Time Management for the Tired and Frazzled


Time Management for the Tired and Frazzled

Time Management for the Tired and Frazzled

In David Allen’s excellent book Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity, he outlines five stages to mastering your workflow. These stages include:

  1. collecting the things that command our intention,
  2. processing what they mean and what to do about them,
  3. organizing the results,
  4. reviewing the options, and,
  5. doing!

He also mentions that one’s process is only as good as the weakest link. However, what if you are the weakest link?

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You Might Be the Weakest Link

In my years as a professional organizer, the one thing that really caused the most disorganization in people’s lives was the inability to make a decision. People would routinely have piles all over their homes and offices, and not have the slightest clue what to do or where to start. I’d like to call this “decision fatigue.” And it’s what leads to clutter. If you need to work on making faster decisions, here’s a helpful article from Success Magazine: 9 Tips to Make Smarter Decisions Faster. I like the idea of using a timer, so decisions don’t linger forever.

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Be Ruthless

Now in organizing physical stuff as well as the chores you need to do for your business, you need to be absolutely ruthless. If there’s something that isn’t going to help your business, you need to take out your biggest rubbish bin and throw that thing away (and by the way, having a BIG rubbish bin really helps–trust me on this). Putting off decisions will lead to clutter on your desktop, on your desk, and nothing will get done. Or things will get done very slowly, and painfully. This also goes for people who aren’t sympathetic to your work life. You don’t have to cut them out of your life forever but pivot away from those things that bring down your energy level. See How Pivoting Away from Drama Will Make You Less Stressed.

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It’s Counterintuitive

Making decisions will give you more energy, although you might not think so. You might think that putting off that decision will help you avoid your negative thoughts about it. Not so. It will still weigh on your mind like the proverbial albatross. And unless you really love having giant ocean-going birds hanging around, you’re probably better off without them. So if you’re feeling really tired and frazzled? Make a few decisions and see whether your energy levels improve. Want to get some other ideas? Here’s How Tired Business Owners Save Time: 10 Terrific Ways.

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The Metaphor is Yours and Yours Alone

Whatever metaphor you use, making decisions about the tasks at hand is up to you. Some people say you need to eat the frog first thing in the morning. In other words, do your most unpleasant task first. Personally, I’m a tactile learner, so my metaphors are usually about physical action. I like to hit things out of the ballpark, for instance. And I like to start with small wins. So, keeping with the baseball metaphor, maybe I’d bunt the ball and get to first base to create some momentum, rather than eating a frog. I like Brian Tracy’s story about eating the frog.

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If your funds allow, outsourcing some or part of your work could be very helpful. See my post from last week about outsourcing your blogging. You can outsource practically anything. Have someone help with sales calls, picking up the phone for you, or what have you. You can even hire a CEO if you need to! Here’s a list of some things you might consider:

  • Making appointments
  • Graphic design
  • Shopping
  • Research

In fact, you may want to outsource everything about your business and then take a vacation. After all, you deserve one, right? Or only do the parts of your business that you really enjoy doing!

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Take Enough Time to Sharpen the Axe

In organizing for your business day, just like in organizing your home, you need to spend a little time and figure out what you’re going to do and how you’re going to do it. That means planning. Without some kind of a roadmap, who knows what you’ll end up doing all day or how long it’ll take. There will always be unplanned events and emergencies, but if you already have a plan, they’re less likely to sidetrack you. I like to spend at least 5-6 minutes (preferably 15!) writing down a to-do list for the day. And it’s best to write your list the night before, to get all those nagging things off your mind so you can sleep! The next morning, you’ll probably come up with a few more items to add to your list, too.

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Are You Getting Enough Sleep?

If you’re really tired and frazzled, sleep might be part of the problem. A lot of us really do not get enough sleep. Here are my Ten Reasons to Get More Sleep So You Can Conquer the World. Sorry–you can’t outsource sleep, although it’s possible to get a sleep coach if you really get stuck. But if you’re running a small company or startup, you need all your brain power to solve problems. Getting enough shuteye really helps. Here in the San Francisco Bay Area, it’s very common for people to say things like “I can sleep when I’m dead,” as though sleep were something merely optional. It’s not.

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Collaborations Give You Energy

Sometimes the best ideas come from people who do the same thing you do. Do you have a group of people who support you, help mentor you, and that you help in return? Your peer support group can save you tons of time and energy. There are many support groups online. For instance, Facebook groups are a good place to look. And if you like an in-person group, Meetups are a great place to discover like-minded people.

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The Doing

Arguably, the most important part of time management is the doing. That is, if you’ve actually gone through and collected your items, processed your list, organized, and reviewed everything appropriately. After all, you don’t really want to be one of those “do something–even if it’s wrong” people, do you? Probably not.

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Are You Tired and Frazzled?

What has helped you move from being tired and frazzled to alert and excited about work?

How to Save Money By Outsourcing Your Social Media

If you’re busy running your own business, then you probably are running short on time. You’re expected to be the banker, create a business plan, and do things like run to the store for printer ink. Oh, wait! That’s me! But I’ll bet it applies to a lot of others, too. If that is you, then you definitely need to outsource your social media.

