AM vs. PM

Oh mornings, why art thou hard to enjoy? And evenings, why do you keep my brain stimulated throughout the night? I have read many books in health and in business that say mornings are better for you while others say afternoons can be beneficial, too.

Working in the AM:

I had read somewhere one hour in the morning is equivalent to two hours in the afternoon. (I am finding this to hold weight to it.)

Less distractions. In the morning, I can scan through my e-mail, create and restructure my to-do list for the hours I have today.

Quiet time. Sometimes I need to pray or meditate on what is happening now. Now two hours from now or two months from now, but here in this moment. I tell myself to relax and be grateful for what I have before moving on.

Exercise. I keep hearing exercise is better in the morning. I read in a health magazine that you should wake up and start exercising before your brain realizes what you are doing. I thought it was funny, but now I’m seriously debating if I should start doing this.

“And there’s no better time to review and plan for [your goals] them and do your goal tasks than first thing.” Zen Habits

“Successful people…wake up early… 4:30 or 5:30am, early”. Entrepreneur Magazine

Photo credit: http://www.rgbstock.com/user/hisks Words: RT Consulting

Photo credit: http://www.rgbstock.com/user/hisks
Words: RT Consulting

Working in the PM (Noon or later):

Atmosphere changes. When the weather changes (in Florida), it gets hotter by the hour. By mid-afternoon I am turning on more fans and lowering the temperature to cool off in my office. Sometimes my office is a nearby coffee shop or park.

A balance between the day’s schedule and daily happenings. The way my meetings are set up, I bounce from meeting to phone conference and vise versa with enough time in between to eat or review the upcoming meeting’s agenda. This “block” of time should increase my productivity but it sometimes distracts me. While I’m eating, I am thinking of something else or see my notifications from various apps.

Less caffeine + more H2O = more restroom breaks

More phone calls + technology use = more recharging time aka “down time” to read or make notes.

Are you jealous of Mad Men’s Don Draper taking an afternoon nap? “Afternoon naps can increase creativity and boost productivity.” Huffpost Healthy Living

There’s a science behind the temperature and lighting (by daylight or florescent) that affect us in the long run. Buffer Social

I’d love to have your feedback! How do you do your mornings? How do you like working in the afternoons? What works best for you?

Are we giving into the fetch, push, and pull of email?

With everyone and everything connected, does it matter when and where we tune in? I cannot tell you how many times I would be in a business meeting and hear the other person’s phone make a noise. No, it wasn’t a phone call or text message but a new email alert.

Do you check the time stamps on the emails you receive? With different time zones aside, I get a lot of them at all hours of the night. Last night I broke one of my carnal rules; I checked and responded to emails in bed. Am I becoming one of those people?

(In the words of Carrie Bradshaw) I couldn’t help but wonder… are we giving into the fetch, push, and pull of email?

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I like to receive a fast response from someone minutes after sending one to them, but I’m guilty of not doing it return. How do we find the balance in our work and life when our email is being fetched and pushed on us throughout the day? How do we stay focused on the task at hand without getting distracted by a new email?

I cannot speak for anyone but me and say I pull, or manually check my email two to three times a day. Period.

8am: Top 5
9:30: First meeting/phone call scheduled
11:00am: Check email for 30 minutes

Afternoon lunch and meetings

2pm: Continue Top 5
3:30pm: Top 5
5pm: Check email for 30 minutes
6pm: Write new agenda for tomorrow

I exercise in the morning or after work. I take longer lunches if I know I’ll be meeting someone. My schedule isn’t always the same, but I strive for consistency to be productive. I know myself and if I had my phone fetching and pushing new emails on me, my assignments would suffer. Forbes suggests you work in 30 minute intervals before checking your email again. What do you think?

How do you manage your workday with emails? I’d like to hear what works for you.

If you LIKE my business page on Facebook, you will see a common thing happening on Fridays I call a “Friday Focus”. The topic varies by what you suggest or what comes to mind. My goal is to help YOU, the reader, to take away something valuable than you may not have considered before. If you want to contribute to an upcoming Friday Focus, please leave me a comment and we can make it happen.

5 Business Apps You Will Use

One of the things I love about working as a consultant is I can do business from anywhere. My office can in be a Panera or a Starbucks for long hours or a break from my home office. When I leave my office to meet with a client, I have to trust technology, apps and the cloud to sync all my business files.

5 Apps Blog

Evernote

Use Evernote to type notes, documents, and add photos to create a note with ease. Every note can have a title and category tags to find later. New notes automatically sync all your Evernote apps that are on your desktop, smart phone, and tablet! Need to share a note? Email it to multiple people, save it once to sync all your devices, or send it to a social media page. If I get an email with an attachment, I can open it in Evernote. Evernote Basic has an upload limit of 60MB per month. Need more storage? Evernote Premium allows you to upload 1GB each month for $45 a year.

