Using Checklists to Save Yourself Time

Checklists are the perfect tools you can use to better organize and manage your assignments. These also allow you to easily identify and determine tasks of the highest importance. A checklist is designed to ensure completeness and consistency and reduce errors as you carry out a particular duty. 

There will always be busy days when you have lots of things and tasks to do but with very little time available at your disposal to get things done. This is when you need a tool to help you organize your overwhelming tasks and manage all your responsibilities. Checklists are used to perform routine checks and make sure that you don’t miss out anything. 

What are Checklists? 

Checklists are formats made to accomplish repetitive activities, collect data in a systematic and orderly manner, and control compliance with a requirements list. Checklists are used for making standardized checks of things and tasks to ensure that no important point is missed or overlooked. 

Uses and Purposes of Checklists 

Checklists can come in handy and useful for different tasks, including the following:

    • Conducting inspections that require a record of the inspected points

 

    • Conducting activities where it is a must to ensure that there are no forgotten steps or that tasks are all done in proper order 

 

    • Examine or verify articles

 

    • Analysis and verification of operations 

 

    • Analyze or examine the position of defects and check the reason behind these defects 

 

  • Collect data required for future analysis 

Top Reasons to Use Checklists 

Every time you do a task that involves several steps, it is all too easy to forget one or even several of them. The use of checklists will ensure that nothing will be forgotten. A checklist is one indispensable tool if you are doing something repeatedly, and you wish to do this right each and every time. 

A checklist can help save you time since there is no need for you to use time just to remember the steps. This will then allow you to dedicate and focus all of your time on the completion of the task at hand. A checklist will also let you delegate tasks effectively and confidently. The use of a checklist is a great way to make your life simpler and more productive.  

How to Prepare an Effective Checklist 

  1. Every item in your checklist should be brief and clear. This will make things easier for you and the people who will use the checklist. 
  2. Organize all items by group or category. It lets you navigate between different sections with ease and look for items you need to work on right away. 
  3. The checklist should be easy to use and understand. Come up with simple steps that will remind the user in a more straightforward way of the steps they should follow. 
  4. Continue to refine the checklist. Constant improvements will further improve the effectiveness of your checklist. 

A checklist helps you maintain good practices and consistency in a very convenient and easy way. This can also help you save time, energy and resources in the process.  

How to Manage Digital Clutter

Clutter can have the worst effect on productivity. 

Many people find it hard to work and concentrate in a messy and cluttered space. Getting rid of physical clutter to make your workspace cozier and more work-conducive allows you to get things done.

However, there is one form of clutter that most people tend to overlook. This is none other than digital clutter. 

Today, almost all aspects of a person’s day to day life is digital. You store tons of information on your smartphones, computers, and online. This makes it too easy for your digital space to become disorganized and overwhelmed. Just like cleaning your desk on a regular basis, cleaning out and managing your digital clutter is also important for you to be more productive. 

Check out the following tips to help you out:

Desktop

Free up some mental space by freeing up your computer’s desktop space. 

  1. Get rid of duplicate files, delete downloads, and empty the recycle or trash bin.
  2. Go through the bookmarks you’ve got on the browser. The general rule of thumb here is that if it is easy for you to get to a particular site by just typing in its name, there is no need to bookmark it. Instead, reserve this feature for specific or unique pages such as the web portal of your dentist. 
  3. Create 5 to 6 top-level folders in your computer’s Documents folder. You can label these are Receipts, Financial, Household, Health, Kids, and Travel, for example. Add sublevels as needed, but you shouldn’t go over 2 or 3 deep. Move the corresponding files from the desktop to these newly made folders. 

E-mail

It is now high time for you to get over that fear of deleting an email that you might need in the near future. You can only move on if you deal with this right away. 

  1. Grab this chance to opt-out of those subscriptions no longer of importance to you. 
  2. If you feel like you need something down the road such as receipts or emails related to your tax transactions, you can save this on a computer folder instead of an email folder. Delete that email right away after you do so. 

Apps 

Many people today often have 5 to 10 apps, yet there are also those who have 50 up to 100 apps on their device. You can improve the speed of your device by deleting those apps you don’t even use. This will also make it simpler and faster for you to access the ones you need and use. 

