Time management for college students

Students are some of the busiest. You need to complete assignments, prepare for exams, attend lectures, socialize, pursue hobbies and have fun all at the same time. We believe effective time management can help make the most out of these years.

In this post we will try to lay out a few tips and tricks to help you and other college folks get their life back in control.

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Time management for busy moms

When you are a working mom, the concept of “managing” your time seems to be completely foreign, you might feel like you are the slave of other people’s schedule.

It doesn’t have to be so, in this post we will try to lay out a few tips to help you getting back some control. (more…)

From time management to energy management

Success does not come easy. At times an individual cannot figure out reasons for lack of success even after allocating sufficient time for his work. There is one missing ingredient to the mix and that is: Full potential.

It’s hard to figure out how the work translates into concentration and focus complications. Any lack of attention can affect your work in the long run. Constant hours at the office can take a toll on your mental as well as physical well- being. Unless your body and mind are not happy, you cannot be a 100% productive at work or any instance in life.

Employees who exercise for at least 30 minutes, three times a week, were 15 percent more likely to have higher job performance.” – (Source: http://www.businessnewsdaily.com)

Here are 6 ways to manage your energy and reach highest potential from yourself. (more…)

5 ways to be effective, rather than just being productive

What does it mean to be effective rather than productive. Productive minded people tend get things done, regardless of how difficult things are. Tasks are just a checkbox in a list. Effective people look at the outcome, the long term impact and consciously pick tasks that yield the biggest results. Effective people understand prioritization and importance of tasks.  

The highest-performing 10% of workers tend to work for 52 minutes followed by a 17-minute break. (more…)

Simple rules to manage your emails in Gmail

Are you too one of those email users with thousands of unread emails in their Inbox?

Your mailbox feels like a bottomless pit whenever you try to find a message you have received weeks ago?

We know what it’s like – many email messages are notifications from apps you’re using or newsletters you’re not actually reading. Not to mention spam. When you receive dozens of such emails every day, it’s hard to keep the pace and manage your emails to bring them down to 0. (more…)

When to spend money instead of time

Today we are going to talk about a common issue among entrepreneurs and professionals – lack of time. Since we provide a time management app, you’d probably expect us to share with you some classical tips on how to organize your schedule better and increase your productivity, right?

Well, not really. This post is not about squeezing more tasks into your daily schedule, but about taking them out. How?

By delegating them to other people.

But let’s get back to your problem and its causes. This must be a familiar scenario to you: you have lately been working on an important project that is very rewarding, but also requires lots of time and effort. In the meanwhile, the place where you live has turned into a mess, your potted plants have died, and you never have time to shop or take your dog out for a longer walk. Doesn’t it feel frustrating when you don’t have time or interest for completing these mundane tasks, which are otherwise important for your well-being?

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Productivity vs. effectiveness

The reason why so many people feel overwhelmed with everyday duties, both professional and domestic, is following the old paradigm of productivity that makes you think you should get more things done, preferably in less time.

It’s time to leave this kind of thinking behind and start making a difference between two concepts – productivity and effectiveness.

Productivity focuses on quantity – the idea is to achieve more, to get more things done, and to limit the amount of time needed to complete a task. This concept is often used in business, and sometimes with negative consequences. Business owners want to produce more, but frequently neglect important aspects, such as the human and material costs of increasing productivity.

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Effectiveness, on the other hand, puts an emphasis on quality; effectiveness is also the fundamental paradigm of Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Covey sees effectiveness as a function of two things: what is produced and the capacity to produce.

The problem with the old paradigm of productivity is that in your struggle to achieve more and get more golden eggs, you start to neglect the goose or your producing asset. Effectiveness allows you to create perfect balance between production of desired results and production capability. This change of attitude will help you not feel overpowered by everyday tasks anymore or become unable to complete them. Isn’t this what you are trying to achieve, after all?

Outsourcing in business

The solution for having more time for yourself is found in the place where you expect it less: at work.

In business, we delegate tasks or outsource various functions in order to become more effective. Business would not thrive without applying this solution – let’s imagine a company lands a large contract that increases the amount of purchasing for a limited period of time. Is it worth burdening employees with this occasional extra work and sacrifice quality in the back-office? No, the best solution is to outsource purchasing.

The benefits of outsourcing in business are already well-known – these are just a few of them:

  • Access to better skills
  • Reducing costs
  • Elasticity (you can grow and shrink as needed)
  • Maintaining focus on core activities
  • Decreasing the need for office space
  • Flexibility (use additional resources only when needed)

How can you apply outsourcing in your life?

You should consider a similar strategy for mundane tasks as well, especially when you don’t enjoy doing them. 

