Archive for the ‘Time Management’ Category

Doing What You Love Outside of Work

March 31st, 2016

“Do what you love in your life outside work.” It’s an idea that Roger W. Ferguson Jr. proposes in a recent Time article. He elaborates that “it’s helpful to see life-work not so much as separate spheres that must be ‘balanced,’ but as a continuum, each falling into and influencing the other.”

As someone who struggles with life-work balance, I find this idea comforting. It’s hard to remove your professional life from your personal life, especially when you enjoy seeing work colleagues and friends outside of work.

Ferguson offers some specific advice on what to love outside of work:


Work life Balance



Physically: “My exercise regimen gives me the energy and stamina to tackle whatever comes my way during the workweek.” Although, unlike the author, I do not exercise for an hour each morning, I have started to do push ups and sit-ups with the help of a handy app.

Intellectually: “My reading habits keep me on top of what’s happening in my industry, the economy, the markets, and the world at large — helping to inform my decision-making at the office.” I too love reading magazines, an online newspaper and scrolling through social media to catch the latest things that others in my circle are reading. Some of you probably have received forwarded articles from me.

Emotionally: “My involvement with outside organizations enables me to connect with all sorts of fascinating people— demographers, educators, social scientists, healthcare leaders — who have invaluable insights about trends with important business implications.” My best days are spent casually catching up with people. I truly believe that face-to-face time with others can be inspiring, motivating and fun. As much as my schedule allows, I try to meet up for lunch or coffee with people, because I know that this is the best way to build relationships.

The restorative power of doing what you love is invaluable. In an ideal world, you love your work and that is what makes you happy; but if not, find creative ways to stay stimulated and healthy outside of your work environment. Perhaps a yoga class, regular walks in local parks and trails, going out with friends for dinner where you are intentional about not bringing up work related stressors.

Try it! You’ll see that it will fill you with energy and positivity. And we all could use some of that throughout our week.

Avoiding Manic Mondays

September 24th, 2015

Generally speaking, I am a very organized person. Yet at times, I let things get behind. Once the awareness of my situation hits me in the face, I get into action quickly. It always surprises me how little time it takes to get back on track. However, we all know that prevention is the best medicine. That’s why these tips stood out to me. They can help all of us stay on top of the stuff that just builds up. (Making those Mondays not quite so daunting.) brings you these tips below to achieve a more relaxing start to the week:

1. Plan your week on Sunday.

If you wait until Monday morning to plan and schedule your week, it will not take long before you find yourself engulfed in daily business “fires” and adding tasks and meetings before you even finish your planning. Instead, consider planning your week on Sunday evening, when it is quiet and you have the time and space to concentrate. You will sleep better knowing the task is done and you can devote more time to a morning routine that eases you into the week.

2. Create a morning routine.

There is plenty of evidence that shows that getting out of bed a few minutes early, rather than snoozing your way through your morning, has tremendous benefits to your mental and physical wellness. If you have a tough time in the mornings, try getting up and taking a quick and brisk walk around your block, which will get your blood flowing and tell your body and mind that it is time to wake.

3. Purge that email.

Your email box can be incredibly intimidating on Monday morning, filled with unread emails from the weekend and the previous week, all of which will immediately make you feel like you’re behind. Instead of reading every old email, delete them. Start with newsletters–they are old news anyway–and then find the confidence to purge any email that was not important enough to answer immediately in the first place. Too many emails to really get through? Consider one of the many applications, such as Sanebox, that can help you get your email under control.

4. Connect with a friend.

On Monday, take five or 10 minutes to call a good friend or reconnect with an old friend, one with whom you can have a non-business conversation. These conversations often offer perspective to my life and typically end in a smile–and they help two people ease into the week.

5. Take one new personal risk.

There is a great deal of benefit to writing out your goals. I like to spend five minutes each day to review my ongoing goals and priorities. On Mondays, however, I make it a point to set one new and aggressive personal goal for the week, such as trying new exercise, reading a book, or learning a new song on the guitar. The point is to provide you motivation during your busy week to pursue an interest that you enjoy outside of work.

6. Make an “appreciation list.”

In addition to making out that extensive weekly to-do list, also take a minute to write down at least five things for which you are grateful. More than likely, they will be the same from week to week–your wonderful family is always a good thing to be happy about–but doing so will put life in perspective and the positive emotions you create could affect your happiness, optimism, and self-esteem.