  1. Clear apps outside your home screen because of the fact that they aren’t there means they are not important. You can always reinstall if you suddenly miss them after some time. 
  2. Store your games and social media apps in the folder named “Time Wasters.” This blunt title will remind you to be extra mindful with every tap and swipe. 

Videos and Photos 

Photos worthy of keeping must be memory triggers for a behavior or event. 

  1. Begin with your oldest videos. Videos eat up lots of space, and if they are older, you will have a less emotional attachment to them. 
  2. Move those keepers to a computer or on the cloud. Place these in one folder that is backed up on a regular basis.

Why You Should be Brain Dumping Daily

What is the secret for increased productivity and creativity?  Well, brain dumping might be the answer to this. 

When you speak of brain dumping, you basically take all those thoughts running around your mind and dumping these into a piece of paper. Having your ideas written on paper is crucial for success. Ideas can lead to more ideas, but failure to write those down will make you lose all of them for good in a snap of a finger. 

In the practice of brain dumping, you have to transfer all of the knowledge and thoughts you have about a certain subject or during a specific timeframe into a notepad or journal. The main purpose here is for you to round up any loose ends, thoughts, and ideas then contain all of these into a single place. 

You can create your brain dump lists on physical paper journals or on a digital application on your smartphone or computer. 

Why should you brain dump daily, anyway? What makes this exercise beneficial? 

Take a look at the following advantages of brain dumping every day:

  1. Brain dumping lets you identify that one place where you can keep all your thoughts. 
  2. How many times have you had an excellent idea, but you failed to remember one critical detail? You can check back and review your brain dump log to find the answer right there waiting for you. 
  3. The ability to look at all of your ideas and thoughts within a certain timeframe from a higher level can give you the chance to make and identify connections that you probably didn’t see before. It is a great tool for product developers, entrepreneurs, and business owners. 
  4. Brain dumping can bring order and organization to the chaotic mess of information overload that is very common these days. This helps you prioritize your tasks, then complete them accordingly. 
  5. Your brain dump log can provide you a history of work and ideas you have that you can tap into and use any time in the near future for new ideas for brainstorming. 
  6. When your brain dumps on a daily basis, you can lower the number of things that can distract you from gaining proper workflow and focus throughout the day.
  7. You can use brain dumping exercise to form physical lists. These physical lists might be easier and simpler to manage compared to mental lists. 
  8. Similar to a computer, brain dumping allows you to clear your brain’s cache, and as a result, it  can improve its processing speed and overall performance. 
  9. You can plan your entire month with the use of your brain dump log and enhance your productivity. 
  10. Based on research studies, it shows that the mere act of physically writing everything down will let you encode and imprint this in your memory and improve your recall. This is what you call the modality effect. 

Practice brain dumping if you usually find yourself lacking focus or on information overload. With brain dump, you can increase your productivity, creativity, and the number of hours you spend in the zone. 

Why Mind Mapping is a Great Brainstorming Tool

Brainstorming is a type of activity meant to come up with new and novel creative ideas to solve a certain problem. This is a relaxed group discussion with the objective of finding a solution by gathering different ideas from its participants. Due to its freethinking environment, brainstorming sessions help encourage out of the box ideas that break free from the usual methods of thinking. The critic and analysis of the recommended ideas are only done once the brainstorming has ended. 

The Brainstorming Process

During a session of brainstorming, each participant is urged to think aloud and think of as many ideas as they can at the same time, even including those ideas that sound crazy or strange. The participants should shout out the ideas the moment these pop in their mind.

Every single idea will be noted without being judged or criticized at all. Judgment and criticism of the ideas will only be allowed after the brainstorming session ends. It gives people the chance to think outside the box and enjoy the freedom of suggesting ideas that might even seem and sound vaguely possible. 

A brainstorming session has the purpose of obtaining as many thoughts, ideas, and concepts as possible that will be analyzed and scrutinized later on. This means that the people involved in the session should build on those ideas that came from other participants. 

