Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Network … network… network – this essential relationship building practice is essential to not only build your reputation and profile but also to assist you understand industries, hear of opportunities and get word out about your expertise. This life skill will help you learn more about others, more about yourself and this is how the really great jobs get offered. Develop your network before you need it.
Seek mentors – seek out people you can learn from, find someone you admire and determine if you can be their mentee. This will really accelerate your professional career and your personal development. Learn from their wisdom and experience.
Be an exceptional presenter – get great at this skill! Any chance you get to jump on your feet and present will build your confidence; show others your skills and open doors of opportunity for you. This skill is highly valued in the business world; this will quickly put you in a leadership position.
Create a plan – build your own business plan or marketing plan (remember you are the product), and stick to your plan. Write down your goals and place them somewhere you can see them everyday.
Be authentic – be yourself 100% of the time. People want to get to know you, they value honesty and integrity – be true to yourself.
Develop time management and organizational skills – regardless of where you work these two areas are valued by all employers. Identify areas you may wish to develop and seek help building your expertise in these areas.
Learn project management skills – this includes communication, planning and budgeting. Develop this skill early in your career and watch your promotions!
Be a veracious reader – consume books on multiple topics. Enjoy them, bury yourself in them and stay up to date on current thinking. Consult the New York Times best seller list if you want inspiration.
Be a phenomenal marketer – market yourself, your programs, your company, and your skills. Be your own publicist.
Get involved – volunteer, get involved in the colleague, alumni, community, serving in your local area. Whatever you are passionate about, find a way to get involved. Volunteer whenever you can as you make great connections, learn new skills and you even identify potential mentors or job opportunities this way.
Good luck! Applying these simple but effective strategies will take you time, but investing in them all will make you a valuable asset to any organization.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
My business takes me across the US and beyond most weeks and a regular part of every week is getting through the airport security line. Here are a few tips to help you make your time waiting more productive:
Print boarding passes out at home - avoid the long lines at the airport check in by printing out the boarding pass up to 24 hours before your flight. You can check your seat, change it if necessary and then print it out at home.
Get ID quickly - before I get out of my car or taxi I find my photo ID and my boarding pass and have them in my hands for the security agent the moment I meet them.
Get organized in your car or taxi - before I leave my car, rental car shuttle or taxi I pull out of my bag my laptop and toiletries bag. This way I don't have to open the bag again in the security line and I am ready and waiting to be processed.
Choose wisely - find an outfit you can wear every time you travel with minimum zips, buttons or catches that will allow you to move smoothly through the line without feeling like you are as you pass through the security sensor.
Wear socks or pantyhose - don't allow your feet to touch the floor of the airport and think about wearing some protection on your feet when you have to remove your shoes.
Choose your shoes well - find slip on type shoes that will allow you to quickly remove them before the security sensor and place them on when they have been x-rayed. Don't waste time feeling awkward trying to do up laces, zippers on boots or straps on sandals.
Minimize jewellery - find jewellery that won't set off the sensors, wear the same items each time you travel so it is one less thing you need to remove in the security line.
Ziploc only - make sure every possible gel, liquid and cream is in this bag. Save yourself time by complying with this rule to avoid bag checks and more wasted time waiting in lines.
Smile - understand these people are trying to do their jobs to keep us all safe, make their lives easier and your trip more pleasant by smiling at them and greeting them whenever you can.
Take reading material - some lines are very long at certain times in the day and times through the year. Be prepared to wait and take a book or magazine to help you pass the time. This is a great opportunity on catching up on all those journals you have been 'meaning to read'.
Apply these simple guidelines today and your next trip through security at the airport will be more productive.
Monday, November 19, 2007
Harmony Clean http://www.harmonyclean.com/ is about healthy home cleaning, naturally. They provide a complete, customized maid service (as regularly as needed) with caring, trained staff that are bonded and insured. Recently I interviewed Vicki Brown, one of the founders of this unique company and asked her how we could get our homes ready for the holidays. Here are several strategies we decided would help get your home ready this holiday season.
Make a holiday ‘to do’ list – include on your list the activities you want to complete at home, the activities you want to outsource and your shopping ‘to do’ list.
Book a special one time clean – if you know you have company coming, a party or a gathering of people; consider hiring the experts to clean your home from top to bottom. This will also make it easier for you to maintain during the holiday period.
Pay attention to bathrooms – these areas of your home will get significant traffic during this busy time, keep these areas clean by placing cleaning products in each room so that you can quickly wipe the counter tops, clean the shower doors and wipe down other areas. I like Shaklee products (recently endorsed on the Oprah show) that are environmentally and people friendly - http://www.shaklee.net/formhealthyhabits/
Change bed linens – it is great at night to snuggle up into flannel sheet sets. Allocate time to change over all the linens in each room. Do it all on the same day as it makes it easier to remember when they all need to be changed again.
Attend to your guest room – allocate 60 minutes to clean, tidy, dust and clean out closet space in your guest room. This is a great time of year for unexpected visitors so make sure your guest room is ready for anyone that might drop in for a visit or stay over after a meal.
Dust your baseboards – this is a great time of year to pay attention to all the areas in your home you don’t normally clean. Vacuum these areas or wipe them free of all dust, this will also help your heating system function better.
Clean lights and chandeliers – some our lights might be covered in dust and cobwebs so ask the cleaning service to spend time on these fixtures. It is worth allocating someone else to do this time consuming task.
