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Cover Image of Nancy Drew Mystery Stories : The Secret of The Old Clock and The Hidden Staircase by Carolyn Keene published by Grosset & Dunlap
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Making 2014 Productive

abstract:If you're like me you've got a diverse range of interests, desires and obligations all battling for your attention. Add to that distracting factors that reduce productivity. January is a great time to look at ways to improve productivity and adopt new work-flow patterns that ensure you reach your goal, complete your tasks and have time for personal growth and loved ones. Here are the 3 things you may need to improve upon: staying focused, prioritizing, and keeping on schedule.

FOCUS: Throw out multitasking. We all think we can do five things at once, but studies show we make mistakes, compromise the quality of our work or fail to complete things when multitasking. The technology explosion promised to keep us up-to-date on information, but many of us experience information overload and fight constant interruptions that vye for our attention. The result? Our ability to focus is impeded. The answer? Get back to basics. When you pick up a book - do nothing else! When you write - don't stop the flow to check emails or browse the web. When you're in a meeting - don't answer phone calls or respond to text messages (a dying courtesy!) When you take time to walk the proverbial dog - enjoy the break for what it is and resist the urge to Instagram. "Live in the moment," as the saying goes, and feel your powers of concentration and your ability to focus return. What's the side benefit? Relief. Awareness. Release from the compulsive need to be completely connected and caught-up and a return of focus :) In 2014 use one device at a time and do one task at a time.


January 03, 2014
— PRIORITIZE: It's a fundamental truth that we put off important tasks, delay unpleasant obligations, skip personal rewards and generally allow other people's agendas and interruptions to rule our lives. Studies show that people who make lists and try to accomplish too much do better when they pick one thing and work to complete it before moving on to the next thing. But how do you choose? Practically and holistically speaking review Maslow's hierarchy of needs). Next, learn how to politely but firmly say, "No thanks" or, "Let me get back to you on that." Set measurable goals for each category of your life and drop things that don't further those selected goals.

SCHEDULING: Anyone I know who is effective, productive ( and sane!) knows how to manage their time with a system that works for them. It's different for everyone so the take-home message is experiment until you find what works for you. If you find yourself missing appointments, showing up at the wrong time, feeling like you never get to certain tasks or have time for yourself - you need to change your system! Here are 4 examples: I've got a CEO friend who doesn't use a smart phone, doesn't keep his own calendar or answer his own emails. He leaves that to his administrative assistant who organizes his life and takes care of all correspondence. He takes every meeting in person, and never misses a personal phone call. He's blissfully happy, completely organized, and never stressed out.

I've got several author friends who work from home and schedule contemplative writing time when they feel most productive, either first thing in the AM when they feel fresh or late at night when the house is quiet. Some turn off the internet or use programs like Freedom to limit internet access at specified times on their schedule. Another friend separates her creative writing into retreat blocks with her book promotion and teaching obligations separated into separate semesters.

I've got friends who prefer to use a pen and paper diary to keep track of their schedule, to take notes and make action lists that they carefully tick-off when completed. Other friends are technology geeks who use every new gadget, technology device or app to facilitate every detail of their lives. Experiment with organizing regimes until you find one that works.

Tips, Books, Apps and Advice for a More Productive 2014

  • E-Mails: Never start the day by looking at your email box. The morning is your most productive time to accomplish tasks that require your full attention and concentration. People will quickly adjust to your new response schedule. Once you do get busy with your inbox, it's a good idea to limit the time spent and maximize efficiency. Assign a colour code scheme for easy message prioritization. Mail addressed directly to you should be read first. Mail addressed with you in the cc list is intended to keep you in the loop on a subject between the sender and the primary recipient - less pressing. Blanket email derived from subscription newsletters or "push mail" is read last, if you have time. If you subscribed to a website's newsletter and haven't opened their message for weeks, do yourself a favour and click the unsubscribe button at the bottom, or at least manage your preferences to receive them at less frequent intervals. The object here is to limit the size of your inbox to a more manageable state. There are programs that automatically save contacts to your address book and attachments to a folder, so you can archive messages. Check out (which is inbox backwards; their gmail/android/iPhone app is called Smartr)..Last, do everyone a favour and don't respond to the entire cc list unless you have to.
  • Calendars: pen and paper or digital? Whichever you choose be sure to be judicious. If you don't write it in at the time you risk forgetting to enter it and entering incorrectly. Outlook is fraught with fraud and scams. Google wants to control every bit of personal information out there. With the rise of androids organizer software and apps are becoming less proprietary so choose something that allows you to blend your calendar with your address book for ease of transcription. Google lets you include people and reminders (both text or email) on shared appointments, meetings or deadlines. Do yourself a favour and get on the Cloud so no matter which device you're using your notes, calendar and address book are coordinated. It's advisable to use multiple calendars to tie -n family members or work project associates. In this way you can look at the big picture.
  • To be continued…



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