Archive for the 'personal productivity' Category
Keeping Track of Both the Schedulers and Your Calendar
If you and your assistant both handle scheduling, take this simple step to make it clear which one of you made each appointment on the calendar. This avoids the: “Who scheduled that meeting for the same time?!”
The fix: The person scheduling the appointment can include their initials in parentheses after the meeting title. For example: Budget Meeting, All Staff (CS).
You’ll be able to easily figure out what the misunderstanding was because you will both know for sure who made the overlapping appointment.
Email Signatures Work Best Both Ways
Just as every executive (or any professional!) needs an email signature with their complete contact information, so does their assistant. Especially if your assistant is handling matters for more than one boss!
Your assistant needs to set up a separate email signature for each of the people for which he/she handles email correspondence.
The example email signature includes:
Rebecca Sunnybrook (name), Executive Assistant to Lou Abbott (boss name)
Vice President of Sales (boss’ title), ABCASEFA EFASEFAX (company name)
X 337455 (Internal phone number)
(222) 555-8888 (External phone number)
Rebecca.Sunnybrook@ABCASEFA-EFASEFAX.com (Live link email)
Optional: company website URL here
Company wide email signature protocols help to keep communications flowing more clearly with fewer mistakes.
Plus, signatures tell people you do want them to be able to be in touch with you. Even if it is through your assistant rather than directly to you!
A defined space tends to collect items which belong in it. An undefined space tends to become piles of chaos.
These are two of the universal productivity principles that apply to both computer files and paper information.
Define Your Space or Pile on the Chaos. Whenever you look at a shelf of binders (or anything in your office) that has no label, your brain opens a loop.
It wants to know “What is it? When do I need to do what with it? What will I need to put in/take out of it?”
When you label every item (or space) in your office—you’ll act from a more clear mental framework.
Get it Right the First Time
If there are three shelves labeled on your bookcase, when you are in a hurry you will throw stuff on the fourth shelf with no label.
If it’s got a label, your brain goes “BZZZT! Try again.”
So you’re more likely put it where it belongs the first time.
Label Makers Rule
Label makers are a must for every office tune-up.
First, because it makes it easier to do the best thing and label items as you go along.
Second, because when a binder, file or desktop organizer section is
labeled you make decisions from a sense of order instead of struggling with mental overload from unnecessary stimulation.
Label makers make productivity faster and easier. Just type, print and stick.
Do not let whether or not you have a label maker stop you from
labeling things. Handwritten labels work just fine. I use them often in
my own office.Any sorter unit can become just another pile without clear identification. Labeling is one of the most important productivity techniques to maintaining more order as you adjust to work and life changes. Label makers save time!
Label that sorter! In – Action – Out
It’s important to establish In zones, and Out exits, in addition to your core Action area. No one should have to ask, “Where’s your inbox?”
Improve your desktop sorters with categories by department, topic,
or file topic sections, because as long as you have it all labeled or
indexed, anyone can find what is needed.
If there is anything more challenging than managing time at work — I can’t think of it. According to new research our brain cleverly ‘adjusts’ time based on what and how you are thinking about! This New York Times article can help you improve your performance and productivity by knowing how your brain handles ‘time’.
“Yet the sensation of passing time can be very different, Dr. Zauberman said, “depending on what you think about, and how.”
“In fact, scientists are not sure how the brain tracks time. One theory holds that it has a cluster of cells specialized to count off intervals of time; another that a wide array of neural processes act as an internal clock.
Either way, studies find, this biological pacemaker has a poor grasp of longer intervals. Time does seem to slow to a trickle during an empty afternoon and race when the brain is engrossed in challenging work.
Stimulants, including caffeine, tend to make people feel as if time is passing faster; complex jobs, like doing taxes, can seem to drag on longer than they actually do.
And emotional events — a breakup, a promotion, a transformative trip abroad — tend to be perceived as more recent than they actually are, by months or even years.”
For the whole New York Times article see:
80 percent of the paper that we file at work is NEVER referred to again. After one year that unnecessary document storage statistic increases to over 90 percent.
Eegads !! It’s no wonder we can’t find what we’re looking for. Use my paper retention tips to melt your paper blizzard at work and for tax-time at home.