Wipe down kitchen cabinetry – ask your cleaning service to attend to this area. If you are cleaning your own home, spend time wiping down each cabinet and pay attention to the base boards.
Allocate time to decorate – make an appointment with yourself (and recruit your family to help if you can) to sort and hang your holiday decorations. This can be a fun way to spend time with those you care about. If you don’t have any family living close by, recruit a few friends to help you, put on a few drinks and turn it into a holiday catch up.
Make an appointment with yourself to shop online – instead of spending time in stores, determine how many gifts and items you can buy online (from the comfort of your own home). You might also end up spending less money as you won’t be distracted by the other items in store.
Outsource your linens – take your table cloths, matching serviettes and any other linens you might need for your holidays, to your local dry cleaner and ask them to press them, this will save you time. You may even consider giving them to a local ironing service instead.
Polish your silver – if you have special dishes, utensils or items that you don’t use year round but want to use during the holidays, make time to sit down and polish or clean these items. You could also make this a fun activity and ask your family or friends to help you while you talk about fun memories of years past.
Research your recipe books – pull out all the relevant recipe books that you want to use and mark the recipes you will be making. Sit down in one place, in one sitting and make a list of every ingredient you are going to need for your special meal. This will prevent multiple trips to the store (or multiple orders online).
Purchase fresh flowers – these add a special touch to your home during this busy time; they create beauty and will be appreciated by those around you. You can have special holiday arrangements delivered by many companies, I like http://www.1800flowers.com/
Find your serving platters – search your pantry, your cupboards and your basement for all those large platters you like to use during the holidays. It may take time to find them, clean them and then decide which food will be displayed on which platter. I always place them all on the counter top the day of the event so I know which platters are going to be used.
Use party hire – a senior executive I spoke to recently says she simply phones the party hire store and tells them how many people she has coming for a meal and they deliver the cutlery, crockery, linens, candles and extra seats and tables she requires. She rinses off the crockery and they come and pick it all up – no cleaning, no fuss. Can you reach out to your local party hire store and see if they provide this service?
Get your groceries delivered – order your groceries online from your favourite supermarket and have them delivered to your home. For a small tip to the delivery person, you will save so much time and it also means you won’t have to carry them indoors during the cold weather.
Order your main ingredients – if you like to have a ham or turkey on the holiday table, now is the time to place your order for those items and any special order pies you might want. Search out your local farmers market or local produce store.
Use caterers – if you don’t enjoy cooking or you don’t have time, consider hiring someone to help you with the food preparation. Many stores have great pre-cooked meals now and many of them will do special catering, just ask your favourite food store.
Get help – during this busy season there are many services that can help you feel less stressed and give you more time. Consider online shopping services, personal chefs, and dry cleaners, cleaning services, flower delivery and local school children. You might be able to recruit local neighbourhood school children to help you with the many chores you need to get done. I offer to pay my neighbours to help me achieve my ‘to do’ list.
The holiday season is for enjoying with friends and family, it is not meant to be a stressful, busy time. This year decide you are going to stop trying to do it all and get help where ever you can.
Neen James is an International Productivity Expert: by looking at how they spend their time and energy – and where they focus their attention – Neen helps people to rocket-charge their productivity and performance. A dynamic speaker, author and corporate trainer, Neen demonstrates how boosting your productivity can help you achieve amazing things. With her unique voice (Aussie accent), sense of fun and uncommon common-sense, Neen delivers a powerful lesson in productivity. Find out more and subscribe to Neen’s free monthly ezine at http://neenjames.com/
Vicki Brown is one of the founders of Harmony Clean. Harmony Clean is committed to healthy home cleaning, naturally. Their full customised, complete maid service is available weekly, biweekly or monthly. They use top quality HEPA and multi-filtration vacuums and they are fully bonded and insured. Harmony Clean’s team are caring and well trained and they guarantee satisfaction 100% of the time. Find out more and book your next special clean at http://www.harmonyclean.com/
Monday, November 12, 2007
This time of year for all my American friends and clients seems to increase their stress levels and cause an amazing sense of overwhelm. I challenge you this holiday season to stop. Stop being so crazy, stop being so busy, stop trying to control everything and stop trying to make everything perfect. Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on what we are thankful for (not to resent everything we had to do to get to the Thanksgiving table).
This holiday choose to 'delete' instead of 'do'. What can you delete or delegate from your Thanksgiving 'to do' list? Can I make a few recommendations:
1. Get your lines dry cleaned... even better, have the dry cleaner pick them up and deliver them.
2. Pay a professional to clean your home for this event.
3. Buy your groceries online and have them delivered.
4. Create a simple menu that doesn't require significant time in the kitchen so you can enjoy your guests.
5. Ask your guests to help with the preparations i.e. bring a dish to share, set the table, bring flowers, make desserts.
6. Hire help for the day, ask a student or someone you know would benefit from some extra cash and hire their services for a few hours.
7. Create a 'buffet' instead of a sit down meal, take the pressure off and allow everyone to serve themselves.
8. Cook and prepare ingredients in advance so you have less pressure on the day.
9. On the day, get up a little earlier and meditate for 10 minutes. During this time take a moment to reflect on what you are thankful for.
10. Enjoy - being productive is not about doing more, it is about doing less.
Find the things that energize you the most i.e. spending time with those you care about, and do more of that!
One of the secrets of Super-Productivity is to do less, not more and have fun!
Thursday, October 25, 2007
If you want to be more productive today it is simple, identify one activity you can delete! Take small steps to becoming more productive, today choose one activity you won't do on your list, delete it and then feel less burdened with so many things to do.
