August 2010 - Posts

Tackle Your To-Do List with Time-Blocking
Thursday, August 05, 2010 2:28 PM

Do you suffer from the "too-much-to-do-and-too-little-time-to-do-it" syndrome? Is your to-do list perpetually unfinished? If these are familiar laments, it's time for time-blocking. 

Time-blocking is the process of designating specific blocks of time each day for tackling particular activities or tasks. Commonsense (and a host of studies) shows that checking your e-mail throughout the day is distracting and a poor use of time.  Rather, checking e-mail only at designated times, allows for better time management. The same is true for a host of other daily activities: scheduling discrete tasks at specific times optimizes productivity.

Time Flies

To begin, make a list and prioritize the tasks and activities in your daily routine. Next establish timelines for how long each task should take. Once you have your to-do list with accompanying timelines it's time to sort the tasks into discrete time-blocks for the day. Tips for effective time-blocking include:

Keep it real: Set realistic time-blocks; in a nine hour work day, realistically eight hours or less will be spent on work. The other time is allocated to transitions and breaks.

Interruption-free zone: Schedule blocks of time when you can be interruption-free each day. Close the office door; turn on your voicemail. Schedule tasks that require deep concentration during this time-block.

Energy check: Identify when your energy levels are high and when they are low. Schedules tasks that require concentration or dedicated blocks of time for when you are high energy and maximize low energy periods by tackling routine tasks that can be done easily. 

For more time-blocking tips, set aside time to read Work Smart: Avoid Office Distractions With Time Blocking and Is This a "Morning" Task? - Scheduling Important Activities for the Right Time of Day. 

Do you have time-blocking tips or techniques? What is your most productive time-block and why? Share your thoughts here and on the Beyond Folders Community's Facebook and Twitter pages.

by Carly Fadako

 

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Dial in, Log on: Your Conference has Begun
Wednesday, August 04, 2010 1:32 PM

When the corner office is across the globe, personnel increasingly need to work across wide geographies and multiple teams. In a past post Teams and Time Zones: Tips for a Global Workforce we offer ideas for managing the logistics of working in different offices and time zones. Useful options for bridging the time zone divide include web and teleconferencing: both can help shrink the divide, facilitating both informal meetings among a handful of colleagues and gatherings for audiences into the thousands.

Best Practices

To make web and teleconferences run smoothly, keep in mind a few simple points. Try to schedule conferences at a time that's convenient for all participants. If that's not possible, rotate the times so that all parties have a turn at the less desirable (i.e. late/early) time slots.

Be sure to introduce yourself when speaking at least the first few times; don't assume participants will automatically recognize your voice. As with any meeting, limit side conversations. Make use of that mute button if you must colloquy separately from the meeting.

Practice politeness: limit typing and cell phone use during calls, you want to give your audience your full attention. Add a personal touch; if using a web cam, make routine eye contact just as you would a face-to-face meeting. If a webcam isn't available, consider uploading a .jpeg photo.

For more useful tips on web conferencing, check out these resources:

For more useful tips on teleconferencing, check out these resources:


Do you make use of web or teleconferencing? What tips do you have to make web and teleconferencing productive? Share your thoughts here and on the Beyond Folders Community's Facebook and Twitter pages.

by Bradley Eggers

 

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Something to Say? Choosing the Right Form of Communication
Tuesday, August 03, 2010 1:46 PM

To tweet or to e-mail? Phone or face-to-face? When a host of communication options are at your fingertips choosing the right one requires careful matching of audience and message.

The Basics

Before we get into the nitty-gritty, let's take a minute for an overview. Communication can be broken down into two broad categories: verbal and written. Both are used extensively in the workplace and life.

Generally speaking, verbal communication is a more personal form of communication and is well suited for interactions that require extensive questioning or back-and-forth and for delivering emotionally-charged information such as compliments or reprimands.

Written communication is the most appropriate choice when delivering detailed information, when something needs to be documented, or when a person is too far away to easily speak with in person or by phone.

What to Pick?

 When proceeding, ask yourself how would you like to best receive information? In addition, I like to ask the people I interact with on a regular basis, what method of communication they prefer. Tap into your commonsense and do a gut-check.  When in doubt, consult with a colleague for a second opinion. I've also found a list from the book The Leaders' Communication Toolkit to be a helpful guide: 

Face-to-Face

  • Terminating employees
  • Cultivating relationships
  • Performance reviews
  • Resolving conflict
  • Sales presentations

E-Mail

  • Breaking news
  • Informal communications
  • Non-confidential communication
  • Scheduling
  • Working collaboratively with remote teams

Phone

  • Informal communications
  • Non-confidential communication
  • Sharing confidential communication
  • Scheduling
  • Working collaboratively with remote teams

Memo

  • Sharing information informally
  • Sharing information formally
  • When something needs to be documented

Audio/Video

  • Teleconferencing through phone/video for meets with remote teams
  • Sales presentations when in-person attendance isn't realistic
  • Working collaboratively with remote teams

Newsletter

  • Showcasing departments/people

Twitter

  • Breaking news
  • PR/marketing outreach
  • Building relationships with wide audiences

Keep in mind that choosing the right form of communication matters less than how well or effectively you communicate. When communicating verbally, master your emotions, avoiding sarcasm or angry tones. Be sure to be a good listener as well, verbal communication is a two-way street. For more tips on interpersonal relationships and communication in the workplace read our post Developing Emotional Intelligence: Putting on Your "Feeling" Cap. For tips on effective written communication, check out our post How to Write Persuasively and Why

 

What rules of thumb do you use in selecting the right form of communication? Share your thoughts here and on the Beyond Folders Community's Facebook and Twitter pages.

by Candie Harris

 

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Toot Your Horn without Blowing It
Monday, August 02, 2010 4:03 PM
by Candie Harris Getting credit for good work is essential for career advancement. Promotions and accolades don't always go to the most qualified candidate; they often go to the person who has done the best job of shining a spotlight on their work...
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Beyond FoldersTM is written by a team of Pendaflex associates passionate about time management, communications, productivity and workplace organization.  Believing in  "continuous improvement" on both a personal and professional level, they share their unique perspectives on subjects of common interest to our readers.

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