Get Everything Done and Make It To Happy Hour

When I was in my early 20s I loved to watch Sex and The City. I was working weekends at the time and I would sneak episodes while I was writing or producing for the news. I hoped it was an accurate picture of what my life would be like – brunches and after work, get togethers with the girls. However watching it back these days I can tell you my life is not really like that. Did those girls ever actually work?

While we can’t all live the glamorous lifestyles of Carrie and Samantha, we can still make it to happy hour. Provided of course, that we get all our work done. When we’re buried under a heavy workload the chances of leaving work on time get slimmer and slimmer. But it is possible, all it takes is a little planning.

Here are some of my secrets to help you head out the door at 5!

  1. Make a roadmap of your day – Every day, when I’m nearly finished with work I create a “roadmap” for the following day.  I’ve stolen the idea from my time as a live news producer.  We always have a rundown to keep us on track during a live show.  Your work day should run the same way. Having this roadmap means I can hit the ground running and everything goes so much smoother when I get in the following morning.
  2. Don’t answer the phone Only answer if it’s absolutely necessary. That means the person who is calling can give your information about the task you’re working on or you have an appointment for the call right then. It’s far too easy to get wrapped up in conversations that go nowhere! You’ll get back to them later – just add it to your list.
  3. Break the day up into chunksGot some mammoth task you’re really not looking forward to? Split it into smaller chunks and distribute it throughout the day. Giving yourself a chance to look at emails, etc in between will help to ease your frustration.  Breaks are our friends. But don’t get sucked into other projects. Give yourself specific time limits.
  4. BacktimeI’ve talked a little about backtiming before. It’s a concept I got from working as a TV news producer. You start at the end goal and work backwards. So what do you need to have done in order to get out of work on time. Make a list of all these things and how long they will take. If you incorporate this with your plan from the night before you can create a schedule for your day.
  5. Make a meeting checklist – The biggest time suck in the office is not people checking their social media or chatting by the water cooler, it’s meetings. Who hasn’t been in a meeting that has gone on for an hour longer than it needed to? Meanwhile the mound of work on your desk just piles up. By having a meeting checklist you can make sure all the important things are covered, but it can also help to move the whole process along!

So now the only thing left to decide on is  what you’re drinking when you get to happy hour!

List of Gifts for Guaranteed Smiles

As you probably know I’m a productivity nerd, as well as an organizational nerd. I love finding new stationery stores or new ways to organize my life. However what you might not know is that I’m also a total gift giving nerd. Taking the time to really research and find the best gift for people is a hobby of mine. It’s partly why I start my Christmas shopping in August.

Finding the right gift for someone, at the right price, is no easy feat. The more presents I buy the more determined I am to find something that would be really meaningful to that person. Resources  like Amazon wish lists and gift cards can make gift giving easier, but I feel like they take away a personal aspect of the process. Read more

The Summer of Me

By now I’m sure your social media streams are flooded with kids going to camp photos and all the fabulous vacation snapshots from Italy and other fabulous locations. Mine sure has.

As much as I love planning and scheduling, even I find the big push to make the most of your summer a little tiring. I read an article recently that really summed up my feelings on the issue. Kristin Hewitt, a sports reporter and blogger, announced that her family would being ‘doing nothing’ for the summer. She explains that rather than scheduling every free moment of her children’s lives, the summer would be better spent getting in some R&R and letting the kids decide what they wanted to do. Read more

I Finally Figured Out How to Meditate

I’ve tried to meditate lots of times.

I’ve gotten into the groove once or twice, but it just never stuck.  I’ve done countless stories at work as a senior health producer about all the benefits and it sounds great.

One of those benefits is better focus and increased productivity.  And you KNOW I want that. But I just couldn’t figure it out.

I always struggle to switch my brain off and so I’ve never had the “enlightening moment” everyone always talks about.

Well it turns out I was doing it wrong.

My intentions were all screwed up.

But thanks to Oprah (of course) and an all day meditation retreat with world renowned meditation teacher Sharon Salzberg I figured it out.

If you know me personally or have read my book Listful Thinking, you know  I have a generally positive and sunny outlook on the world. It’s the thing that many people tell me is one of my best qualities. Read more

List of Surprises to Make Someone’s Day

One of my favorite past times when I was growing up was receiving mail from my grandmother. She would often send me cutouts from magazines and newspapers with cute animals and nice sayings. As a kid receiving mail is always quite exciting and it would make me feel special knowing that she had pick these cutouts just for me.

I’ve always tried to carry on this tradition. I often send thank you notes and “thinking of you” cards whenever I can to let others know that I appreciate them. Plus like my grandmother I like to include a little token to make people feel loved.

Thank you notes are quite a rarity these days so it has even more of an impact than it might have been  20 years ago. So if there’s anyone you want to show gratitude to, here are some ideas for small tokens you can send.

  1. A favorite recipe, perhaps for a dish that you have enjoyed together.
  2. Discount coupons for products or goods that you know they buy, or would like to try.
  3. Beautiful pressed flowers or leaves from your garden or a nearby park.
  4. A copy of a favorite knitting or cross-stitch pattern
  5. A coaster from a bar/restaurant that you would go to together
  6. Seeds of plants
  7. Photos (who prints photos anymore? You do!)
  8. Keychain or magnets are good, especially as little souvenirs if you live in different countries
  9. Maps
  10. Puzzle letters, which you write can a message on the back of.