The most productive people I know don't do more, they do less. They choose to focus on the things that are most important and valuable to them in helping them achieve their goals.
Check out more articles on http://www.neenjames.com/
Friday, August 17, 2007
Choose the network. Decide what you’re looking for from a networking group and ask around. Find out what groups are available and ask for recommendations and opinions from people you respect.
Contact the network. Phone the organiser of the group or event and ask questions such as these to help you decide whether this is a good place to invest your time.
§ What types of people attend this event?
§ What industries are represented at this event?
§ How long has it been established?
§ What three words best describe this group?
§ Is there an opportunity to promote my business?
§ Does this network have membership?
§ If so, how does it work? What does it cost?
Commit to the events. When you do find a network you enjoy, schedule the time to attend and become one of the regulars. This is a great way to establish connections with people as well as to let others get to know you.
Get involved. Volunteer to help – serving on a committee or helping with an event is a great way to get to know people: help on registration, collect business cards, offer to be the MC or help to arrange an event.
Always carry your business card. That means both in and out of business hours – even at social and sporting events; you never know when someone may need your services. Ladies, it is a good idea to keep a supply of business cards in all of your handbags while gentlemen, you may like to keep a supply in all your coat jackets.
Never hand out cards with incorrect or crossed out information. It is not professional. Information crossed out may give the appearance that you are disorganized or don’t have attention to detail. Business cards are not expensive to print and you should ensure each one you hand out is an ideal representation of you and your business.
Keep a good supply of cards. Don’t allow yourself to be in a position where you can’t give someone your card. Be aware of your stock and reorder before you get too low.
Ask for a business card. When you have met someone and had conversation ask, “May I have your card?” Always ask for their card first. Once you have received it then ask, “May I give you my card?” Don’t always assume that they will want your card. It is more polite to give it to them after they have said yes.
Ask permission. If you want to write details on someone’s card (while you are still with them) always ask, “Do you mind if I make a note on the back of you card?” Some people invest substantial money in their cards and asking this question demonstrates your respect.
Write notes to yourself. When you have finished a conversation with someone, take a moment to write something about him or her on the back of his or her card. This will help jog your memory when you contact them after the event.
After each networking event I gather all the cards I have collected and put a rubber band around them together with note to remind myself of which event I met these people at. I place the pile of cards on my laptop keyboard so I that I action them the next day. Some people invest in contact management systems, and many of them are good, however you can still establish an effective contact system using basic tools such as a business card holder and Microsoft Outlook or Lotus Notes.
Schedule follow up time. Whenever I book a networking event into my schedule I always book another 30-minute appointment with myself for the day after the event to follow up with the organisers and the people I meet.
Send handwritten cards. I handwrite thank you cards for those people I made a real connection with. I thank them for the time we spent, for the information they gave me or acknowledge some other connection that we made. Receiving a hand written card in the mail is so unusual and personal that it delivers with it a powerful impression, far stronger than a quick email might.
Book a 20-minute coffee. If you have connected with someone at an event and you want to know more about them and their business, make an appointment with them for a 20-minute coffee. Twenty minutes is an easy appointment for most people to fit into their schedule. It indicates that you value their time and shows that you are genuine about wanting to find out more about them. When you contact them you might say, “I’d like to invite you for a 20-minute coffee so I can find out more about what you do, what day is most suitable for you?” Make sure you honour the 20-minutes. At the 20-minute mark I always stop the meeting and say, “I promised it would only take 20-minutes so thank you for your time”. At this point the person you are with is able to choose whether they want to end the meeting or continue.
Send a thank you to the event organiser. Take the time to thank the organisers of the event, let them know why you found it valuable and include your business card in the envelope. There is a lot of time and energy that goes into organising events and people appreciate you taking the time to acknowledge that.
Thursday, July 05, 2007
1. Create a reading file - carry it with you everywhere and read it when you are waiting in lines or for appointments.
2. Tear out articles from journals you want to read and then discard the journal.
3. Tear out newspaper articles and keep them in your reading file for future reference.
4. Buy books at airports and read it on the plane.
5. Throw away any journals or articles that have been sitting in your reading pile for more than 12 months, if you haven't read them now, you won't!
6. Unsubscribe from ezines that don't add value to you and your business.
7. Cancel journal subscriptions you never read.
8. Give your journals to other team members who might enjoy them if you are not reading them.
9. Cancel newspaper deliveries if you don't read them.
10. Set aside 15 minutes once a week to scan your reading file and discard anything you won't read and enjoy the rest!
Reading is a great way to boost your skills, get educated on a new subject and understand current trends, it should be built into your weekly routine to help you be more productive in this area. Enjoy!
For some people I meet they are not naturally outgoing or friendly and yet their role requires them to be constantly managing and leading people. Here are a few strategies you can apply to help boost your communication skills and make others feel so pleased they have met you.
Smile – this obvious gesture can not be underestimated. Not only does this exercise your face but it will make those around you feel more comfortable.
Be positive – choose to be in a good mood (even if you are not). Your role is to choose a good frame of mind and that will reflect on those around you.
Make others welcome – use language and phrases that make people pleased they decided to spend time with you. I like sentences like “I am so glad you are here”, “I am so pleased you made it”, “thank you for coming”, “it is great to see you”. All of these words should become part of your daily language.
Eye contact – look people in the eye when you meet them. People appreciate your complete attention and focus, stop what you are doing and make an eye to eye connection with the person in front of you.
