Archives For work

How to have a day off

January 20, 2014 — 7 Comments

Rest AreaI know it’s a little bit crazy to write a post called “How to have a day off.” I mean, how much direction does a person need to not work? Well, as it turns out, it is apparently harder than previously thought. My guess is that if you are like most people, you might have a hard time remembering the last time you had a day completely free of work. A day with no phone calls, no emails, no meetings, no “getting ahead”, no taking things home that you couldn’t finish at the office, literally no work. So let’s talk about how to not work. Here are a few steps you’ll need to take to make sure this becomes a reality for you.

1. Schedule it. Literally put it on your calendar. Block it out as a scheduled event. This is so important. If you have a meeting on Thursday, certain things happen. You prepare for that meeting. You do whatever you need to do to get ready for that meeting. If someone else wants a meeting with you during that time, you decline or reschedule because you already have a meeting. See how that works? So if you schedule a day off and put it on your calendar, then you aren’t available to anyone else when they want to book a meeting with you. You don’t need to tell anyone that you’re meeting with your couch. But put it on the calendar.

2. Prepare for it. So we touched on this in #1, but this is really important. If you want to really be off and keep that day off, then you’ll need to work your tail off all week. Yeah, that’s weird but it’s true. You have to work hard to have a day off. No more putting things off to that day so you can catch up. Work hard, go in early, stay a little late – whatever it takes to make sure that none of it spills over into your day off. But remember this – you’ll never finish everything on your list. There will ALWAYS be more that could be done. But having a day off means you say to yourself “I’m done even if I’m not.” 

 And guess what? If your day off is Saturday or Sunday (for example), then the most important day to prepare for that day off might be Monday. Get it done now and that day off will be easier to keep.

3. Unplug. This is maybe the hardest thing of all because our whole world revolves around our ability to be connected 24/7 no matter where we happen to be. But here’s the deal: If you look at your email on your day off, just to check that everything is ok real quick (see how we justify that?), then guess what? You’re not having a day off. Because you and I both know that the quick check of email turns into a quick response, which turns into 7 more emails, a phone call and a new crisis to deal with before the day is over. So this is so important – UNPLUG. Turn the phone off. Yeah I know, that sounds extreme. But turn it off. It’s the only way. The good news is that despite what we believe, the phone is not actually providing life support for us, so you will be able to breathe and eat and laugh and enjoy your day without it. You don’t need an app for that.

4. Repeat. Now go back to #1 and do it again.

 

Let me know how it goes!

photo by: Seabamirum
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Pace

September 26, 2012 — 4 Comments

shoesI’m slowly returning to the habit of running in the mornings. I’m hesitant to say I’m there, as it’s only week 2 of my renewed habit. But so far so good. When I start running, my first few steps feel great. And in my head I’m ready to run for miles. But what I’ve noticed is that my ability to run longer distances depends greatly on the pace at which I’m running.  If I start out too fast, I run out of gas when I reach the hill that is on my regular route. And that’s frustrating, because I want to run for distance, I want to reach my goal. It’s funny how God uses regular stuff in my life to teach me bigger lessons. Because the fact is that there have been stretches here lately in my life where I’ve been running at a pace that wasn’t sustainable.

Continue Reading…

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I’m always on the lookout for things that will help me be more productive. If there’s a new way to do something better and more efficiently, I usually want to know where I can get my hands on it. So here’s a few things that have helped me lately:

  1. Evernote – If you aren’t using this tool yet, why not? Evernote is a web based software with desktop / iphone / ipad versions that keeps all of your thoughts, ideas, and things to remember organized. You can write notes, capture things with pictures, load documents, forward yourself emails, and lots more. Everything is organized, searchable, tag-able, and easy to access from every platform.
  2. Whiteboards – Ok, so this isn’t very high tech, but for me it’s one of my favorite things about my new office. I have lots of whiteboards covering most of my walls. I’m a person that needs to see things big. I like to be able to put up my thoughts, organize, see the big picture all at once. AND, it doesn’t have to be expensive. Home Depot sells whiteboard type material (I think it’s used for bathrooms somewhere) that you can buy for about $13 for a 4′ x 8′ section. I bought two and had them cut one in half. So I now have two 4′ x 4′ squares, and one full 4′ x 8′ whiteboard hanging on my walls. I hung them with Command wall hanging strips – so when it is time to move, there are no nails, screws, or any other marks that will be left on the walls. So whatever works for you, find a way to make it happen. For me there was a need to see things large. I found a cheap way to do it and it has changed everything for me.
  3. 30/30 app – Ok, so my newest and most favorite thing is this app. It is available for iphone and ipad. I use it primarily on ipad in my office. It is a totally customizable timer app that will run in the background even if you switch to other apps (which I am doing frequently). At the beginning of my day I start with my to-do list. With the app, I create timed events for each project I want to work on. I have found that I can work for 45 minutes to an hour on one single project before I need a change of pace. So I set up my projects, press play, and get to work. An alarm sounds when time is up and it’s time to move on to the next thing on my list. I don’t know what it is, but setting a timer on myself has REVOLUTIONIZED my work. I get way more done. I make decisions on things quicker. I don’t get bogged down on one thing, and it eliminates distractions for me. I know that I have 30 minutes scheduled later on for email, so I can turn it off right now and get to work on whatever is pressing.

One bonus thought:

I recently got an office outside of my home. I had no idea how distracted I was at home until I got here and was able to completely control my space and time. I estimate that I get 2-3 times more done now that I am outside of my home. AND while my kids miss me during the day, I think I am way more present with them when I get home. The line between working and being dad was always pretty fuzzy when they would see me throughout the day. In the evenings I found it easy to slip back into the office and answer another round of emails. Now, there’s a clear definitive line between work and home and my work and family life have benefited a ton.

Does any of this help you? What are you doing that makes your life work better? What is keeping you from getting more out of your day?

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