You have no doubt heard the names a thousand times. Getting Things Done. The Pomodoro Technique. Time boxing. Stephen Covey’s urgent/important matrix.
But which ones are best for cutting through the overwhelm and really managing your to-do list? Well, like most things, which system or technique works best is mostly a matter of personal choice. However, there are some things you should know about each one that might make choosing easier.
Getting Things Done
Developed by David Allen, Getting Things Done, or GTD, is a system designed to help you know at a glance exactly what you should be doing right now. The idea is simple: For every item that lands in your inbox (which might be email, a phone call, a letter, or just a passing comment from a spouse) you make an immediate decision to do it, delegate it, file it, defer it, or trash it.
Once you have made your decision (based on the task itself and the time it will take to complete) you either do the thing or note it in your trusted system for retrieval and completion later. Devotees of GTD spend hours developing their own trusted systems, which can consist of paper planners, expensive software, or just a few note cards and a pen. In GTD, the tools are entirely up to you, it is the methodology that matters.
The Pomodoro Technique
This method is a boon to those who find themselves easily distracted. The principle is simple: Set a timer – and get to work. Typically, proponents of the Pomodoro Techniqe use a simple kitchen timer (often shaped like a tomato or pomodoro, in Italian) set for 25 minutes. During that time, they focus only on the task at hand. When the timer goes off, they take a 5 minute break, then set the timer for another 25 minutes.
Each 25-minute set is called a pomodoro. Once you have completed four pomodoros, you take a 20 minute break, before beginning the cycle again.
Stephen Covey’s brainchild provides an easy way to prioritize your work. Begin by dividing a piece of paper into four sections (two rows by two columns) and assigning a level of urgency/importance to each quadrant. The upper left is important but not urgent, the upper right is urgent and important, the lower left is neither urgent nor imporant, and the lower right is urgent but not important.
Now, take your to-do list and assign each item to a quadrant. For example, grocery shopping might be important but it is probably not urgent. Fixing your client’s broken website is both important and urgent. Answering the phone when your mother calls for the fourth time is urgent, but not important.
By dividing up your task list according to these priorities, you can easily see what you need to be working on next, and what can wait until the urgent and important items are cleared from your schedule.
There are dozens more techniques and strategies entrepreneurs use to manage their time and get more work done than many other people do. In fact, these methods can (and should) be tweaked to fit your own needs and lifestyles. But the bottom line is this: you have to find a system that works for you, and that is compatible with your style. Otherwise, the method itself will become just another distraction that causes you to lose focus rather than become the productive business owner you know you can be.
How much time do you spend reading and responding to or simply deleting emails? How much unread email currently clutters your inbox? If you are like most entrepreneurs, the answer (in both cases) is far too much!
In fact, if you were brave enough to actually time yourself, you are very likely to find that you spend two or even three hours each and every day just dealing with email. Yikes! No wonder you feel like you do not get anything done. Time to build a solid email system to help you tame that beast for good.
Auto-File Your To-Read Emails
We all do it. We open an email, realize it is a newsletter we love, an important announcement, or information about an upcoming event, and we close it with a well-intentioned decision to read it later. The trouble is, when later comes, we either can not find the email, or do not even remember that we wanted to read it.
What if you had a folder on your computer where all your to-be- read emails waited just for you to come by and discover them again? How empty would your inbox be then? Through the power of filters and folders, just about any email client can take care of this task for you.
Simply set up a folder called To-Read or something else equally clever, then create an email rule or filter (as Gmail calls them) to deliver certain messages to that folder when they come in. Make a rule for your favorite online newsletter, email from your college alumni association, your local chamber of commerce, or even your sister.
But here is the trick to it: You have to actually schedule time to go and read these emails. Do not let them just pile up in there, because all that does is move the problem from your inbox to your to-read folder. Make time to read them, then respond, file, or trash accordingly.
Turn off Notifications
Are you easily distracted by email? You are not alone. That little red number declaring the number of unread emails, or the pretty little chime that announces the arrival of a new message, is an invitation to click over and see what is new.
