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Archive for May, 2013
7 Major Time Wasters

What are your biggest time wasters?  Is it all those interruptions – people stopping by your desk seeking assistance… or just to chat?  Do you find yourself getting mired in email?  Or what about those meetings where you don’t seem to accomplish anything?  Based upon ten years of coaching professionals to be more productive and make better use of their time, here are the top 7 time wasters I hear from clients.  I’ve also given suggestions for how to combat these time wasters.

  1. Interruptions – When someone stops by your desk to talk, and seems to be rambling, ask, “How can I help you?”  This helps him get to the point quickly.  If he just wants to chat, let him know you’re working on an important project, and ask if you can talk later.
  2. Being distracted by email – Turn off your email notification which indicates new email.  This way you won’t be distracted by it.  Rather than continuously checking email throughout the day, set aside a few times each day to check email, so you can focus on the task at hand.
  3. Unproductive meetings – Set an agenda and stick to it; avoid going off on tangents.  Assign a time keeper to help ensure you cover the important topics.
  4. Being tied to the phone – Have others screen your calls.  Or if you don’t have an assistant, then forward your phone to voicemail when working on important projects.  Schedule a telephone hour to return calls.
  5. Not wanting to say “no” to requests – You can’t say “yes” to everything without getting in over your head.  Decide what you must do – and what you want to do – and say “no” to all other requests.
  6. Being afraid to delegate – It’s not necessary to do everything yourself.   You’ll be more productive if you delegate.  Let go of control and trust others to do the job.
  7. Procrastinating – Tackle the unpleasant tasks first – if they’re important.  Divide large projects into smaller tasks so it doesn’t seem so overwhelming.  Reward yourself when you accomplish a project.

For more suggestions on how to better manage your time, listen to “Take Control of your Time” audio CD.

The Benefits of Starting your own Business

Plenty of people talk about starting a business. They have great ideas, their job is holding them down, if they could just run the place it would be so very different. Most people won’t ever get past the water cooler banter and take the leap to become an entrepreneur. Maybe they’re afraid, maybe they don’t want that much responsibility.

However, more and more women have taken the leap to start their own business. Women-owned businesses in the U.S. have increased by 44% in the past decade. Owning a business allows women to do something they’re passionate about, and have the flexibility to balance work and the rest of their life.

In a recent blog, founder, Bob Parsons, talks about why you should take the leap and start your own business. I’ve summarized Parson’s reasons (with additional commentary) below.

1. Do What You Love

Doing what you love and doing what pays the bills have likely been mutually exclusive for most of your adult life. If, however, you can find a way to make your passions into a potentially profitable business plan, that’s a game changer.

2. Work Where You Want

Have you always wanted to live in a new neighborhood or city? Would you just prefer to work from home? When you’re the boss you get to make these decisions. You choose the company, culture and the workspace.

3. Work When You Want

As an entrepreneur you’re going to work more than 40 hours a week at first to get your business off the ground. Since you like what you do this won’t be as much of a burden as working overtime at a job you despise. GoDaddy’s Bob Parsons says flexible scheduling is key. As an entrepreneur you have the flexibility to schedule your hours around family obligations or outside interests.

4. Control Your Own Destiny

If you see a shift in the marketplace you can let things happen or you can aggressively point your business in the right direction to come out on top. You choose where the business goes and when. It is a lot of responsibility but it’s a big benefit, too.

5. Be as Creative as You Want

A common burden of big corporations is a lack of flexibility and creative problems solving. As a business owner you can handle just about any aspect of the business (with the obvious exception of accounting) with as much creativity and out-of-the-box thinking as you see fit.

6. Choose Who You Work With

If you pride yourself as a good judge of character, put those skills to the test. Being your own boss means you get to choose your team. You can hire anyone you want. Choose well and you’ll have a positive work environment and a productive team. Sounds like a dream come true to me.

7. Develop New Skills

In most jobs, you have to be good or great at something to find success. As a business owner you have to be a great manager of people and have good general oversight of your business. Part of that means learning new skills as needed. You might need to learn public speaking, sales, crisis management or any other number of new things.

8. Unlimited Potential Earnings

If the company is earning money, so are you. You can make your own salary, choose your own benefits and, if you’re successful, your earnings potential is theoretically unlimited.

9. Exciting

The risk of failure and unknown future make owning a business exciting. Stressful at times, perhaps, but always exciting.

10. Satisfying

At the end of the day (or week, year or decade) you’ll be far more satisfied having made something for yourself than for getting good marks on your peer review.

Balance vs. Burnout: A Key Theme at NAPW Conference

Wow – what an exhilarating experience!  I just returned from the National Association for Professional Women conference in New York City where I spoke on the topic of work-life balance.  Star Jones, former co-host of The View, hosted the conference.  Arianna Huffington, President and Editor-in-Chief of The Huffington Post, and Martha Stewart, Founder of Martha Stewart Living and Emmy Award-winning Television Show Host, were keynote speakers.

Balance appeared to be a key theme at the conference.  Both Star and Arianna talked about the importance of taking care of self, and the high-powered women on the Power of Networking panel also discussed their challenges and successes with managing work and the rest of their lives.

For Arianna Huffington it took fainting from exhaustion on her desk, breaking her cheekbone and getting five stitches to make her slow down at work.  Arianna shared her fainting incident with the audience.  Five years ago, she was building the Huffington Post and had taken her daughter on a tour of colleges.  Once her daughter went to sleep at night, Arianna would start working.  When she came back from that trip exhausted, the fainting incident happened.

That was her wake-up call.  Arianna told the audience she’s “rediscovered sleep”.  “I’ve made a lot of changes in my life…I now strive to get seven or eight hours of sleep a night. You need time to recharge.”

Arianna encourages the same sort of stress-free living among her employees. She had two nap rooms installed at the Huffington Post offices, and “they’re full all the time,” she says. The company also offers weekly meditation and yoga classes for employees.

Star Jones had her own wake-up call when, at the age of 47, her doctor told her she needed open heart surgery immediately!  Star had no idea her health was at risk.  She just didn’t feel right.  She became very tired, started having heart palpitations and shortness of breath.  Fortunately, Star went to see a doctor, and an echocardiogram revealed she had heart disease.

Star now makes health a top priority and urged audience members to do the same.  As a result of her experience, Star is now a National Volunteer of the American Heart Association and is dedicating her “entire life’s work” to raising awareness about the disease.

There’s a key message we can all learn from these speakers.  It’s absolutely critical that we slow down and take care of ourselves.  Otherwise, we may not have a second chance.