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Holly has been a member since July 26th 2010, and has created 65 posts from scratch.

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Thursday Time Management Tip: Get One of These

To Manage Time Well – You Need a Hobby

“What?!?!?  A hobby?

“I don’t have time to get all the stuff I need done completed, how am I going to find time for a hobby?”

Well, I hear you, but I am convinced that if you say the above, then you are NOT implementing my advice carefully enough :)!

And, even if you are implementing it and getting stuff done, you may still feel like you don’t have time to take up knitting, basket-weaving or raising organic chickens.

But wait, I didn’t say your hobby needed to be anything really time consuming or labor intensive.

We just need something that is enjoyable and puts us in another frame of mind for short periods of time.

Having a hobby will do several things for you:

  • Your energy is increased when you take time to relax
  • When your focus is off of current problems, your subconscious takes over and often solves them in the meantime
  • You need other perspectives.  When you take the time to learn new skills, you increase brainpower
  • Reading outside of your current market will give you ideas you have never thought of that can be implemented in your business

So, take time to decide what you would enjoy.  You may even want to make it something way out there – that you haven’t thought of in a long time or that you never thought you would have the time for.  Then, start by picking up a book or magazine.  See if you can find a class.

You don’t have to jump whole hog into it – just research a little and see if it sounds interesting and begin sticking a toe in.

But, have something that you enjoy that is NOT your business or your family (though they may want to join you!).

It doesn’t sound like it will save time – but I assure you, it will in the long run.

Thursday Time Management Tip – Use Cheap Labor

One of the most difficult things about running your own business – whether you work from home or at a brick and mortar – is getting the little stuff done.

We KNOW we need to save money.  We NEED it done quickly.  We WANT it done our way.  So WE just do it.

Bad idea.

Those little things can eat time like crazy.

Business tasks such as Email, filing, organizing a rolodex, opening mail, stocking shelves…etc, all take time.  Then we get home and face the monster list of home organizing tasks such as laundry, dusting, picking up, creating a grocery list, putting up the groceries…etc.

So, if you are running your own business and YOU are the one doing any or ALL of these things, then exactly how much time do you have to do the most important 3 things?

NOTE: Those most important 3 things are:

  • 1.  Getting New Clients/Customers
  • 2.  Selling to Those Clients/Customers
  • 3.  Giving them Opportunity to Buy More

But it must be done and you don’t have a huge staff to do it!

So, get some cheap labor.

Give up your perfectionist tendencies and hire your kids to do the tasks (ok, MOST of the home tasks they should be doing anyway because they LIVE there – but hire them for business tasks!)

Or find some older neighborhood kids who can work for a few hours a week and pay them to do the small and odd tasks for you.

Think outside the box.

YOU do NOT need to be doing these small things – YOU need to focus on what makes you more money and will ultimately give you more time.

Find another way to get it done – and then use your time wisely.

How to Keep Email From Leaking Your Productivity

Have you ever kept track of the amount of time you spend on email?

Is your time leaking away through your inbox?

Ever said “I’ll just pop in and see what’s in there” and then found yourself lost in email never, never land over an hour later?

We’ve all been there.

We answer this one from work, this one from mom, look at the video Hank sent, check out the notification from Facebook, read the one that has been sent around the world 2 dozen times but is still funny….

Yeah, we’ve all done it.

What was once hailed as “able to bring about the end of all paper communication” and “speed up communication in a way never before seen” – is now a number one time leak!

Oh, not that all emails are useless or that our inbox hasn’t saved trees and helped productivity.

But, that same tool that was miraculously going to cure us of our need for paper has also enabled us to receive and send many times more information than we likely would have had we needed to use paper.

And, we are using it for things that are more likely enabling us to waste time rather than save it!

So, how do you keep your productivity from leaking?

E-mail Time Management

You determine how IT fits into YOUR life, and how you will use it as a tool. When you define the boundaries and stick to them, then you are in control, not the other way around.

Ask yourself these questions:

1. What is this email inbox for?

Is this primarily for work or for play?

Don’t make the mistake of using it for both! I have made that mistake and am still regretting it and trying to fix it.

Have one inbox for work and one for play. And if you receive a lot of informational emails, then have one specifically set up for those.

This way you are not tempted by the one when you are working on the other!

If you have an employer provided email, then don’t give that one out to friends and family unless you are sure they will only use it with care (no forwards, no confidential information, no conversations you wouldn’t want your boss to see).


2. How will you receive communication?

If you are alerted every time you get an email, then there is no way you are very productive – you must constantly be hoping to check/answer them!

This may sound silly, but when I say take control, I mean of all aspects.

