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Productivity News and Advice

Everyone has this idea that the New Year provides you with a blank slate. A chance to start over. This is true, as long as you realize that you have to put in some effort to clear off the slate and make it blank. Before you dive in to 2012, eliminate the clutter and paperwork that is bogging you down. The New Year will look brighter if you take the time to let yourself start over.

Reference Material

Start your clutter purge by going through your reference material. If you find something that could be reviewed once, review it and toss it. Clear out anything that is obsolete—an instruction manual for your old phone, spring catalogs, material for projects that you’ve completed. Give yourself the room you need to collect more reference material this year. If you come across an item you haven’t used in 12 months, you don’t need it. Look through it one more time if you need to, and then clear up space for new material.

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New Year’s is a great time to thin out . . . no, this is NOT another weight loss resolution. It’s a resolution to thin out your projects and commitments for the year. Before you make plans for improvement this year, evaluate the past twelve months and note the projects that were overwhelming, unnecessary, or not worth your while. Make this year one where you accomplish great things, but only those things that keep your life balanced and joyful.

Twelve Month Evaluation

Go through the year chronologically, thinking through each of the projects you completed. Figure out when you were the most overwhelmed during the year. Was it during the summer? Maybe this year you need fewer summertime commitments. Were you busiest during a huge project with a tough deadline? This year you may need to allow more time or allot more resources to projects of that size. Make note of each project that overwhelmed you so you can make improvements on projects of that nature in 2012. Ask yourself: Read the rest of this entry »

We often get to enjoy a break from working at some point during the holiday season. This break can be relaxing or hectic depending on how full you (and your family) fill your days. Either way, you should enjoy your time away from your day job so you can appreciate the holidays, spend quality time with your family, and be well-rested when work starts back up again.

Get organized before you leave

Before you leave the office and head off on your holiday adventures, make sure you empty your head of all your stuff. Make complete lists of next actions for the projects you are working on. Clearing your head before your break will let you relax while you’re gone and assuage your concerns that you won’t remember to complete certain tasks when you get back to work. And, if a task DOES come to your mind, you can add it to a list quickly, and then go back to relaxing with family and friends. Keep the list somewhere accessible when you come back to work. With your organized list ready to go, you’ll expedite the process of getting back into your work mindset in the New Year.

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This week is probably the week with the most distractions built in: interruptions from coworkers, parties, end-of-year meetings, and your own holiday to-do list plaguing your mind every half hour. There is nothing wrong with all of these holiday events and to-dos, but it does get tough to stay focused during this time of year. For distractions now and throughout the year, try these strategies:

Designate a no-distraction time

This strategy should help with both physical and mental distractions. Pick a specific time during your day when you won’t let yourself get distracted. Close your door, turn off your wifi, and put in your headphones. You’ll get in the zone, giving yourself the time you need to complete the tasks at hand. Set an amount of time beforehand, too, to help your mind and body stay focused. The amount of time is up to you; you may only need an hour to get everything done, or you may need to break up your no-distraction time into short periods scheduled around meetings and other interactive obligations. Then, if you need to, tell others when you will be available next—after your no-distraction time is complete.

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Even though we have all these great productivity tools, we still experience failure. Does that mean we need to pursue a new life path? No. Do we need a new productivity system? Not necessarily. Failure is normal, even expected. If you never failed at anything, you probably wouldn’t have the drive to continue accomplishing goals or projects. The New Year is coming fast—this is a time of reflection and redemption. We can all try again, make new goals, and try new things as we enter 2012. Here are a few positive aspects of failure you can focus on to help you maintain your perspective and move forward in the New Year.

Adventure

You don’t need to be afraid of making mistakes. Think about some of the mistakes you’ve made in your life. Are they the result of cautious behavior or did you step out of your comfort zone and try something new and daring? We need to stretch ourselves, but this probably means we’ll be faced with failure at some point or other. When this happens, focus on what you gained from the experience.

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Working with a team on a project can be a frustrating experience, but collaborative efforts usually produce more extensive and well-rounded results. It’s important to understand how to be a part of a productive team, so that each team member feels proud of their efforts and pleased with the team’s results. Productive teamwork consists of four major components:

1. Communication

The most vital component, communication makes the difference between a stressful joint-effort and a successful project. Initially, you need to establish rapport amongst your teammates. If you can create personal relationships with the people you are working with, you are more likely to approach a problem from similar angles. And when you DO have criticisms to present (which is inevitable—that is a principle part of teamwork), you will be able to show that the criticism is about the project, not about the person. Not only is this good for preventing defensiveness and hurt feelings, but it is essential for executing a productive team project. If you can’t offer criticism and new solutions to problems, your project doesn’t have the chance it needs to become something everyone is proud of.

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You don’t have to be in kindergarten to know you are supposed to share with others. Today I’m going to remind you about and expound on one of the best features of Power.ME: sharing. It is so easy to share files with other Power.ME users, and you can share files with non-users as well.

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This time of year is wonderful and stressful, entertaining and overwhelming. You suddenly have an overflowing to-do list and more social obligations than you have during the rest of the year combined. Today’s recommended ritual aims to give you a few minutes each day of mental rest and physical rejuvenation to help you through the holidays.

But don’t quit in January just because the holidays are over! Working for 8+ hours per day doesn’t do much for our metabolism, energy level, or attitude. Taking a quick daily walk can renew your dedication to your work, whether your work is at home, school, or your job. When you stand up and move your body, you have the chance to recover physically and improve your productivity at the same time.

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When I worked from home, it was tempting to wake up 15 minutes before I began working. While it was nice to be able to fall out of bed into my desk, on those days, I began work in a fog. I would remember things I wanted to get done that day, many of which I could have done had I woken up an hour early. Now that I work away from home, I have developed a better routine. For me, waking up an hour and half before I have to be at work has added what feels like hours to my day. I have time to wake up without worry, get through my morning routine, eat breakfast, and even add a few tasks to my morning that I hadn’t been able to do waking up 15 minutes before work started. I’m positive that we all have time during our days that could be found and recovered if our hours were planned more effectively. If you need a few tips and tricks to help you find more time, try these out: Read the rest of this entry »

In just two days, stores will open their doors in the wee hours of the morning, prices will be slashed, and normal, kind people will turn into crazed shopaholics. The Black Friday shopping ritual is a tradition for so many people that even their turkey hangovers can’t keep them away.

Even through the busyness and the craziness, you can learn valuable life lessons from your Black Friday shopping experiences. Remember these lessons as you are setting up your tent on the sidewalk tomorrow night:

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