We all notice the people who are always late.
There’s no hiding it when a report is handed in after a deadline. Or when the same person arrives late for meetings every day.
But what about those who are habitually on time? Those who walk in at 9, avoiding trouble by the skin of their teeth?
What benefits could being early possibly give to the ‘okay’ time keepers?
The fact is that being early actually saves time – here’s why.
Getting work done early…
… Gives you a chance to fix mistakes
Getting work done early gives you the opportunity to get some distance, meaning you are more likely to pick up on mistakes or biases.
Writing in panic mode just before a deadline means not only are more mistakes made, but there is no chance to put them right.
… Reduces stress
We’ve all had times we’ve stressed about a piece of work for weeks before writing it hurriedly in the last couple of days.
The way I look at it now is that, if it has the potential to only take a couple of days, why not just write it and relax the rest of the time? Think of it as doing your future self a favor.
… Gets it done while it’s fresh
There’s nothing like getting something done while it’s fresh. Writing up formal appraisal notes straight after a meeting means you can rely on your memory as well as your notes. Writing them a week later means a risk of not being able to decipher your scribbles.
If you hand in an expense report as soon as you return from a business trip it means there’s less chance of you losing the important documents and receipts.
“But I work best under pressure”
Getting work done early is very rare in today’s workplace.
There’s almost a badge of honor awarded to those who pull passable work out of the bag at the last minute, spouting the classic phrase ‘I work best under pressure.’
My first thought is always “but how much better could you have done it if you’d given yourself more time?”
My advice to those who work better under pressure is to manipulate the situation to put pressure on yourself… but still get it done early!
Scheduling your whole day or week’s tasks is a quick way to realise you can’t afford to procrastinate on any of them, and means that a report that could be stretched out to take a whole morning when you’re not considering other demands will get done just as well in two hours.
Being early for work…
… Reduces stress
The number one benefit of getting to work 10 or 15 minutes early is that it sets you up with a sense of calm for the rest of the day.
You give yourself the time to regroup after your journey, have a cup of tea, and be ready at your desk as everyone else arrives in a panic at 9.
Arriving to work at the moment you have to start can give you an extra bit of stress that lasts all day; the value of being calm and organised at the start of your shift is unrivaled.
… Gives you a buffer zone
Planning to get to work early will, of course, give you an important buffer zone against unexpected transport issues.
Most managers will accept a missed alarm or late train as a one-off reason for being late to work, but once it starts to happen regularly, you need to realize you should be getting the earlier one.
… Gets you noticed
Another benefit of being early for work is that it will be noticed. If your organisation works different shifts, being there without the rest of your team means staff from other parts of the organisation will notice you and think well of you.
Being early also may give you a chance to speak to your manager, informally or formally, without the demands of the rest of the team getting in the way.
Being early for meetings…
… Allows you to get the best seat and build relationships
If you get to a meeting early, you’ll get to choose the best seat for interacting with the rest of the group to the degree you prefer.
You give yourself the chance to get to know other potentially influential members of staff who you normally don’t interact with outside of meetings.
… Gives you time to prepare
If you’re leading the meeting then it’s even more important to be early. There’s nothing worse than stumbling into a room full of people who have been waiting for you to start: they’ll feel that you don’t value their time and you’ll be flustered and unprepared.
Getting in early means that you’ll be ready to take charge of the meeting, you’ll appear comfortable and relaxed and be perceived as reliable and in control.
… Gets you noticed (again)
Being early for meetings sends a clear message: it makes you stand out from the crowd as someone with commitment to the task at hand.
As long as you are using that early-time in a professional way, and not using it as an excuse to escape other work, you will be noticed in a positive regard.
(MoneyWatch) With tech budgets shrinking both at work and at home , you might not be getting a new computer as frequently as you used to. That means you’re probably experiencing some productivity slowdowns.
