Posts belonging to Category Time Management Tips

Emails – Leave the Emotion on your Desktop!

Emails – the greatest thing that has happened for people personally and professionally and yet . . . . emails can be the worst thing too.  So much time can be eaten away in responding to emails if the emotions are not parked on your desktop.  Leaving the emotion on your desktop is critical to saving you a lot of time!

Short, concise and precise takes time – a lot of time to compose.  It’s so easy to feel it, write it and send it but . . . oops! it wasn’t such a good idea . . . the backlash can be quite serious and . . . then . . . more emails!

Once, as a volunteer in an organization, I responded to an email with a lot of emotion.  Well . . . that was a major, major mistake!  The avalanche of emails went on for months, until, one day I just stopped.  That was it!  And my lesson was learned forever more . . .

To save  time, when there is emotion attached to an email, I write it in Word.  Let it all hang out.  Then I let it simmer.  The message is not sent until every ounce of emotion has been stripped from it especially if the initial impulse is to  “let ’em have it!”.  I cut the emotion out and stick with the facts. 

  1. What’s the issue?
  2. What is the point I want to make?
  3. What solution do I propose or what suggestions do I have?

I keep the language precise, the sentences and paragraphs short, and rework it until I have every single ounce of emotion erased from the message.  The goal becomes to move forward rather than become mired in emotion – mine and other people’s. 

I can be a very calm person under stress and, on the other hand, I can be highly emotional especially when I interpret messages to be unjust, unfair, rude or someone is trying to get away with something.  I can read situations, people’s hidden agendas and motives very well.  As much as this ability is  valuable, it  can also stir up hurricane force winds of emotions.  

 Now, I make sure the first email is as colorless as possible!  Think clear nail polish – you see the shine but not the flammable liquid!

When I’m ready, I copy the text from my Word document and paste it into an email, read it one more time, address the email and send.  My message is “heard” better this way and I’ve prevented an avalanche of controversial emails

Yes, it does take time – a lot of time to leave the emotion on my desktop but, in the end, it saves me a tremendous amount of time too!  Sometimes, the message must be sent, ignoring won’t make it go away but replying to it emotionally may give other than desired results! 

Take the time to save the time – write factual, short, concise, precise statements or questions and leave the emotion on your desktop!

Lorraine Arams

Does Being Kind Save You Time?

Does being kind save you time?  Did you ever wonder?  How could it possibly save you time – it takes longer to be kind.  Does it?

Kindness means getting out of your head and being considerate of other people.  While you’re thinking about other people, how can that help you get done what you need to get done?

Next time you’re out on a busy street where there are a lot of pedestrians and cars and buses competing for space, pay attention to the “bulldozers” and the “smilers”. 

Smilers usually extend kindnesses to other people such as just giving a smile or letting someone have your seat on the bus. 

The bulldozers are those people who would just as soon “mow down” others as to extend any kindness whatsoever – they want what they want when they want.  You can identify them quickly – they’re the ones would are moving fast with a frown on their face, listening to their iPods and rushing to get anywhere first.  They look stressed.

The smilers are more relaxed, enjoy the scenery more and entertain a chat here or there with perfect strangers.  They don’t have to rush to anything though they don’t doddle either – they get to where they are going but with a smile on their face rather than a frown.  Does it save them time not to rush?

It’s the same with drivers.  They zoom past everyone.  They’re stressed – it’s obvious.  And a couple of lights later, there they are – waiting!

In the end, the bulldozers and the smilers arrive at the same destination perhaps a minute or two apart.  The difference? 

The smilers are calm, happy and enjoy their lives every minute.  They make others happy to be around them, their attitudes attract goodwill and helpful people and they somehow gather information they need from others rather than spend hours searching for it themselves.  They want something – they know who to connect with who will help them find it.  The list of benefits is endless.

The bulldozers see life in general as a war to be won at all costs and live life in then tunnel of “speed” – they see nothing, appreciate nothing, talk to no one and generally feel stressed.  They may have saved a couple of minutes but it has cost them dearly in connections with other people, nature and themselves.  They’re stressed and think they need no one to succeed.

Does Being Kind Save You Time?  Maybe not.  But then again, maybe they do in ways which are not immediately apparent.  Are the extra 2 minutes worth the joy and goodwill you picked up along the way as a smiler – will they pay dividends down the road? 

Interesting to think about, isn’t it?

Lorraine Arams


Time of Your Life – When?

Time of your life – when will that happen?  Have you thought about it?

How many things do we “save up for”, dream, delay, sacrifice, and just plain never get around to it?  Do you really want it?

I’ve often thought of going to Hawaii.  Never have.  I could have if I’d really wanted to go but there was always an excuse.  The truth is that I don’t like hot weather because I “melt”.  So going to Hawaii, though a nice thought, is not my idea of a great holiday.

On the other hand, I did want to go to Paris and London and Moscow.  One day, I said.  The day has never come.  Will it?  Maybe.  It’s likely I will get there – what has me thinking about traveling again?

A friend died this past January.  She and her husband talked about going to India for over 5 years.  They didn’t go because of one thing or another.  That’s one of her husband’s greatest regrets is that he and his wife never took that trip  – they would have had  “time of their lives”, he said.

Time is like that – it flies away if we don’t grab a hold of it and do what we really want to do.  What are you waiting to do?  Why?  Can you afford to wait any longer?  What is it you want to do that’ll have you saying, “I had the time of my life!”?

