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Posts Tagged ‘productivity’

fashion-person-woman-handAs more of our lives involves using digital means to accomplish our daily tasks, things get faster and easier. We can order meals, groceries, take classes, and pay the bill for it all online. However all this easy access can also open the door to unwanted hackers and scammers.

Personal habits are often the key to protecting data, and by taking a few simple steps you can make it much harder for anyone to break into your digital life or that of your Non-Profit Organisation.

Step 1: Take Passwords Seriously

Having a strong password is one of the most basic steps in protecting information, but it is frequently overlooked. Last names, birthdays, children’s names; all personal information is off limits. It is easily found online, especially if you do not have tight security on social media accounts such as Facebook.

Writing a password down is another classic but common mistake. No sticky notes on your desk or the back of the keyboard. If you must write them down, leave the note at your house as a backup.

Use a password that you can remember, maybe a phrase or reminder of a goal. Include capital letters, punctuation and numbers to make it more secure. Don’t share it with anyone, and change it regularly. A good recommendation is every 30 days.

Step 2: Disguise Your Data

Encryption is just a fancy way of saying that the data is scrambled so that it can’t be read without a key. It can be more secure to encode data in this way than to delete it because deleted files can still be pulled off the hard drive.

Setting up encryption is not hard, but it’s not something you may have thought to check. Apple and Windows both have the option to turn on auto encryption of the hard drive, or you can buy a third-party encryption program. If you do business on your phone, you can turn on encryption in the settings on most models.

Be careful what programs you use to communicate as well. Make sure your email is encrypted. Signal and Whatsapp are texting programs that automatically encrypt instant messages, while Facebook Messenger and Google’s Allo have it as an option that will need to be turned on.

Step 3: Stranger Danger

We are taught as children not to trust people we don’t know, and that is a good rule of thumb for the digital world as well. Emails from someone you don’t know are suspicious, and links or instructions that seem strange are a big red flag. Don’t click on flashy links that may take you to a site that secretly accesses your computer.

If it seems out of place or just doesn’t feel right, seek advice. It is always best to be cautious when the security of your NFP’s information is at risk.

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promotional-products-694790_640Nearly everyone these days is pressed for time. We all have things that we need to get done each day in our personal and professional lives, but there simply aren’t enough hours in each day.

As new assignments, unfinished work and deadlines continue to pile up; stress continues to build and eventually takes its toll.

Thankfully there is a way to get more done each day, without losing your last bit of sanity!

Increase Your Productivity by Reducing Your Stress Levels

In the year 2001, the renowned productivity expert, David Allen first published his groundbreaking work, “Getting Things Done, The Art of Stress Free Productivity.” In his book, Allen explains that the key to increasing your productivity is to learn how to unwind and relax.

According to Allen, as you release things that cause stress and bring more order into your life, you can gain clarity and increase your productivity. To help readers to be able to relax by introducing order and organisation into their lives, Allen uses what he calls the GTR or, Get-Things-Done, approach.

What is GTD and How Can it Help You to Accomplish More?

GTD helps you to be able to lower your stress by helping you to organise, manage and keep up with all of those things that bring us stress: to-do lists, assignments, deadlines, schedules, and priorities. Rather than having to keep up with all of these different pieces of information by storing them in our active memory, GTD helps you to develop your own system for recording them and getting them off of your mind.

Since you don’t have all of this work constantly on your mind and looming over you, and interrupting your thoughts, you can relax. This allows you to focus on whatever task is at hand and most important to you at the moment, and enables you to actually able to complete tasks more quickly, and with greater creativity.

