Do You Ever Have Time to Do Nothing? Absolutely Nothing?

woman stressedI had a face-to-face conversation with a woman the other day. Her entire demeanor spelled

S-T-R-E-S-S-E-D!

She started talking about all the things she was involved in (church, social clubs, etc.). Wore me out just listening to it.

She has entirely too much on her plate, and it showed. Way too much volunteer work added on top of paid work. It was obvious that she never has time to stop long enough to think, reflect, or do nothing. This is not healthy living, and if she ever decides to change (or is forced to), the solution is quite simple.

  1. List all the things you HAVE to do (work, cook, etc).
  2. Next, list all the things you CHOOSE to do (e.g., volunteer work).
  3. Consider the most important person in your life – YOU—and ask yourself what can be eliminated.
  4. Take a deep breath, make some calls, send some emails, and do it!

Don’t worry, they’ll either find someone else to do it or drop it because it wasn’t as important as you thought…not your concern because you need to focus on you right now.

PEACE.

12 Fast Ways to Answer Email in Outlook (video tutorials on new membership Website)

Are you feeling overwhelmed just thinking about email? Are you finding it harder to focus and manage the never-ending demands on your attention? Are you scrolling through hundreds or thousands of unread messages all day? Are you spending too much time giving the same answers to similar questions?

The best way to handle an overflowing Inbox is to get into a meeting with it, and handle it one message at a time. For the messages that deserve an answer, you’ll finish quicker once you discover little-known, Outlook commands and a few workarounds.

Peggy Duncan, personal productivity expert and author of Conquer Email Overload with Better Habits, Etiquette, and Outlook, has pulled together her best tips for answering emails fast. She manages her life inside Outlook and shares ways she uses it that its creator probably hasn’t even thought of.

· Create good, solid answers once, and use them again and again.

· Grab information you need often, and send it before you can blink.

Investing in this video series will be the best decision you’ll make this year, and it’ll take a little over 30 minutes to change your life. The videos will play on any device, plus PC and Mac, and all browsers.

Here’s a Free Sample from the Course

You can collect text and graphics from other Office software, the Web, a PDF, and so on, store them in the Office Clipboard, and use them to quickly answer an email. This tip also works in all other Office applications.

So clear your calendar, get quiet, and learn how to breeze through your Inbox, one message at a time, by learning ways to answer them faster. And for the ultimate success, use your desktop computer to manage it and your mobile to monitor it.

A one-time investment will give you lifetime access. This way, if you forget how to do something or the technology changes, you’ll be able to come back and brush up on whatever you need. Each tip is in a separate video to make it easier if you need a refresher later…just click the one you need.

You don’t have a second to spare! Don’t waste another minute digging through your Inbox. Invest in this training because, unlike dieting or exercising, the results are immediate!

Check out the site, choose the training you can use immediately to make your life a little easier, and sign up today!

PEACE.

How to AutoPost Your Blog to Other Social Media Accounts for Better Time Management

When I write a new blog post, I don’t want to have to visit all my other social media sites to post it. When I publish a new post, it automatically goes to Facebook (personal and business pages), LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google Plus. Here’s how I autopost (times vary and posting isn’t always immediate so be patient).

Facebook: From your main page, search for the app, Networked Blogs. When it comes up, register your blog and be sure to syndicate it for automatic publishing. Create auto updates to your personal and business pages.

Google Plus. The WordPress plugin, WPGPlus will autopost your new articles to your Google+ profile. After you install the plugin, go into Settings and add your Google Plus email address and password.

LinkedIn: Add the app, Blog Link (or WordPress if that’s your platform). They both link directly to your blog from LinkedIn. To find the app, click More, Other Applications, choose Blog Link or WordPress.

Twitter: If you use WordPress, try a plugin such as Tweetilyto automatically tweet your new posts. After you install the plugin, go into it’s settings and make desired changes (I changed the “Minimum age of post” to zero and the Random Time to 1.)

Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter auto updates: Twitterfeed.com is another option to autopost to Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. When you use a bit.ly link, you can track stats.

Take a few minutes now to set this up and save time later. If you have other ways to autopost, please leave a comment below.

PEACE.

Animoto Video: Record Your Memories and Produce Movies for Work or Play

This past Wednesday was Administrative Professionals Day, and I do hope you honored them. One of my clients, Global Evaluation & Applied Research Solutions, Inc., (GetInGears.com), held their second annual Administrative Professionals Conference. Organizations that invested in their employees and sent them to this training included the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), MARTA, the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP), and more.