Home Tax Audit records retention guideline tip:
Written documentation for each deduction: receipts, buy/sell/donate/yearly investment statements, 1099s and/or W-2s, credit card/bank statements & checks.
After six years; Put actual tax filing papers and any essentials (W-2s/1099s into a permanent tax records archive. For details see:
Then, dispose of outdated backup documentation and SHRED.
If you turn your personal tax insurance and financial record shredding over to a company — make sure they will let you watch them shred your documents.
For more tips on records retention guidelines for work and personal documentation check out:
If you don’t need it, why not dump it?
Our brain’s top priorities include survival of our self, our family and our job. That is why the basis of every human transaction is “What’s in it for me?” To enhance your performance for better results, here are six words to avoid using with your colleagues, clients and everyone else too.
Humans hate to hear ‘no’ (brain MRIs shift to stress patterns). Humans love to hear ‘yes’ (brain MRIs light up in an instant). So, if you are about to say no to someone: Stop. Think what it would take to say yes to their request. Especially if you both can work together for a win-win outcome! Make things happen instead of spending your energy on all the reasons you can not.
The human brain always processes a negative in language by defaulting to the positive. When you say, “Don’t judge a product by brand alone,” what they really hear after not processing the negative is, “Judge a product by brand alone.” Communicate positively, by telling everyone what you want them to do, not what you don’t want them to do.
Speaking of ‘don’t’, can’t is another word that can frustrate or outright anger anyone from your boss to your spouse. When people process “I can’t”, they hear, “I choose not to.” Instead of focusing on what you can’t do, focus on what you can do.
As soon as you say the word ‘but’ your listener deletes the previous words spoken. For example, “You did good work, but…”) Now they are waiting to hear what you are really going to tell them. Replace but with either the word ‘and’ or start a new sentence. For example:
“You did good work and I wish your bonus was bigger.”
“You did good work. Unfortunately, the bonus pool last year was less than before.”
When your listener hears you say, ‘honestly,’ you imply to them that some (or all!) of everything else you’ve said has not been honest. Delete these next two words from your vocabulary for the same reason: frankly, truthfully. I use the words, In fact but only when I have a relevant fact or new information to share.
If always implies the opposite, “if not” as your brain processes language. When is a more definite word for the brain; it knows how to use when easily. For example:
“If you want to enhance your performance, here are six words you will be more successful by not using.”
When you want to enhance your performance, here are six words you will be more successful by not using.”
Changing these words is guaranteed to get you better results at work and in life!
Excerpted: A Brain New Way to Work: Using your brain at work for better results and less stress. Copyright 2010 Eve Abbott All rights reserved.
The secret to optimizing your productivity and keeping your team organized is the same as the answer to “How do you eat a computer?” The answer is “One byte at a time!”
With software applications taking up increasing amounts of hard drive space and people using multiple applications simultaneously, it is easier than ever to have your work crawling along slowly.
BACKUP BACKUP BACKUP: Backing up your work on a regular basis gives you the security of knowing that even if you do toss something before its time – you can retrieve it. Make sure IT actually has backups of your system.
This makes optimizing your computing a worry free activity. You may be amazed at how much you never refer to again.
Remember, 80 percent of what we e-file never gets referred to again!
7 Optimizing Your Computing Tips:
- Put an underscore (_) in front of any folder and an exclamation point (!) in front of any file name that you use most frequently.
- Review temporary (.tmp) files before deleting.
- Back up large unused files (or when finishing a project) onto media of choice (Memory stick, CD, DVD, External hard drive).
- Make an Archive folder in each major directory and/or in each major folder for outdated files and compress these folders.
- Empty the recycle bin.
- In Explore, Windows, Delete all files in Temp folder.
- At Start Pearl, select Explore, Search (magnifying glass icon), Files or Folders, Key in .tmp, Do a FIND ALL and delete.
Your computer will thank you and run faster. Your team will thank you and run smoother. Any executive will thank themselves for being so smart as to use my easy brain-based performance tips to save time and overcome overload!
Excerpts from: “A Brain New Way to Work: Using your brain at work for better results with less stress” Copyright 2010 Eve Abbott All rights reserved.