Make them important – ensure the person you are talking to feels like they are the most important person you have spoken to all day. You can achieve this by standing still, looking them in the eye, smiling and listening to them.
Listen intently – focus on the words of the person in front of you, stop yourself from being distracted and try and understand not only their words, but the meaning and tone of the words they use.
Nod frequently – show someone you are listening by frequently nodding and acknowledging you are involved in the conversation.
Stand straight – face the person you are meeting straight on. Show them you are interested by giving them you undivided attention.
Be the hostess – when you see one person standing alone, go and introduce yourself and help introduce them to others. People like to be included.
Ask questions – the best conversationalists I know constantly ask questions. Create a list of questions you can use when you meet someone. I like these questions:
What do you do?
Where do you work?
How long does it take you to get from home to work?
What do you like to do in your spare time?
Take a genuine interest in people when you ask them questions and listen to their responses.
Watch others – if there are people you meet that are great communicators, watch them and learn from them. Follow them around a room and watch how they treat others and try those behaviours too.
Be authentic – turn up as yourself 100% of the time be you and others will appreciate it. If you don’t like you, then work on making the changes that you are happy with.
Stop – don’t rush from one person to the next. Stop and have a quality connection with a few people, you will enjoy communicating with people more this way.
Dress well – people make assumptions about you in 7 seconds. In that time they assess your age, income, marital status, education and interests… in 7 seconds! Make that first impression even more powerful by paying close attention to your personal appearance. Don’t forget your hair style, jewellery choices, and fabric of your clothing, shoes and skin maintenance. If you look good you feel good – very simple!
Thank someone each day – I make a point of telling someone how much I appreciate them every day. I use hand written thank you notes, email, phone calls, flowers and brownies. Decide to do this daily and you will build stronger relationships and you will feel better too.
Gratitude daily – each morning before you get out of bed remind yourself of what you are grateful for. This will set up your day in the right frame of mind and will help you in your communications all day.
Ask for help – if you know your communication skills aren’t where you want them to be, ask for others help, feedback and suggestions for enhancement. People want to help you and feel honoured you asked.
One thing – choose one thing to work on and do it constantly. By adding a new item each month you will have transformed your communication skills within a year.
Investing in yourself and building your communication skills and making yourself more approachable has many personal and business implications. Start today.
Monday, July 02, 2007
You have seen them, they all look alike, the regular ‘road warrior’ with their determined expression, wrinkle proof suit and pulling a beaten up carry on bag…whether you travel a little or a lot with your company there are many ways you can boost your personal productivity when you travel. These before, during and after strategies will help you maximise your time, limit your stress and overall increase your travel productivity.
Before You Travel
Buy the tools – you wouldn’t build a house without the right tools, travel is no different. To be a productive traveler you want to ensure you have a variety of tools to assist the comfort and productivity of your trip. Tools to consider purchasing are quality luggage, Ipod, noise cancelling earphones, soft briefcase and GPS system.
20-22 inch Carry On expandable luggage – I like Briggs and Riley, it is durable, light weight, expandable, self healing and well made. Check out http://www.briggsandriley.com/. These are allowed in the US and other countries as carry on baggage. When you are buying luggage look for features such as pull along, strong wheels, stability foot on the bottom (in case it gets too heavy), external zippers (to hold travel documentation and the Ziploc toiletry bag) and also make sure the pop up handle is a ‘one pull’ action.
IPOD or MP3 – this is not a luxury, this is a requirement for any travel. I have a created a selection of play lists, including one with very relaxing music so that when it is time to sleep I can turn to this group and fall asleep.
Noise cancelling earphones – these are a little bit of a luxury, but I wouldn’t travel anywhere without them. My husband previously flew many long international flights and he turned me onto this great invention. I prefer the Sony small ear bud type and take them where ever I go http://www.sony.com/
Briefcase – I like a soft tote briefcase that allows me to include personal and work related items. My favourite is from Coakley Business Class (sorry guys these are just for women) and they are the best travel briefcase I have ever found (and you can use it everyday!) http://www.coakleybusinessclass.com/. For the gentleman, try the soft Samsonite one, it has great suspension in the shoulder strap. When looking for a brief case also make sure it has the feature to be able to slide it over your carry on luggage (many have a soft strap or a zippered section to allow you to do this).
GPS (Global Positioning System) – this was the best gift I ever got! They are now getting smaller and smaller and are perfect to plug into your rental car when you arrive in another city. Also when we were in Italy last year we downloaded the European maps and it was great fun to get around tiny little towns. I have named mine ‘Bella’ – she keeps me company when I am driving late at night or in a city where I don’t know my way.
Consider clothing – When you are regularly on the road I suggest a few strategies to help make your life easier for both packing and arriving looking together.
Travel Outfit – Create your own travel outfit, yes it can be the same every time. Mine is a pair of black pants, black top (I have a short sleeve one for summer and a long sleeve one for cooler months), pantyhose and a pair of black patent leather flat slip on shoes. I wear the same silver jewellery with it all and I know when I arrive at the security line I don’t have to remove anything (except my shoes) – that is why pantyhose (or socks) are good when you have to take off your shoes. The fabric of this outfit doesn’t crease and is comfortable (which makes a huge different on those long flights).
Airport shoes – think about the quality and make of the shoes you wear to the airport. I suggest slip ons of some description so you are not awkwardly trying to tie up laces or straps. Also ensure they are comfortable and well made as you often have to walk long distances between gates or to the parking area.
