What will You do next? Tools to help you get there
|It is hard to believe that we are already in February. The first month of 2013 is behind us. Did you make the best of it? Don’t worry. We have eleven more months to make this year great. After Thanksgiving, we looked inward to determine our true intentions for 2013, “What will YOU do next?” and in January we created a plan to help us get there, What will You do next? Plan It!. This month we will discuss tools and techniques to help us stay on track.Below are some of the apps, websites, and other tools I have used to plan and stay on task. I am not a representative for any of these services or products. I am only giving them as examples. There are lots of tools out there that are excellent for planning and executing. The trick is to find the ones that are right for you and to use them effectively.
Use Your Calendar
Most of us have a calendar. It comes in many different formats electronically and on paper. I use Awesome Calendar by YunaSoft, Inc because it has features that work well for me. I like that I can use the app on all of my devices (iphone, ipad, and desktop). It allows me to schedule appointments and my tasks for the day. I can see at a glance everything I need to get done and my schedule for the day, week, or month. I also find it handy that I can add small pictures to represent something on my schedule. For example, I use a picture of a small plane to indicate I have a flight that day. Find what works for you and use it to schedule your daily tasks for your project. If you don’t write it down, it is less likely to get done.
Cut Down on Internet Distractions
Shut off your email, text, and social media! If you put time aside to complete a specific task, the best way to cut out distractions is to turn off the devices that create those distractions. Some projects will require you to use your email or even social media to accomplish the necessary tasks. For example, you may want to start a new business and you need to email prospects. In this instance, you can set up a separate email account and only keep this account open when working on your business. If you are working on a project for an already established business and your eyes keep roaming to the business emails you haven’t yet handled, start a new folder just for this project. Focus only on this folder for the time you allotted to work on the new project.
Tip Extra! Dedicate a week to unsubscribe to every email publication you receive that you typically just delete. You will be amazed at how much cutting down on junk email can give you more time to focus on the important stuff.
Use a Project Management Tool
There are many low cost tools available that help you manage projects and people. If you work on projects that involve tasks being completed by others, I highly recommend looking into a project management software. I use Basecamp.com for business projects. I find it a great way to keep on top of tasks I delegate to employees. It also provides a forum for online discussion and documents. This gives us one place to discuss project details and assign tasks. I also find it useful to use with my clients. Clients in my Kick in the Pants (or skirt) Coaching Program receive their plan on Basecamp to allow both of us to track their progress.
If you aren’t a big fan of technology, use a flipchart or a whiteboard. I have large flipchart paper posted all over the walls of my home office with my goals, projects, and tasks. There are deadlines next to each task. The point is to keep the goal and the steps to get you there in front of you.
Declutter your Workspace
Clutter causes distraction. We all know this, but paper and stuff tends to pile up anyway. The biggest challenge for me to overcome has been the piling up of paper. I find that I waste a lot of time moving around or searching for paper documents. Two things have organized me, saved me a lot of time, and allowed me to focus on more important tasks:
The first is setting up a file system and keeping to it. I cannot take credit for this. Debbie, from Debstat & Co, set-up a file system for me that is easy to follow. Every time I open my file cabinet to find a document, I say a little thank you to Debbie. I highly recommend taking the time to set up a file system that is easy and keeping to it. If you need a professional to set up the system for you and you are in the S. Florida area, email Debbie at firstname.lastname@example.org. Tell her AHA! sent you.
The next step I took to declutter my paper was I set up a Shoeboxed.com account. While there are some paper documents I still like to keep hard copies of, most of my receipts and invoices I send to Shoeboxed. It is pretty simple. Shoeboxed sends a self-addressed envelope to you every time you mail them documents. The search features on the website allows me to look up a receipt quickly online. It cuts down on the amount of time I have to handle or search for a receipt or invoice.
The tools and techniques I shared above are just a few of the many available. I would love to hear from you what tools and techniques you use to keep focused on your plan for the new year. Visit Andrea Hoffer Associates on Facebook and share your tips for reaching WHAT YOU WILL DO NEXT!
Andrea Hoffer brings a unique perspective to consulting and training. A small business owner with 35 employees herself, she knows first hand the everyday challenges of motivating employees, exceeding customer expectations, and meeting business and revenue goals.
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