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Forget Time Management: Why You Should Practice Choice Management Instead

If you struggle with managing your time, professional organiser Lorie Marrero says you’re operating in the wrong paradigm.

Stephanie Vozza

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“Time keeps ticking away and you can’t control it,” she says. “You can only manage your choices as they relate to time.”

Marrero, author of The Home Office Handbook (Reason Press, 2013), encourages small-business owners to rethink the way they schedule their day and consider a system of choice management instead of time management. Successful choice management involves a series of actions, all of which are flexible based on what works best for you.

Here are five steps you can take to get more done by managing your choices:

1. Capture information in one place.

The first step in managing your choices is capturing the information that bombards you each day, such as emails, appointments and meetings and text messages. Too often entrepreneurs try to keep stuff in their heads, Marrero says, which only causes stress.

She suggests limiting yourself to one or two of the many tools available for saving information, such as a physical inbox, a software programme like Evernote, or a paper and pen. “The key is to find tools that you enjoy using,” she says.

2. Commit to what you can accomplish and delete the rest.

Once you capture all the information you receive, it’s time to do something with it. This phase is when you make choices based on the things you’ve saved; decide if you want to take action now, file it away for later, or discard it. For the items that require action, signify your commitment by writing the task on your calendar or to-do list.

“This can be done daily or weekly depending on your business’s needs,” says Marrero, “but it’s important to not let captured information pile up.”

3. Set up a cue system to remind yourself to act.

Often, entrepreneurs capture information and commit to it, then get busy with something else. Marrero says it’s important to set up a cue system to serve as a reminder. You can set an alarm on your phone or calendar, write a to-do list, use post it notes placed in places where you’ll see them, or create a tickler file that is reviewed weekly.

“[Create a system for] whatever your brain responds to, but beware of the novelty factor,” she says. “Some of my clients use reminders and then snooze them. If your cue is no longer effective, try another one.”

4. Complete the task.

You’ve captured, committed and cued yourself to do a task, it’s time to act. Marrero says people complete tasks for one of three main reasons: it’s urgent; you’re internally motivated due to the sense of satisfaction you feel when you do it; or you’re externally motivated by someone else, such as a client.

Urgent and internally motivated tasks tend to get done because the reasons you have to complete them are evident and strong. For tasks that you put off, you may need external motivation.

She suggests finding an accountability partner. At the beginning of the week, share your tasks and deadlines. Then check in periodically to report your progress. If you’re still not completing the task, Marrero says to consider whether or not it should be eliminated.

5. Correct any flaws in your system.

Set a time once a month to review your tools and systems, and evaluate your choices. If one of the components of the system isn’t working, consider using another tool.

“I ask myself, ‘how can I do this better and faster’,” Marrero says. “Don’t be afraid to try something new until it works just right for your brain and your style.”

Stephanie Vozza is a freelance writer who has written about business, real estate and lifestyles for more than 20 years. A former small business owner, she recently discovered she's better at writing about them. She lives in the Detroit area with her husband, two sons and their crazy Jack Russell terriers.

Get Organised

(Infographic) 9 Productivity Mistakes You’re Making In The First 10 Minutes Of Your Day

From setting goals to drinking coffee, these bad morning habits might surprise you.

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There are a number of things you’re probably doing every morning that are actually hindering your productivity.

If you’re an avid coffee drinker, you might be surprised to find out that drinking coffee between 8 and 10 a.m can make you more stressed throughout the day. That’s because caffeine early in the morning interferes with the time that the stress hormone, cortisol, is peaking in your body. It’s best to get your fix between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

When you get into the office and try to jump right into the top of your to-do list, you might find yourself confused and not very productive. When you don’t let your brain empty and refresh before starting a project or task, it loses a sense of control, becomes overwhelmed and ultimately, makes you less productive. Something else to avoid is checking email or social media right when you wake up. Typically, after checking your inbox, it takes a person at least 25 minutes to get back into a productive state. If you start your day off reading and responding to email after email, it will take you a long time to get back on track.

Another surprising mistake is setting self-imposed goals. Setting goals and deadlines for yourself might seem like an obvious productivity hack, but it turns out, that’s not the case. Instead, share your deadlines with others and you’ll feel more pressure and responsibility to get things done.

Related: 5 Surprising Elements That Boost Your Productivity (One of Them Is Colour)

Check out resume.io’s infographic below for more productivity mistakes you’re likely making in the first 10 minutes of your day.

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This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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Workflow And Business Efficiency – 5 Strategies You Ignore At Your Peril

Emails alone don’t cut it as an efficient way to communicate with team members. You’re not still depending on email, are you?