Mind Mapping for Brainstorming 

Mind mapping or also called concept mapping has a creative potential of being useful and helpful for a brainstorming session. Through the idea presentation in a non-linear, graphical, and intuitive manner, a mind map encourages the brainstorming approach to generate ideas and create connections. 

The mind mapping approach can encourage you in connecting and enumerating concepts with no need to start with a specific conceptual framework. Every time you prepare a mind map, this gives you a chance to branch out in different directions and form connections in between the different branches. After that, you could further divide these ideas into ideas that are more related to the use of additional lines. 

Use Mind Mapping for Brainstorming to Create Better Results 

When you create a mind map, it allows you to put together different pieces of information in such a way that will reveal revelations with brand new information. The basic problem is placed at the center, and from there you will generate ideas in order to come up with various possible solutions. Lines can be used to connect these ideas with other potential solutions in relation to your idea. 

Since the system of mind mapping tries to tap into the natural way that the brain functions, you will discover that mind mapping can put you in touch with your innate creative potential. This will also allow you to organize and generate ideas at a relatively faster pace. The use of color, images, and symbols can also further help stimulate and encourage imagination and creativity. 

Thanks to mind mapping, brainstorming can become more effective and efficient to help participants achieve their ultimate goal, and that is to solve the specific problem at hand. 

How to Mind Map

Wouldn’t it be great to draw your mind and see everything running inside it? In case you don’t know it, there is actually such a thing as mind mapping.

A mind map is basically a graphical way of representing concepts, thoughts, and ideas. This is one of the visual tools for thinking that can help structure information so you can get better in analyzing, generating, synthesizing, comprehending, and recalling new ideas. 

What makes mind mapping effective and powerful is its sheer simplicity. 

Unlike the traditional way of taking notes or using linear texts, the information in a mind map is being structured in such a way that has a closer resemblance to the workings of your brain. 

Since the said activity is artistic and analytical at the same time, the brain is engaged in a richer way that helps every single cognitive function. The best thing is that it is also fun at the same time. 

Uses and Benefits of a Mind Map 

Mind mapping makes taking notes fun as it jogs your creativity and helps you avoid linear and dull thinking.

Other uses of mind maps include the following:

    • Note-taking 

 

    • Problem solving 

 

    • Brainstorming in groups or individually 

 

    • Planning 

 

    • Memorization and studying

 

    • Presenting information

 

    • Consolidating and researching information from several sources 

 

    • Jogging creativity 

 

  • Gaining insight on and understanding complicated subjects 

In reality, mind mapping has plenty of uses as it helps you clarify the way you think in almost anything and everything in various contexts from personal, to family, business, or education. You can use it to plan days, summarize books, launch projects, plan and create presentations, write blog posts, or plan your life, just to name a few. 

How Do You Really Draw a Mind Map?

It is not really that difficult to draw a mind map. In fact, there are only three steps you have to follow:

  1. Start at the center of a blank page and draw or write the specific idea you plan to develop. It is recommended to use a page that is in a landscape orientation. 
  2. Next, develop the subtopics that are related to the central topic and use a line to connect these to the center. 
  3. Replicate this process for every subtopic. Generate lower level subtopics you deem applicable and connect each of these to every corresponding subtopic. 

Recommendations for Mind Mapping

    • Use drawings, symbols, and colors abundantly. Try to be as visual as much as possible, and your brain is going to thank you for that. There are a lot of people who don’t try at all, claiming that they are not artists. However, it shouldn’t stop you from giving it a try. 

 

    • Keep your topic labels in the shortest way possible. You can stick to just one word, or maybe you can just use a picture. During your first mind map, you might be tempted to write one complete enormous phrase. However, try to search for ways to shorten this to a figure or one word. This will make your mind map more effective. 

 

  • Vary text alignment, color, and size. Vary the length and thickness of lines. Use visual cues to the maximum to emphasize key points. Even the smallest bits can engage your brain.

Have a Digital Depository for All Thoughts

Coming up with thoughts and ideas is easy but keeping and storing them is a completely different story. Trying to remember and recall all your tasks is probably one of the biggest challenges you will have to face on a daily basis. 