If not, why not? What a great tool to boost your productivity and give your brain the best opportunity to help you work at your personal best. If you can’t close your office door for privacy while you exercise, you can even do it a bathroom stall!
Plus, it’s useful for any kind of brain fog or dullness, and for promoting emotional stability. It has been demonstrated to improve memory and focus in children, adults and elders.
Instructions on how to do this 3-minute simple exercise:
- Standing with your feet pointing straight ahead, spread them apart about shoulder width.
- Gently grab your right earlobe with the thumb and finger of your left hand.
- Cross over your left arm and do the same using your right hand on the left earlobe.
- Then squat as fully as you can comfortably, while breathing in.
(Inhaling as you squat may seem counter intuitive, but that’s what works.)
- Then breathe out as you stand upright.
(Your breathing needs to be synchronized with the squats.)
- Continue to repeat this movement/breath cycle while holding both earlobes for three minutes.
That may be too much at first, so start with one minute. One can go up to five minutes, but three is enough to produce results. This can be done by anyone at any age and is recommended on a daily basis until the brain fog lifts.
How It Works: Los Angeles physician Dr. Eric Robins says that the brain cells and neurons (connectors) are energized with this simple exercise. It seems that combining a mildly aerobic exercise also helps flood the brain cells with oxygen. He prescribes it to his patients and has had excellent results.
According to Yale neurobiologist Dr. Eugenius Ang, the earlobes are acupuncture points that stimulate neural pathways in the brain. Using opposite hands for gently pinching the earlobes creates activity on both sides of the brain’s hemispheres simultaneously.
Ang showed the results from EEG (electroencephalography) readings after doing this exercise indicate that the right and left hemispheres of the brain had become synchronized. (EEG readings measure the neuron firings in the brain via electrodes on the scalp.) Dr. Ang also does this exercise daily in the morning and when he feels tired.
How It Started: This easy and inexpensive way to improve memory, mental clarity and focus was introduced by pranic (breathing) yoga Master Koa Chok Sui’s book SuperBrain Yoga and taught by him personally on lecture tours.
It was also featured in a Los Angeles CBS News report that had an MD, a Yale neurobiologist, an occupational therapist, educators, and parents endorsing it.
What have you got to lose? Just three minutes for mental clarity, improved focus and emotional resilience!
Information originated from
The following blog post is the best reason I’ve ever heard to keep photographs in your office. Not to mention your iPhone or whatever handheld you use.
In honor of Valentine’s Day, I want to share some new research showing that love can act as a powerful pain reducing brain drug. shows that the very sight of a loved one can ease your pain.
In the study, 25 couples in long-term relationships were brought to a lab, and the woman was subjected to a bearable but unpleasant burning pain.
Each woman was asked to rate her pain on a scale while holding her loved one’s hand. were surprised at the results. (for full article click above)
“We indeed found that women holding their partner’s hand reported significantly less pain than holding a stranger’s hand or inanimate object,” said Master. “But what was really interesting was that we found equal results by using only photographs “. (Ed. of the beloved).
Surrounding yourself with pictures of your loved ones is a simple, yet powerful way to help your brain and heart have a better performance day at work.
A true story from my book: “When I was working as a lawyer in a windowless office, I got hellacious headaches and thought I was going crazy. I went to a neurologist who told me the ‘flickering’ from the computer and fluorescent lights were slightly off—so my brain couldn’t handle the different flickerings.
“I got full spectrum lights and the headaches disappeared. Once I got an office with a window, I was able to have God-given ‘full spectrum’ light. I’ll never go back to no windows.” Sandra Shepard, Esquire
You don’t have to wait for a corner office with windows to improve your mental ability and energy levels!
Full spectrum light will change the way you work and reduce visual fatigue as well as lifting your energy levels. Our eyes are designed to work with sunlight and won’t tire as quickly with this energy-efficient light source.
It is scientifically proven that the quantity and quality of light plays a significant role in mood and work performance. Young people are more affected than elders but everyone responds positively to higher light levels.
Women are affected by SAD (seasonal affective disorder) four times more than men. Female brains are not tricked by blue TV or orange bulb light into thinking it is summer all year long.