A computer that once seemed quite zippy can, after a couple of years, start to drag. It’s not because the motherboard is rusting, of course. A variety of factors conspire to make computers slow down over time. Here are some things you can do to restore some of the zing to your PC and stave off the need to replace it with a new “quad-core” wonder.
Disable browser add-ons. Over time, various software packages try to install add-ons on your Web browser. Generally, these add-ons do absolutely nothing of value and make the browser run slower. And slower. And slower. Because you spend so much time online these days, a slow browser can make the entire PC feel slow. In Internet Explorer, click the Settings icon (the one that looks like a gear in the upper right corner) and choose Manage add-ons. Scroll down the list and click Disable for any items you don’t recognize or want. In general, you can disable virtually everything.
- The most essential travel computer gadget
- Beware of pre-installed malware on your new PC
- Prevent laptop heat death
Uninstall or disable startup apps. If your computer takes 10 minutes to boot (I’m not exaggerating — even if it seems to boot in a minute or two, Windows might still run start-up tasks for another 10 minutes, making everything run as slow as molasses), you have a serious start-up problem. Click start and type MSCONFIG. Then disable all the apps you see there that don’t look critical. Do you need the dashboard for your sound card? I doubt it. How about Apple’s Bonjour service? Nope. Heck, you don’t even need iTunes in your start-up.
Check for spyware. Now we’re getting into “malware” territory. It’s entirely possible that you have some malicious processes running on your PC which are slowing things down. Are you running anti-malware software? If not, install something like “Microsoft security essentials” or “AVG antivirus.”
Clean it. If you have several years’ worth of dust caked inside your PC, it might affect the airflow and temperature. That can cause your processor to run in a lower power mode and slow things down. At least once a year, it’d a good idea to turn off your computer, open it up and de-gunk the various fans and heat sinks.
Defragmenting doesn’t help. You probably have heard advice like, “keep your hard drive defragged.” That’s conventional wisdom that dates back to the 1980s, and the conventional wisdom here is wrong. Tests show that defragmenting a hard drive, or essentially reorganizing files, has little-to-no effect on the speed of the drive. That’s especially true given today’s huge drives, which are far larger than the amount of data you have to store on them. Moreover, if your computer has an a solid state drive), or SSD, defragmenting it can be counterproductive.The bottom line is that defragging is a waste of time or worse, so don’t bother.
Before I began my meditation practice, if I hit a wall — something that could be brought on by a lack of ideas, information overload, or an over-abundance of technological stimulation — I would take a nap.
It was the only way I could think of to fully rest my mind and start fresh. Often times it worked, but it quickly turned into an unproductive way to check out and it never really got to the root of my stressors like I had hoped it would.
What I found myself longing for was a vacation, a long sabbatical in which I could turn off all electronics and stop the feeling that I was being tugged in a million different directions. Unfortunately, I was juggling projects that required I be plugged in at least some of the time.
So I turned to meditation.
In the beginning I started each session hoping for some “aha” moment, a monumental breakthrough, something a lot of us (inaccurately) tend to believe should come with a successful meditation practice.
Sometimes I did get that — a great idea would pop into my mind, I would gain some clarity about a problem I was facing — but more often than not, the session was followed by a tangible feeling of peace, relaxation and release.
It was precisely what I needed to be able to clear out the cobwebs accumulating in my mind and return to work with greater focus and creativity.
Many of us (me included) turn to TV at the end of a long day to rest our body and mind. In reality, the constant stimulation offered by television does the opposite — it creates more for our already overworked minds to deal with.
Dealing with stress and creating a safe place for our minds to rest is essential when it comes to avoiding the burnout of work. Here are a few tips to help you establish your own meditation practice and increase the productivity in your professional life.
Tip #1 – Start out small.
When I first began my meditation practice, fifteen minutes was about all I could stand. After that point I had a hard time keeping my mind quiet. But, like exercise, practice eventually enabled me to sit in a meditative state for an hour.