Carry a pashmina – for the ladies, I recommend you invest in a dark coloured pashmina that has many uses. On the plane it is a great blanket (and so many airlines in the US don’t supply pillows and blankets). When I rent a car it becomes a booster seat for me (he he). When I have to sit on an airport floor (yes I have done that living here in the US) it is great to place on the floor … oh and yes I can wear it if I need to keep warm.
Jewellery – wearing the same silver jewellery when I travel I know I can wear it the next day and I can walk through the screening area without having to remove it. It simplifies the process and speeds up the line.
Belts – if possible, don’t wear an outfit that requires a belt as it is only one more item of clothing you have to remove at the airport line.
Productive Packing – there are many opinions on what to pack and I find the most productive way for me is having a series of pre-packed bags. This includes luggage, carry on plane survival kit, brief case, make up and toiletry bags.
Pre-packed luggage contents includes:
v Ziploc toiletry bag
v First aid items (band aids, safety pins and head ache tablets)
v Make up bag
v Gym gear
v Clothes brush (I have a long haired cat and her fur seems to make its way across the world with me)
v Book of interest
v Cell Phone charger
v Laptop power pack
v Stamped stationery (note cards and envelopes)
Carry on plane survival kit contents include:
v Noise cancelling earphones
v Spare battery for noise cancelling earphones
v Lip balm
v Eye mask (for those long flights)
v Eye drops
v Travel size toothbrush and toothpaste
v Breath mints
Make up kit – ladies if you travel alot I suggest you buy a full set of make up and make up brushes and tools and keep them in a separate make up bag so you never have to go looking for something and you never forget something on your trips.
Ziploc Toiletry Bag contents include travel sized:
v Decanted shower gel
v Skin care
v Hair care products
v Travel sized perfume or aftershave (most brands now supply a smaller size compliant with airline safety standards)
v Spare contact lenses
Many department stores and pharmacies carry a range of travel sized products. I was fascinated when I was in Sephoria in Times Square recently that the merchandising near the payment counter had changed significantly and provided 50+ choices of regular band products in travel sized convenient containers.
Plastic helps – My friend Camille was an airline goddess for many years and gave me this great tip, using the plastic you receive from your dry cleaners around your clothes helps avoid creases.
Duplicate copies – to be more productive (and for a few extra dollars) consider investing in duplicates of everything you travel with. If you are a regular traveler, having a pre-packed bag will allow you to leave with minimum notice and save time and stress before any trip. On your list of items to buy you could include:
v Toiletries available in travel size
v Brushes – make up brushes, hair brushes or combs
v Cell phone charger
v Laptop power pack
v Make up
v Stamps and stationery
v Spare items i.e. pantyhose, clothing brush.
Choose your seat – I like to sit in an aisle seat so I can get in and out and I don’t feel cramped by others. For longer flights (especially the red eye), my friend Shawn books the window seat so you can lean against the window to sleep, choose your seat wisely. If you have an option of an exit row choose this seat as it gives you more leg room. You may like to check out http://www.seatguru.com/ – it is a great website to see exactly what your seat will be on most major airlines.
Pre-print your boarding pass – whenever possible go online 24 hours before you fly and select your seat and print your boarding pass. This will save you time in the long lines at the airport check in and also help you find the seat you want.
Join airline clubs – if you fly frequently to same cities join the airline programs of those major airlines so you can also gather frequent flyer miles for all your travels. You may be able to use them for a fun trip with those you care for later on.
Join airline lounges – if you fly with the same carrier regularly to invest in a membership for that lounge so you have a quiet place to snack, get changed or to catch up on reading. I noticed in Australia this was a great use of money and well worth it however in the US the gates and lounges are so spread out and there are so many options to travel with different airlines this hasn’t been a worthwhile investment for me here, however if you fly the same airline every time it might be worth it for you.
Create a one page itinerary – create a one page template that includes your confirmation codes of all flight details, hotel and rental car information. Include on this template all your frequent flyer clubs and associations also so that if you arrive and they haven’t included this in your booking you can quickly get credit for your travel.
During Your Travel
Allow extra 30 minutes – add at least 30 minutes onto any amount of time you think it will take you to get to the airport or park. This additional time will save you stress if you are stuck in traffic, can’t find a car space or the security line is longer than you expected. If you have pre-packed a book or magazine you can use that 30 minutes to read or to connect with a friend or client.
Know the Parking Garage – if you regularly travel on the same airline, know the shuttle system or design of the car park so you can get in and out quickly.
Take your ticket – when you receive a parking receipt/ticket on your arrival place it in the same compartment of your bag or briefcase so you know where to find it upon your return.
Write the parking space on your ticket – in the US the parking garages are so big that I always write the colour and space on my parking receipt so that when I arrive back after a few days away (often late at night), I can quickly find my car and not waste time wandering around the parking garage.
Ground transport notice – when you enter an airport, notice where the taxis, rental car shuttles or parking garages are. This will save you time when you return and allow you to quickly make your way to the next place.
Regular rental – Use the same rental company each time you travel will also boost your productivity because you will expect a certain standard each time you fly. You might also consider joining their frequent customer program too. I like using Enterprise because they are affordable and also each time you arrive they look so happy to see you and they pay attention to small details including water bottles in the car and also pre-printed local lists of radio stations and areas of interest.