Turn it off. In fact, turn off the automatic checking for email if you can. That way, you can purposefully decide when to go and read your email, rather than being notified of a new message every 5 minutes.
Chances are you are on multiple mailing lists – and most of them you probably never read.
Click the unsubscribe button. Be ruthless. You can always sign up again if you miss the content, but for now, eliminating those emails from your inbox will save you a lot of time and trouble.
Getting a handle on email is one of the toughest things for busy small business owners, but with a little planning and some self-discipline, you can become an email ninja, and start using email as the powerful tool it is, rather than letting it run your life.
You know they are a huge time-waster, but somehow you just can not pull yourself away from that Facebook game that has your attention, or the beautiful photos of yummy desserts you want to make. Even worse, when you make your living online, it is far too easy to justify time spent on social media as being work.
After all, everyone says you have to market your business on Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn, right?
While it is true that social marketing is a powerful technique that all online (and offline) business owners should explore, it is also true that much of what we do on these sites is most definitely not work. But separating the two is tough.
Schedule Your Day
Not all social media is bad. It is a great way to stay in touch with far-flung family and friends, and yes, it is an important business-building tool as well. So, rather than try to eliminate it all together, why not make it a regular, scheduled part of your day?
For example, catch up on your Facebook feed over coffee, then log out and get to work. Or browse Pinterest while you eat lunch. For actual work-related social media tasks, schedule a time during the work day to log in, update your status, respond to questions, and check up on your competitors. The key here is to actually schedule this as you would any other business-related task, and not to let this work time turn into a chat with Aunt Sally about Thanksgiving Day plans.
Segregate Your Tools
One way successful entrepreneurs separate work from play is by the tools they use. When on the computer in the office, they avoid Facebook and the like because they are working. Instead, they limit their use of social media to off-hours by only visiting the sites on their mobile phones or tablets.
By adopting this type of policy, you create a boundary in your own mind. After a few weeks of practice, you would no more think of hopping onto Facebook from the office computer than you would consider wearing your bathrobe to the grocery store. The two activities just do not go together.
Let Someone Else Handle It
If you really can not stay focused on work once you have logged into Pinterest or Facebook (they are just so distracting!), consider letting someone else handle your social media accounts. You can create updates ahead of time, then simply turn them over to a virtual assistant to schedule. Then, once a day or so (maybe from your iPad rather than your office), you can log in and respond to your followers.
Finally, if you are not using social media as a marketing tool, consider taking a sabbatical. Simply make a deal with yourself that you will not log in or check any social media site for a month or a week or even just for a day. You might just be surprised to see how much time you really do waste playing games.
Ask any work-at-home professional or small business owner what her biggest hurdle is when it comes to tackling her to-do list and she will likely tell you it is the constant distractions. The kids need attention. Email demands to be answered. The phone is ringing. The dog needs fresh water.
The list goes on. It is no wonder she and you can not get anything done.
So how do those “have it all” type entrepreneurs do it? They start by creating a distraction-free zone.
A Place of Your Own
Plenty of entrepreneurs get their start working from the kitchen table, stealing a few minutes here or an hour there when the kids are napping or during lunch. But when the business begins to grow, it pretty quickly becomes clear that a laptop in the living room is not an efficient way to work. It is time to find a real office.
That does not mean you have to rent space in a commercial area, though. If you run your business from home and want to keep it that way, you just need to carve out a space you can call your own.
For some, a spare bedroom makes an ideal office space. For others, a corner of the basement or even a closet will do. The key is to create a place where, when you are in it, you know you are working. And perhaps more important, when you are not in it, you can leave the work behind.
Virtual Distractions You Can Do Without
Of course, just having a nice quiet office with a door will not eliminate all of your distractions. There are plenty of them right on your computer waiting to suck away all your work time. How you deal with those will depend largely on the type of work you do.
For example, many writers find it beneficial to block out all other applications while they work.
Does the Internet call to you? Consider installing browser software such as LeechBlock (for Firefox) or Concentrate (for Chrome). Both let you block certain sites (Facebook, for example) for specific periods of time. If you want to get in a solid 3 hours of work before embarking on another Candy Crush tournament, just turn on your timer and you will not be able to access Facebook at all until your work day is done. You can do the same for any site that commands your attention, but keep in mind that if you have more than one browser installed on your computer, you can always click over to the unlocked choice to sneak a few minutes of play time in.
