productivity

How Self Care May Increase Productivity (Though We Aren't Really Sure)

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In the media lately, self care has been a hot topic.  "Self Care Sunday" is a popular hashtag, with people posting pictures and ideas for how they spend their time in self care.  Mindfulness and meditation is often tied to this concept, as well as fitness and wellness exercise.  Sometimes self-care can also involve treating yourself to an ice cream sundae.  The most important piece of self care, is that it is self initiated.  It is yours.  It doesn't need to be shared with the world, since it involves just you in the process.

Ultimately, I have found that by creating space in my daily schedule for self care activities such as running or meditation, or reading my favorite trashy romance novels, have allowed for the other parts of my day that are scheduled for work and teaching to be more productive.  During productivity periods, I find I am more focused on the task at hand, and can complete tasks quickly.  

Interestingly enough, though there are ample self reports of self care being a way to increase productivity, there are very few studies documenting this.  The Canadian Journal of Occupational Therapy published some articles documenting its benefits with specific populations in the late 1990s to 2009, but when searching for research for this blog, it was difficult to find empirical studies documenting its benefit.  

Clearly more empirical research needs to be done in this realm to test the thousands of self reports on social media about this topic.  

So what do you think?

How to Conquer Processes and Scale Your Business

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I have been focused on scaling since I read Michael Gerber's, The E-Myth Revisited, and Verne Harnish's, Scaling Up, but have struggled to put their tips in to action.  This week, I focus on some of their strategies.

For both of my businesses, it is important for me to develop processes that scale, so that I can delegate tasks to individuals within the organization chart.  I focused this week on developing my organization chart for the businesses, and then filled in each role's description or processes.  I then assigned each role with my name so that at least on paper, I can see I am accountable for those processes.  As I worked through this exercise, I could see roles that I could start delegating to other people (hiring a virtual assistant), or tasks that could be delegated for one time jobs (see: www.taskrabbit.com).

Ultimately, as Gerber discusses in his book, the goal of any small business is to create repeatable processes that can scale, and that can essentially be replicated by multiple people.  This can be accomplished by creating processes so that they are clear and simple.  After brainstorming, and researching tools that could help with this, I decided to use ScreenCastOMatic to help with these processes.  Each day this week, I turned on the program, and screencasted my process as I accomplished the task.  This way, I can break each process down by the organization chart, and share with those I hire along the way.

Have tips to share on scaling businesses?  Leave a comment below!

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Two Ways to Find More Time in Your Day

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I often hear the complaint, "But I just don't have any more time in my day!"  or "There is only 24 hours in the day, how can I possibly get everything done?"

Time can be one of our most valuable assets.  One of the major goals I had for myself this year when I planned it out (see How to Plan for This Year's Goals), was to "find more time" in my day where I can be focusing on thinking and writing, rather than running all over.  Three weeks in, and things are not perfect (always room for improvement!), but I have managed to create a system to allow for more time in my day to think, read, and write.  Here's how I did it.

1) "Limit Screen Time": Phone, iPad, TV

There are lots of new movements out there with the rallying cry to limit screen time (see Arianna Huffington's "Thrive" movement).  Part of my ongoing issue with screen time is that I operate 75% off of my phone for marketing on social media, as well as operations through apps.  I have been noticing more tension headaches since the end of last year, so I decided to try to focus on it.  My first attack was to just be more mindful of the time I was on the phone.....that did not work.  I'm a visual person, so then I decided to practice what I preach, and utilize Applied Behavior Analysis strategies (see How to Use ABA to Improve Productivity), and made things visual.  This was accomplished by setting alarms on my phone to remind me mid-day to shut off my phone from 12-2 (Lunch), and then at 8:30pm to shut it off for the night.  I have to say, the annoying alarm worked!  I went from being focused on the phone from 7am-10pm, to having a few more hours in my day where I could unplug and decompress, and allow for time to think and write.

2) Timeblocking

This strategy has taken me more time to do (no pun intended), but I am seeing improvements in using this strategy to where I feel I am seeing more strategic tasks being accomplished.  The concept of timeblocking has been around for awhile.  Cal Newport can be credited with the idea in his book, Deep Work.  My personal strategy for using timeblocking has been to block off portions of my day where I am limiting screen time, and focusing on one specific task.  I have organized my calendar in this way, so that way I know I am busy at that time, and do not overbook myself.  I have also started setting calendar alerts to remind me 15 minutes before that time starts to wrap up what I am doing, and start the new "deeper" work.  This has been extremely helpful because then I am sticking to my commitment.

What other strategies do you use to find more time in your day?  Leave a comment below!

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