GTD Basics – Steps to Get More Organised Each Day

  1. Choose a recording method that’s easy for you to use. The first step in the GTD process is to decide how you are going to record all of your to-do-lists, deadlines, thoughts, assignments, projects, appointments and more. It should be a system that’s easy for you to use, regardless of where you happen to be. Some people find that it’s easiest to use “old school” methods such as pads of paper, physical journals or day calendars, sticky notes and whiteboards. Others take the tech route and use one of the incredible apps, such as Evernote, OneNote and more that are available to help you organise your life and keep up with everything that’s important to you. Regardless of how you decide to record everything that’s important, pick an option and stick with it.
  1. After you record your thought or assignment, break your thoughts out into steps to take and complete the action.
  1. Assign categories and priorities for each of your thoughts, and include due dates or projected times for completion into your record. This one simple step will help you to be able to organise your day and to help you keep up with all of your deadlines.
  1. Take the time to look over your list each day and throughout your day to decide which task or record you want to complete first. You will get more done through the day if you first choose those tasks that you can do quickly and that don’t require a lot of effort or energy. Move on to more detailed tasks through the day. Periodically review the progress that you are making with your lists. Over time you may find that you need to change the priority, or even completely change the steps necessary to complete certain tasks and achieve certain goals.
  1. Focus on the task at hand, and then move on to the next assignment. Since you’ve already broken up each task into the steps that it will take to complete it, and have assigned all of your tasks a priority and a due date, you no longer waste time wondering what item you should work on next. Removing this ambiguity and uncertainty will also help to reduce your stress levels so that you get more accomplished.

Your GTD System Should Evolve and Grow With You

Over time, you may find that your system of recording your lists isn’t working out for you. In fact, this is likely to happen if you allow your system to become too complicated and cumbersome to keep up with.

The best thing about the GTD system is that there aren’t any hard or fast rules, and it’s open to your interpretation. Personalising the system to use recording tools that are easy for you to use and keep up with, and keeping your system straightforward and easy to understand will increase your organisation as well as your productivity.

Periodically review your GTD system and continually look for ways to simplify your processes over time so that your system continues to evolve and grow with you, while reducing your stress.

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pexels-photo (7)So, there is still no way of squeezing more hours into the week, but there are things a person can do to fit more into the hours available. If you find yourself wishing you could be more productive, you are not alone, and there are some small but impactful changes you can likely make to your overall lifestyle that will help you get things done. Let’s take a look at some of the best ideas yet to boost your productivity.

Get off to a Good Start

It might seem simple, and fairly non-work related, but making your bed when you rise in the morning is what productivity experts call a “keystone habit” that can set the tone for your entire day, and spur you to make other positive, mature decisions that will effect your overall productivity.

Make Room for Self Care

As well as treating yourself to a nicely made bed after a good day’s work, it is very important to get adequate exercise and sufficient nutrition. Skipping gym time or meals will not, overall, help you get more done. On the contrary, a healthy alert mentality relies on you being well nourished, and in turns physically stimulated and rested.

Deactivate Distractions

Unless entirely necessary, leave social media at home. Allocate certain times of the day to check email, and turn off notifications so no pinging device will interrupt your flow. If possible, maintain a tranquil, uncluttered work environment. It is thought that many types of music can be distracting and detrimental to getting work done, but ambient and natural sounds can help you focus. Adjust your soundscape accordingly.

Review Your Purpose

Take a look at your to do list, and make sure you truly care about everything on it. Particularly if you find yourself not excited by what needs doing, pay attention to why the items are necessary, and what is likely to follow their successful completion. Being crystal clear about what you have to do and why will help you stay on task.

Prepare for Tomorrow

To keep on the right track, and have your work chug along at a steady pace, spend a few minutes before you leave writing a new list for the following day. This will allow you to walk away from work for the evening or the weekend with a clear mind, and when you get back there, you will have a step-by-step plan for success waiting for you.

Making the effort to tweak these few things everyday will have a big impact in a short space of time. Being more productive is a noble, and completely achievable goal.

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Sometimes it seems like the day is over before it has begun. You look back to see what you’ve achieved and there doesn’t seem to be a lot. Being busy and being productive are two very different things, but often all it can take to turn busy-ness into productivity is the right tool.

We’ve found these three tools to be very effective at helping us make better use of our time. We hope they work for you, too.

Todoist is a clever way to keep track of your to-do list. It lets you manage your tasks anywhere and on a range of devices. You can even work on shared tasks with your teammates, no matter where you are. You can set up projects, add due dates for tasks and include notes. Then just tick them off as you go.

The Pomodoro Technique is a way of managing your time so you actually get more work done. It involves working to a cycle of 25 minutes and then taking a 5 minute break. On the 4th cycle, take a longer break of 15 or 20 minutes. The idea is that you work with your body’s natural focus, and take a break when you need it to refresh and revive.  We can only concentrate properly for short times before we need to rest. The theory says that by working in natural cycles, you can produce your most effective work.

Rescue Time shows you where you really spend all your time. Think you worked flat out? Hm, what about all the time you spent exploring that new site? Rescue Time a great little tool that shows you where you’re spending your time. It also tracks your productivity levels and can reveal what hours are your least and most productive. You can then map your times and days to find out when you get your best work done.

