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Posts Tagged ‘Priorities’

Train Tracks and Getting Things Done

Wednesday, June 13th, 2018

 

One day recently I was stopped at a railroad bridge and started thinking about what we learned as kids about crossing the train tracks. Stop, look, and listen. Do you remember that?

The next morning I looked at the mountain of work on my desk – as well as those bright, shiny objects across the room – and wondered where I should start. I picked up the task on the top and started to work.

Shortly I became distracted and found myself on the way to the kitchen for another cup of tea.

Back to my desk. What was I working on?

Read more…

6 Tips to Get More Work Done in the Summer

Wednesday, August 19th, 2015

 

Working by the sea

 

Summer is winding down for the year. Did you do anything special for your summer vacation? I spent time at our home on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. I also took a sketching and watercolor class. I still kept up a busy work schedule. One of the things I’ve tried to work on for the last few years is working smarter and using my time more efficiently. The key to that is knowing how I am working currently. Here are some tips I have been using:

 

1. Track how you spend your time. At the end of each day and at the end of each week compare the percentage of your time used toward fulfilling your mission and achieving your goals with time spent elsewhere. It is easy to get sidetracked and not pay attention to the task at hand. It is also easy to do the effortless work and not really tackle what you should be getting done.

 

2. Set your priorities for each day. Select your three top goals for the day and work to complete those goals. If you are clear about what you want to accomplish, it is easier to say no to something that comes up that does not fit into your schedule. Having the priorities, aka your to-do list, keeps you more focused on the end result.

 

3. Keep a copy of your mission and goals where you can see them. If you keep the end in mind, it is easier to keep distractions at bay. And, when you do get distracted, I think it is easier to get back on track.

 

4. Learn to say “no” more often. If you have problems with this one, here’s a link to a blog post I wrote on this topic. For me, it is remembering that the person who asked is just looking for an answer. If I say no, she moves onto the next person on her list.

 

5. Use Caller ID and/or let your answering machine take a message. Today it seems most of the calls that come in are from telemarketers. You can allot a certain amount of time at the end of the day to return any calls that require your attention.

 

6. Limit time on social networking sites. Connecting through these sites is important for the growth of your business, but they can be big time vampires. Set aside 30 minutes each day for Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, Linked In, etc., and then stay off the sites the rest of the day. I actually like to save Pinterest for after work because it is so easy to get lost in it.

 

Do you have a few tips on how to work smarter? Please share them below. I would love to hear them. You are also welcome to go to leave a comment on the ICAP Facebook or Google+ pages.

 

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Morna McEver is the founder and CEO of the International Association of Creative Arts Professionals where creative arts entrepreneurs craft business success. Her weekly e-zine offers tips, techniques and inspiration to help you craft business success from your creative arts passion. You can sign up for a FREE subscription at http://www.creativeartsprofessional.com.

 

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The Mayonnaise Jar and Two Cups of Coffee

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014

coffee cupToday I am having lunch with one of my closest friends, something we try to do once a month. We could meet for coffee, only neither one of us drinks it. Of course, it is not about the coffee anyhow. It is about the connections. It’s about the companionship. It’s about the love.

I ran across this article again the other day. It has been circulated around the Internet for awhile now, and I don’t know its origin. It’s just a good reminder for when we think our lives are stuffed and unmanageable. When you get to that place, think about the mayonnaise jar and the two cups of coffee.

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A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, he wordlessly picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.

The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous “YES.”

The professor then produced two cups of coffee from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed. “Now,” said the professor as the laughter subsided, “I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things — God, your family, your children, your health, your friends and your favorite passions. And if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full.  The pebbles are the other things that matter, like your job, your house and your car. The sand is everything else — the small stuff.”

“If you put the sand into the jar first,” he continued, “there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff you will never have room for the things that are important to you. Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Spend time with your spouse. Play with your children. Spend time with your parents. Visit with your grandparents. Take time to get medical checkups. Take your spouse out to dinner.  Play another 18 holes.  There will always be time to clean the house and fix the disposal.  Take care of the golf balls first — the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.”

One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the coffee represented. The professor smiled and said, “I’m glad you asked. The coffee just shows you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of cups of coffee with a friend.”

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So, when you get the chance to meet up with your friends for coffee, take the opportunity. I am always grateful I do.

 

Photo credit: Hailey E Herrera Art Journey via photopin cc

Exercise Your “Done” Muscle

Wednesday, March 9th, 2011

A lot of us have problems getting things finished. Several reasons come to mind: procrastination, the need to be perfect, distractions by other things, failure to prioritize. Here are eight tips for exercising what I call your “done” muscle.

1. Get clear about what it is that you are trying to accomplish. Once you have clarity around your goals and/or a particular project, it’s much easier to move forward. As you work, keep your eye on the prize. This will help you progress.

2. Break your project down into manageable tasks. When you look at a goal or a specific project, it can seem overwhelming. If you can break it down into bite-size pieces, it’s always easier to see how you can accomplish it.

3. Look for where you need help. Just because you have a big project, doesn’t mean that you need to do it all yourself. Remember, it’s not necessary to know how to do everything, just what needs to be done.

4. Prioritize what needs to be done. This can apply to a specific project or your daily “to do” list. It’s easy to look for the quick and uncomplicated things to do each day so you can check them off the list. The problem is you aren’t really accomplishing what you need to accomplish. What you should be doing is tackling those projects that move you towards completing your goal.

5. Consider the ROI. That’s Return on Investment. You can look at your tasks and see if time spent doing these tasks is worth your time. Maybe you should delegate the tasks or not even do them at all.

6. Finish what you start. Make that your goal. Really look around at how many people actually finish what they set out to do. Many people say they are going to do something and don’t ever complete it.

7. Remember good enough is often good enough. Sometimes we spend so much time aiming for perfection that we don’t accomplish our goals.

8. Don’t over-think everything. As the Nike ad says, “Just do it.”

If you have a tip for exercising your “done” muscle, please share it on the blog.

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