Thongtaccong Management

Managers are people who do things right

Month: November 2015

12 Steps to Help Manage Your Work-Life Balance on the Go

f you are like most information workers, you can now get work done wherever you are — from the local coffee shop to your child’s piano recital.  Most of us initially welcome this flexibility, but it isn’t long before this “freedom” begins to chafe.  Work incursions into private time and space quickly become a source of frustration and friction.

Now, more than ever, it is important to define work-life borders – so that you can be productive at work, yet maintain stability and peace of mind at home.  But the incursion of work into your private life (and vice versa) requires you to manage more than your time. To maintain a healthy balance, you need to manage your space, online identity, data, equipment and not least of all…your sanity.   To help you create and maintain that fragile work-life balance, here are some tips for being productive while maintaining a healthy work-life balance.

Managing your time and space.

1. Set specific times of day for answering email, holding meetings and for doing creative work. Different people are able to focus better at different hours, so do what works and stick to it.

2. For creative work, identify work times when there are fewer distractions and do your creative work during these periods. Researchdone by Victor Gonzalez and Gloria Mark at the University of California-Irvine found that it typically takes over 20 minutes to resume tasks once they are interrupted, so eliminating distractions will do wonders for productivity.

3. If you have creative work to do, turn off automated alerts.  Email, Twitter and instant message popups are one of the biggest causes of interruptions.

4. When working outside the office, find a place to be “alone in the crowd.”  For example, work in a café, library or public park but disconnect with music using a pair of headphones.

5. Set aside time during the day to exercise. If you are like most people, sitting still and focusing for long periods of time is difficult, even without digital distractions. Exercise is a great cure for this and it doesn’t need to be intensive or long.

6. Internalize the idea that even when you are not “connected,” you can still do valuable work. In fact, thoughtful, contemplative work is often best done offline. So, while the 9-to-5 workday is long gone, it is still important to define times when you can disconnect.  For example, take William Powers’ excellent suggestion and declare a weekly Internet Sabbath.

7. Don’t take email to bed. Studies show that keeping smartphones in the bedroom can cause insomnia, which leads to work problems.

Managing your online identity.

8. Decide how much you want your personal identity online to be associated with your business persona. One suggestion is to segment your online identities. For example, use LinkedIn for business and Facebook for friends and family.

Managing your data.

9. Make sure your company’s smartphone “remote wipe” technology does not remove your personal data without your permission.

10. Make sure your personal data, such as contacts, pictures, music and videos are backed up in a safe place.

11. Clearly delineate where personal and professional data is stored on your device with separate apps for work and personal life.

Managing your equipment.

12. Sign up for a voice over IP (VOIP) telephone number and use it for your personal contacts. Have the number forwarded to your mobile device. That way, if you have to surrender your phone when you leave your place of employment, you can automatically reroute your forwarded number to a new device, and none will be the wiser.

Finally, as technology continues to shrink time and distance, we will continue to struggle demarcating the boundaries between work and personal life.  So, my last piece of advice is to do a bit of research before exposing your personal life to your business contacts, because the ramifications can be long lasting.  I still see old business contacts pop up from time to time on Facebook, because I was naïve enough to accept their invitations when I first signed up.  And like I said before, who has time to manage those group lists, especially when there is so much work to do.

4 Tips to Better Manage Your Email Inbox

Email is an extremely useful communication tool in business. Less intrusive than a phone call, email is convenient and fast. It empowers entrepreneurs to run their businesses from just about anywhere.

You can communicate with clients and customers, check in with employees and set up important meetings from your office or on the go.

But when used inappropriately, email can hinder productivity. More than one-quarter of a worker’s day on average is spent answering and reading emails, according to research released in 2012 by the McKinsey Global Institute. Its survey found that email is the second-most time-consuming activity for workers, next to “role-specific tasks.”

Business leaders, CEOs and managers often receive hundreds, if not thousands, of emails a day. Reading and responding to every message can become a drain on time and energy.

A cluttered email inbox — filled with old, unopened or unimportant messages — will not only frustrate you. It will prevent you from maximizing your time and distract you from other obligations.

Here are four strategies to better manage your email and keep the messages in your inbox to a minimum.

1. Set aside time to read and respond to email.

Don’t leave your email program open all day long. Alerts and beeps from incoming messages can interrupt your work flow and leave you unfocused.

Instead, schedule specific blocks of time throughout the day for checking your email. You might even try marking your calendar and setting your availability to “busy.”

If necessary, turn off your cellphone and shut your office door to prevent interruptions by family members (if you work from home) or employees.

Craft an email reply like this one cited by Tim Ferriss in The 4-Hour Work Week:

“Due to high workload, I am currently checking and responding to e-mail twice daily at 12:00pm ET [or your time zone] and 4:00pm ET.