Your brain isn’t meant to hold all those large and small details. If you let little things pile up, you might find yourself at a loss of what you should do next. This is why it is important to look for ways that will stop you from forgetting your thoughts and safekeeping them the proper way. 

Here are some ways to avoid getting lost amidst thoughts, ideas, and tasks. 

Take Down Notes Immediately 

Your to-do list can help you get it through the day. But, how about things that take place throughout the day that you also need to remember? Make it your habit to make a note about your thoughts immediately. Whether it is about an appointment or buying an important gift for your brother, taking notes lets, you keep up with unexpected surprises. 

Make the Most Out of the Your Smartphone’s Lock Screen 

If you are like any other average phone user, you probably check the time on your smartphone every now and then. Why not use the lock screen of your phone as a great place for stashing reminders, then? For instance, if you always forget about cleaning your desk, take a photo of your desk and make this your lock screen. Who would want to see a messy desk every time you open your phone? 

Setup a Reminder 

You can set up important reminders on your phone for current things you wish to turn into a habit or things that you constantly forget. This is especially so if there is a deadline involved, such as garbage day. 

Set an Alarm 

In case there is a specific time when you have to leave your office or home, attempt to avoid traffic, or return an important call, you can set the alarm as this remains one of the ideal ways to be punctual and be on your feet all the time. 

Automate It 

You can have your entire bill payments automated to make it easier on your part. Also, try to schedule your next appointment while you are still at your doctor’s office. For those ongoing food or beauty purchases and home maintenance needs, you can request an online shop to ship the items you need automatically when they would run out. 

It is Time Download Your Mind 

When you are too busy paying attention to larger and more important tasks, it is common for your mind to be swarmed with those minutes life details that you have set aside. Maybe you have long been planning to replace your favorite coffee mug that got broken courtesy of your dog or maybe you want to get rid of that pesky stain on your favorite shirt. Take time to organize these pending tasks and write down all those little things that have been causing you stress. By doing so, you can finally finish them off and just breathe out a sigh of relief. 

Managing Your Inbox Using Color Coding and Routine

How many minutes or hours do you use up just to read, answer, and sort emails on a daily basis? How often do you stop your activities every day just to manage your personal or work inbox? 

For many people, email is already a common way of life. Jobs that require constant communication with customers, clients, managers, and colleagues consider email as a faster and more efficient means compared to attending meetings or picking up that phone. But, this convenience of emails doesn’t mean that they don’t affect your overall productivity. 

With the onslaught of emails comes the overwhelming feeling of not getting everything read and checked. If you are having a difficult time managing your inbox, now might be the perfect time to follow a routine to organize your inbox and keep it this way. 

Make Email Organization a Daily Task 

Make managing your email a regular part of your routine, such as a coffee break, lunch, revenue report, or daily sales meeting. This is something you should include in your schedule and not just something you should squeeze in just when time is running out.

Stick with Color Coding and Flexible Filing System 

The online filing system you use is composed of folders you make in your email system. This can be with the use of colors to distinguish the most important emails to the least important ones or emails that come from specific persons. No matter what colors you choose, it must be something that works for you. 

Keep Email Files Tidy and Clean 

Schedule a review of files every week or every month. Eliminate those you no longer need. Consolidate files and move them to their respective folders. 

Say No to Panic-Checking 

Checking your inbox every 5 minutes or so is counterproductive. Instead, try to set a timer or use the clock to serve as your reminder to check your inbox every 30 minutes. It will keep your incoming work in proper order, and at the same time, it lets you complete other tasks at hand. 

Checking Your Inbox Should be the First and Last Thing You Do Every Day 

Emptying your inbox should be the first and last task you do for the day. This way, you can clear the path for other activities you have. This will also help you prepare your to-do list for the next day and gives you that sense of achievement at both ends of your day. 

Use the FAST System 

After reading the email, decide if you will File it, Assign it, Store, or Scan it for future reference, or if you can already Trash it. 

Filter the Spam

For paperwork that arrives by email, you can set your junk or spam email filter to eliminate mass and unsolicited emails from marketers, advertisers, and other similar time-wasters. 

