Archive for October, 2012




You’ve heard it said before that “If you fail to plan, then you plan to fail.” It might be a popular old saying but there’s nothing but truth in it.  When you don’t map out a plan, you can’t expect to do anything but fall short of the mark, no matter how hard to try to pull things off.

Many people say that planning takes too much time or that it’s a waste of time.  Those who say this have probably had a difficult time when it comes to planning, are challenged with it and usually don’t know how to go about it, so their experience ends up taking them a long time or at the end of the experience they feel they wasted time because of the results.  Planning is used to bring structure, focus and direction.  Without it, you miss the mark.

When you don’t plan, you get the worse possible return on your investment.  The time that you spend in execution will take much longer and will decrease your level of productivity.  Without going through the planning process, unexpected things happen that you didn’t think about and they derail your efforts.  You spend time dealing with the unexpected, looking for solutions to put the fire out and get things going again while work is stagnated.  Without planning you don’t know exactly what you’re working on from day to day, every week and over longer periods of time so you play the guessing game on a regular basis or you get in the middle of doing a particular thing and notice that there’s something that you forgot to do—something that should have been done before you started working on your current task.  You also get to points in your process when you realize you don’t have something that you need.  That could be a tool of some sort, someone’s expertise or the remaining budget to carry out your efforts.  That happens because without planning, you don’t identify necessary resources.  Without planning, things move very slowly and often times appear to look as though they aren’t moving at all. Simply put, without planning, you shoot yourself in the foot, rather than hitting your target.  With all of this in play, there’s no place for your efforts to be fruitful.  You have planned to fail.

I know very well that some of this may sound familiar; it may even be the norm for some.  Just reading that previous paragraph causes discomfort for me, and if what I’m saying is the norm for you, I imagine that is brings you discomfort as well.  Having it be a reality brings even more and if this is the case, it’s time to flip the script and get a plan.  Doing so will increase effectiveness, efficiency and save your precious time. Planning will increase your productivity level by 25 percent and allow you to focus on your high value tasks, rather than putting out fires on a regular basis.  Planning will help you identify opportunities and possible threats and will facilitate achievement of your goals.  Planning allows you to make an investment of your time and get the best possible return on that investment.

So, the next time you choose not to plan before jumping in with both feet, think about the above scenario and ask yourself if that’s what you want as your reality.  Are you consciously choosing to fail in your endeavors?  There is absolutely no way to accomplish anything if you don’t know how to go about it.  Create your plan to support yourself and increase your performance.


Earlier this week I was having a conversation with a friend of mine about technology, how much we depend on it and the number of different tools we use online that we need passwords for.  There’s email, social media sites, your website and blog, and let’s not forget the personal things that we log into online.  Typically what happens is that you end up using the same password over and over and when you try to create unique passwords, you can’t remember them.  Keeping up with them can be a chore.  If you don’t have away to store them, you’re stuck with trying to remember them, which is definitely not what you want to do.

LastPass is a password manager that makes web browsing easier and more secure and protects against phishing scams, online fraud and malware.  Once you download the software for the browser that you use, you   log in with a single click of your mouse.  When you login in to a site, LastPass will ask you if you want it to log you in and if so, you just click and you’re logged in. It remembers your passwords and creates new, unique passwords for you if you or lets you create and save your own.

LastPass automatically sychronizes your data and you can access if from anywhere at any time, even from someone else’s computer.  You just have to remember your master password for LastPass.  All of your data is encrypted locally on your PC and you are the only one who can unlock it. You can also use it to transfer passwords between multiple devices and your data will be automatically updated for all of your devices when you create new logins.  This great tool is free (and the Premium version is only $12 per year) and made for all platforms–Windows, Mac, and Linux.  Using it allows you to let go of updating your list of passwords, trying to remember them, or create new, unique passwords to keep your accounts safe.  For more info visit the LastPass website now.

 

 


We all know that as Fall approaches the focus is on back to school and back to business. Parents take their lists and stand in line to get supplies for their children so that they’ll have everything that they need.  Going a step beyond that, they also get their homes and children organized and ready for the school year.  As the back to school season dust settles, it becomes time for adults to shift the focus to productivity, which means finally letting go of summer, the family activities and looking towards the end of the year and the year to come.  If you’re going to accomplish anything, you’ve got to do the planning.

Before you begin to look at what you’d like to do next year, take inventory to see what you’ve accomplished this year and whether or not you’re where you planned to be at this point of the year.  Look at the list of things you wanted to accomplish during the course of this year and in these final months.  What’s left to do?  Do you have time to get those things done before year’s end?  If not, choose one that’s most important to you and get it done during the home stretch.  Move the other items to your January calendar.

Once you have your bearings for the remaining months of this year, you can begin to look forward and plan for next year.  It’s important to start thinking and planning your upcoming year before the holiday season begins.  If you don’t start planning before hand, then start after the hustle and bustle of the season.  It will make the process a lot easier for you.  You will have more clarity and be able to be realistic about what you can accomplish.  Create a list of the things you want to accomplish next year.  Don’t be vague; make your list specific and clear.  For example, if you want to increase your client base or sales, be clear and state how many new clients you want or the dollar amount or percentage of new sales.

Once you have your list, you can begin to set deadlines for yourself. With your calendar for next year in front of you, set a deadline for each item on your list and place it in your calendar.  Next, break each item into smaller pieces or tasks and place those in your calendar.  Consider each item like a meal before you.  Each smaller task is a bite of the meal.  Remember this analogy as while breaking things down into tasks that are realistic.  Continue the process until everything is in your calendar.  If you have a system for managing your time, then you already plan on a weekly and daily basis.  If not, now is a good time to start.  Each week that you plan, look at each task you created and assign a block of time to work on it. At the start of each day, look to see what’s on the agenda.

Now, realistically you won’t be able to do all of your planning in one session, because, after all, it is a lot.  To avoid overwhelm, schedule a few planning sessions so that you can get the job done.  If you have an assistant or another employee who is key in accomplishing your objectives, include them in the process.  It may take you what seems to be quite a bit of time, but it’s an investment of your time and time well spent.  Think about the time that you stand to waste if you don’t plan for the things that you want to accomplish.  You know what they say, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

 


Nozbe is a tool that helps busy professionals and teams organize time and projects.  It’s inspired by David Allen’s GTD (Getting Things Done ®) methodology and designed in such a way that everyone can get organized quickly.  With their desktop and mobile web applications as well as Android, iPhone and iPad apps everyone in your team can access Nozbe on their favorite devices.  They claim to be the world-first to offer such flexibility.

This tools allows you and your team to communicate through tasks, which is better than using email, especially since email isn’t designed for collaboration. Communicating through actionable tasks allows you and your team get a lot more done and keeps everyone on the same page all of the time. Nozbe also allows you to incorporate the use of your favorite apps.  If you’re using Evernote for note-taking, syncing files in Dropbox or Box or using Google Calendar to plan your time, Nozbe works seamlessly with all of them and more are to be added.

Nozbe’s time-management and filtering you’ll know exactly what to do next and view your scheduled tasks in a calendar, which make it easy to never miss a deadline or appointment again. Tasks scheduled for today are being prioritized automatically to make sure you’ll get them done.  You can create as many projects for your tasks as you’d like and share them with people on your team and organize projects with labels like “work” or “home”. You can even design your productivity system to fit your personal and specific needs, which I personally think is a great bonus.  Your system has to be a fit for your personality or it’s not going to work for you.  Nozbe keeps you, your team and your projects in sync.  Get all the details here and see if it’s a fit for you.

 

 

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