How I use the Notes App

How I use the notes app

 

Of all the apps that are on our phones, the Notes app is frequently our default app to use.  Most of my clients have used the Notes app to capture thoughts, ideas, information and passwords.  There is tons of information in this app.  However we can add a level of organization to using Notes app that will give it more function and organization.  There are many ways to use this app for lists, routines and notes.  Here is how I use the Notes app.

 

General information about Notes app

  • As you enter the first line, that line because the name of the list. It is in bold font for this reason.
  • Notes app has a search function and you can find your list this way with the name of the list on the top line.
  • Notes app is cloud based and can be accessed by all your devices for free.
  • Note app can be shared with others to create and use lists together.
  • Notes can be printed, shared by email or text, and locked for privacy.
  • Photos can be pasted into individual notes or as a note.
  • If you press lightly inside a note, a pop up with font options appears.

Lists

The Notes app is easy to use for lists.  Add lists would you like to have with you all the time. General lists include shopping, grocery, kids’ clothing and shoe sizes, Christmas list, air filter dimensions, medication list or any list you want to reference while out shopping, at a meeting, at a doctor’s office or away from home base. The lists I use most frequently are for business. There is a consignment list for that three month time, action lists for particular clients and a list of favorite products I share frequently with clients.

 

Routines and Reminders

Notes app can be a daily routines and reminders list with check lists.  Add a list of routines with a check circle starting each item of your list.  (Find that check circle on the bottom right of your device while working in the Notes app.) Create the list of what you want your routine to include or a series of reminders for a specific task.  As you check off, you won’t forget tasks.  Un-check the circles at the end of your work or when you have completed this series of routines.  Repeat and use again and again.

 

Notes

Depending on your typing ability, Notes app is a great choice to take notes during for personal reference, during meetings and to capture ideas.

  • Notes app can be used to reference materials of all types.  Gathering information and consolidating it can be done here.  Be sure you add a title as the top line to find your information. My clients are information seekers and like to have access to this.
  • Meeting notes are easy to find and review.  When I meet with clients, I listen, take notes in this app and share these with clients.  At the top of the note I add the name, date and session number of our meeting. It helps us track our actions and remain accountable to planning.
  • Wonder where to keep your big ideas?  It’s here within this app. I love that as you add information, the cloud keeps this updated.
  • Each year I highlight my big accomplishments. The list is named 2020 Highlights. I add to this list throughout the year and check it at the end of the year. It’s fun to see this from previous years too.

 

Over the years as I have used the Notes app more strategically. The more I use it, the more I love it!

5 Simple Productivity Strategies

5 simple productivity strategies

 

We are energized by getting stuff done and being productive.  It’s central to who we are and what we want both personally and professionally. There are many ways to find your happy place in being productive by syncing with a strategy that uses your strengths and your style.  Here are 5 strategies to help you be your most productive.

Get Organized

Organizing is a foundation for productivity.

In a 2008 NAPO survey of 400 consumers nationwide: 27% said they feel disorganized at work, and of those, 91 percent said they would be more effective and efficient if their workspace was better organized. 28% said they would save over an hour per day. 27% said they would save 31 to 60 minutes each day.

That was in 2008 and the need for organizing is even greater now.  How do you start organizing to be more productive?  Start with your desk and your digital desk top.  Paper management and digital file organizing are often the biggest challenges.  Set up systems for incoming information, documents to reference to and file, and archive information for longer use.  Incorporating files into Word and Excel systematically gives you quick access, rather than your computer desktop.  Set a time each week to do some organizing to reset your space and gain control of your files.  Getting your physical space organized makes it easier to do your work.

 

Time Blocking

People with ADHD tell me that unproductive time occurs when there are too many choices of what to do and too many priorities.  That indecision leads to procrastination and slow productivity.  Time blocking assigns a task to a time so that there is little or no decision to make. Start with prioritizing to know what is of highest impact and value.  Assign that project or task to a high energy time of day.  Be sure that time is well protected for that assignment.  In this same way, assign self care time as a time block.  Often self care falls to the bottom of the list and there is no time do exercise, eat healthy or reset.  Having both your highest priority and your self care assigned times through time blocking help you stay productive.

Teamwork

Teamwork can be implemented with many different strategies.