I was the keynote speaker, and my speech was titled, “Spend Your Time Right and Your Dreams Will Come True.” I talked about my journey from my first job after college at IBM as a secretary and how my skills landed me a promotion to project manager, and also how I’m using those same skills to run my business. That afternoon, I demonstrated some of my favorite tips and tricks in Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook.

My main advice for the day: turn off the TV and spend your time and your money feeding your brain. There is too much you need to learn to waste your time on some so-called Housewives of Atlanta.

What a great day we had! The following is a video I created that captures it.

A colleague, LaTonya Blount, used my Flip camcorder to record a one-hour video. I used Movavi Video Converter to convert the Flip’s MP4 to the Windows Media Video format (so I could import to Camtasia, which I used to edit the video). We’d taken some photos also, and I used Windows Live Photo Gallery to crop them. After all that, I pulled everything into the Plus version of Animoto and created this finished product (for video, Animoto’s limit is 10 seconds per clip, and that’s all you need).

Animoto adds all the animation. I purchased their Plus version so I could make something longer than what’s available with the free version, and I wanted to add videos. When I used the embed code from Animoto, their logo showed on the screen during playback (the logo comes with their embeddable flash player). I’d have to move up to the Pro version to create an unbranded video (and to get their coolest transitions), but that’s just not happening. They jump from free to $30/year to $249/year. I uploaded the video to YouTube so I could use their player instead. After that, I used LinkedTube.com to create the banner that’s on top of the video that reads, Hire This Woman! The music is my official theme song, Time Catchers, that my ex-husband, Larry, wrote for me.

Converting the video consumed the most time. I always start this process and keep working on something else. When I get my Kodak PlayTouch (zi10) camcorder, this will be a step I’ll be able to omit. I love the Movavi Video Converter because no matter the format, it keeps the quality.

Let me know what you think. Give Animoto a try, and use the free version to get a feel for how easy it is. And to create your YouTube channel the right way in the first place, or take the one you have to the next level, you’ll want my booklet, Create, Build, and Manage a YouTube Channel Made Easy. It’s available on my main Website with free shipping.

PEACE.

 

Information Overload: Email, IM, Fax, Mail, Phones

A new client called me this morning stressed out about all the information coming into her office every day. She’s having a hard time concentrating on work that generates income and needed some suggestions.

You have to take stock of what is bothering you, write it down, and develop some solutions to reduce the angst or make it go away. The following turned out to be her main issues.

Email
What type of messages are coming in? Is it spam, personal friends, potential clients, current clients, etc.? Analyze the incoming messages so you know what you’re dealing with. I have numerous ways to manage email, and she realized she should take my Outlook/Time Management class.

  • Create answers to messages you receive often. Save them as signatures (in Outlook 2003 or older) and in QuickParts (Outlook 2007 or later). When you need to send the same answer, it’s already written and a click away.
  • Stop checking email all day. Set aside times of day to check email. Get into a meeting with the Inbox and stay focused on it. During that meeting, analyze each message and either delete it, pend it, schedule it, task it, flag it for follow up, or do the work if it’s quick.

Cell Phone
Who’s calling your cell phone during the day and why? This was a mix of her family wanting to know what she’s doing, clients who are also friends, and personal friends.

  • Change the outgoing message on your cell phone. “Thanks for calling. My cell phone is turned off during the day. If you’re a client, please call the work phone at (the number). I’ll return all other calls after work hours. You may also send me an email at (email address). If this is an emergency, please call the work phone.
  • Turn off the cell phone during the day and only use it at your convenience.

Instant Messages
Who’s sending you instant messages and what do they want? This amounted to a lot of “What are you doing?” type of questions so that account will be logged off during the day.

Fax
What is coming in via fax? Information comes in via fax that needs to be filed. Change the old-style fax machine to receiving faxes via email. She didn’t receive a lot of faxes so I advised that she sign up for a free fax account at http://home.efax.com/s/r/efaxprint

Mail
When the mail comes in, put it in one place, separating by recipient. Someone should process it once a day.

Telephone
Who’s calling you the most and what are they asking for?

  • Change your outgoing message and let people know when they should expect a return call, suggest they send you an email instead, and refer them to your Website for more help.

    If you’re in a job such as a reporter with tons of irrelevant calls (e.g., from publicists), don’t say, “I’ll return your call as soon as I can” because you’re not. It’s perfectly fine to say something like, “Due to the number of calls I receive every day, I may not be able to return yours. However, I want to responsive and have put a link on our Web site, blah, blah, blah.”