Play music – by creating different play lists on your IPOD you will enjoy your travel more if you can listen to music and block out the noise around you. This is effective in the airport lounge, at the gate and on the plane. You might also like to include a CD in your packing checklist for the rental car.
Getting through security – there are several tips to help you get through the line faster:
Wear an outfit that doesn’t require any removal of items or have any metal.
Place your cell phone and keys into your briefcase or purse before entering the security line.
Keep your Ziploc bag of toiletries in an outside zippered compartment for quick access.
Get your laptop out of your briefcase before you reach your place in line.
Place your laptop, shoes and toiletries in one container on the security screen belt.
Keep your boarding pass and photo identification in your hands.
Check in or carry on – I always carry on luggage (up to a five day business trip), I have learnt to pack well and have invested in a minimum number of outfits. I think there is so much time wasted waiting for luggage (not to mention the concern it may not arrive with you!) wherever possible try and carry on luggage for your business travel.
Laptop … or not – if your trip doesn’t require you to take your laptop, leave it at home. It is one less thing to juggle through security and some laptops add significant weight to your briefcase. Leave it behind if you can. If you have to take it with you consider buying a smaller, light weight model one that is easy to use and you can balance in small places. You do pay more for smaller, lighter models but it is money well spent.
Keep a reading file – as you collect articles, newspapers or journals you want to read, take them with you when you travel. Each week I receive the Philadelphia Business Journal and I take it with me on the plane to read and enjoy. It is a paper that keeps my interest and small enough it doesn’t crowd the person beside me.
Buy bottled water – part of my routine as soon as I get through the security line is to head to the nearest store to buy 2 bottles of water. During the flight it is essential to drink water to keep you hydrated, two bottles allows me to drink before the plane arrives (has been helpful when there are large delays) and during the flight.
Eat healthy – many airlines don’t supply quality food on board so try to find healthy solutions within the airport to satisfy your hunger. You may also like to buy something to eat on board for longer flights so you are snacking on healthy items. I like to travel with a bag of almonds and pecans so that I always have a yummy (and healthy) snack available. AS you are flying from the same airport each week, become familiar with the food offerings inside the terminal so you can quickly find something you enjoy eating.
Hotel routine – no matter what time I arrive at a new hotel I have the same routine. I open my suitcase, remove my suit and hang it on a hanger. If it has gathered small creases in the travel I take it into the bathroom, hang it up and turn on the hot shower to create a ‘steam room effect’ and this removes any creases. Now for my Australian readers who are experiencing a drought right now that seems very wasteful so you may want to hang these clothes while you are showering the next day to avoid water waste. You might like to take this opportunity to iron your clothes instead. I then plug in my laptop, set up my cell phone charger, set my alarm and pull out the documents or reading for the next day. By having the same routine each time you will be productive and not forget important details (and you save time in the morning also).
Exercise – if you don’t have a gym in the hotel consider either taking a walk outside at the beginning of your day or exercising in your room. I often place a towel on the floor and then do a series of stretches, yoga, sit ups and push ups. You can establish a routine especially for travel that doesn’t require any equipment i.e. push ups, sit ups, squats and any yoga.
Call a client – you often have down time in the airport so it is a great time to reconnect with a client or colleague. I use this time to touch base with important people in my life and it becomes part of my business development time.
Be strategic – time in hotel rooms can be lonely or unproductive so I use this time to design new products, review my business plan, catch up on reading and design new models or programs for my business. Some of my best ideas have come while sitting in my hotel room – use this time for strategy and thought space instead of turning on the TV to keep your company.
Stay connected – when you arrive at your location notify someone important to you. I like to call my husband when I have arrived in my hotel so he knows I am safe and sound and I get to hear his voice. Calling your family or friend is a great way for you to keep connected on the road.
Write thank you notes – because I carry stamped stationery with me when I travel, I use the flight home to write notes to people I met during my trip. When I arrive my next destination I post them. It is a great way to reconnect with people after you have met them and is a productive use of flight time.
After Your Travel
Know the quickest route home – understand the quickest and least traffic congested way to get out of the airport so you can be home with those you care for in the smallest amount of time. Where I live there are 2 major ways home and if you take the wrong one at some particular times during the day it can add up to an hour to your ride home (not so much fun after a long flight) so know which ways are best at different times during the day.
Unpack quickly – if you arrive home early enough, unpack your bag, refill any necessary toiletry items and allocate clothes for washing or dry cleaning.
Refill and replace – update any items in your ‘pre-packed’ toiletries or luggage that need attention to save you time for future trips. Note any additional items you may have forgotten on this trip and place them in your luggage so you don’t forget them next time.
Debrief your trip – recall any items you missed, notice things that you enjoyed or frustrated you and make the changes that are within your control. Each time you travel you may learn something new that will help you save time or save you frustration for your next travel experience.
Thank your team – if you have an assistant, let them know what went well about the trip and any enhancements you would like to make for your next trip. Thank your travel agent for the trip planning and also let them know if something didn’t go well and discuss how to fix it for the next trip. Thank your client for the opportunity to work with them. If you experienced great service at some point in the trip take the time to email or write a thank you note to that organisation. The simple art of thanking people is often overlooked but is one of the most powerful things you can do to boost your productivity and make someone else’s day!
Gather your receipts – there is so much paperwork collected on trips including boarding passes, rental agreements, and food and hotel receipts. Keep this in a central place when you travel (I take a clear plastic folder for this very purpose each time I travel). When you arrive home quickly sort through the paper, action business cards and file any receipts or keep them aside for your clients. Process all your paper within 24 hours.