  • Be open to expanding your team with those who have time, skill or talent you need. Add team members who do shopping, cleaning, tutoring, child care or tech knowledge.
  • Tag team with those in your home. Your partner and you can determine schedules for who does what responsibility when, such as managing online learning or bedtime tuck in.
  • Partnering with a team member can be motivating.  My best work is partnering with a colleague to work on presentations or work in a client’s space. You and a family member can partner to make dinner together, organize together or clean together.

 

Getting Things Done (GTD)

It’s easy to get overwhelmed and lose track of tasks and projects. We have lots of great ideas, however we can’t do it all at the same time.  That is where GTD excels.

  • Capture all your information in a list or list with categories.
  • Host a Weekly Planning time to prioritize, then assign next steps of tasks and projects to time during a week.
  • Review the successes of the week and think big about what you want in work and life.

 

The Pomodoro Method

There are many distractions and you want to be sure to focus during your work times. This method uses a timer set in intervals of 25 -45 minutes alternating with short 5 -1 0 minute breaks between work.

  • Research shows the value of timers. Setting a timer helps you get started and complete tasks for a duration that works well with your strengths.
  • Adding up the series of intervals, you have completed sustained work for a long time.
  • Taking breaks add momentum to your work.

 

Pick one of these strategies that aligns with your personal strengths and style. It’s a matter of which of these strategies is a good fit for you. It will enhance how much you accomplish and how efficient you are!

Win the day with Time Blocking

time blocking

 

Do you face too many choices of what to do and when to do it?  Do you get paralyzed without a plan?  Are you distracted rather than productive? There is a way to move to a more structured day to gain control of your time and be proactive about your tasks and projects. Time blocking is documented strategy to be productive and effective. It gives you the opportunity to prioritize.

 

Time blocking fundamentals

What is time blocking? Time blocking is a time management strategy where you divide your days and weeks into units of time. Each time block has an assigned tasks or project. It is useful at both work and home to assign rather than choose an activity at a specific time.  There are many uses for time blocking. It prioritizes completing specific work rather than chopping up your day with distractions. You can set aside time blocks at home to get your errands done. You can also use time blocks to establish transition time between meetings, activities and errands.  Time blocking establishes the “when” of your “what To Do” list.  You will be adding an assigned time to accomplish the tasks you have listed.  By minimizing distractions, you are setting up productivity success. As Cal Newport writes, “my goal is to make sure progress is being made on the right things at the right  pace for the relevant deadlines.”  You can have this success too!

 

Establishing Time Blocks

Here is how to get started with the time block concept. During weekly planning time, choose your top 3 Most Important Tasks for the week. These are tasks that are required to be done, and may not be urgent and are important.  Project forward to see if any responsibilities are elevated to this level.  At home this might be personal taxes, upcoming travel, bill paying or administrative time. At work this might be upcoming reports, meetings, or any assigned project.

Set time blocks for the duration that works well for you. As you know about your best work, choose a block of 1 hour or 2 hours, or a specific day of the week. People with ADHD tend to like longer time blocks for 2-3 hours. For me, I like one hour blocks because my energy moves quickly in this time. I use several blocks over a week to complete my tasks. I am a morning person so my best work is in the morning.

Assign a task or project to your chosen block periods.

  • I also refer to this as a “power period” which is a time of single, intense focus for working on or completing a project.
  • Set aside a day to do a single focus (Money Monday, Marketing Monday, Training Tuesday)
  • Assign highest priorities with the best time block depending on what time of day you work best.
  • You may need to assign multiple blocks for completion of your task or project.
  • Set up your team to work with you too on these projects. Communicate your new strategy and coordinate working together to benefit from collaboration.

Work and home successes leads this strategic use of time.

Routines and time blocks

At home and at work there are necessary routines that need attention every week. Here are my favorite time blocks that are common at home and work.

  • Home: Paper management, Finances and Bills, and Family Meeting
  • Work: Email, Administrative, Financial, and Client

Check to see what is not being accomplished in a week and schedule a time block for this. By time blocking these priorities, you will have a greater sense of control and foundation.

 

Scheduling time blocks is the answer to your distracted, unproductive day. It helps you accomplish your goals and keep on target. Filling in when to accomplish a task means you are not at the mercy of decision making and paralysis. It’s the best solution for assigning your time and attention to your priorities.