  • Make your Website easier to navigate and add a Frequently Asked Question page. This will reduce the number of non-revenue calls.

Can you afford to allow non-revenue interruptions to interfere with work? Me neither. Analyze each interruption and put a process in place to manage it.

Have you made any changes that help you get work done during the workday? Let us know by leaving a comment.

PEACE.

Get Organized and Create More Time

You’re always declaring you want more time. Are you willing to do what it takes to make it happen? This is not a complicated thing to do folks. You just have to stop long enough to make it happen.

The number one reason people give for not getting organized is that they don’t have time.
The reason they don’t have time is because they’re disorganized.

Organize your files. Use your local grocer as an example on how to organize anything. They use broad categories to separate the products, giving everything a home. For example, Meat Department, then poultry, then chicken/turkey, then by parts, then by brand. You can always go to exactly what you need by starting with a category first. You organize everything this way, putting like items together. Your system will be logical so you’ll start to remember where you put it. You need to organize everything from your paper files to the computer files to the Inbox. The quicker you can put your hands on what you need, the quicker you’ll be able to leave work.

Organize how you remember. You want to use your brain for thinking and external cues for remembering. Every time you know you have to do something, ask yourself, “How will I remember to do this?” You’ll use different systems for remembering based on what you’ll be doing when you need to the reminder. It could be a shopping list on a notepad in your jeans pocket or on your PDA. Or a computer reminder if you know you’ll be at your desk when you need to remember. Checklists, to do lists, computer reminders, tickler files, etc., will help you remember.

Organize your processes. If you do something more than three times, you need a process for getting it done the simplest, quickest way. Take something you do often. First, does this work actually need to be done? If yes, develop a better way to do it, especially if it’s something you dread doing. Write down everything that needs to happen from beginning to end, eliminating wasted steps as you go. Document the process.

Organize with technology. Don’t try to use technology to get organized before you’ve dealt with the chaos and clutter. That’ll just make it worse. Get your clutter under control, use external cues to remember when to do something, streamline your processes, then figure out what technology will make work even easier and learn how to use it.

Spend some time now working on all this. For more help, check out my book, The Time Management Memory Jogger or enroll in one of my time management workshops.

PEACE.

Going Digital and Dumping that Paper Calendar

I’ve written before about dumping paper management systems and going digital. I recently received this testimonial from Peg Corwin of SCORE Chicago on her experiences doing that, using my book on Outlook 2007 as a guide.

The following is Peg’s experience in her own words. If you have any questions, please leave a comment.

You are transforming my life.  You have pushed me from paper to paperless with the task and calendar management chapters in your Conquer Email Overload.  I must have read both three times already, and I pick up additional tips each time.

I decided to tackle the changeover when I had an opportunity to install a second monitor.  For me, this was essential.  I need quick access to my to-do list and calendar without interrupting my work.

I love your suggestion about using the Notes section of a contact for passwords on my airline accounts, for example.  And I’m now creating a task and chunking it into subprojects in the text area, crossing them off and moving the task forward to the next deadline.  I’ve always been a big list maker, and now I love adding new tasks quickly in calendar view.  I’ve also finally got the hang of dragging an email to the task list and calendar.

While email overload was not my problem, taking advantage of tasks and the calendar was.  And you explained it all.  A BIG thank you for making me more focused and productive.

Peg Corwin, Counselor with SCORE Chicago   www.scorechicago.org

I LOVE Email Campaign Kicks Off October 1st

Email gets a bum rap. People complain about it all the time. It’s not email that’s the problem, but rather bad email habits and management. Think about all the good it does and the time it saves.


The I LOVE EMAIL CAMPAIGN will consist of a series Webinars (on Mondays), workshops (on Tuesdays), and media interviews conducted by Peggy Duncan, email overload expert and author of Conquer Email Overload with Better Habits, Etiquette, and Outlook 2007. Peggy, who is a time management expert, will also travel around the country speaking at conferences and training business professionals.

I cannot imagine managing my time or my life without the wonders of email. How do you feel about it? I hear a lot of bum statements about it. The next time you complain about email, think about where you’d be without it. It has many benefits such as the following.

