5 Ways to Improve Time Management

By Anastasia Warren

Emails, electronic documents, physical documents, voicemails, meetings, new projects.

Many times, you walk into work in the morning with all of these things (and usually more), staring at you. Today was supposed to be the day you organized your emails. Today was supposed to be the day you updated your employee bio. Today was supposed to be the day.

Well, it still can be.

In a workplace that is filled with information overload, with different people to answer to and customers to please, it is often difficult to remain focused and prioritized. Stress, anxiety, and a feeling of defeat can all stem from problems with time management. If you are someone feeling the side effects of to do’s unchecked and projects unattended, let me assure you, you are not alone.

There are simple ways to combat the giant that is time management, helping you to leave each day feeling a little more productive than the last.

1. Allow yourself time

You’ve been putting off organizing your office for weeks. “Tomorrow,” you think, “tomorrow I’ll get it done.” Well now, it’s tomorrow and guess what? You have the same amount of emails in your inbox as yesterday, and the day before that, and the day before that. “I guess the office can wait,” you think.

No. Allow yourself the time to organize your workspace and your work materials. Whether it’s your email inbox, your desk, or your notes, you need to make getting it in check a priority. Take ten minutes at the start or end of your day to work on organizing your space, this time will add up, and eventually you’ll thank yourself for not waiting until tomorrow.

2. Outline your day

Obviously outlining your day to a tee isn’t realistic, things come up, you feel like doing certain tasks at different times – the list goes on. However, outlining main priorities each day can lead you to a more productive and energized work day. For example, check your email for twenty or thirty minutes a few times a day, but not in the meantime. As stated previously, give yourself a set ten minutes for your personal organization. Whatever you need in your position, allow yourself the time and outline your day around those important priorities.

3. Learn to speak up

You know yourself better than anyone. You know your limits. You know if you have time to take on one more project. If you feel yourself getting spread too thin, be honest. That is not to say you should always turn away projects, just be realistic. Set expectations for deadlines and the help you may need to complete it. Your boss and colleagues will respect you for your honesty.

4. Plan tomorrow

Each day, even if it sometimes means staying a few minutes after the 5 o’ clock mark, I make sure to write down my main to-do list for the next day before I leave for the night. Writing down important tasks for the following day gives you a sense of relief and prevents you from forgetting different projects, which will help your stress and time management both now and in the long run.

5. Color code, or don’t

 In the end, all that matters is that you find a system that works for you. Some people color code their events and priorities, some people don’t. Some people use an electronic calendar, some people don’t. Allow yourself the time to figure out what works best for you, use it to outline your day, speak up for yourself if you are overwhelmed, and always plan ahead.

Don’t allow time to own you, own your time and watch your work flourish.

The Importance of Energy in the Workplace

By Anastasia Warren   Energy is important. We obtain energy from the foods we eat, from adequate amounts of sleep, from exercise, and from self-care. The type of energy I wish to explore today, however, is the type of energy that is not attained through any of those things. A type of energy that is contagious, that allows someone to walk into a meeting and lift the mood entirely. A type of energy that you want to be around, that pushes you to work harder and be better because, well, you want to. This type of energy is rare and more importantly, extremely valuable. People with this type of energy lift others up and initiate effective work from those they come in contact with. They are positive, fun, go-getters with a “can do” attitude and an obvious appetite for life. I am lucky enough to personally have someone in the office that falls into this category. This person possesses this type of energy and exudes it. When I’m having a lull in my work, I have one conversation with them and bam… I am automatically recharged and inspired to do my best work. If you are finding yourself in need of this energy, as most of us are, there are a few ways to find it – and that doesn’t exclude from within yourself. 1. Find the energy Is there anyone in your life that, immediately after you talk with them you feel great and ready to take on the day? If you’re fortunate enough to have someone around you regularly that does this for you, never let them go. They can be a role model, a mentor, a colleague – anything. Finding this energy within another is invaluable, and my guess is that person is more than happy to help lift your spirits. Strive to emulate their attitude in your daily life, think, “how I see them is how I want others to see me.” 2. Self-education This energy is not necessarily something we are born with. This energy can be taught, and if you discipline yourself enough, you can possess this energy day-in and day-out, and become the person people seek out when they need to refuel. Encourage others, always remain positive, and smile through even the most seemingly mundane of tasks. Be the change you wish to see in the world? How about we also be the energy we wish to see in the world. 3. Appreciate the value Understanding your work and the ultimate end goal is important in order to stay focused and motivated each day. Realize that what you are doing today, is bettering your tomorrow, your next year, and the rest of your life. Keep that in mind, and your energy will stay at high levels, that I can guarantee. Good energy, good work, good life.

