Tag Archives: habit

Are You Always Late? Be on Time Now!

clock-running-lateI am often running late. In fact, I was born a week late. I have good intentions. I want to be on time. Yet, it always seems I’m running 5 to 10 minutes behind schedule.

Most people don’t like to be late. Being late may actually be a habit you’ve developed over time. Think about your history and patterns. Are you late to everything or just some things? What causes you to run behind? How do you feel when you’re late?

If you truly want to make a change, you can overcome lateness. Here are 9 steps you can take to be on time:

Make a To-Do List Every Day
Each morning, make a list of things you want to accomplish that day. Try to create a realistic list, so you’re more likely to achieve your goals. Arrange tasks in the order of importance, urgency or time of day. Cross off each item when you complete it. I actually like to write out my to-do list the night before so that I don’t worry about it while I’m trying to go to sleep. Plus, I’m more awake and function better at night than I do first thing in the morning.

Schedule Events on Your Calendar
Keep a desk calendar, day planner or use a smartphone app to keep track of appointments or activities. Getting into the habit of keeping track of events on calendar can help you become more organized and prepared for what you need to do each day.

Check Your Calendar 3 Times a Day
Make it habit to check your calendar at the same times each day. It might make sense for you to review it first thing in the morning, after lunch and towards the end of the day. While writing things down may help you remember, be sure to check our calendar regularly to ensure you’re on track.

Be a Time Pessimist
Assume that everything will take a little longer than you anticipate. This approach will keep you on time, or even make you a little early. People who run early tend to be more calm, organized and ready to handle whatever comes up.

Plan to Be Early
Late people always aim to arrive right on time, but that leaves no room for contingency. You may know that you can drive to work in exactly 15 minutes. Yet if you get stuck in traffic due to an accident or have to run back for important papers you forgot at home, it makes it impossible to be on time. You should plan to be 15 minutes early to everything.

Welcome the Wait
If being early freaks you out, look at it as an opportunity to have some down time. Bring a magazine or book to read, call a friend for a few minutes, or go over your schedule for the week. If you make it an activity you will enjoy, you’ll want to be early.

Prioritize
You may be late simply because you don’t have time to do everything. The only way to change this is to cut back on what you’re doing. Figure out what’s most important and make it a priority to check these items off your list.

Be Honest with Yourself
Why are you letting yourself be late? Why aren’t you controlling your time? Part of being on time is acknowledging why you’re late. You’re letting your schedule run your life. To be on schedule is to plan the life you want to live and then create a plan to make it happen.

Make Organization a Daily Habit
You can make a change that will help you achieve a more balanced life. You can become more organized and create a habit of being on time.

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Are you really multitasking? Probably not

multitaskingAs you read this blog, you may be eating, reading emails, watching TV, texting or checking out Pinterest. Are you multitasking?

According to research and studies that have been conducted, the answer is: probably not. If you are doing tasks that don’t require much brain power, then you can probably do them at the same time. For instance, you can walk and chew gum at the same time. I often wash dishes while talking on the phone. I don’t have to think about how to wash dishes, it’s a rote task I just do.

However, if you try to accomplish two dissimilar tasks at the same time, that is when multitasking falls apart. Have you ever tried to type a response to an email while you are talking on the phone about something else? If you concentrate on the phone conversation, you have to stop typing. If you are on a roll when typing your email message, you have most likely tuned out the other person on the phone. Research has even shown that multitasking decreases productivity by up to 40%.

That’s because you aren’t really multitasking. You may think you are doing lots of things simultaneously, but you are actually switching your attention from one task to another extremely quickly. The term “multitasking” came from the computer engineering industry. The idea was used to explain how a computer processor would perform tasks simultaneously. In reality, each task was being processed one at a time, but the tasks were rotated many times a second. With multi-core processors, each core can actually perform a separate task simultaneously.

Unfortunately, humans have a single core processor. We are switching our attention from task to task. With the increases in technology and the bombardment of messages all day long, we have gotten into the habit of multitasking. Multitasking is not only ineffective, but it can also be stressful and frustrating. So, what can we do about it?

Break the multitasking habit – become a unitasker

You can teach yourself to unitask. In fact, if you are under a deadline, you are probably unitasking without even realizing it. You block everything else out to get the task done on time.

Here are some tips to help you become a great unitasker:

Schedule time to unitask
If you know you have a memo to write, spreadsheet to finish or important deadline looming, schedule time in your day to devote your attention to that one task. I scheduled time right after lunch to write this blog.

Set aside a specific amount of time
I am giving myself an hour to read over the research I gathered for this blog, outline the topic and write the first draft. Then, I’ll walk away from the blog for a few hours or maybe even a day. I’ll come back to it to review and edit it before I post it. By setting aside a certain amount of time, I give myself permission to focus on just writing the blog. And I give myself permission to stop in an hour. If I was stuck or getting diminishing returns before the hour was up, I would stop and come back to it later. The idea is to use my time as productively as possible.

Close the door
You need to block out other distractions. If you have a door, you may need to close it to allow you to concentrate. If you work in a cubicle or open office space, you may need to “close the door” figuratively and tune out the activities around you. Or, you might be able to move to an empty conference room or break area for a short period of time.