The important thing to remember here is that your environment is only the beginning. You need to work on building up your self-discipline as well, so you can say no to distractions and get the work done.
Have you ever missed a deadline? Failed to show up for an appointment? Paid a late fee? If so, your calendar – or lack of it – is likely to blame.
Some people resist using a calendar, thinking it is too difficult to manage, won’t be available when and where they need it, or that it will make them inflexible. The truth is, setting up a calendar and using it can be almost completely automated, and when you take the time to schedule your work, you will actually find more freedom in your day, not less.
Share Calendars to Avoid Back-and-Forth Scheduling Conversations
How many emails does it take to schedule an interview or coaching session? For most people, it requires at least three. One to propose a time, another to say why that won’t work and to suggest others, and a final confirming email.
What a waste!
Instead, by using a shared calendar or appointment system such as TimeTrade, you can schedule meetings and appointments in one click. Your client will see exactly what times are available, and be able to pick the one that works for her schedule as well.
You can achieve a similar system within your family by sharing a Google calendar. Need to schedule a dentist appointment for your son? One quick check of the calendar lets you know your daughter has a choir performance that day – better choose a different day.
The Hard Landscape
David Allen, of Getting Things Done, recommends using your calendar only for those things that must be done on a specific day. In other words, your calendar is not your to-do list, it is a schedule of appointments. By only scheduling that which must be completed, such as doctor appointments and travel, you leave the rest of your days open for a more fluid lifestyle, while still completing tasks on time.
Long-Term Planning with a Marketing Calendar
Day-to-day appointments and managing deadlines is great, but smart entrepreneurs also use their calendar for long-term planning. Product launches, marketing schedules, joint venture plans and more are all wisely written on a calendar. That allows you to easily see what is coming up and to match your own products and promotions with those of others, for even greater reach.
Your marketing calendar can include everything, from keywords to target for PPC campaigns, to blog post ideas, to products you would like to create. Your calendar does not have to be carved in stone, though. Be sure you leave room for on-the-fly promotions and last-minute opportunities as well.
Let Someone Else Do It
Finally, if you find yourself resisting using a calendar, outsource it! Your VA will most likely handle your calendar with more efficiency than you do, because she will not be so easily distracted by other things going on in your life. Not only that, but with someone else managing your calendar, you will have more time for actually getting stuff done.
There are several weight loss supplements on the market, and you want to know if they work before you invest your hard-earned money. Supplements can be helpful in boosting your weight loss efforts.
Here are a few supplements to consider:
Cinnamon has gained popularity as a weight loss supplement because of its ability to help you control your blood sugar levels. You can add cinnamon to your diet each day, but if you don’t cook or you’re not sure how to fit a teaspoon of the spice in each day, you can use the supplement.
Controlling your blood sugar will help you to avoid the sharp rise and fall of your blood sugar that makes you crave sweets and get off course. Also, when you have a sharp rise in insulin from high blood sugar it can cause you to gain weight.
Chromium can also help you to control your insulin levels. This is often found in pills in combination with cinnamon. Together they’re the dream team of blood sugar regulation. They can help you lose weight and prevent diabetes.
Fiber supplements are also excellent for helping you to lose weight. These help you to feel full, keep your bowels regular, and also have positive effects on your cholesterol. Most people don’t have enough fiber in their diet making a supplement helpful.
Green tea supplements are known to help speed up your metabolism. You can drink the tea or you can use capsules if you prefer. This is an ancient Eastern remedy that caught on in the Western world a few years ago. It’s an easy way to aid your weight loss.
Raspberry ketones are the latest trend in weight loss supplements. This is an all-natural supplement that has no side effects. A small dose each day can help you to add to your weight loss efforts.
There are some forms that come with just the ketones while other formulas add additional weight loss boosters. You’ll need to look at any supplements you’re taking before deciding what type of raspberry ketones you want to try.