 

COVID-19 Four Essential Tips for Work From Home Success

 

With COVID-19 we are quickly navigating a new normal, that of working from home during a global crisis. It is not the same as working at home over the long haul or working from home during a traditional time.  There are 4 essential tips to ensure your success as you continue to work, home school and more in the same space daily. Follow these tips to keep your sanity and work success.

 

Start with great self care

The pandemic requires a lot of emotional and physical well being.  Start prioritizing self care.  That means creating an environment that supports you and your family.

  • Create a night time and bed time routine to support rest.  In times of transition, we rely on routines to help us. A productive day starts the night before.  End work in order to have dinner together, spend time together, and get in bed for 8  hours of rest.
  • Include time outside in your work and school routines. A family walk or bike ride in the middle of the day helps everyone clear their head and get re-energized.
  • Boundaries are necessary with social media.  It’s tempting to spend time checking social media when you are feeling drained and unsure of your next priority. Help everyone, most especially your teens, by modeling and setting expectations.

 

Set up your space

By now you have been spending time at home adjusting to your new space. You know what is not working for you and your homeschooling.

  • Declutter and create space in your office to do real work. It’s a reality check to clear out what is unnecessary and edit your stuff. You will be glad you did!
  • Set up multiple spaces for your kids to work.  It can be unconventional like a hammock in the back yard or a make shift tent in a family room. Separate spaces are great for everyone to work without distractions. It also gives everyone a little space to decompress and focus in on work.
  • Video meetings are a requirement of work and school life right now.  These are the social connections we have during the pandemic too. Think of this area as you video studio.  Be sure you have reviewed best practices for you and your kids at a family meeting.
  • Check in with appropriate attire for your work day. Dress for the meetings as you would in real life unless otherwise noted by your employer.

 

Communication

Over-communication during this transition keeps everyone connected, up to date, and sure of next steps.

  • Discuss work hours with your employer, especially to the start and end of your work day.
  • Clarify expectations about tasks and projects.  Will there be daily check in? How will priorities be discussed? What will be the success metrics? Be sure everyone agrees and has this in writing as well as verbally.
  • Resolve challenges with a phone call. It is easy to misinterpret information and tone with text and email. A phone call makes it easy to clarify what has happened and how to rectify the situation.
  • Create a system for sharing documents. Agree to one online system that everyone can use and share. Use what’s easiest to access and be sure there is password protection.

 

Work life integration

Now let’s add back in the rest of the story – those kiddos are home too.

  • If your kids’ assignments arrive on Monday at 9 am, plan around that time. Allocating time to get the kids started will allow you to work more productively.
  • Share responsibilities and tag team if possible. Parents can share shifts of homeschooling.
  • Manage expectations of yourself and your kids’ assignments.  You are all learning resilience as well as math and reading.

 

There is a lot of “life learning”going on at this time. Be aware of nuances in you and your family’s transition to work from home.  It’s a great opportunity to give your family kudos.

 

Work From Home Productivity

 

There are times we can work at home regularly or periodically.  We may need to work at home to help your family activities, work at home to help stabilize finances with your small business, or work during an intense period of upheaval (think virus.) Working at the office or working at home works best when you have processes, policies and organization about your time. By setting up structure,  you are doing your best work.  Here are some ways to establish structure that keeps you on track.

  • Set hours for your office time. During this time, keep clear and established set ground rules for kids, pets and others in  your home.  Your work is your priority during these hours. Post your hours so that those around you know them. This un-distracted time helps you be more productive.
  • Give yourself the opportunity for breaks, including lunch. Take a few minutes for a walk around the block or fresh air with a short break. You will return to your desk ready to tackle anything.
  • Define what derails you.  Distractions can range from kids and pets to doing the laundry.  Its the little things that eat away at your day, so be sure you put the big things in first in your day.
  • Use a planner that shows you time blocks to accomplish priorities.  Having a time in the morning and afternoon with focused, big blocks for power periods helps you knock off the big projects in small manageable pieces.
  • Set up an established work space.  Working at home it’s easy to spread out in all sorts of spaces.  Establish where you work and what you need to arrange around you to work efficiently.  If you need paper, think about using a file cart for your paper management. If you are completely digital, keep your cords organized.
  • Define your work every day with a list and prioritizing.  Using the 3+3 method where you list 3 urgent items for the day and 3 bonus items can help you focus. Your list can be categorized by urgent, soon or later to keep your priorities uppermost.  Set a time for weekly planning to keep all your items on a list and assign deadlines too.    Ask yourself is this activity helping me reach my goal every day?
  • Use technology to stay connected. There is Join.me, Zoom and Free Conference Call to “see” your colleagues in real life.  Just seeing a face and reading body language will help you feel more connected that a phone call.