Don’t Give Out Your Work Email Address to Friends

Even though you love to look at those cute photos of your friend’s baby daughter, it is best to refrain from giving your work email to them. When you do so, your email will be linked to your friend’s, and sooner or later, your inbox will be filled with unwanted articles on breastfeeding and coupons for diapers and baby clothes. 

How to Utilize “Deep Work”

Distraction is the biggest and most serious archenemy of productivity. Unfortunately, you are faced with all types, shapes, and sizes of distractions every minute of every day. How will you get things done if you don’t get into the flow of working in the first place? 

Deep Working – Why Do You Need to Practice It? 

Many people are blessed with amazing skill sets and personality traits, including determination, willpower, and an exceptional ability to manage their time. Using these learned skills and innate personality traits can create a colossal difference in your productivity. However, even these people endowed with such traits can become the victims of distractions that are found everywhere in their daily working lives. Let’s be honest. How many times do you feel like you just don’t “feel” it? 

It is normal for you to get stressed out and overwhelmed every so often that makes it tempting to just tick off boxes with your work instead of challenging yourself to be better and do more. While running on autopilot once in a while wouldn’t hurt, this form of shallow work doesn’t really help you reach your fullest potential. 

This form of work and deep work has a huge difference in and both have their respective spots in your daily work schedule.

What is deep work, anyway? Deep work is defined as the capacity to focus with no distraction on cognitively demanding tasks. This skill lets you master complicated details faster and create better results within a shorter period of time. 

Having said this, it is easy to see how you can improve your productivity and take it to higher levels by incorporating deep work to your day. On the other hand, shallow work is composed of actions that need less intense level of focus like filing taxes or replying to your emails. While these tasks don’t call for a high level of brainpower, these are usually as important as the tasks included in your deep worklist. It is important to take note that shallow working and deep working alike share the same value. 

Why Deep Working is Better Than Multitasking

Probably the direct counterpart of deep working is multitasking. Multitasking refers to the act of working on several tasks simultaneously or switching from task to task without any interval. Multitasking is considered bane when trying to get into the flow.  Here are some of the most notable downsides of multitasking:

  • Chronic distraction 

Working on different tasks at once can be very distracting. As you focus on various tasks at hand, you will be distracted from the rest, and this distraction could become chronic. You may find it hard to focus on something else. Singular or simple tasks might not require enough focus, and you might get drawn to repetitive minor tasks that could have been automated or completed quickly without too much brainwork. 

  • Reduce quality 

Speed is necessary when multitasking. It can result in increased production and efficiency, but most of the time, this can also result in a compromised quality and possibly lots of mistakes along the way. 

  • Misplaced priorities and procrastination 

Multitasking doesn’t separate tasks according to significance or priority. It can lead to the misconception that you can get the task done anyway and anytime. Procrastination can result from this.  

Make Time Visual Using Time Blocking

Do you feel a bit unproductive lately? Are you always disconnected from the things you were supposed to do? Then, time blocking might be the perfect solution to all your problems with productivity.

Today’s modern world has become too hyperactive that it can be very easy to feel overwhelmed or distracted by your lengthy to-do list. Good thing that you can now improve your efficiency and stabilize your work-related anxieties that are probably blocking off your productivity. Some of the world’s busiest people such as Elon Musk and even Bill Gates himself actually use time blocking to get their work done. 

But, what is time blocking, and how do you use it as your personal to-do list?

Time Blocking at a Glance 

Time blocking refers to the practice wherein you plan out every single moment of the day ahead of time and dedicate certain “time blocks” for specific responsibilities and tasks. 

Standard to-do lists just tell you the things you have to do but time blocking, on the other hand, tells you the time as to when you should do those things. 

It might sound as if your calendar will turn into one chaotic mess yet the effect might actually be the opposite. By filling up your calendar with things and tasks you want and need to do, others will find it more difficult to rob you of your time. 

Steps to Set Up Your Time Blocking System 

Here is a simple step by step process to help you set up your own system for time blocking. 

