We have discussed our calendar and our contacts; the third area is our tasks. This can be the hardest of all of these to gain real control of. Much of this has to do with how record this information and how we prioritize what we do. The task list never ends so we can find ourselves frustrated with what we accomplish or shall I say what we don’t accomplish.
What we can do to remedy this is to focus on what are goals are and which of these tasks get us to that end. Now that is easy to say, but how do we do it. This is where we have to try to match a system to how we think and act or our willing to try to change or behavior to. This can be a simple as a system you create, a Franklin Covey Planner (which has a great built in system), or a Planner Pad.
Choose a system that allows for:
1. A list of tasks
2. A way to review them to be able to choose the highest priorities each week
3. The ability to schedule those prioritized tasks into our calendar
Then we must be disciplined to review the bigger picture list on a weekly basis and the daily tasks schedule for the week on a daily basis. Getting into a routine of doing this can make a fantastic difference in what we accomplish each day!
Like our calendar we can keep a paper or electronic system for our contacts but we must choose one that works best for our needs. We must define our needs not just for our present use but how we would like this system to accommodate our needs in the future.
In trying to decide what is best there are a few things to consider:
1. How often does it need to be updated?
2. How often it is accessed?
3. Does it need to be mobile?
4. How many contacts do we expect to keep?
5. What information do we need to keep for our contacts?
To decide on the best system these questions need to be considered. Smaller lists of contacts can be managed with a simpler system, may not need to be with us all the time and can be a simple address book or addresses in an email system. Larger data bases of contacts may need to be accessed often, probably need to have the ability to sync with a mobile device and are added to and updated often. Here a system like Outlook and syncing with a Blackberry or Palm type device may be a better solution.
Finally when thinking about managing contacts, especially larger numbers of them. Consider whether the system allows for sorting, the fields available to capture the data needed and also the search capability to find information. Again Outlook 2007 provides a very good way to capture this information, sort and use it to provide a great productivity tool.
Keeping in contact,
This first week we will focus on our calendar. Whether we use a simple calendar, a planner or a Blackberry/Palm type electronic system, we need to be sure to "keep one set of books". When we keep multiple calendars it leaves us open to missing events and not knowing when our time is and is not available. It is very important that we keep our calendar system current so that we have all the facts included. Finally it is critical that we look at it routinely. Looking at our calendar may sound like a "no brainer" but, many of us often start the morning without even knowing what we have planned for the day.
Things to think about in choosing between a paper and electronic system:
1. Is the system portable to have with you all the time?
2. Is the system easy to update?
3. Is the system easy to share with those who need to know what is on your schedule?
4. Do you need to be a able to sync it to your computer?
5. Do you want to be able to back up the information?
Keeping a good calendar will make a big difference in keeping a smooth office running.
Make the best of your time,
Gas or the lack thereof certainly seems to be the topic of conversation today. That is if we are not talking about our uncertain economic times or the upcoming election. Since investing money and politics are two of subjects I don’t share my opinion on I will talk about ways to make more out of those trips we venture out on each day to work, chauffeur or play.
1. Make sure along with your other planning for the week that you have determined what tasks need to be done away from the home or office. Highlights these so they are easily identified.
2. Review these tasks and determine they really need to be done.
3. Batch tasks that can be done at the same time and determine if there is a day and/or time that you will already be going to that location or in that direction. Sometimes waiting another day to do something will allow you to save an entire trip altogether.
4. Record any information that you will need to have when you reach your destination, i.e. paint colors, names, phone numbers, forms, sizes, merchandise to match or return. This will greatly increase your odds of not making a second trip or not accomplishing what you have set out to do.
5. Finally, decide if you need to make the trip at all. With the internet and telephone at our finger tips; we sometimes don’t think about how easy it is to get information or products that we would normally “go out” to get. Sometimes they do not even have a shipping cost and if they do they might be worth it. Shipping costs have been a deterrent in the past; but with gas at $4.00 +/- a gallon, we can certainly justify more shipping costs than we used to.
If you were at home in an emergency and lost power for several days, would you be ready? Again in keeping with September being National Disaster Preparedness month here is a checklist that can help be more prepared:
- Flashlights and extra batteries
- Non-perishable or ready to eat foods (enough for 3 days – one to three 1lbs per person is recommended). Foods such as: canned and dried foods (pop top or twist tops are preferable), dried foods such as fruits and cereals), granola, breakfast/food bars, salt free crackers, dry or canned milk and soups, peanut butter, jelly, nuts, trail mix)
- Manual can opener
- Baby formula and foods
- Pet food
- Medication (over the counter and prescription)
- Water - at least one gallon per person is recommended (1-3 gallons preferably) Water Tips: Boiling is the preferable way to purify water. Let water boil fully one minute. Cool before drinking. If unable to boil, use pure chlorine bleach (1/4 tsp, 1.25 ml or 16 drops to each gallon). Stir, then let stand 30 min. Slight chlorine taste and smell is normal.
- Portable, battery operated radio (& extra batteries)
- Disposable utensils
- Camping stove with fuel and matches.
- Fire extinguisher
- First Aid Kit; including a list of emergency contacts, bandages, scissors, tape, disinfectants, antiseptics, latex gloves, non prescription meds such as aspirin and non-aspirin, bendryl, and hand sanitizer.
- Cell phone (charged) and/or standard land line phone (non remote) if power is out.
- Emergency plan for family or business
September is National Disaster Preparedness month and our latest hurricanes and floods can give us a very visual reminder of how an emergency can happen in an instant.
This week I thought I would highlight documentation preparedness. It is important to have documents and the information they contain in a safe place and accessible when we need them. Here are some ways to take a great step toward being prepared in case of an emergency.
- Have birth, baptism, death, divorce certificates and passports in a safe place; preferably a safe deposit box or fire safe.
- Have insurance policies, house and other property deeds and loan information in a safe place and the telephone and account numbers available to you.
- Copy the front and back of credit cards, driver’s licenses, insurance cards and the like or keep a copy of a statement that would have the same info. Remember if you lose a credit card, you need the number on the back to call and the credit card number to report.
- Have a record of checking, savings and investment account information as well as pin numbers and access information.
- Have important phone numbers so that if you don’t have your phone you can make important phone calls. Keep a copy in a remote location.
- Have a written family communication plan where you have phone numbers, addresses, emails and other vital contact info as well as locations to meet in case of an emergency.
Do find yourself in the afternoon or on your way home from work wondering what you will have for dinner? If you are the one that does most of the meal planning this can become very stressful and you may find yourself resorting to less than healthy alternatives. If saving money and eating healthy are high on your wish list than here are a few things you can do to make a change today!
- Make a list of all the meals that you like or would like to try.
- Put each title of the meal on an index card. You can include the ingredients and preparation instructions on the card or simply the location of the recipe (i.e. Betty Crocker Cook Book, page 7). Don’t forget to include index cards that say “Left Overs” or “Eat Out” for days those solutions might apply.
- Each week, choose a day to plan out your meals. For instance if you choose Sunday, you would decide what you wanted to eat each day of the next week, Monday through Sunday by selecting an index card identifying the meals you want that week.
- These 7 cards can now be used to plan the meals, do the shopping and prepare food in advance. For instance we can chop onions for 2 or 3 recipes if we know we will need them several times during the week.
This will allow you to plan ahead for shopping, meal preparation and tasks like defrosting frozen items. You can display the index cards if you wish in the kitchen in clear index card holders, make or purchase clips to hold them or store them in a convenient place. Now you can spend that time you would have been worrying about what’s for dinner, doing something more enjoyable.
Happy Meal Preparing!