 

Setting up for success when you work at home makes your work more productive!

 

 

Crafting calendaring habits that will change your life

Calendar and planner

 

Truly crafting calendar habits can change your life.  Calendars and planners are our road map to fulfill our goals and intentions. With a plan and tools you use well, your life will be easier, more productive and more rewarding.

Most especially at the start of the year, however all year long, we search for creative solutions to calendaring. There are two parts to this search. The search for the “perfect” tool” and the search for how to put it to use.  This year more of my clients with ADHD are crafting calendaring habits that are changing their lives.

 

How to get started

Get started by finding the right tools.  Know if you are a paper, digital or hybrid planner person.  I am learning that my clients do best with all three styles and a hybrid variation of these styles. In this case, my clients have a large month at a glance view, a week at a glance view, on both paper on a wall and in a medium sized paper planner. My clients use their phone, laptop and other devices to lay this out too.

Typically I have conversations about having one planner and this is not the case here!  While it does add time and focus to maintain these planners, it is valuable because all the view of all the information helps with processing. It gives context to the data.  On a month at a glance you see your information in comparison to other activities. On a week at a glance you know what you must accomplish in the short time span. With a digital version, you create recurring events and routines. While investing in these tools, you are investing in the opportunity to process information and keep all your balls in the air.

 

Routines to get started

Front loading is the way to start. This term means to add all dates and plans right away, as soon as you receive the information. It also means to front load the level of work required on a project. Front loading takes advantage of your natural energy and interest in both your tools and your projects.  Having these dates, projects and information easily accessible creates a foundation.

 

Keeping on keeping on

There are two elements that keep you on track with your new habits. First, keep adding information and dates as soon as you know about them. This information is in text, email, papers, conversations and meetings. It can be easy to lose track of these. Take time each day to record this in your planner.  Second, review your planner each morning and each evening. It is not enough to record and reviewing daily keeps this information top of mind and fresh.  When I learn that your new calendaring habits are failing, the root is often these two parts.

 

A weekly calendar review time keeps you moving forward. Once a week, check in from a big picture and detail view of your planner. This weekly review is familiar to those following GTD.  It is time for mind sweep to capture all ideas to keep your brain working on work and not remembering.  Capture your mind sweep on paper or digitally, then slot in all the information in your planner. Schedule your weekly calendar review at the start of your week or the end of the week.  Planning is what keeps you up to date and on track.

 

The most important element in your life changing calendaring habits is to not give up. Developing new habits takes time. This is a work in progress each week for you to create a pattern with a combination of dates and projects, as well as work-life integration.  Remember if you skip or miss a week, just get right back to your calendar tomorrow or next week.  Your tenacity  will pay off!

 

Check out my ADHD Friendly tips here on YouTube.

Use Weekly Planning Time to Create a Calm, Organized and Productive Week

 

weekly planning time

 

Organizing your time takes many different steps to get the job done.  Having one great calendar and an effective way to manage your tasks and lists are the first step.  Carving out a Weekly  Planning Time pulls together these great tools.  Stephen Covey and David Allen both incorporate this routine into their strategies, as well as Asian Efficiency and The Productivity Show.  This time helps you create a proactive plan and gets you ahead of the curve.