  1. Start with top priorities. 

Before anything else, you have to determine why you like to use the time blocking system in the first place. Do you wish to be more focused on your work? Or maybe you want to lessen the time you spend in meetings or on emails? No matter what your reasons are, identifying your primary goals and priorities can help you shape the things you will include in your schedule as well as how you should block out the day. 

     2. Plan your day’s “bookend template.”

This is the time to create your blocks. But, you don’t need to jump into your day right away. Begin with guardrails for the time you spend outside work. It includes your routine every morning and how you disconnect from your work to apportion time for family, friends, and hobbies. These are important tasks just like other things you do throughout the day.  

    3. Save time for shallow and deep tasks. 

After you have taken care of your personal priorities, this is when you follow a similar approach for your workday. Time blocking is appealing for most people because it allows them to set aside a long time for more focused work. You need to find the perfect balance for both deep and shallow tasks. 

    4. Include blocks for your reactive tasks daily. 

Time blocking won’t work if you are too optimistic when it comes to your time. But, what makes it powerful is that you can choose when you can do other tasks instead of simply allowing them to take up each moment of the day. 

    5. Write down a daily to-do list. 

After you have created a template as to how you envision your day to go by, it is now time for you to see if or how it works. Write down your daily tasks then fit these into their respective slots. Are there adequate slots for shallow and deep work tasks? 

Take note that time blocking only serves as a framework. This isn’t ironclad. At the end of the day, suppose that it will take time for you to find and set a schedule that will really work for you. 

Why having a Solid Marketing Strategy is Essential for Business Growth

A solid marketing strategy plays a vital role in the success and growth of your business. This is very important; in fact, a business that has a documented and solid marketing plan has a higher chance of becoming successful compared to companies who don’t have a solid marketing approach. Marketing strategy is the first thing you must do before dealing out your funds or investing time in advertising activities. It is your guide on how to market your product or service, which you target, and you set apart from the rest. In general, it is the calculated foundation of your advertising/marketing house. So, why having a solid marketing strategy is vital for business growth? Here are the reasons why. 

A Solid Marketing Strategy is Imperative for Business Growth Because

You Can Know Your Target Customers/Clients 

From sales and marketing, there are certain types of people or businesses that almost certainly become loyal and long-term clients. If you have someone particular in mind, you can take their wants, desires, needs, and fears and show them your service or products will meet their wants, ease their fears, and address their issues. A solid marketing plan defines your target market and customer so that you know accurately those who need your company. 

Know Exactly Your Industry and Why It Is Beneficial to Others 

A very important aspect of a solid marketing strategy is determining who gains from your service or products and how your company helps them. Your company is superior and better than others in many ways, and it is inimitable benefits the clients you serve. Defining these items makes your reasons stronger for being in the industry and allows you to set apart from the rest. 

Communicate the Value of Your Business in a Reliable and Constant Manner 

A solid marketing strategy is essential for business growth as it defines how you communicate the value of your company to others. You can give your marketing plan document to colleagues, contractors, salespeople, marketing firms, etc, and they will have an idea about your business, your product, and services. This gives you a stable face in the market and the assurance that your company will be truly represented in all aspects of sales and marketing.

Serves As Your Guide for Budgeting and Marketing

A marketing plan refers to know you advertise your company all through the year, and marketing strategy is the one which informs this marketing plan. Your strategy in marketing defines what advertising channels you will use be it social media, print, digital ads, commercials, email, etc. Your marketing plan classifies the activities you will perform all the year on every channel and the timeframe for performing those activities. Your marketing technique makes sure that how you market your business aligns with your business goals. Also, ensure it allows you to attain the best value from your marketing. 

Display Professionalism

As an entrepreneur, it is vital to have a clear understanding of your business and how to market your product and service as it exudes professionalism and confidence. If you are sure about who your clients are and how you’ll benefit those clients, you can focus your energy, time, and fund are reaching those clients. Your company will seem more proficient as it is more certified with a solid marketing strategy in place.

Conclusion 

With a solid marketing strategy, each action you do, each activity you take leads towards helping your clients address their issues.  A solid marketing strategy builds product loyalty and clients for life at the same time, providing you a clear course to go behind and a brief way of clearing up the value of your business to others.