Action business cards – if you have met new people during your productive trip take the time to now action those cards. You might like to write a ‘nice to meet you’ note, scan them and add them to your database and write a note for any follow up action required. Following this process diligently each time you travel will avoid piles of business cards gathering on your desk (reminding you of action you haven’t taken!)
Be grateful – if you are travelling for business it means you have a successful job that is supporting you and your family. Stop hating it and start enjoying it. Giving thanks for the opportunity to see new places, meet new people and share your experience is a privilege.
Change your language around travel, enjoy it, embrace it and you will be more productive! Next time you see another road warrior smile at them and let them know you understand. You can be more productive every time you travel by applying these before, during and after you travel strategies… now where am I off to tomorrow?
Thursday, January 18, 2007
Here are a few quick tips to help you use email in a more productive way:
Use “Out of Office” facility – if you are unable to respond to emails or you will be out of your office for a long period of time, leave an “out of office” auto responder on your email system. This helps you manage other’s expectations and gives you more time to respond to people.
Don’t copy everyone on your email – only send the email to the relevant people who will action it. If you have multiple people on an email distribution, list their name within the text of the email and what is required of them and by when. People will appreciate your direct approach and this will clearly communicate why you sent the email to them.
Get off electronic lists – if you are subscribing to ezines you never read or on lists you don’t want to be on, unsubscribe and get off the lists so you can eliminate some of the messages in your inbox that you won’t read.
Think and write in bullet points – keep sentences short and to the point. Don’t use email to create long paragraphs or criticise people’s performance. Ask others who communicate with you to keep their emails short also.
Always use a greeting – take the time to greet your contact in email just like you do in person. Some people also like to use emotion icons eg. :) – These can help add tone to your message.
Learn the functionality of email – spend time finding out what facilities are available within your system to maximise your use of email.
Colour code your emails – use the functionality of colour coding incoming emails so at a glace you can see who in your inbox is important and who you need to respond to first.
Only check your email 2-3 times per day – so much time is wasted responding to emails throughout the day, focus your energy on checking and responding only 3 times a day, once when you start your day, after lunch then one hour before you leave your office. This will ensure you can handle important communication in a timely manner.
Delete once actioned – don’t let emails stay in your inbox, this is not your task list. Once actioned, delete them. If you need to take action from the email, book time to complete the task and then delete it.
Monday, January 15, 2007
Make a date. Make time in your schedule to find a quiet, comfortable location to set your goals. I spend a morning at my favourite cafe in January every year to review my goals and set new ones for the year ahead.
No more New Year’s Resolutions! Instead, focus on creating realistic goals for all areas of your life – I call these your top 5.
Take five. Create five categories for which to set goals: physical, educational, spiritual, financial, and relational. By setting goals for each of these areas of your life, you will be taking a balanced approach and not neglecting any important aspects of your life.
Write it. You must write your goals down – it makes them more powerful. Use positive language – words like “I will” and “I am” – this will help you to feel as though you have already achieved your goals and to change your behaviors accordingly, for example, “I am going to the gym three times per week”. Make sure you allocate a specific timeframe for the completion of each goal, for example, “By the beginning of March, I am going to the gym three times per week”. Now, identify a reward for achieving each goal – don’t just make a list of rewards, relate a specific reward to the achievement of a specific goal. This will inspire you even more toward the achievement of your goal. And finally, list the possible obstacles that will get in the way of you achieving each goal, and how you will overcome these. This will help you to pre-empt the things that might go wrong and immediately swing into action with your solution, rather than giving up on your goal.
Review constantly. I have been told that the difference between a millionaire and a billionaire is that a billionaire reads their goals twice a day. Simple really. I keep a copy of my goals in several locations around my house (on the bathroom mirror, on the printer, outside the shower screen, on the fridge, on my bedside table and in my wallet), which makes it easy for me to see my goals and be reminded of what I am working towards several times a day.
Use it or lose it! I recently read – people who spend a thousand dollars or more each year on their personal development will increase their business by 20 percent. Read more books, attend workshops, find a new networking group, listen to tapes or CDs in your car, do online courses or enrol at college or university. Keep your brain active.
Make time. Eliminate time-robbers from your day – make a list of all the things you do that rob you of your time, such as watching too much TV, running errands inefficiently, checking and responding to your email too often, making long phone calls, waiting in traffic and even other people. Focus on controlling your time – organising your day efficiently and getting rid of the things in your life that are not a high priority.
Create a paperless desk. Remove all paperwork from your desk: establish files for your projects; reference folders for information you need to access regularly; a reading file for articles, reports, journals and FYI documents; and a daily-file for administrative, miscellaneous and day-specific tasks, and keep these on shelves or in drawers.
Out of sight, out of mind. Remove your in-tray from your desk or get rid of it all together if you can! Keep it out of sight so the contents don’t distract you and so that people don’t drop new items into it without you noticing.
Hang a ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign. If you have an actual office with a door, this one is easy. But many workplaces today are open plan and it’s difficult to alert people to the fact that you don’t wish to be interrupted – but there are ways around it. I know one workplace where each person has an item (in this case, a toy frog) which when placed on top of their computer means that they are not available – that they are trying to concentrate on something. When the frog comes down, everyone knows they are available again. With the agreement of everyone in the team, this system works particularly well for an open plan environment. Another technique is to use headphones – when people see you have headphones on they know you are not tuned-in to what’s happening around you – you don’t even have to be listening to anything if you find that too distracting – just put your headphones on to signal your ‘do not disturb’ request.