Clear your desk
If your desk is messy with other paperwork, job folders or reminder notes, you may be tempted to switch your attention to another task. Especially if you are working on something you don’t really want to do, it is more tempting to pick up something else to work on. You feel less guilty because you think you are still being productive. On a side note, don’t get so caught up in organizing your desk that you procrastinate doing the task you had planned.

Disconnect from technology
Turning everything off – your email, phones, internet, etc. – may be the hardest part of unitasking. If you can’t disconnect from technology completely, at least silence your devices and the notifications. As I tell my teenage kids, the world will go on if you don’t answer that text right this second. Just because you get an email, phone call or text doesn’t mean it has to be handled immediately. It can most likely wait for a few minutes.

Deal with any urgent interruptions
However, there will be times when you have to stop what you are working on and deal with a co-worker’s question or an important phone call. Instead of trying to multitask during the interruption, stop what you’re doing and make a note of where you are in the task. Write down any thoughts you were having about how to move forward. Then, when you come back to the task, you will be able to more quickly pick up where you left off.

When you start multitasking, stop
If you find yourself wanting to check your email or take a call just for the distraction, resist the urge, take a deep breath and get your focus back on the task at hand. You may even catch yourself multitasking without even realizing you are doing it. After all, it is a hard habit to break! Acknowledge that you are doing it and then get yourself back on track.

Reward yourself
When you set a unitask goal and you accomplish the task, reward yourself. Take a break for a few minutes to get something to drink, enjoy the view out a window, or stand up and stretch. Bask in the glory of unitasking, and then tackle the next task on your to-do list!

Are you a multitasker? Do you think you could get more done if you unitasked? Let us know what you think!

Get motivated to exercise in 2013

getting exerciseOne of my goals for 2013 is to get into a regular exercise routine. I seem to exercise in fits and starts. I do really good for a week or two and then something happens and I lose ambition. I might get a cold and not feel like exercising. Or work gets hectic and I bump exercising to meet deadlines.

And sometimes I’m just lazy. I don’t think I will ever be one of those people who looks forward to exercising. For me, it’s something I feel I should be doing but don’t really want to do – like going to the dentist and washing laundry.

After I exercise, I feel great. I am so proud of myself for doing it. It’s the making myself do it part that I struggle with. So, I am putting together a list of ways to get motivated – and hopefully stay motivated – to exercise in 2013. Maybe some of them will inspire you, too!

Set Goals
Start with simple short-term goals to keep you motivated. You can set weekly and monthly goals. By setting exercise goals, you can track your progress and have a sense of accomplishment. Make sure your goals are reasonable and will keep you interested in exercising. For instance, you can set a goal to get your heart rate up with 30 minutes of cardio exercise three times a week. Depending on how active you have been, you can walk briskly or jog. See how far you can run or walk in 30 minutes. Challenge yourself to increase the distance over weeks and months.

Maybe you want to run a 5K. Set goals to help you increase your speed and endurance as you train for the race. Maybe you want to fit into an old pair of jeans or look better in your swim suit. Set goals to help you get there.

Make It Fun
I have a mental block against planned exercise. I have a really hard time making myself get on the treadmill or put in an aerobics DVD. I would much rather exercise accidentally. I play volleyball once a week with friends from high school. We reminisce about the good old days, talk smack about our playing abilities, and have a great time. It definitely gets the blood pumping, and I use muscles that don’t get used on a daily basis. I also go bike riding with my family, play basketball with my son, and jump on the trampoline with my girls. Adding some variety to your exercise routine can also help keep you interested and motivated.

Find an Exercise Buddy
If you make plans with a friend to go to the gym, walk on the local track, or play tennis, then you feel obligated to follow through. It’s easier to get motivated when you know someone else is counting on you. It’s also more fun to exercise with someone. You can push each other to work harder and get in some social time, too.

Schedule Your Workouts
Write it down. Seeing your exercise times written on your schedule will help you view it as a real commitment. Think of it as an important meeting and mentally prepare that you are going to do it. If you workout at the same time on the same days of the week, you can turn exercising into a habit. Once you make exercise part of your daily routine, you will be that much more likely to stick with it.

Reward Yourself
I often bribe myself to exercise. I will plan my time on the treadmill to coincide with one of my favorite TV shows. I get to watch a great show, and I get in my exercise. I also reward myself for reaching my goals. For instance, if I workout 3 or 4 times a week for a month, I can spend $50 on new clothes.

Be Flexible
Try not to be too hard on yourself. There will be times when you don’t reach your goals. Maybe you need to reevaluate your plans and set new goals. Even if you only have time to walk for 20 minutes instead of 30, do it anyway. Any exercise is better than none at all. You may have a cold or the flu and miss a week’s worth of exercise. You may feel like you’ve failed and want to quit altogether. Give yourself a break. Exercise is a lifelong journey. You will fall off the workout wagon. The important thing is that you get back into your exercise routine with renewed enthusiasm.

We know we need to exercise. Exercise benefits the mind, body and soul. So, why is it so hard to workout regularly? Share your exercise tips with us. How do you get motivated to exercise?