If all you only have the time and patience for five minutes, that’s fine. Try committing to those five minutes once in the morning and once before you go to bed. This will help you start and end each day from a place of peace and relaxation — ensuring that everything else in between runs smoother than before.
Tip #2 – Connect with your breathing.
I am ridiculously quick to jump off the deep end when things appear to be going badly. Meditation has taught me to stop mid-freakout, check in with my breath, and try to adjust my reaction to be more in alignment with the severity of the situation.
In any business, having the ability to be clear-headed is essential and can curb costly mistakes before they happen. If you learn to pay attention to your breath, you can have a more successful meditation practice and a more fruitful professional life.
Tip #3 – Learn how to be in tune with what your mind needs.
As a collective human race, we are really great and doing, doing, doing and not getting anything done. We fill up our days with busyness that in all actuality gets us nowhere.
Instead of turning your wheels simply because that’s what you’ve been trained to do, pay attention to when your mind could benefit from a rest. Completing hours of mediocre work is not as great as creating an hour of solid, inspired work made possible by a clear, focused mind.
Tip #4 – If silence doesn’t work, try something else.
When I would try to meditate in a completely silent setting, I would usually find myself nodding off or becoming distracted by the constant hum of my thoughts. Then, I was introduced to theta meditation music.
The sound kept my mind from returning to my to-do list, but it wasn’t so overpowering that I couldn’t concentrate on relaxing and letting go. It kept me in the meditation zone for much longer than silence did.
This may not be the answer for you, but there are countless meditation programs out there — chances are, there is one that will speak to you.
Tip #5 – Create a meditation space.
The space that you meditate in is often the factor that determines how successful your practice will be. It should be away from distractions and comfortable enough to allow you to sit for a significant amount of time — but not too comfortable that it becomes easy to fall asleep.
Choose a space that you actually want to visit, one that invokes a feeling of calm and peace.
Dedicating yourself to a regular meditation practice may seem like something extra to add to your already hectic life, but in truth, it will make your hectic life calmer, more relaxed and easier to handle.
How is your meditation practice coming along?
Advice On How To Use Caffeine—From A Neuroscientist
1) Consume in small, frequent amounts.
Between 20-200mg per hour may be an optimal dose for cognitive function.
2) Play to your cognitive strengths while wired.
Caffeine may increase the speed with which you work, may decrease attentional lapses, and may even benefit recall - but is less likely to benefit more complex cognitive functions, and may even hurt others. Plan accordingly (and preferably prior to consuming caffeine!)
3) Play to caffeine’s strengths.
Caffeine’s effects can be maximized or minimized depending on what else is in your system at the time. (Definitely add sugar. Grapefruit juice may prolong the effects of caffeine, while nicotine may speed up the body’s metabolism of it.)
4) Know when to stop - and when to start again.
Although you may not grow strongly tolerant to caffeine, you can become dependent on it and suffer withdrawal symptoms. Balance these concerns with the cognitive and health benefits associated with caffeine consumption - and appropriately timed resumption. (For some, withdrawal from caffeine addiction can set in after 12-24 hours and last 2-9 days. Keep in mind that recall is best when the retrieval state matched the encoding state, i.e. if you were caffeinated when you learned it, be caffeinated when you’re trying to remember it.)
Desk - Music and Sound Design (by Aaron Trinder Film:Motion:Music)
It doesn’t require much to call an area a workspace—all you really need is a desk—but there’s plenty more you can do in any office to take full advantage of the space. The walls, your desk, and even your doors are more than they appear to be—they’re secret productivity tools. With a few small alterations, you can unlock their hidden potential.
List 1: Your Focus List (the road ahead)
What are you trying to achieve? What makes you happy? What’s important to you? Design your time around those things. Because time is your one limited resource and no matter how hard you try you can’t work 25/8.
List 2: Your Ignore List (the distractions)
To succeed in using your time wisely, you have to ask the equally important but often avoided complementary questions: what are you willing not to achieve? What doesn’t make you happy? What’s not important to you? What gets in the way?
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