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Here are just a few examples of common tasks you may want to entrust to somebody else:

  • House cleaning
  • Cooking
  • Shopping, buying presents
  • Walking the dog and taking it to the vet or groomer
  • Organizing family events
  • Doing repairs in your home
  • Lawn maintenance
  • Doing the laundry
  • Picking up your drycleaning
  • Online errands like paying bills
  • Managing emails

When should you outsource?

Outsourcing everyday tasks has given birth to an extremely lucrative gig industry – on the one side, we have people who are high achievers and earn enough to outsource, and on the other we have contractors or services ready to meet their needs, from delivering groceries to helping them sort their personal emails. Should you become a part of it?

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The idea is to outsource mundane tasks when your time becomes extremely valuable for you. For busy people, an hour saved may be worth more than the money they pay to a service provider. A mom running a successful small business will prefer to pay someone to cook meals so she can spend more priceless time with her children, and in a similar manner, a young professional living in a big city would rather pay an extra fee to have their groceries delivered at home instead of doing a two-hour trip and carrying bags.

So, you should outsource when the answer is “Yes” to both these questions, especially the first one:

  • Is the time saved more valuable than the money spent?
  • Do you dislike doing the task?

How to identify what you should outsource

The decision to outsource a task should be taken after identifying those chores or duties that you dislike and making a few calculations so you decide what’s worth more: the money or your time and effort.

We suggest this practical 5-step process to identify what you should outsource:

  1. Determine your hourly wage

It’s simple – the amount of money you earn in an hour should be high enough to exceed the amount of money you spend outsourcing for an hour, otherwise you will lose out by paying somebody else to do the job.

  1. What causes frustration in your life?

Many conflicts between partners rise from mundane tasks – instead of relaxing and spending time together after work, you have to clean the house, do the laundry, or cook. By the end of the evening, you both are too tired to communicate to each other and bond. So, what ruins your leisure time more than anything else? Consider outsourcing that task.

  1. Decide whether it’s worth outsourcing

Now that you have decided you no longer want to pay your bills and manage your emails instead of watching your favorite show, start looking for service providers and check their hourly rates. If one hour of your time is more valuable than the amount of money you’ll have to pay to outsource, then you should go with it!

  1. Find the best provider

Now it’s time to find a provider you can trust and who is billing a convenient hourly rate. Consider websites like DoMyStuff o
r TaskRabbit; if the task you want to outsource can be completed by a virtual assistant, try Upwork and Fiverr. The great things about these websites is that contractors get public feedback from their clients and you can easily determine who is reliable and provides high-quality services and who will just waste your time.

  1. Hire the provider

After interviewing several providers, it’s time to stick with the best candidate and make a decision. If you are not satisfied with your choice after they start working, you can put an end to the collaboration and look for someone else. Whether you need a service provider to work for you 1 hour a week or 30, there’ll always be someone out there ready to do the job and save you the headache.

So, what’s that chore you’re dreading and how will you get rid of it? Let us know in the comments so that other readers may get inspired to.

5 reasons why you need a weekly planner

Time management is a challenge even for the most talented and motivated people.

Productivity levels vary from day to day, and modern tools that are supposed to help us work better and faster can turn against us – think of all the time you lose checking your email every day or giving up to guilty pleasures like shopping online.

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Some people like to keep track of their daily activities using paper and pencil, but checking a long scribbled list of to-do things may have the opposite effect and make you feel discouraged.

A well-tuned weekly planner should help you focus on your most important tasks instead of showing you how much work you still need to do in a short time. Here are 5 reasons why a weekly planner will help you get things done and enjoy your daily activities more:

  1. You can keep track of all responsibilities at any moment

A weekly planner can be accessed from any device, including your smartphone, and you can always check upcoming tasks without needing to carry your agenda with you. Do you feel like updating your schedule while commuting to work? No problem, you can have a look at all your tasks right now!

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  1. You get used to focusing on important activities

Do you feel like any activity on your schedule is urgent? It’s a common feeling, and this happens when you forget to prioritize activities by importance. A good weekly planner will allow you to showcase the most important activities, keep track of them and avoid running out of time because of poor task prioritizing.

  1. You can share your schedule with other people

Explaining your daily plans to other people is not only annoying, but also time consuming. The best weekly planners include team features, allowing your family, friends or co-workers to have access to your schedule or a part of it (in case you need privacy) and making it easier to find a moment when you can spend time with them or work together.

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  1. You’ll increase your productivity

According to some grim statistics, only 45% of the time people spend at work is actually used for completing primary job duties. A reminder from your weekly planner and the perspective of not finishing your to-do list today will help stop wasting time.

  1. You’ll enjoy a feeling of completion at the end of the week

Each time you cross out an activity in your weekly planner or mark it as complete, you’ll feel closer to attaining your goals and at peace with your inner self. It’s a well-known fact: you enjoy your leisure time more when you know you’ve done your job!