  • Eliminates phone tag. You can say everything you need to say in an email message and not have to worry about someone leaving out important details.
  • Reaches volumes of people quickly. Everyone will get the same message and be on the same page.
  • Establishes a “paper” trail. No need to worry about recipients having convenient amnesia. You have the proof in writing.
  • Connects it with your calendar, tasks, and contacts. Move a message from the Inbox to where it needs to be with a click of a button or the flick of the mouse.

Campaign Kicks Off October 1st!

Reduce the Load with Better Management
If email overload is a problem, reduce the load. Get into a meeting with your Inbox, clean it out, send people what they need, and move the messages to where they need to be.

  • Eliminate junk email so you’re only managing legitimate mail.
  • Redirect messages with rules based on content, origin, and importance.
  • Categorize messages and view them in batches with one click.
  • Remember to do the work using flags, Tasks, and the Calendar.
  • File the ones you need to keep. Clean out that mess that’s already there.
    Stop using your Inbox for long-term storage and keep it to one screen.

Your Inbox is not a to do list for unfinished work, tickler file that reminds you of work, calendar with meeting notices and reminders, database for addresses and phone numbers, or filing system for unfinished projects.

Improve Your Email Culture with Better Habits
Developing better email habits will help improve email management. Ask people around you for a list of their email pet peeves…things you do in email that ticks them off. Pay attention to what they say do better. Avoid doing the following.

  • Sending or responding to all when all do not need to know.
  • Trying to solve complex issues instead of picking up the phone.
  • Not matching the subject line to the message. I should know exactly what your message is about by looking at the subject line. Would you send a letter on your company letterhead that reads RE: ABC and then proceed to discuss DEF?
  • Sending one word email replies that say “thanks.” Thank them in advance when you send the initial request.

Don’t Just Upgrade Your Software: Learn How to Use It Too
Training is the first thing to go when the economy dips when it should be expanded. You’ll work more efficiently and make fewer mistakes. Without the proper training, you’re taking hours to do something you can finish before you blink.

Change your habits, your culture, and how you manage email and learn to love it more every day. Visit www.DigitalBreakthroughs.com for details on training.

Want Training?
Download my
brochure.

PEACE.

BOOK TOUR – Don't Just Upgrade to Outlook 2007: Learn How to Use It Too!

Call to Schedule Training

Now that you’ve invested in this powerful software, let it help you work smarter…learn how to use it. I’m ready to do a book tour that will include training. Whether it’s a brown bag during lunch or after hours, a Webinar, a seminar, or a hands-on workshop, you’ll enjoy learning Outlook from a time management expert’s perspective instead of just learning the different command. See this previous post to see what I mean.

To accommodate busy schedules and these tough economic times, training is available to fit any budget and can be arranged to fit any schedule. All links and details are on the Web at www.DigitalBreakthroughs.com/LearnOutlook.htm.

I read those 600-lb computer books and pull out the best tips and tricks….explained in plain English and delivers with pizzazz!

  • Buy the book. My new book is packed with Outlook tips and tricks and is written as if I’m helping you right at your desk. Check out the table of contents for Conquer Email Overload with Outlook 2007.
  • Schedule a brown bag at your office (or ours). If your organization has the space for a brown bag, it’s easy to schedule during lunch or after hours. If you don’t have space, use ours. Book purchase requested.
  • Attend Webinar. Attend a low-cost, high value Webinar most Mondays from 1:30PM-2:30PM Eastern.
  • Attend Full Day Workshop at our office. Outlook training is scheduled regularly at The Digital Breakthroughs Institute. Training includes copy of book.
  • Bring me to your location. I’m traveling internationally so don’t hesitate to ask.

Stop right now and schedule a brown bag, a Webinar, or a hands-on workshop. Visit www.DigitalBreakthroughs.com/LearnOutlook.htm for more information or call 404-492-8197.

PEACE.

Use Software You Already Have Instead of Buying More

I wanted to create a postcard-size announcement about my new book, Conquer Email Overload with Better Habits, Etiquette, and Outlook 2007. As usual, PowerPoint was the answer. I first resized the PowerPoint slide, changed the background, and added my art elements and text. Then with one of my favorite applications, ImageExport, I was able to save the slide in a higher resolution jpg than native PowerPoint can produce.

Once the announcement was in jpg format , I popped over to iContact, created a new message, and inserted the jpg. Then I hyperlinked it to the Webpage I want you to click to.

Note: Below are links to other articles in my blog that will help you do something like this (with videos).

The moral of this story is that you can use software you already have to get the job done with ease. All you have to do is learn how to use it.

PEACE.