Author Archive: August 27th, 2013

27 Aug

Organize Your Way to Productivity

Blog No Comments by Travis Jones

Organize Your Way to ProductivityNo one accidentally becomes productive. Every successful and productive person you know made purposeful and organized steps to achieve their goals. It is no surprise therefore that the list of organization and time management systems, and the people that promote them, is literally endless. The bottom line is that if you want to be more productive, you must have a system. In this post, I want to urge you not only to find a system, but to find a system that is right for you.

The breadth of research and programs on time management can be overwhelming, especially in light of each system’s claim to be the universal solution for everyone. The best time management systems however are one’s that allow for flexibility and incorporate the various working styles that makes each one of us unique. Since we have different organizational needs and personalities, we each need a system of organization that fully incorporates who we are as individuals and our tendencies for disorganization and procrastination. For example, everyone has a different internal “clock” that determines which part of the day is the most productive; Some are more productive in the early morning hours before the busyness of the day begins, while others, like myself, prefer working late into the night when most everyone else is asleep. This difference in productive rhythm means that a “one-size-fits-all” time management system will inevitably be more successful for some than for others.

Another difference is that each of us varies on a spectrum of self-motivation and natural success with deadlines and reaching time sensitive goals. So a more rigid time management system will work better for someone who is not naturally inclined to set their own agenda under time constraints and will be less effective for those who already thrive within an ordered, calendar driven schedule.  The problem is locating our various tendencies and discovering the time management system that is right for us. It can take years to pin point your work idiosyncrasies and the circumstances in which you are most productive, so beginning the narrowing process as soon as possible is vital.

Here are a few recommendations to get you started: First, find someone successful you admire who is similar to you in personality and work style, and ask them about their organization strategies and time management tips. People are generally eager to share their insights and experiences with anyone willing to listen and learn. Second, choose a system that you like and stick with it for a predetermined amount of time. You will never know under which method you thrive the most if you never try one out. Trying various time management methods will not only ensure you are making progress in productivity, but with every attempt, you are getting that much closer to narrowing down exactly what system works best for you.

The key is not just choosing a productivity plan and sticking with it, but choosing a plan that best fits all of your characteristics and needs. This is the way that productivity actually sticks.

Manage Your Time & Get Organized!

22 Aug

What Time Are You?

Blog No Comments by Travis Jones

What Time Are You?When someone asks us “what time is it?”, they are asking something about the world that is “outside of us” and objective. So to answer their question we usually look to the nearest clock, phone, or computer screen to tell them the socially agreed upon time at that moment. But if you ask someone to meet you somewhere at 7pm or to estimate the amount of time to drive to New York, you realize quickly that individual perceptions of time are much more “fuzzy” than the numbers on an alarm clock. And since none of us has an internal digital clock in our minds, understanding individual perceptions of time has far reaching implications for time management, vision casting, financial forecasts, and all the other time sensitive needs of an organization.

Unlike clock-time, which has universal standards of measurement, social-psychological time changes with every individual, culture, or circumstance. Psychologists John Boyd and Philip Zimbardo in Time Paradox have developed, through years of exhaustive research, a time perspective inventory designed to locate ones time “personality.” The ZTPI, Zimbardo Time Perspective Inventory, rates individuals on a scale of six temporal personalities based on their responses to questions regarding their perceptions of time related issues. They are: past-negative, past-positive, present-fatalistic, present hedonistic, future, transcendental future. There are 56 questions like “Ideally, I would live everyday as if its my last”, “Before making a decision, I weigh the costs against the benefits” and “My life path is controlled by forces I cannot influence.” Their research has confirmed that people vary in degree in how they think about the past, present and future, and their time personality has implications for virtually every area of their lives.

The decisions you make about your health, finances, and relationships can largely be traced back to your particular time personality. Are you more risk aversive now for a future benefit later? Do you think about past events before making decisions? Do you mostly live in the moment and worry about consequences later? As Zimbardo admits, the research on time personality is growing but is also very new and constantly changing. Their work is important because it lays a foundation and makes a case for the importance of taking time personality seriously. If you have never done so, I encourage you to take the ZTPI at  www.thetimeparodox.com to see what your time personality is in order to better navigate all of the time constraints on your personal and professional life.

Manage Your Time & Get Organized!

25 Jul

Handling Stress Before It Turns Into Burnout

Blog No Comments by Travis Jones

Handling Stress Before It Turns Into BurnoutAre you feeling overworked? Is the concept of “work-life balance” far fetched? You’re not alone. Working longer hours is becoming more and more common. Overwork can have negative effects on your health, happiness and productivity.  This month we’ll focus on how to tell if you’re overworked and what you can do to change your situation and become a happier, healthier employee!

New research on the physical and mental effects of work related stress is troubling to say the least. The list of possible symptoms that you are reaching unhealthy levels of burnout from work is much longer than this post could possibly cover and a list of suggested remedies would be even longer. However, as you seek to maintain a healthy work-life balance, understanding the difference between stress and burnout can be a helpful guide to keeping you from the harmful conditions of being overworked.

It is inevitable that you will experience at least some level of stress in relation to work in your lifetime and given the changing 24/7 work climate the chances that you have already experienced some health related issues because of work is also very high. Since stress has become a natural consequence of being overworked, it is important to distinguish between expected, normal levels of stress and unhealthy, excessive levels leading to burnout. Stress occurs when you feel overworked with the pressure to accomplish more than you have time in the day. But many people who experience stress also feel like there is a light at the end of the tunnel and that they will eventually complete the tasks before them. The experience of burnout however, occurs when levels of stress leave one with an overwhelming sense of defeat. Below is a helpful chart distinguishing the degrees to which stress and burnout differ.

Stress vs. Burnout
Stress Burnout
Characterized by over engagement Characterized by disengagement
Emotions are over reactive Emotions are blunted
Produces urgency and hyperactivity Produces helplessness and hopelessness
Loss of energy Loss of motivation, ideals, and hope
Leads to anxiety disorders Leads to detachment and depression
Primary damage is physical Primary damage is emotional
May kill you prematurely May make life seem not worth living

One way to diagnose yourself in regards to levels of stress and burnout is to look for varying degrees of sustained symptoms. Signs that you may be experiencing mental and physical effects of burnout are simply the persistent symptoms of stress. Physically, you may be developing semi-permanent symptoms such as over-eating and weight gain, consistent lack of sleep, a prolonged sense of depression about work, or a growing detachment from your other social relationships. Mentally, you may find yourself experiencing long periods of depression, mental fatigue, distraction, and lack of motivation.

The most recent research in psychology and neuroscience suggests that the mind is a flexible organ that creates sustained patterns of thinking based on repeated experiences. This means that if you allow periods of stress from work to become more frequent, you are increasing the likelihood of experiencing burnout. The key then to avoiding the unhealthy symptoms of burnout, is to address the early signs of stress that are often our body’s “warning signs” for what’s ahead. The challenge is recognizing these early signs of stress in an environment where stress has become the expected norm. You must build into your busy schedule purposeful “stops” in order to check your mental and physical vital signs, so that the sparks of stress do not engulf into flames of burnout.

Overcome Being Overworked!

 

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