There are many productivity tools available online and many are free to use, so keep checking to see what new options have been created. You will be amazed at the amount of time you can end up saving for more productive uses.

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When we think of habits we often think of bad habits. Our habit of reaching for chocolate when faced with a crisis or as a child we left our homework until the last minute, every time! There are however, good habits. Yes, there really are and the good news is you can create them easily and quickly and they will help to reduce your stress levels both at home and at work.

We all know what our weaknesses are and the bad habits we create around them. It’s time to find good habits to replace the bad and reduce our overall stress levels.

We can create good habits in the workplace that not only reduce stress but make life a lot easier in the process.  Habits that not only help us to work more efficiently but also more effectively. Without inducing any OCD tendencies, you can actually put in place structured habits that help you to not only prioritise your workflow but also take the stress away from having to constantly be considering what needs to be done next. Imagine how freeing it would be to know you could just flick to a diary/spreadsheet/mind map (insert your medium of choice) and see in black and white what needs to be done. You don’t need to store it all in your head, you don’t need to keep leaving sticky notes everywhere, and you don’t have to constantly be wondering whether you have enough time to get things done.

Here are a few things you can put in place right now to create good habits in the workplace and reduce your overall stress:

  1. Diarise everything – not just appointments but deadlines for documents, meeting times, project deadlines. The more you diarise the more you can structure the rest of your day, the less stress you will have because you know ahead of time what you need to achieve and where you need to be.
  1. You know when you were at school and you were always being told “don’t leave your homework until the last minute”, the same applies with work. If you have a project to achieve or a deadline to meet, start getting prepared right away. If you have to collect data, immediately create a folder either on the computer or a lever arch folder and add relevant inner folders/tabs to start collating information from the outset. Each time you come across something you will need, file it away immediately so that when the time comes you don’t have to think about where and when you saw that particular item.
  1. Plan everything. You don’t need to become a tyrant about it but having a plan laid out for each work day means you don’t have to continuously be juggling tasks. Diarise time for admin work, phone calls, email catch-up etc. so your work will flow rather than having to multi-task all the time. Multi-tasking is only good if it reduces stress not increases it.

We would love to hear about your good work habits that help you get through each day with lower stress levels.

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Have you ever wondered why you’re more productive some days than others? Or why you seem to get so much more work done on the days that have lots of interruptions?

There are reasons for this, and once you know what they are, you can make some conscious choices in your day. You can build on them and turn yourself into a productivity machine.

Take a look at this clip.  It has some excellent information about the way our minds work and the impact they have on our actions. The clip covers:

  • Why worrying about having “more willpower” is a fool’s game.
  • How world class experts stay productive… and what they do differently.
  • The reason why better energy management = a more productive you.
  • Big pitfalls that lead to busywork and procrastination.

Take a look at the video and then at the way you’ve been working. With a few changes, your productivity levels will improve.

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If you’ve ever found yourself in a situation where you’re about to tend to the to-do list or start the job that needs your attention, and suddenly you remember you need to call a  relative you haven’t spoken to for ages, or find a minor dilemma of a work colleague more pressing, then you’re doing it … procrastinating!

You avoid tackling the task at hand by doing something else … anything else  We’ve all been there at some point, some of us more than others. Some of us most of the time!

Unfortunately, procrastination means the job doesn’t get finished, or even started in some cases.  The consequences of that, in itself, can be disconcerting; you won’t make an income, receive your promised bonus, or worse, you’ll become known as a “gonna” or perceived as unreliable and untrustworthy.

Procrastination generally comes from a fear of something – success, failure, change, too much responsibility or even fear of rejection.  Once you’ve finished what you started, or haven’t quite got around to starting, then what?

When you find yourself straightening the pencils on your desk, because you just “can’t work in this messy space”, stop.  Think about what it really is that is stopping you from working on your current project.

Once you identify the block, it’s easier to get on with the task.  Determine what concern or belief is the real cause of your fear of actually finishing the task and work with that.  Beware of using that as just another opportunity to procrastinate, too!

Of course, setting yourself some realistic goals and working to a plan are also going to make it easier – and definitely keep you on track!

Mostly, be honest with yourself about what you’re really doing.  Does the budgie really need its toenails clipped right now?  Or are you just procrastinating?

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