I recommend full spectrum light for everywhere you read, write, do computing or close work of any kind. Just install the bulbs in your office task-lamps. Quality light makes a difference in your attention span and helps keep your brain performing at your personal best!
Finding a new way to help reduce stress without paying a psychiatrist is always a good thing for over-worked and inevitably stressed professionals.
BBC News: Meditainment presents a 14 minute guided meditation called “The Secret Garden” at no charge. Whether you’re new or experienced in
meditation, you can expect this to work first time. After a
5 minute breathing exercise, you will follow a story where
you imagine relaxing on a hammock in your own Secret Garden.
Get your complimentary .
I especially recommend this online relaxation resource because the download is free so you can access it anytime on your computer.
As often as you want or need to take a few minutes to relax will restore oxygen to your brain and turn on the vagus nerve for more blood flow to the brain. You may be pleasantly surprised at the before-and-after difference!
For many Americans, their Top Ten New Years Resolutions include less smoking and less drinking. You may change your resolutions after seeing these amazing images from Dr. Amen’s new book which show that an executive’s long-term, heavy use of nicotine and caffeine can be just as (or more) brain damaging as addicted illegal drug use!
I highly recommend his book, Dr. Daniel G. Amen is a neuroscientist and professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at the University of California, Irvine, as well as director of the Amen Clinics.
Keep your eyes peeled for Dr. Amen’s expertise on !
Why make it harder to succeed at work?
We only get one brain and cannot grow another one.
Remember to concentrate on changing one habit at a time.
Your brain will thank you!
I am grateful to my friends and former clients sending me the latest info on the scams that can ruin your holidays or the New Year.
My friend “Z” wrote me to warn me about the experience they had while on vacation back East. She and her husband “A” were at a WALMART. Her husband noticed while he was signing the credit card authorization that $40.00 cash back was listed. He immediately told the cashier that he had not asked for nor did he want any cash back.
The cashier said “oh sorry that machine has been acting up.” Then, she corrected the transaction and reissued the receipt.
Number one fact: machines do not add on anything to your transaction — the cashier does. WALMART said they couldn’t see her pocketing the cash so there was nothing to do.
Solution: Always check your receipts before signing the authorization.
Never hesitate to question charges or anything you do not understand, no matter how long the line is waiting behind you.
A cashier can haul in thousands of dollars from hundreds of transactions they process in one shift. There is no way to recover your money because the receipt ’shows’ you asked for the cash back. Then it becomes a “they say VS you say” situation.
It is up to you to protect your self and your money every time you do a transaction.
I have been surprised to find just how much the different search engines do not show all appropriate results for any one search term. Plug the same word (s) into Google, Yahoo or BING and get mostly the same results plus there are always some obviously ‘missing links’.
Enter with a great solution: put in your search terms and just toggle through the link results for all three major search engines (with the duplicates not shown). You also get a complete range of video, images and podcast results!
www.LEAPFISH.com is now my favorite search site and I use it everyday. Save Time. Get better, faster search results. Try it, you will like it!
“Brain styles are an invisible diversity issue in the workplace,” Eve Abbott explains. Ian Moore’s eight-minute audio interview with Eve is for individuals who are interested in using their brain to overcome information overload and improve time management. Plus, learning how to bridge brain style differences for better team performance.
An unedited 12-minute video of Eve Abbott’s program, “How to Do Space Age Work with a Stone Age Brain”. Each A Brain New Way to Work program combines humor with the latest in brain research. Eve’s proven productivity tips help people to get the most out of their email with their unique brain style. Specialized programs include Outlook or Lotus Notes best practices.
Alan Stewart does a terrific podcast and blog on the challenges of ‘marketing’ for real people, from executives to business owners. Many of Alan’s interviews are with authors like Eve Abbott whose book,“A Brain New Way to Work” is an interactive guide with many images and photographs.
September 5, Epipod #12:
During the podcast
“Wow! Not only are they right on, but I can hardly wait to get to the office and start applying some of it.”
This lively interview includes three segments with Eve Abbott on getting better results from your unique brain style at work while “Getting It All Done in a 24/7/365 World”. Your host is Bridget Beck of “Get Wise – Get Organized” on World Talk Radio.