Finally, Acai berry is now a popular ingredient in weight loss supplements. Acai berry is chock full of antioxidants that can help you to fight aging, have more energy, and help you to lose weight.
With any supplement, it’s important to speak with your healthcare provider before using. Just because a supplement is natural doesn’t mean it can’t interfere with medication you’re taking or a pre-existing health condition.
However, most of these ingredients are safe to use if taken correctly. Weight loss supplements can boost your natural ability to lose weight by improving your metabolism and curbing your appetite.
When you begin dieting, it helps to know about weight loss foods that can help you to have the best success at reaching your goals. There are several foods you can eat that will promote weight loss and help you see the numbers on the scale go down.
Fruits and vegetables are the first power foods. Common sense tells you that these foods are good for you. Beyond losing weight, you’ll get the daily vitamins and minerals you need from eating plenty of produce.
The reason these foods are great for weight loss is because they have a lot of nutrition, but not many calories. They also contain a great deal of fiber which means they make you feel full without making you fat.
Fruits are particularly good if you have a sweet tooth. Instead of consuming a 400 calorie dessert, you can satisfy your urge for sweets with a 60 calorie apple. A few exchanges like this each week can add up to weight loss.
Whole grains are also excellent weight loss foods. They also have a lot of nutrition and contain fiber to help you get full faster. Whole grains are also often a good source of protein. They have the added benefit of helping you to lower your cholesterol and go to the bathroom regularly.
Whole grains include foods such as whole wheat bread, brown rice, oatmeal, and whole grain pasta. While it was once difficult to find products made from whole grains, many manufacturers have started making them.
Flax seed is considered a super food when it comes to health and weight loss. Ground flaxseed can be added to yogurt, cereal, or a smoothie to give you large amounts of fiber and healthy fats. The fat helps you to stay satisfied and is used by virtually every cell in your body.
That means it’s not likely to end up on your hips. Flax can lower your cholesterol, help you to feel full, and improve the look of your skin and hair. It also helps your brain to function better – so there’s really no reason not to try adding this to your diet.
Beans are another great source of fiber that will help you to feel full and help you to lose weight. They also contain protein to help you build muscle – an aid in your weight loss. Nuts are also considered great foods for losing weight.
Grabbing a handful of almonds or cashews for a snack can help you to curb hunger and give your body the protein and healthy fats it needs. Understanding how weight loss foods can help you, and adding them into your diet to reach your goals, is critical to the success of your program.
If you are trying to drop the pounds, you are probably wondering which weight loss pills work the best. There are a lot of choices when you look online or head to the store. Understanding more about the top five brands can help you make an informed decision.
MaritzMayer Raspberry Ketone Lean Advanced Weight Loss Supplement is one of the top brands available. This supplement is made from natural ingredients. Raspberry ketones have been known to aid in weight loss, but with this supplement you get even more.
In addition, you’ll also find ingredients such as African mango that helps you to boost weight loss as well. When you add the power of antioxidants, apple cider vinegar, and caffeine to help melt away the fat, you have the perfect tool for weight loss.
Raspberry Ketones- 100% Natural Weight Loss Supplement by Genetic Solutions is another supplement that harnesses the power of raspberry to help you lower the numbers on the scale. This supplement is just made of raspberry ketones without added ingredients.
This is a great supplement to add to your health routine if you don’t want other added ingredients such as caffeine. You simply take one supplement up to three times each day. You’ll find that this adds an extra boost to your own efforts.
Alli Weight Loss Aid by Orlistat is the only over the counter FDA approved supplement for weight loss. This pill helps you to lose weight by keeping your body from absorbing all of the fat in your meals.
Many people have had success with this supplement when it’s coupled with a healthy diet and exercise. About a quarter of the fat you consume will leave your body as waste and never be absorbed.
Hydroxycut Hard Core Pro Series by MuscleTech is another bestselling brand of weight loss supplement. This has been on the market for years and has been proven time and time again. This supplement is perfect for someone who’s looking to lose weight and define muscle.
Many consumers report that it helps you to control your appetite and to provide you with the energy you need to exercise. This supplement coupled with exercise can help you to get the results you’ve always wanted.