Harvest

Time is money. Keeping good records of time and invoices is essential to any business. Harvest makes it easy to log hours and send invoices. There is an online version and a smart phone app version with easier navigation for the features you use the most. There is a section to add expenses accumulated by project and separated by time period. (For basic accounting this can suffice, but I use Quikbooks for more detailed records). It uses the cloud to sync the time from the app to your online account. Each client can have projects with allotted hours. A project budget can be assigned to help you stay within the hours you assign to each project. A detailed report is easy to generat for project hours used or remaining by specific task or by client. The Harvest app is free, but an account is $12 a month.

Reminders

If you’re an Mac user, you are probably already familiar with Reminders. On my iMac I set reminders over the cloud and when I turn on my iPad mini somewhere else, I can see them there. My iPhone has a Rreminder app, but I haven’t figured out how to get this on the cloud. (I have a 4, so maybe the updated iPhones have this feature.) Like the name implies, it “reminds” you of tasks. I categorize e-v-e-r-ything in my life from grocery items, RTC projects, connections, relax, crafty, and so on. You can remind yourself with a reminder on a set time and date. The features are similar to Wunderlist, but I found it hard to sync on all my devices consistently.

Prezi

When I speak at an event, I use Prezi. What’s that? Think of a powerpoint with more functionality than showing the audience slide after slide. You can create a presentation online and then save it. Download the Prezi app (for smart phone and tablet) and download your presentation on your device. You can create, edit, and download each presentation to your device as long as you have an internet connection. After you download the presentation, you can view it with or without an internet connection. This app has been a life saver! At my last speaking event, the projector wasn’t working right. I pulled out my iPad mini and had something to show the audience as I spoke. It is free to join prezi and to download the smart phone app!

Teambox

When I start working with a client, we often create a marketing strategy. Instead of sending a string of e-mails to update the strategy, I use Teambox. There is a smart phone app and a desktop version to create a “team” to collaborate. Invitations are sent out to members of the “team” with assigned features and roles. In the “box”, files are uploaded, comments are easy to make, and you can leave messages for other team members. The “to-do” list feature allows you to assign team members to do what. Communication is easy and keeps your e-mail filled with other things. There is a filter to send you e-mail notices of updates on Teambox if you want updates. Teambox is free up to 5 “team members” and “projects” up to 5GB of uploads. Teambox Pro offers unlimited “team members” and “projects” with a fair use upload starting at $5 a month.

What business apps would you recommend for me to use? Why?

The Rule of 5

Are you trying to stay productive by keeping a to-do list? (Join the club.)

Do you have an app that helps you keep track of it? (We meet every week.)

How successful are you in checking off each task on your to-do list? Be honest. (No, unfortunately there is no club but we could start one.)

If you are like me, smart phone apps like Wunderlist that help organize your to-do lists are amazing! I like how it can by synced through the cloud of technology from my smart phone to my computer with ease. The relationship we share is quite simple. I finish a variety of tasks; I add more things I need to get done; I repeat as necessary. Unfortunately, the cycle never ends which leaves me feeling unaccomplished. On a good day–I’ll check off about seven to nine tasks off my to-do list. By night fall, I add more tasks to it to remind myself of what I need to do tomorrow. This tedious and unrewarding system made me seek an alternative way that is more satisfying. Please do not get me wrong, I am happy with apps like Wunderlist and hard copy to-do lists, but I need fulfillment in my life knowing I made a dent in my world of endless tasks.

Currently, this is what my Wunderlist looks like:

This may not seem over whelming to some, but for me it is more than I can handle from one day after another! When I started searching for an easier method, I sat at my desk tapping on a stack of yellow sticky notes. You have seen them and have probably wrote down some quick notes on them. I use them daily to write notes and transfer them to the always-faithful Wunderlist.

Instead of transferring all my tasks and agendas to Wunderlist and leaving them there, why not rank them on a day-to-day basis? If I take the top five things that are a priority for a given day, I am sure to finish them and the rest can wait. You might be asking yourself, how this is different from the tedious cycle as before? Well, according to “The Rule of 5” it is setting yourself up for an achievable goal that is within your reach. When you have this mindset, you can finish your list of five tasks for the day. And you are more likely to get them done than a longer list.

Still don’t believe me? Try it or read some other examples of “The Rule of 5”.

If you want to start using this method today, here are some helpful tips:

  • Use a solid color sticky note such as yellow. The color yellow helps you remember what you wrote down.
  • When you get used to a solid color, reward yourself with a different color, style, design.
  • Keep your list to five to follow “The Rule of 5” and to reap the full benefits.
  • If you do not finish everything on your list, it is ok! Add them to the top of tomorrow’s list.
  • If you finish everything on your list, prepare tomorrow’s list before tomorrow gets here by being one step ahead.

What are you some helpful tools you use to stay productive?