My ideal week: free printable "planner"

Do you live your life as it comes (reactive approach) or do you prefer to live with purpose according to a plan (proactive approach)?

As the founder of WEEK PLAN, I try to expose my readership to new interesting techniques that can help them be more effective.

Today, I share a new tool called MY IDEAL WEEK:

Screenshot of my own ideal week

The concept is very simple: imagine what your ideal week would look like if you had 100% control over your time

I believe it is essential to color code your ideal week. It helps you find imbalance and attach you emotionally to this piece of paper. I personally use green for “Sharpen the saw” kind of activities, pink for relationships, blue for creative work, and grey for chores. 

Some comments on my ideal week: 
1. As you can see I still spend a lot of time consulting while I am bootstrapping WEEKPLAN. My true ideal week would replace consulting with Development work for WEEK PLAN.
2. I don’t plan much of my weekends. The weekends are the days I have the least control of.
3. I like to give each day a focus theme (admin, consulting, dev, etc…).

I have turned MY IDEAL WEEK into a PDF that you can download here[version with am/pm format] [version with Sunday first]

Enjoy! 

Consider joining a mastermind group to achieve faster

If you are reading this blog, chances are you like to challenge yourself and you are likely in a situation today where you are being challenged.

I am the founder of WEEK PLAN, and running a business is a continuous stream of challenges. When you are working on the same thing day in day out, you start losing perspective on what you are doing and it becomes hard to figure out what the best next step would be.

When I started feeling I was the limiting factor in my business, I looked for external help. First I asked for feedback from my direct friends, but realized that most of my challenges were so specific that they couldn’t relate to my challenges and couldn’t offer me any relevant advice. This is when I decided to surround myself with people who were in a similar situation to mine.

My story with mastermind groups started in 2010, when I started a founder mastermind breakfast (you can still read the blog post I wrote at the time) where we would meet over breakfast and chat about our challenges and try to suggest solutions for others. I also wanted to be able to share my progress with people I knew from France (I am French but I live in Australia) so I also developed a web application that allowed us to reproduce what I was doing during the mastermind breakfasts online. Later on, I joined forces with the excellent coach James Short to help organize mastermind groups around the world. Nowadays I am not involved with this anymore but James is still at it and reports great results from his participants.

In this article, I would like to offer a practical guide on how to start being part of a mastermind group.

What is a mastermind group

Napoleon Hill popularized the concept of mastermind groups in his book “Think and Grow Rich”. He described mastermind groups as being a key component to success. Here is a video where you can see him explaining the concept:

A mastermind group is a regular meeting of people who share a common goal and are looking to encourage and help each other improve.

Why it works

  • Accountability: You are held accountable to the achievement of your goals. Just knowing you have a regularly scheduled meeting will internally drive you to make progress. Nobody wants to be seen as lazing around while others are making huge progress in their business
  • Perspective: Each individual has a unique history and set of skills. When you expose your challenge to someone else, you are likely to get a solution you may not have been able to think of.
  • Synergy: The interaction of several trusting people can produce a combined solution greater than the sum of their separate solutions.
  • The explainer effect: When you have to explain a problem to someone else, often, the solution becomes evident to you as you are explaining the problem.
  • Resources: By being part of this group, you gain access to everyone’s personal network.

How to be part of a mastermind group

Online

If you want to join a group online, you can check out Fizzle (for entrepreneurs) or Online Peers.

Alternatively, you can create a private Facebook group and invite people to it. The benefit of the Facebook group is that people are more likely to interact with the group because the messages will appear in their Facebook feed.

Offline

Check out the website Meetup.com. You will likely find groups around your area that meet around your topic of choice. You can go there and recruit people for your own mastermind group for example.
Starting your own meetup group is also possible but may take a bit more time and effort to put in place.

WEEK PLAN

I am considering organizing mastermind groups from within the WEEK PLAN application. If you are interested in giving it a try, please drop a comment to show interest.

An introduction to outsourcing

As part of my work on WeekPlan, I constantly try to find ways to help people be more effective.

Being more effective comes from identifying what matter most and working on it. But what should you do with the things that are not that important and yet still need to get done?

Before working on WeekPlan, I created the outsourcing marketplace TaskArmy (http://taskarmy.com) to help people leverage the world of outsourcing.

I have always been passionate about finding ways to use my time meaningfully and I think that outsourcing can help tremendously.

But I understand that starting outsourcing from scratch can seem daunting.

  • What can a personal assistant do?
  • How to find the right person?
  • How much should you pay?
  • How can you collaborate with that person effectively?

I am going to answer these questions.

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