Seventh-graders don’t want two smartphones

by Jim Annis, @AppliedCoCEO We are preparing the next workforce, and they are preparing us. Generation Y, Z and younger definitely have their personal preferences that will influence whether they choose to work for you or a competitor. BYOD is a term that means a worker can bring their own device — smart phone, laptop, iPad, etc. — to work. It is a sticking point now and contention will grow as younger employees push back on their employers' need for risk management. How to manage at the company level Do not fight it. Even schools have given up on banning devices and govern their use instead. According to a PricewaterhouseCoopers report on millennials, over half of respondents routinely make use of their own technology at work, and 78 percent said that access to the technology they like to use makes them more effective at work. Statistics from TrackVia report that nearly 70 percent of surveyed millennials admit that they use their own devices and software, regardless of their employer's policies. Big data or little data — it belongs to the company At The Applied Companies, our smartphones are company-issued and belong to us. Employees may have their own cell phone for personal use only. Wherever data goes, it is ours — and that is supported by recent case law. I have learned to appreciate the value of and control over possession of my company's proprietary information. You know that database downloaded on the phone that our company created? That is mine. It is not the right of an employee to do with what they choose. As a business owner, if you can embrace that, you are golden. Model policies Sixty percent of workers access company data on smartphones and tablets. Only one-third of companies have implemented management tools and processes. The first decision you face is 1) have all corporate-owned devices; 2) BYOD; or 3) a hybrid. Second, will you allow outside users access to your network resources? At minimum, you should address these issues: devices allowed; security policy; service/support policy; which apps are allowed/banned; integration with acceptable use policies; employee exit strategy and process. The following software can help manage the process, especially for company owned phones: Mobile device management (MDM): Software-based enforcement of security policies with respect to network access, application download and usage, service usage, and device security. Mobile content management (MCM): Focuses on secure document management through authentication, authorization, and access. Mobile application management (MAM): A software-based security suite that focuses on securing access and actions of applications rather than entire devices. Tired of the detail already? Delegate! Consult with HR as well as your IT folks. Creating clear communication now will lessen BYOD gray areas and save you headaches on the back end. Jim Annis is president/CEO of The Applied Companies, which provide HR solutions for today's workplace. Celeste Johnson, Applied's division director, contributed to this article.   Read article in the RGJ here.

5 Ways to Kick the Monday Blues

By Anastasia Warren

Your alarm is ringing extra loud as you press snooze for the third time this morning.

Let’s be honest here. Even if you are someone that lives for your work, who integrates your work and life, or you are a positive go-getter by nature, Mondays can be tough… and that goes for everyone. Luckily, there are ways to get around this and improve the start of your week, setting the tone for the next five (or so) days. Because the reality is, weeks go by fast – who has the time to not be as productive as possible? Not you. Feeling a little off on Monday mornings doesn’t make you less of an enthusiastic worker, but giving in to those feelings does. Follow these steps to ensure progress throughout your week and improve your Mondays, for good. 1. Good ‘ol preparation First, set your weekend off right by spending ten minutes at the end of the day on Friday creating a to-do list for the following week. You’ll leave happier, enjoy your time off more, and walk into Monday morning feeling at least a little bit more in control. Second, get your affairs in order Sunday night. Prep your lunch for the next day, set out your clothes, clean your house – do whatever you need to do in order to have peace of mind as you lay your head down and dream of your quickly approaching work week ahead. 2. Set yourself up for success How many times last week did you press the snooze button and find yourself rushing to get ready for your commute? You know that having your alarm within an arm’s length from your bed enables you to get those “necessary” extra ten minutes of shut eye. Move your alarm far enough away that you have to fully stand up to turn it off. Don’t get back in bed. Easy as that. As you use your alarm more and more, it is possible to grow accustomed to the sound as it attempts to wake you up – try changing it up every week to ensure you don’t get too used to it. 3. Press play You’re in the car and one of your favorite songs comes on the radio. Your day is immediately that much better and a smile spreads across your face. Why not initiate this phenomenon? Create a Monday morning playlist and allow yourself to “jam out” as you get ready for the day. 4. Plan, plan, and plan some more Get to work a little early Monday morning. Go through your emails, review your to-do list you made on Friday afternoon, and set out your priorities for the day and week ahead. Now, you’re in control, not your Monday morning anxiety. 5. It’s all in your head Just as easily as you can have a bad day, you can have a good one. Adjust your attitude about Monday mornings. Monday is a chance to get it right, to start fresh, to work toward a new goal. Smile when you get to work, ask your co-workers how they’re doing, work hard and keep busy. Have a happy Monday.

5 Ways to Make the Most of Your Holiday

By Anastasia Warren   Holidays come, and holidays go. Often, they go by too fast, they are highly anticipated, and they are at times, more stressful than they are enjoyable. Time off is important, but getting the most out of it is not always an easy task. Set yourself up for sucess this next holiday. Follow these tips. 1. Write a to-do list. It's the day before your long weekend. You're scrambling to finish up your most prioritized tasks for the week before you head out for 3 days of supposed relaxation. "How am I going to get it all done? The first day back in is going to be madness." Variations of these thoughts run through your head as you imagine your unread emails piling up on top of your existing projects. So how do you combat this? Take ten minutes at the end of your work day prior to your vacation to write down your priorities for the following week. Writing it out will help you to feel more in control and organized, not leaving your next work day a complete mystery. 2. Turn off your notifications. Many of us have synced our work email to our mobile devices. Helpful, efficient, and beneficial at times, this also causes a major hindrance when you are trying to reboot during your time off. Staying connected to our work on our vacations can help us to feel more on top of it and in control which can actually provide a better peace of mind, but my suggestion is to, at the very least, turn off your notifications. You will be able to see the unread emails and connect when you feel the need, but your phone won't be constantly buzzing as you catch up on that book you've been trying to read for months. 3. Disconnect. Scary, I know. I encourage you to disconnect for a decent amount of time, but I understand the reality of the ever-changing workplace today. Set a time for yourself to disconnect completely. No phone, no email, no work. Maybe that's the whole weekend, maybe it's two hours on Saturday night, just be sure to practice it for at least part of your vacation, you won't regret it. 4. Schedule time. The reality is, we all need to work. If you have a project or client that needs your attention over your holiday, that's okay. Schedule time in to work on it, and do not think about it outside of that set time. You are giving it your attention whilst also taking care of number one. 5. Realize that it's going to be okay. And now, it's the night before the first day back in the office. Your mind is racing, your unread emails have reached a seemingly impossible number. You can't sleep in anticipation. Realize that it's going to be okay. Plan on getting to work half an hour early to sort through your emails, go through your to-do list from the week before, and set your week up for ultimate time management and produtivity. You're going to get to everything, my guess is that you always do.