If you require urgent assistance (please ensure it is urgent) that cannot wait until either 12:00pm or 4:00pm, please contact me via phone at 555-555-5555.”

The amount of time required for reviewing email and replying will depend on how frequently you check messages and how many you typically receive. Some entrepreneurs find it more effective to dedicate 10 minutes every hour to email. Others prefer to only check email just two or three times a day.

2. Take action immediately.

Making quick decisions and pursuing immediate action will help keep your email inbox under control. The idea is to not delay until tomorrow what can be accomplished right away.

When you check your messages, browse the inbox for emails that can be immediately deleted such as spam or promotional emails. Then select messages that don’t require a response and delete or archive them. Once you’ve pared down the number of messages in your inbox, you’ll be able to better evaluate which ones are the most critical.

Don’t let important emails sit in your inbox for days. Unless you’re on vacation, respond within 48 hours. Reply to the sender as soon as you’ve read his or her message.

If you’re unable to respond immediately, communicate to the sender that you received the message and will be in touch shortly. Set a deadline and follow up.

3. Organize an inbox with labels, folders and categories.

Although a majority of emails can be deleted, you’ll most likely want to retain messages related to key aspects of your business. Correspondence between clients, colleagues and employees can help clarify any miscommunications. Most email programs let users mark messages with specific labels or categories.

Prioritize, group, sort and file messages to keep your inbox organized. The better your filing system, the easier it will be to locate specific emails when you need them. Create parent categories for broad subjects such as the following: clients, projects and finances.

Then use subcategories to file emails related to specific clients or projects. Before you file a message, ensure the subject line is search-friendly. If it doesn’t accurately describe the content of the email, edit the subject line before it’s categorized and archived.

4. Unsubscribe from unwanted promotional emails.

Newsletters and advertisements can overwhelm your inbox and bury important messages. Clean out the clutter.

Unsubscribe from receiving messages from specific senders if you no longer want to receive their missives or don’t have the time to read them. To make the unsubscribe process quick and painless, search your inbox for the term “unsubscribe.” Review the search results and determine whose emails you would continue to welcome and the missives you would prefer to live without.

The 80/20 Rule of Time Management, Stop Wasting Your Time

Small-business owners waste their time on what I call $10 an hour work, like running to get office supplies. Meanwhile, they forgo the activities that earn $1,000 an hour, such as sending the right email to the right person, or negotiating a lucrative contract, or convincing a client to do more business with you.

Entrepreneurs don’t realize the same 80/20 principle — the adage that 20 percent of customers equal 80 percent of sales — applies to every dimension of business. And that includes time management.

We entrepreneurs are extremely prone to rationalize, “I can do it myself.” Then we spend six hours trying to extract a virus from our computer or fix a leaky faucet.

Sure, we may be competent to do that little job. And sure, sometimes you have to do everything when you start out. But now you’re doing a $10 or $20 per hour fix-the-faucet job and you’re not doing your No. 1 job, which is getting and keeping customers. That job pays $100 to $1000 per hour.

Many a promising business has been killed by those little jobs. When someone says “time management,” you probably think of time logs, goal lists, and “Getting Things Done.” But getting busy is not what makes you rich.

We’re tempted to hire out the toughest jobs, like sales and marketing and public relations. These are extremely high-skill tasks. It’s almost impossible to delegate those tasks to someone else. How about hiring someone to do your laundry, or sort through your email?

Five things you should do immediately in order to stop wasting time and start earning the real dinero:

Hire a maid. If you have a significant other, he or she will thank you. It is easy to find someone who knows how to cook. Easy to find people who know how to clean. They will love you for paying them $10 to $13 an hour to do those jobs. Somebody’s praying for that job now.

As a go-getter, your core entrepreneurial skills can earn you hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. So there’s no reason why you should be scrubbing your own toilets. In fact, I argue that it is your moral obligation to hire someone to do that.

Downton Abbey fans will recall that the aristocratic Crawley family thought it was their duty to have servants and provide them employment. Same goes for business owners. The United States would be back down to 5 percent unemployment if entrepreneurs stopped taking out their own trash.

Just get over yourself and….

Get rid of your $10 an hour stuff. Let’s assume you are no longer wasting time vacuuming your own carpets or listening to your own voicemails. You are still hurting yourself if you are obsessed with being “efficient.” That is not an 80/20 approach to time. Instead, ask: “What else am I doing that is so menial, it could be cheaply outsourced? What am I doing that I should stop doing altogether?”

Hire a personal assistant. With some effort you can hire a perfectly competent person at $8 to $15 per hour and they’ll be happy because it is more interesting work than flipping burgers. I don’t care where they are. Virtual is fine. In my case, I hired a friend of a friend, Lorena, whom I heard was looking for work. I started her out changing furnace filters and taking my car to the mechanic. Within six months, she was managing my email box, doing triage to ensure that I only read what really matters. The time she saves me is worth its weight in gold.