You Look up and You Have No Social Media

What happens, or so I’ve been told, is people forget that they need social media. They’re off developing a new widget or amazing software, or an entire company, and suddenly they realize it’s time to launch and they have no social media.

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What to Do?

At this point, most people panic. There’s some wringing of the hands and maybe a shot of tequila (or something else stronger), and then a sudden idea born of desperation and too much drinking appears. To avoid panic, take deep breaths! And here are some other ideas from Psychology Today: 22 Quick Tips to Change Your Anxiety Forever.

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The Desperate Plan

The desperate plan usually involves some hurried notes written on a napkin and a niece or nephew who have been on social media, but not really seeped in it. Kissmetrics has a nifty article on How to Successfully Outsource Social Media for Your Business. You may want to choose a smaller project first so you can get to know the consultant, for example.

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Don’t Do That

The person you choose needs to really be soaking in the stuff. And by soaking in it, I mean they need to have used it for business purposes for a while. And maybe you need someone who can do other things as well, such as blogging.

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Save Yourself Some Money

You don’t buy your best outfit at the Dollar Store, do you? (No offense to the Dollar Store.) If you want someone who’ll be the face of your company or brand, you want someone who can easily adopt your voice. That would be a professional social media manager or blogger.

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Outsource for Savings

Rather than hiring someone to work in-house, why not outsource your social media? Here are a few articles that might help you:

If you’ve been looking for a while, send me an email or contact me on Twitter! Or leave me a message here. That works, too! And thank you.

Headline Writing: 10 Reasons it’s a Pain in the Asterisk*

Headline Writing: 10 Reasons it's a Pain in the Asterisk

Headline Writing: 10 Reasons it’s a Pain in the Asterisk

You have a perfect topic for your next blog post. You go out and take a million beautiful photos, all photoshopped and sized just right for Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest cross-posting. Then you suddenly realize: you don’t have a headline! Has this ever happened to you? Here’s why headline writing is so tough!

Everybody Says to Spend More Time on Headlines

Your headline is the first thing people see. In fact, some people will retweet or report that snazzy article of yours without even reading it. Not convinced by me? Read these articles, then (Copyblogger says to spend 50% of your time writing the headline):

So there’s a lot of pressure to come up with something grand.

A Good Headline Can Help Your Post Go Viral

A Good Headline Can Help Your Post Go Viral

A Good Headline Can Create a Viral Post

If you haven’t read my When Posts Go Viral: Four Lessons, you might want to take a look. A controversial headline (for instance, Is it Time to Quit Facebook?) can spark people’s emotions and cause a small or large furor. Again, no pressure (just kidding!).

Headline Writing: Your Words Need to Be Perfect

Headline Writing: Your Words Need to Be Perfect

Your Words Need to Be Perfect

Like a good tweet, a good headline needs to have all the right elements. It can’t be too short or too long. The important words need to be near the beginning of the headline. And you need to include “power words,” like “secret” and “magic.” And so on. Is that not a pain in the asterisk?

Because Traffic Blah Blah Blah

Because Traffic Blah Blah Blah

Because Traffic Blah Blah Blah

Every blogger wants traffic, right? When that post you wrote explodes all over the Interwebs, your blog gets a boost, you get more followers, and that 15 minutes of fame will follow you from platform to platform. So that’s another reason you have to get it right.

You Can’t Outsource It

Everybody has outsourced everything. I’m surprised we don’t remove our own hair and ship it to the Philippines (no disrespect to anyone in the Philippines–it’s just something I’d prefer to do myself). But if you want your post to be in your own words, then you have to do the work yourself.

Pain Points: Sisyphus, via Beth Scupham

Pain Points: Sisyphus, via Beth Scupham

Pain Points

Your audience experiences pain, just as you experience pain when you try to write a headline. So you want that headline to draw your reader in. The headline has to be magnetic enough so people will want to read it. It might be fun to write, but if it’s not fun to read? Fuhgetaboutit!

I'm Trying to Think But Nothing Happens!

I’m Trying to Think But Nothing Happens!

You Thought You Were Done

You outlined that article, got your topic sentences down, have all kinds of good images, and now you have to come up with a headline? Are you kidding?

The World is A Noisy Place

The world is getting noisier, and more crowded. The Internet has more people competing for the same space. So your headline has to be the juicy, juicy hamburger, and not the bun! It has to stand out.

Headline Writing: Your Headline is the Juicy Meat, Not the Bun

Headline Writing: Your Headline is the Juicy Meat, Not the Bun

When You Try to Think, Nothing Happens

You can only come up with one-word headlines, or headlines that don’t make sense. If you think they’re boring, what will your readers think?

Always keep one eye open. You never know who's lurking.

Always keep one eye open. You never know who’s lurking.

You Come Up with a Perfect Headline and Someone Steals it

It’s not a very good feeling, is it? But if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then is stealing even more flattering? I don’t think so.

*And you know what that asterisk really stands for, right?




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