 

Basics of Weekly Planning Time

  • Weekly planning time is when you pull together your lists, assess upcoming events and add a plan to your calendar.
  • Start by setting an undistracted time for you to “meet” with your planner.  This should be added to your calendar as an appointment!  A good time may be Friday before the end of work, Sunday afternoon as you are getting ready for the week, or any time that really works for you.
  • Gather together your tools of your planner, your lists, any emails or papers with upcoming events, projects you are leading or collaborating, and any other date driven activities. You want to consolidate all this information into your planner and an organized list.
  • First, add all new dates and update any existing dates, then add small reminders, consolidate errands, project out baby steps for a big project, and generally scan for bumps in the road coming up.
  • Next, scan ahead for new projects, events or recurring annual projects for that time period. This includes for work and home. Consider taxes, financial reviews and home maintenance. Make notes of who to meet with for these upcoming tasks and projects.
  • Finally, create a “think big” section of your planning time. What is a major goal you have thought about and would want to take action on?  This is where you have the opportunity to be creative and act on your dreams.  It’s also about being strategic about life goals.  Take this time to spend a few minutes on goals and dreams.
  • If you use a technology planner, no problem! Same strategy with this tool!
  • Make it fun! Grab your favorite beverage, sit in an inspiring spot and enjoy this planning time.

 

Upgrade your Weekly Planning Time

  • Use a planner that adds focus to your time.  I love my paper planner pad! A digital tool to do this work is To Do ist.
  • Set a day of the week for certain activities.  Money Monday and Financial Friday are the days you work on money matters.  By allowing yourself one set day a week for an important task, you give yourself permission to be dedicated to one specific task instead of many difference ones. This strategy works well for people who know that they can do one thing well.
  • Be consistent about your weekly planning time. The more consistent, the more you will notice what’s working and what is not. “Noticing” can lead to enhancements too, such as knowing what works best for you and what are your strengths.
  • Level up with this podcast featuring the weekly review of Getting Things Done (GTD) with David Allen.
  • Take this routine to the next level with a Family Meeting too.  Gather your family on Sunday evening, with all their calendars and your family calendar (paper, Cozi, or google calendar) and set this time for planning purposes.  Not only will you have family communication, collaboration and cohesiveness will be a big bonus.

 

What obstacles might you have incorporating into your week this planning time? Be sure to set this at at time that works well for you.  In order to be consistent, the time that you work on Weekly Planning Time makes the most difference. How do you do know this is working well? Now you feel in control, ahead in your planning and confident in your tasks and projects.

 

More time management tips here!

Revisiting My 2019 Word of the Year: Shift

 

Word of the year

 

It’s the end of 2019 and I have remembered my Word of the Year through out the year.  (Have you? ) It’s truly been a part of my work, my thoughts and my energy as I shift into new possibilities.

 

Shift: a slight change in emphasis

I have looked at this year as a slight turn in direction.  While working with clients with ADHD has been a focus for the duration of my business, it’s more so this year in learning tools to assist. I am leaning into my work clients with ADHD clients in continuing learning and implementing strategies. What’s new are the many podcasts I have been listening to each day.  I have been taking more NAPO classes centered on this topic.  I love to learn and apply one small action to my work with clients.

 

Shift: change in direction

We shift toward and we shift away in slight changes in direction. Family first and client work has always been the direction of work life integration for me.  As I step into this more fully, I have been mindful of the true joy that our conversations and engagement bring to me.  I have heard the joy in voices of family and clients throughout the year in their big and little wins.  Wins include completing writing a doctoral paper, using a planner as a high schooler, new interests in a variety of sports, getting a garage organized to park a car or move to a new apartment. As I shift away from some of my volunteering experiences, I have created more white space for myself to be present.

 

Shift: next steps

I am contemplating my 2020 word now.  I love all the words that I have used in these past years. How has my Word of the Year made a difference for me?  Holding my word of the year throughout the year has kept me true and on target with intentional, mindful shifts.  It’s been a comfort when a bumpy shift occurs that this year is about a slight change. We can empower change rather than be fearful of change.  This word reminds me that we can make change a powerful agent for ourselves.

 

My list of Words of the Year

Shift 2019

Possibilities 2018

Thrive 2017

Momentum 2016

Fifteen 2015

Flourish 2014

Fabulous2013

 

 

Successful Team Building for your Micro or Small Business

 

successful team building for your business

 

Solopreneurs and small business owners are challenged with getting everything and anything done.  Their productivity hinges on their strengths. We can’t be good at everything!  Having a team approach to productivity makes for success.

 

  • It’s a big daunting how to start building your team.  What’s most critical is defining what your team member(s) will do.  It’s a range of possibilities.  Start with what’s not being done or what you hate to do.  Flush out a system with your new team member to create a process that works.

 

  • There are levels of delegation that make this transition easier.  Start with specific, direct actions and raise the bar to collaborating on decisions.