Book a daily meeting with yourself. Block-out the first 60-minutes in your diary or calendar every day. Treat it as a standing commitment and protect it from being eaten into by other people’s meeting requests. Overtime, people will learn that you are not available until a certain time (which will vary depending on when you schedule your 60-minutes) and they’ll work around you.
Unplug. Schedule one TV-free night each week. Switch off the set and instead listen to your favourite music, play a board or card game, read a book, enjoy a quiet meal by candle light (alone or with someone whose company you love), go on a date or soak in a bath. Start being aware of your television viewing habits and make a point of only watching programs that you truly enjoy and stop wasting precious time in front of the TV.
Manage your reading. Create a reading file and put it in your briefcase. If you don’t already have one, start a reading file and carry it with you on your way home. You can get through a surprising amount of reading while on public transport to and from work and while waiting in queues.
VIPs Only. Surround yourself with VIPs (Very Inspiring People) and eliminate VDPs (Very Draining People). Spending more time with VIPs will inspire, motivate and invigorate you. Minimise your time with the VDPs in your life. It can be difficult to make the switch – be strict with yourself and you’ll reap the rewards of being among the VIP crowd.
Where are you going next? Plan your next holiday, even if you’re already on one! Block-out your holidays and short breaks at the beginning of each year. By scheduling and planning for your holidays in advance you’ll not only have something to look forward to but you’ll have a much better chance of avoiding the usual pre-holiday stress which comes with trying to complete everything before you go – and much less chance of neglecting to take those much-needed breaks.
Find a mentor. When you identify the person you believe would be a suitable mentor, spend some time watching them in action. Ask around to find out what other people’s opinion of your chosen mentor are and find out all you can about their achievements, beliefs, values and way of operating. This will give you insight into them before you approach them about mentoring you.
Leave a detailed message. Whether it is voicemail or with the person who does answer the phone. Make sure you include the time and date you called, a brief mention of what you are calling about and how and when they can contact you. If you are going to be difficult to catch or have scheduled some time during which you won’t be taking phone calls yourself, by leaving a contact time you can avoid a frustrating game of ‘phone tag’.
Schedule email time. Email messages popping into your inbox all day long can be an enormous distraction, particularly if your email is set to alert you every time new mail arrives. To check in on your emails and respond to them as they arrive not only distracts you from whatever tasks or projects you are working on but can rob you of an entire day, responding to other people’s needs while your own are neglected. Schedule a couple or a few times each day to check and respond to emails rather than constantly looking-in on your inbox or being bounced there by your email program with every new message.
Your signature. Use your email program to create an email signature block that will automatically attach to all of your outgoing messages; it’s a little like an email letterhead. It saves you the effort of including your contact information every time and brings a professional touch to your communications. You might simply include your name, business name, contact details and website or you might also include a sentence or two about your business, a special promotion you are running with a link to your website, or even a favourite funny or inspirational quote.
Spelll chceck. Email makes each one of us an instant author – and, that’s not necessarily a good thing! Always, always re-read your emails before you send them to make sure they make sense and to fix any spelling or grammatical errors. I recommend you set your email to automatically spell-check every message before it is sent. And if you need a second opinion to check for clarity, tone or correctness, ask a colleague to look over it for you. It might be inconsequential to you, but a poorly worded email that conveys the wrong tone and is riddled with spelling and grammatical errors can destroy your creditability and relationships.
Spring clean. Schedule time to clean out your email regularly, once a month should be enough to keep you on top of it. Empty your deleted items and any unnecessary sent items, and go through any completed project or task folders and ensure that anything you are keeping is essential to your records. Cleaning out your email will ensure you are managing your email files and disk space effectively.
Set up systems. When using filing cabinets, decide how you will allocate your space to make it easiest to locate your files: for example, rather than mixing all your files together you might decide to keep current customer files in one drawer and potential customer files and marketing information in a separate drawer, or you might choose to store current projects in one drawer and research and reference information in another, or you might decide to file everything in alphabetical order – you get the idea – look at the type of files you have and decide how to logically divide them into categories. Then, label the front of each drawer with the type of files it contains.
Colour it. Use colour coding to further systemise your files and to enable you to identify different types of files at a glance. Choose a range of coloured manila folders and allocate a different colour to use for different file types: for example, blue for customer files, purple for staff files, pink for project files and so on. Make a reference list of what each colour represents until you are familiar with your system.
Create a confidence journal. We don’t all feel confident every day and sometimes it helps to take note of our feelings and how situations affect us. By writing down how you feel each day in a confidence journal you can track your responses to situations and also identify areas of your like you might need some help with. Just do this for 30 days and then spend an hour at the end of the month assessing where you find your confidence gets shaken and then determine strategies to help you overcome that in future.
Choose to be amazing! It’s as simple as making a commitment to yourself every morning that you will have an amazing day. Remember, life is not a dress rehearsal – we only get one performance, so let’s give it our best!
Neen is an International Productivity Expert: by looking at how they spend their time and energy – and where they focus their attention – Neen helps people to rocket-charge their productivity and networking performance. A dynamic speaker, author and corporate educator, Neen demonstrates how boosting your productivity can help you achieve amazing things. With her unique voice, sense of fun and uncommon common-sense, Neen delivers a powerful lesson in productivity. Find out more and subscribe to Neen’s free monthly ezine at http://neenjames.com