Best Naturals Saffron supplement is a supplement that helps you to gain control over your appetite. Instead of feeling hungry and deprived, you’ll feel satisfied by what you’re eating on a healthy diet plan.
It’s just what you need if you have trouble staying away from the snack foods between your meals. This supplement is all natural, so you don’t have to worry about added ingredients at you are not interested in taking in weight loss pills.
You have been dieting and losing weight, but suddenly you have hit a weight loss plateau. This happens to just about everyone, but it’s not a good reason to quit your efforts. A true plateau comes even when you’re following your diet, but you’re just not losing weight.
There are several things you can do to help push through this and get back to the business of losing weight. First, you need to get real with yourself. A lot of people say they’re having a plateau, but what’s really happening is that they’ve gotten careless with their diet.
First, it helps to remember why you began your weight loss journey in the first place. Look at how far you’ve come and remember how much work you’ve put in. Get refocused on your goals and visualize yourself at your goal weight.
If you’ve stopped measuring your food portions or writing down what you eat, now is the time to resume that habit. You may find out that what you thought was a plateau was really just a lack of focus on your diet plan.
Once you’ve got your eating under control, it’s time to look at your physical activity. Even if you exercise every day, you may need to make some changes to get the most from your activity. If you do the same thing every day, your body may need a change.
Also pay attention to any medications you have taken or illnesses you have acquired. Sometimes, medications can have the side effect of weight gain. Some illnesses can also lead to weight gain. Get checked out by your healthcare provider if you think this is to blame. Never stop a medication unless you are advised to do so by your physician.
That’s because when you get into a routine, your muscles respond by become very good at what they do. You’ll burn fewer calories doing the same exercise. You don’t need to work out harder or longer; you just need to make a few changes.
For example, if you walk every day for your exercise you might try switching to an elliptical machine for a few days each week. Swimming is another exercise that can help you to use different muscles and burn calories.
You also need to make sure you are building your muscles. The more muscle mass you have, the more calories you burn sitting still. That can translate to weight loss as your metabolism gets a boost.
Stay committed. Losing weight isn’t something that happens all overnight. It can be a long, hard journey. Don’t allow yourself to give up on your goals because the scales are not tipping quite the way you’d like them to and you’re stuck in a weight loss plateau – stay devoted to your plan.
If you’re trying to drop the pounds, a few simple weight loss tips can help you to get a boost. Losing weight can be one of the most difficult challenges you face, but with a few helpful hints you’ll be on your way.
Make sure to drink water. This is one of the first things that every diet will tell you. Water helps you to flush fat and also aids in just about every function in your body. If you don’t like plain water, try adding lemon or lime to it.
What’s the right amount of water? For most people it’s 8-10 glasses of water a day. You’ll want to drink an extra few glasses if you have a substantial amount of weight to lose. Keep a water glass with you at all times and fill it up as soon as it becomes empty.
Focus on adding nutrition to your diet instead of deprivation. When you know you “can’t” have something, it becomes the only thing you want. Successful dieters focus on making sure they get enough of the healthy stuff.
When you do that you fill yourself up with healthy, low calorie foods and there’s not enough room for all the junk. You’ll be satisfying your hunger without feeling deprived. This simple shift in your focus can help you to lose weight faster.
Give yourself a treat each day. Another way to prevent that feeling of deprivation is to allow yourself to have a treat every day. It could be a small piece of candy, a small cookie, or a handful of potato chips.
Whatever treat helps you to feel like you’re getting something you really enjoy will work. The key is to keep the portion small and to plan for this snack each day. When you know you can have something special it makes it easier to stick to your plan.
Keep a weight loss journal. When you write down what you eat, you become more mindful about it. In addition to writing down what you eat, you can also write about how much and how you felt at the time. This will help you to keep track of emotional eating.
Track Your Progress. Another thing that will help you to be successful is to keep track of how well you’re doing. Weighing once a week and writing it down can be helpful in keeping you motivated.
You can also track inches and your clothing size. Whatever helps you to know you’re meeting your goals will work. These weight loss tips will help you to lose weight and keep it off when you implement them consistently.