or next month. Block out next month’s goals based on the time results of your audit – and don’t forget to schedule downtime for lunch and breaks.

The hardest part of time auditing is tracking every single thing you do. You have to be diligent. You have to be thorough. You can’t leave anything out. There’s no point in doing a time audit if you don’t end up with accurate results.

Author Bio: Market Station is Denver’s newest apartment complex. Located in the heart of downtown Denver, these apartments are equipped with full-service valet parking garage and much more.

The post How to Do a Full Time Audit [To Take Back Your Free Time] appeared first on LifeDev.

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