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During an Intero meeting recently, we were talking about all of the things that we know we should be doing, but don’t seem to get around to very often. One of my teammates admitted, “I pay for a gym membership every month, but month after month it doesn’t get used.”
Isn’t professional development a bit like that? There are all of these things that we know we should be doing regularly, but we don’t ever seem to make the time for them. I’m guilty of this. And you probably are too. It isn’t anyone’s fault, really. In fact, I think it’s human nature to operate in this way. If you’ve ever read the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, you’re familiar with the Time Management matrix. There is a tendency in most of us to give the most time, attention and energy to the things that appear to be most urgent (quadrants 1 and 3).
And when those urgent items are taken care of, we’re exhausted and so we use up even more time on things that have no significance at all (quadrant 4). And the most frustrating thing of all? The most successful people in the world, spend a significant (and consistent) amount of time on Important, Not Urgent (quadrant 2) tasks that keep them moving forward and growing. HOW DO WE GET THERE?
But this isn’t an analysis of the Time Management matrix. This is a sincere confession…with the intent of, first, letting you know that you’re not the only one who deals with this kind of push and pull and, second, to hopefully inspire you to do something about it in 2016.
Raise your hand if you have messages in your LinkedIn inbox that you haven’t responded to yet.
Raise your hand if they’re more than a week old.
Just so you know, I’m raising my hand also. Yes, even I get behind on my LinkedIn communication sometimes. But my calendar looks different in 2016; I have 10 minutes scheduled on my calendar at the beginning of the day and after lunchtime, to check in on LinkedIn and complete important activities; replying to messages, checking out what’s going on in my network, congratulating my Connections on work anniversaries or new jobs and sharing interesting information.
And LinkedIn continues to make it easier to interact with your network. The new LinkedIn app even has a “My Network” tab which highlights what’s going on in your network for the day. And if you’re still struggling with ways to become more engaged, please visit our blog for so many ideas of how to engage and utilize LinkedIn as a business tool.
So, you really have no excuse; twenty minutes a day and all of the information you need right at your fingertips in order to stay connected!
New Tools and Resources
There are a ton of interesting new tools and resources out there that can help you to stay organized, learn, automate tasks, improve work quality, manage your time and maintain focus. There are even tools that are not so new, but you maybe haven’t fully explored. (I’m just now discovering all of the brilliant ways that Evernote can keep me on task and efficient)!
Take a look at this list of tools to help you grow your business in 2016. There is something for everyone in here.
We live in a time where there’s an app for everything. If I’m being honest, certain daily tasks start to feel like a push-up. Even simple things can seem so unappealing that I find myself putting them off over and over again. So, in 2016, I am committed to finding an app or new tool for all of those pesky tasks. I’m looking for solutions that will make me work smarter and streamline those daily tasks. Who is with me?
(Many of these helpful apps are actually free! Take a look at this list of recommended free apps from AppSumo).
By the way…if you have favorite apps and tools that you’d like to share, please do so in the comments. We will all benefit from your recommendations!
Articles and Industry Information
This one has always been a challenge for me. I receive a number of emails and notifications throughout the week with important blog posts, information and content relating to my profession. I always think, “Hmm…that sounds really interesting!” and then quickly file it in my “Articles” folder, never to be thought of or seen again. This “system” that I had set up for myself was clearly not serving me well.
What was also not serving me well was not being as knowledgeable, up-to-date or simply inspired to try new things in my role. I had to change my mindset from believing that these articles are merely a distraction to realizing that they are an enriching way to help me to be better at what I do. So, designating time for this activity now feels more like something I should be doing as opposed to it taking me away from something else.
(Hint: There is also, now, a ten minute slot on my calendar 3 times per week to read and contemplate industry news and articles).
You’ll be delighted to know that there’s an app for this too! As I mentioned earlier, I’ve recently started to utilize Evernote in a much more comprehensive way. One of Evernote’s features is a plug-in called Evernote Web Clipper which allows you to quickly and easily save a link to an article to read later.
I can even set a reminder for when I want to read a particular article:
You can also set up an alert in Google, under the “News” tab for a particular company, subject or person, so that you’ll be notified when that topic is mentioned in the news.
These options can help you to not only make the time, but reap the benefits of this type of regular professional development. Give a few things a try and see what works!
Spend Time on You
And finally…spend time on you. I’m not going to tell you to go to the gym. We’ve all fallen prey to that January song and dance. But it is important to make personal time for yourself on a regular basis. Things like exercise or meditation can boost brain activity, aid your memory, improve your mood and increase your energy level. Don’t overlook this important priority while you’re making time for all of the things you’re going to do this year. You’ll be a better worker for it, I promise.
Happy New Year, all! Best of luck in making this a successful year!