Don’t feel guilty about relaxing. The most productive people are a little lazy. If there are really only a few hours a day in which you do $1,000-an-hour work, does it really matter if you screw around for the rest of the day? Downtime gives you the mental space you need to think. You can’t be a great strategist when you’re hustling from morning ’til night. Feed your brain instead, so you’re sharp when you’re negotiating the next sales contract.

Focus on your most productive time slot. Everybody has a timeslot in their day when they do their finest work. Ernest Hemingway wrote first thing in the morning. Barack Obama is a night owl. (He reportedly even outsources decisions on what to eat and wear.) I do my best work between 7 a.m. and 10 a.m. I don’t do email before 10 or 11 a.m. I keep that space open. It’s reserved for writing or doing really strategic jobs. That’s the part of my day when I’m most productive.

Make these changes and you’ll hit consistent stretches of $1,000 an hour many days of your week. Then and only then will you reap the true rewards of being an entrepreneur.

How to Manage Time With 10 Tips That Work

Chances are good that, at some time in your life, you’ve taken a time management class, read about it in books, and tried to use an electronic or paper-based day planner to organize, prioritize and schedule your day. “Why, with this knowledge and these gadgets,” you may ask, “do I still feel like I can’t get everything done I need to?”

The answer is simple. Everything you ever learned about managing time is a complete waste of time because it doesn’t work.

Before you can even begin to manage time, you must learn what time is. A dictionary defines time as “the point or period at which things occur.” Put simply, time is when stuff happens.

There are two types of time: clock time and real time. In clock time, there are 60 seconds in a minute, 60 minutes in an hour, 24 hours in a day and 365 days in a year. All time passes equally. When someone turns 50, they are exactly 50 years old, no more or no less.

In real time, all time is relative. Time flies or drags depending on what you’re doing. Two hours at the department of motor vehicles can feel like 12 years. And yet our 12-year-old children seem to have grown up in only two hours.

Which time describes the world in which you really live, real time or clock time?

The reason time management gadgets and systems don’t work is that these systems are designed to manage clock time. Clock time is irrelevant. You don’t live in or even have access to clock time. You live in real time, a world in which all time flies when you are having fun or drags when you are doing your taxes.

The good news is that real time is mental. It exists between your ears. You create it. Anything you create, you can manage. It’s time to remove any self-sabotage or self-limitation you have around “not having enough time,” or today not being “the right time” to start a business or manage your current business properly.

There are only three ways to spend time: thoughts, conversations and actions. Regardless of the type of business you own, your work will be composed of those three items.

As an entrepreneur, you may be frequently interrupted or pulled in different directions. While you cannot eliminate interruptions, you do get a say on how much time you will spend on them and how much time you will spend on the thoughts, conversations and actions that will lead you to success.

Practice the following techniques to become the master of your own time:

  1. Carry a schedule and record all your thoughts, conversations and activities for a week. This will help you understand how much you can get done during the course of a day and where your precious moments are going. You’ll see how much time is actually spent producing results and how much time is wasted on unproductive thoughts, conversations and actions.
  2. Any activity or conversation that’s important to your success should have a time assigned to it. To-do lists get longer and longer to the point where they’re unworkable. Appointment books work. Schedule appointments with yourself and create time blocks for high-priority thoughts, conversations, and actions. Schedule when they will begin and end. Have the discipline to keep these appointments.
  3. Plan to spend at least 50 percent of your time engaged in the thoughts, activities and conversations that produce most of your results.
  4. Schedule time for interruptions. Plan time to be pulled away from what you’re doing. Take, for instance, the concept of having “office hours.” Isn’t “office hours” another way of saying “planned interruptions?”
  5. Take the first 30 minutes of every day to plan your day. Don’t start your day until you complete your time plan. The most important time of your day is the time you schedule to schedule time.
  6. Take five minutes before every call and task to decide what result you want to attain. This will help you know what success looks like before you start. And it will also slow time down. Take five minutes after each call and activity to determine whether your desired result was achieved. If not, what was missing? How do you put what’s missing in your next call or activity?
  7. Put up a “Do not disturb” sign when you absolutely have to get work done.
  8. Practice not answering the phone just because it’s ringing and e-mails just because they show up. Disconnect instant messaging. Don’t instantly give people your attention unless it’s absolutely crucial in your business to offer an immediate human response. Instead, schedule a time to answer email and return phone calls.
  9. Block out other distractions like Facebook and other forms of social media unless you use these tools to generate business.
  10. Remember that it’s impossible to get everything done. Also remember that odds are good that 20 percent of your thoughts, conversations and activities produce 80 percent of your results.