7. Pay it forward with kindness.

Keep in mind that you are sharing this Monday with everyone on earth, so to help relieve the stress of the beginning of the week, consider an unselfish act of kindness during your morning, such as a compliment to a complete stranger or leaving a co-worker a kind note. It will make both of your days a little better. 8. Indulge in inspiration. If your week is starting off slow, consider allowing yourself the guilty pleasure of indulging in a little inspirational content. Something as simple as an inspirational quote or a lengthier article from UpWorthy or video talk from TED Talk can give you the boost you need to get over the Monday blues. Here’s wishing you a wonderful week ahead…

-George Alwon

How to Reclaim Your Focused Attention

February 20th, 2015

Waste my time?  I am my biggest time waster, which I admit can be enjoyable.  Being productive all the time might make me a dull guy.  And, yes, there is more to life than “being productive.”  That being said, there are tricks that we have all learned to focus better on the task at hand.  My favorite is having turned off that little notice on the bottom of my screen that announces every email I get. I did that years ago and it really helped me.
What is your favorite distractor eliminator? And how well do you manage your time? (Yes, I know, we can’t manage time…we can only manage our activities).

If you’re like many people, your answer may not be completely positive. Perhaps you feel overloaded, and you often have to work late to hit your deadlines. Or maybe your days seem to go from one crisis to another, and that is stressful and demoralizing. While some people are able to easily get through the day with many achievements ticked off their list, others seem to accomplish very little. With so many tasks and distractions pulling us in so many directions, it takes focus to…well, focus!
Below are some helpful tips from Harvard Business Review on how to harness your attention span:


  1. Build Capacity.
    We can expand our attentive capacity through a commitment to practices such as meditation, journaling, time in nature, regular physical activity, and good sleep hygiene. All of these activities support our ability to direct our focus, filter out distractions, and manage our emotions, and we can often realize their benefits with a modest investment of time.While these activities are often enjoyable in themselves, they aren’t indulgences–they’re investments in our ability to operate at peak effectiveness. High-performing professionals often enjoy success early in their careers by virtue of their ability to forego activities like this–they cut back on sleep or go without exercise for extended periods of time. But while those sacrifices temporarily expand our capacity for throughput, they actually diminish our capacity for focused attention.2. Plug Leaks.
    Attention is finite, and our ability to focus in the moment is severely limited. Because distractions can fatally undermine effective leadership, it’s critical to avoid “attention leaks.” The functions on our phones and other devices that beep, blink and thrust red numbers in our faces are designed to capture our attention and create a sense of urgency… But how often are any of these interruptions truly urgent? Almost never. Turn them off.3. Limit Multi-tasking.
    Another attention-destroying practice is what we’ve come to call “multi-tasking,” an utterly misnamed concept. While insignificant tasks requiring minimal cognitive effort can be performed in parallel, the truly meaningful work through which most leaders add value–one-on-one conversations, facilitation or decision-making in meetings, and creative thought and ideation–require a much more intense level of focus. Multi-tasking in those environments inevitably results in significant inefficiencies as we switch contexts and lose focus before returning to a deeper level of thought.4. Create Space.
    Leaders typically face intense demands on their time (in part because everyone wants their attention), and if they’re not careful they can find themselves booked nonstop for days on end. It’s important to maintain some open space in the calendar, on a weekly or even daily basis, which allows for more creative thinking and helps replenish our stores of attention. This inevitably involves disappointing people, all of whom believe their issue is worthy of the leader’s time, but productive leaders realize that they can’t meet all of these requests and must ignore many of them. Here leaders require help from their senior team, family, and friends, and–perhaps most importantly–their executive assistants. People in these roles are uniquely positioned to help leaders protect open space on their calendars, and they’re uniquely positioned to undermine that process if they don’t understand this responsibility.

    A final thought:
    If you’re a leader sitting in a meeting that’s not worth your focused attention, then you’re serving a theatrical function. Sometimes this makes sense. There’s a place for organizational theater. But more often the whole organization is suffering because your most precious resource is being wasted. Let the people who organized the meeting know that you’ll attend in the future when you’re needed, excuse yourself, and get on with your day. And if it’s your meeting, then you may well be wasting everyone’s time and attention–they may all be there in a theatrical function because they’re deferring to your authority. Have a candid conversation with a trusted ally, and get some feedback on the utility of your meetings.

-George Alwon