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Mistakes Can Lead to Better Organization

Mistakes Can Lead to Better Organization

    Not long ago I got two great chances to fly by the seat of my pants. And, I HATE flying by the seat of my pants. I’d rather go to the dentist or chew aluminum foil! Whether I’m scheduled to speak to audiences for fee or for free, I prepare very carefully. I want people to leave my speeches ready to take action and change their lives. Being prepared grounds me to be able to handle the stress of speaking and whatever else comes my way.

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    Last Thursday I was ready to speak to a study group of the American Society of Interior Designers. I was more nervous than usual because two men from a local speaker’s bureau were going to be in attendance to see if I’m the kind of speaker their company wants to represent. I thought I had my act completely together. I was going to do a slide presentation which required that I use my laptop computer. As I got ready to set up I suddenly realized that I’d left my computer on the kitchen counter, at least 40 minutes away. My first thought was, “Well, I guess you’ve got to make every mistake possible as a speaker so you can learn from them!” I’ve come a long way from the days when I would have bludgeoned myself with, “How could you be so stupid!”

    As I usually do when faced with a sudden challenge like that, I went into problem-solving mode. I’d given that speech many times without using slides. I could certainly do that again. And, that’s what I did. I spent some time calming myself down, mentally reviewing the material, and I gave a good speech. Under the circumstances I was pleased to have been able to do that. Had I not been well organized in every other way, it would have been much harder to recover and give my audience a good experience.

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    The next day I made sure I took my laptop to do a speech for employees in the Mortgage Division of Village Bank. Again, I was very organized, and I was pleased that I’d remembered the laptop. I thought to myself, “You’re really ready this time!” Wrong!!!!

    With the help of some Village Bank employees I began to set up my computer to project my slides through their system. That’s when it hit me that though I had the computer, I had left my power cord at home. I had to laugh at myself. Another lesson! You need both the computer and the power cord to run a slide presentation.

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    Fortunately, the Village Bank people were so nice, helpful and understanding. One man had a flash drive I was able to load my speech onto and I was able to project it through their system. There’s more than one way to skin a cat! Or rather, there’s more than one way to project a slide program!

    Having made those two amazing mistakes back to back gave me the impetus to get more systematic about loading my AV bag. Most items in my AV bag never leave it between speeches. My computer and power cord do. My current solution to make sure I’m never without my computer and power cord again is to have two red cords with tags attached to them that read “Computer” and “Power Cord” tied to my bag handles when those items are not in the bag. They are my cues to check to make sure the computer and power cord are in the bag. When I put the computer in the bag, I take the tag off and put it in the bag. When I pull the computer out of the bag I tie the tag to the handle. I’ll do the same thing with the power cord tag. And, for good measure, I’m putting a flash drive with my speeches on it in the bag.

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    Making mistakes can lead to good organizing solutions! I’ll bet I’m not likely to forget my computer or power cord again, or at least not any time soon!

    What mistakes have you made that caused you to reorganize and improve a process?

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    Last Updated on March 23, 2021

    Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

    Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

    One of the greatest ironies of this age is that while various gadgets like smartphones and netbooks allow you to multitask, it seems that you never manage to get things done. You are caught in the busyness trap. There’s just too much work to do in one day that sometimes you end up exhausted with half-finished tasks.

    The problem lies in how to keep our energy level high to ensure that you finish at least one of your most important tasks for the day. There’s just not enough hours in a day and it’s not possible to be productive the whole time.

    You need more than time management. You need energy management

    1. Dispel the idea that you need to be a “morning person” to be productive

    How many times have you heard (or read) this advice – wake up early so that you can do all the tasks at hand. There’s nothing wrong with that advice. It’s actually reeks of good common sense – start early, finish early. The thing is that technique alone won’t work with everyone. Especially not with people who are not morning larks.

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    I should know because I was once deluded with the idea that I will be more productive if I get out of bed by 6 a.m. Like most of you Lifehackers, I’m always on the lookout for productivity hacks because I have a lot of things in my plate. I’m working full time as an editor for a news agency, while at the same time tending to my side business as a content marketing strategist. I’m also a travel blogger and oh yeah, I forgot, I also have a life.

    I read a lot of productivity books and blogs looking for ways to make the most of my 24 hours. Most stories on productivity stress waking up early. So I did – and I was a major failure in that department – both in waking up early and finishing early.

    2. Determine your “peak hours”

    Energy management begins with looking for your most productive hours in a day. Getting attuned to your body clock won’t happen instantly but there’s a way around it.

    Monitor your working habits for one week and list down the time when you managed to do the most work. Take note also of what you feel during those hours – do you feel energized or lethargic? Monitor this and you will find a pattern later on.

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    My experiment with being a morning lark proved that ignoring my body clock and just doing it by disciplining myself to wake up before 8 a.m. will push me to be more productive. I thought that by writing blog posts and other reports in the morning that I would be finished by noon and use my lunch break for a quick gym session. That never happened. I was sleepy, distracted and couldn’t write jack before 10 a.m.

    In fact that was one experiment that I shouldn’t have tried because I should know better. After all, I’ve been writing for a living for the last 15 years, and I have observed time and again that I write more –and better – in the afternoon and in evenings after supper. I’m a night owl. I might as well, accept it and work around it.

    Just recently, I was so fired up by a certain idea that – even if I’m back home tired from work – I took out my netbook, wrote and published a 600-word blog post by 11 p.m. This is a bit extreme and one of my rare outbursts of energy, but it works for me.

    3. Block those high-energy hours

    Once you have a sense of that high-energy time, you can then mold your schedule so that your other less important tasks will be scheduled either before or after this designated productive time.

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    Block them out in your calendar and use the high-energy hours for your high priority tasks – especially those that require more of your mental energy and focus. You also need to use these hours to any task that will bring you closer to you life’s goal.

    If you are a morning person, you might want to schedule most business meetings before lunch time as it’s important to keep your mind sharp and focused. But nothing is set in stone. Sometimes you have to sacrifice those productive hours to attend to other personal stuff – like if you or your family members are sick or if you have to attend your son’s graduation.

    That said, just remember to keep those productive times on your calendar. You may allow for some exemptions but stick to that schedule as much as possible.

    There’s no right or wrong way of using this energy management technique because everything depends on your own personal circumstances. What you need to remember is that you have to accept what works for you – and not what other productivity gurus say you should do.

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    Understanding your own body clock is the key to time management. Without it, you end up exhausted chasing a never-ending cycle of tasks and frustrations.

    Featured photo credit: Collin Hardy via unsplash.com

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