 

Here are some sample models that have worked for my clients. I have listed the challenges faced and how a team member made the challenge happen.

 

Calling back clients

Client leads were piling up for a small business owner.  She did not have time to return calls, discuss opportunities, or make appointments.  She was in search of a team player who could help her. Where she found help was in a recently graduated long time friend. Together they set up a process for intake.  They practiced this system for a week and added in an online calendaring system.  It was a combination of the human touch and technology that made for a successful team.

 

Reconciling and creating expense reports

All those little receipts that are needed for reconciling and creating expense reports can be overwhelming and disorganized.  Getting help with routine administrative and financial tasks can help your business thrive.  After tasking this job with several different team members, a small business entrepreneur found a single outsource option. By taking a photo, she was able to send receipts to the outsource person.  After that, the business owner met weekly for a check in about the expense report.  Reports were turned in timely and the business owner was thrilled.

 

 

Billing clients

Another small business owner created a successful strategy for billing clients with technology and a team member. Using FreshBooks, the owner tasked only billing to her team member.  With automation, the client could pay online which also eliminated extra steps with banking.  A small addition of technology can pave the way.

 

Setting up a structure for teams

It’s not intuitive for small business owners to set up a structure for team work or communication.  When he started with a new company, the small business owner turned to his trusted entrepreneur guide to help him. This guide established a weekly meeting for the team, created working hours for each team member, and set up a collaborative document for them to share work.  Having a trust guide to delegate to, the small business owner could focus on his most important big picture work.

 

A highly organized business person turned her calendar over to her virtual assistant.  They collaborated through a series of google docs, email, and online calendar.  The calendar was also shared with another team member.  Having a process in place created a team calendar that worked well for getting all the details completed.

 

Finding a productive environment

A small business person struggled with how to be productive in her office. It seemed a little too noisy at the same time.  She invited her assistant to work with her on a routine basis, weekly, while she worked on a project. They worked as a body double, paralleling their work on separate projects. Having a second person in the room helped her be accountable to her own work.

 

Each of these examples of successful team building worked from resourceful, creative and committed collaborations.  Creating an effective process by everyone bringing their best efforts, strengths and skills make successful teams possible.

 

On Demand Delegating

on demand delegation

 

Do you often with you had 25 hours in the day, 6 hands or could clone yourself?  It’s often that we are faced with more to do than we have time, skills, resources or energy.  Delegating is a solution for you!  With so many resources on the internet, there’s lots of options to delegate on demand.  Technology offers many options with tools of many kinds.  With all our daily tasks, using delegation can add time to you day.

Successful delegation

What are the keys to successfully delegating? Use your strengths wisely and know where you don’t have skill. Delegate when you have a small incremental task that you especially dislike and do not do well.  It’s also good to delegate when you are not your best at consistency or routines.  You can take advantage of automation for this reason.

Delegate bill paying

Online bill pay is the most frequently used system for delegating. Paying from your bank allows you to use one, consolidated online location for payment.

 

Delegate passwords

In the complex world we live in, everything has a password. Online security is most important. It’s also frustrating as we attempt to access our accounts.  Using a secure password is critical for your safety. While there are many data breaches going on, an online password keeper gives you access to your passwords from any device. Choose one password to access your password keeper.

 

Delegate your To Do List

There are many apps to capture your ideas. There are many Artificial Intelligence capture tools in our world.  The easist to use is your iphone Siri. Siri can capture your thoughts verbally and add them to lists and dates for you.  Next easiest is Google Home and Alexa.  No more worries about forgetting and working memory with these devices.

 

Delegate adminstrative tasks

Administrative tasks, including forms, filing, and more, can often fall to the bottom of your list.  There’s help with online virtual assistants who are skilled at scheduling, research, expenses and data entry (to name just a few areas). Assess what your needs are and connect one of these many options.

 

Delegate errands and tasks

Online grocery and other shopping is just a click away now. Delivery can be set up with your specific schedule. Amazon will deliver supplies with a schedule through the subscription services.  No more running out of toilet paper or paper towels now! With a Subscription List, you have a supply that arrives without fail. Making dinner is much easier with an online grocer list. Repeat the list weekly on the same day to be sure you always have milk at home.

 

More tips here on Productivity! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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