Ask yourself these kinds of questions:

  • What time of day will I look at and respond to email? Set up specific time or times that you will look at and answer the email in your box.
  • Do you want to do it first thing in the morning or will that be too distracting and get you off track so it would be better to do it at the end of the day? Or, would two times a day suffice – noon and 4:30?
  • How do I want people to communicate with me so I will know what the email is about at a glance?

If you are working with a group of people on a project, you might train them to email you with a specific subject line naming the project.

You can also set up a system of numbers (e.g. 1=Priority, 2=Within a Few Days, 3=Within the Week, 4=When You Can Get to It) then train people to use that system to automatically tell you what kind of answer they need.


3. How will you send communication?

This one may also have sounded silly, but you should have the idea from question number 2!

Just like above, if every time the computer tells you “Ding, you’ve got mail” you jump to respond, can you really be productive?

You want to train people how to send emails so you will respond properly, but you also want to train them about when to expect your response.

Will you answer all of them by the end of the day or by the start of the next day?

Do you answer every email or just the ones with questions in them? We waste a ton of time just by responding “Thanks” or “Sure, I’ll get to it” (and opening to read those responses) when we don’t have to.

If they know that you have a system and will respond according to it, then they don’t need the superfluous niceties.

Determine your own system. Then train others and yourself in using it. You must be diligent because fixing your email nightmares won’t happen overnight!

Email Management: Finally the Cure to Inbox Clutter!

Is your email in-box a productivity tool or an energy drain?

This tool that is supposed to make paper obsolete and increase our productivity by speeding up contact has actually been cited as taking 20-30% of employees’ time.

Manage Your Email to Give You More TimeAre we sure that is a sign of increased productivity?

But, just knowing it doesn’t mean you will be able to tame the email monster.  So how can we do it?

Create an Email Management System

Like the foundation for any success, you need a system.

1. Separate In-boxes

Do all of your emails come to one address? This is a recipe for overwhelm.

You should have at least 2 email addresses. One for work and one for play. And do not mix the two – it absolutely reduces productivity.

But on the flip side, you do not want too many email addresses either. The more you have, the more confusing and likely to miss something important.

If you do need to have several (such as one for each domain you own) then forward them into one account.

2. Empty Your Inbox Daily

Is it stressful to look at a desk piled with papers?

Well, just like seeing your paper overload leads to a similar feeling, having an overloaded email inbox will result in the same condition.

I have a rule with paper, if I touch it I deal with it.

You need the same rule with email. If it is opened then answer immediately, forward them to an assistant or funnel it into a specific folder.

Make sure your work email is emptied daily. You may or may not do the same with your other emails, but you do want to have a schedule in which you DO empty them. Otherwise it WILL become overwhelming.

3. Set up Folders and Filters

Set up your folders in a way that makes sense to you. They can be archives (where you keep all emails of the same subject until they are no longer needed) or set up to be dealt with at future, but scheduled, time (e.g. you have a files set up for particular days of the week that you will deal them – like a tickler file).

You can also set up a filter that archives emails that haven’t been read within a specific amount of time. This will clear your inbox for you, but without deleting them.

4. Determine YOUR System For Communicating

You want to develop a system for communicating and then train yourself and others to use that consistently.

For example, if you are working with a group of people on a particular project, train them to email you with the project name in the subject line.

You could also set up a system of numbers (1=Priority, 2=Within a Few Days, 3=Within the Week, 4=When You Can Get to It) and train people to use the appropriate number to automatically tell you what kind of answer they need.

5. Determine YOUR Best Time

Will you deal with your email first thing in the morning or at the end of the day?

If you know that you will be tempted to spend (also known as waste) time if you look first thing, then don’t even open it until 30-45 minutes before you are scheduled to leave.

I will all but guarantee you will not be as tempted to waste time when you are looking forward to getting home!

Set a particular block of time to deal with emails as above and set your timer. Move all emails into folders that you can (without opening) then go through the rest quickly and deal with them immediately.

Improve Your Time Management: Boost Your Brainpower

It’s no secret that it is hard to manage anything well when you are tired, sluggish and weary.

So, even though it takes time to do it, this tip will help improve your time management on several levels.

Thursday Time Management Tip:  Lace Up Your Walking Shoes – Get out and walk.

You don’t have to be trying to get in shape or loose weight to get benefit from walking (though those reasons are great!).

I’m not even talking about these obvious health benefits to walking!  I’m referring to these other benefits:

  • Change Your Focus – when we are focused on one problem or issue for a long time our ability to think creatively about it is weakened.  Getting out and experiencing a change of scenery – not to mention just the physical aspect of loosening muscles and working out the kinks – will restore your creative energy
  • Build Grey Matter – research through brain scans has shown that people who walk 6-9 miles per week have more gray matter (NO, not on top of the head – IN it).  This seems to indicate a greater capacity for memory and increased cognitive function.

So, walking not only gets your body in shape, but your mind as well.

And that can’t help but improve your ability to manage time!

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