Lorraine Arams

Why Do You Volunteer your Time? Is it Important?

Why do you volunteer your time?  Is it important?  For whom?  For what purpose?

Having worked as a senior executive in the non-profit world and volunteering myself on boards, I have often wondered why certain people spent their time volunteering since it was clear they simply weren’t interested in the organization at all.  Yes, it’s a good resume “filler” but at what expense to themselves and to the organization for which they volunteered?

Time and time again, I’ve seen the harm done by “political animals” who only volunteer to get into the Executive, preferably in the President’s chair; they caused more harm than good to the organization.  Because they weren’t interested in the organization in the first place, they didn’t address the needs of the organization and foisted decisions onto the staff which simply did not serve the health of the organization.  Sometimes, they even left a legacy of more problems because some excellent staff would quit in frustration, leaving the organization in turmoil.

I’ve worked with some great board people both as an employee and a fellow board member.  What made them great?  They were interested in the organization and furthering the efforts of the society.  It showed in everything they said and did.  They could read financial statements, expected detailed budgets with commentary before approving budgets, and spent their time promoting the organization and raising funds.  They asked excellent questions of staff and assured proper operations.  They were involved and yet, disciplined in the amount of time they contributed.

It was clear why they were volunteering – they believed in the work the society was doing and were willing to put their resources into it.

Next time you think of volunteering, I hope you might consider the following questions:

a)  Why am I volunteering?  Do I believe in the cause?

b)  What are the needs of the organization?  Do I have the skills and the time to fill those needs?

c)  What amount of time am I prepared to give?  Am I prepared to discipline myself to stay within those boundaries?

 Lorraine Arams

Do You Know How to Learn Well

Do you know how to learn well?  How much time is being wasted?

Perhaps in school, we had some good habits and  grades reflected our mastery of learning the topics.

In school, however, it was a matter, mostly, of learning from a textbook, memorizing and regurgitating it on in an exam.  In college, it was a matter of regurgitating the information gathered in a paper and on exams.  However, except for certain subjects such as the sciences or some of the arts programs, there was no hands on practical application of what had been learned.

Into adulthood and onto the job, slowly but surely  life became rushed as responsibility upon responsibility was piled into your life.  But we still had to learn new things to keep up.  There were no exams.  There were reports to do – the difference – application. More and more, rushing through things became the norm.

Combine “rush” and “learning” and there’s a recipe for “skimming”.  Skimming in the sense that when in a classroom or seminar, there is a tendency to text, answer emails on the laptop or surf the net, think about solving the problems at work or at home and to be, therefore, not really present. 

Present, attentive and understanding the application of what is being taught are absent in most of today’s learning experiences.  See the man running with the books – that’s how most people’s minds are sitting in a room – how well is it working?  The books are flying off the pile aren’t they?  And that’s knowledge acquired through the maze of thoughts going through a brain while trying to absorb something new – it won’t happen (books flying off the pile) or some information will be retained, however, the chances are the knowledge will have to be reviewed.  What will this man have to do?  Back track – he’ll have to go back and pick up the books that fell along the path – a waste of time and energy.

In terms of wasted time, it’s tremendous.  Why?  Generally, learning in adulthood is related to an application – something required on the job such as new software or new systems or changes in the company.  If a person is not paying attention in the learning environnment, then it will have to be learned again some other way – by wasting colleagues’ time, wasting time trying to plow through it with a manual, making errors and having to correct the errors, possibly getting more and more confused because the questions were not asked, a step was missed, or simply no real learning was possible because of the distractions which were taking up the attention required to learn.

So, how do you learn well and stop wasting time?  Here are   some tips:

  1. prepare the brain just prior to the lecture, seminar, training, etc. by calming it down.  A calm brain works well.  We need to take an attitude of acceptance that today, between such and such hours, we need to pay attention and absorb as much as possible without any distractions.
  2. gather the material needed:  course outline, two or three pens, paper to write on, bottle of water, lunch if required or a snack (we do get so hungry when we’re learning, don’t we?) and any other material required for the course.  Shut off  cell phones or PDAs or laptops at least an hour before the training and put them away in a zippered part of your bag so the access will be more difficult.  It’s a good idea to take that time to look at the course outline, read something about the program or the books or learning material sent to ahead of time. 
  3. arrive early and finding a seat we like to set the “atmosphere“. 
  4. pay attention, make notes, ask questions, get as many details as possible.  One of the things we don’t do is ask enough questions because we think that when we’re asking about details, we’ll seem foolish. In actual fact, others will likely appreciate the question being asked – they have missed it or it’s a good review.  We should make sure we understand what is being taught so at breaks, we can use the time to  write a couple of paragraphs about what you have learned.  Anything we’ve missed will become evident.  We can then ask the questions during or after the break to make sure we have a thorough understanding.  The more ways we absorb the information, the better –  auditory (listening to the instructor), tactile (taking notes), visual (drawing diagrams or visualizing it in the mind, notes, reading), recitation (writing a paragraph or more about what we’ve learned to see if there are any gaps in our learning) and any other techniques that work particularly well for our style of learning. 
  5. apply the knowledge as soon after the learning as possible.  The sooner we can apply new knowledge, the easier it will be to use.  Use it or lose it!


Lorraine Arams

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