Toby Nwazor

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An inefficient business can cost you a lot more than just growth – it can affect your revenue, too. According to a report by IDC, your business runs the risk of losing 20 to 30 percent of your revenue due to inefficient systems.

Unfortunately, many companies still struggle to implement the right systems to improve their workflow. Others have it worse, because they have no systems. In those situations, projects take ages to be completed, more time is spent on menial tasks and teams never seem to get enough done during work hours.

If that describes your company, your company’s profits may start to plummet, too.

Every successful business, then, has clearly defined systems to help the business run like clockwork. Improved workflow, better management and business efficiency save time, increase the bottom line and ensure a higher profit margin.

In fact, in an article on ContractZen, Tim Cummins, president of the International Association for Contract & Commercial Management, wrote that, “The average corporation could boost its bottom line by almost 10 percent if it invested in improving the quality of contracting.

For many companies – especially those in more complex, project-based industries – the prize could be much higher – perhaps as much as 15 percent.”

Related: Become A Life-Hacker

Unfortunately, some companies fail to provide systems that put users first, taking a negative toll on those companies’ workflow and efficiency. The good news is that they’re only five strategies away from turning this around:

1. Automate all you can

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From email lists, bookkeeping, invoicing and contract management, to social media posts and payrolls, almost everything can be automated. For a business that aims to be more efficient, automation is a must.

Automation doesn’t just save you time, it can be the one strategy that can guarantee explosive growth and higher conversion rates. According to this Lead Generation Marketing Effectiveness study, 63 percent of companies polled that were outgrowing their competitors said they had automated their marketing.

Automating monotonous tasks that have to be repeated several times during the day helps you be more productive in tasks that require your personal attention.

2. Invest in customer-relationship management software

It’s not uncommon to find businesses that are barely able to keep up with their leads. Some waste hours hunting the low-quality leads instead of focusing their energy on those ready to buy. Here, a customer relationship management (CRM) solution linked to these businesspeople’s network phone system is a great way to enhance customer communications.

Customers value businesses that provide excellent customer service. A CRM solution increases the ability to keep track of customer information, monitor leads and provide efficient delivery. Businesses can provide for their customers’ needs faster and make effective business decisions. With CRM, businesses can also keep their focus on quality leads that will drastically improve conversion rates.

Related: 11 Ways To Maximise Every Part Of Your Day

3. Set up a task-management system

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Emails alone don’t cut it as an efficient way to communicate with team members. Email makes it difficult to carry everyone along. However, setting up task-management software like Slack, Trello or Asana makes it much easier to have everyone’s tasks in one place and ensure that everyone is carried along in the project.

Task-management software helps members of a team track their progress and ensure that everyone is working on their tasks.

4. Sync your calendar with that of everyone else on your team

How many times have you had to reschedule appointments because you didn’t know you had other meetings lined up for the day?

Aside from leaving negative impression in clients’ mind, this error makes you less productive. Having to go back and forth until you have settled on an appropriate date can be cumbersome especially when different time zones are involved. So, do this instead: Sync your personal calendar with your work calendar, and make sure that everyone in your team is synced to the latter, too.

This will ensure sure that everybody is “on the same page” in terms of appointments and deadlines. Google Calendar can help you do just that. Once everyone is synced up, any change in the calendar will be seen by everyone so they can manage their own appointments.

5. Block out chunks of time

time-management

Constant interruptions hamper your workflow. Imagine having to deal with turning over a project on a deadline while you’re stuck in a series of meetings throughout the day. It can get very difficult to focus on completing your most urgent tasks.

Block out chunks of time on your calendar for uninterrupted work. It’s better to schedule a series of meetings in one day than to spread them throughout the week.

If you’re creating content, block out one day to create all the content you’ll use for the week. That way your business will run more efficiently.

Related: 3 Reasons You Should Embrace Change

Wrapping it up

With the right strategies, you can turn your business around to make it efficient and lucrative. Automating your processes, setting up the right software and remaining focused on the tasks at hand will go a long way to help you do this. But just as with every good strategy, you need to remain consistent and give it time to do its magic.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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How To Multitask Like Tim Ferriss, Randi Zuckerberg And Other Very Busy People

Nine entrepreneurs tell us how they get it all done.

Entrepreneur

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Think you’re busy? Take a look at Guy Fieri‘s calendar. Or a U.S. Army general’s. Or an in-demand teenage actor’s. Or the CEO of a globally recognised company’s.

Some of the busiest people on the planet took time out of their days to tell us how they get it all done. Take note!

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