How technology adds more hours to your day

technology

As technology evolves, so do the fears of it’s impact on our personal lives. Whilst it’s normal and at times, warranted to be nervous of how technology is going to effect our brains (and social skills) there is also another, more positive, side to the coin.

Technology can give us back some of our precious time so that we can have personal lives and a career. What if instead of viewing tech as the downfall of humanity, we considered it as a way to enhance our lives by helping us to make more time to spend with the people we love? Let’s face it, working days are not getting shorter but we can find ways, with the help of technology, to live and work without burning out.

Here are some of the ways tech can add more hours to our 24 hour day;

1. Organization

Apps like Evernote syncs all of your to-do lists, documents and reminders in one place. Helping you to never forget anything. It also gives you the freedom to write ideas and your to-do items in a safe place, where you will be reminded to execute them. Dropbox is another life-saver, keeping all your files, photos, docs, and videos in one place – you can share your files with anyone even if they don’t have an account and everything is automatically synced and backed up – it means you have access to your files, from anywhere and you don’t need to be chained to your desk when it matters most. Finally, if you’ve ever needed a personal assistant, the app 24me is for you. Your calendar, to-do lists, accounts, and documents are centralized in one place, and your errands can be completed by one tap. You can receive billing, event, and birthday reminders and even have the app pay your bills and/or send gifts to friends. The app goes as far as telling you when you should leave for your commitments based on current traffic.

2. Productivity

Ever wonder how many hours a day you waste doing nothing productive? Well, theres an app for that. Hours will track the time you spend on tasks versus the time you spend on distractions. At the end of the week it gives you a ROI of your time. This helps you see how you utilize your hours each day and eliminate any waste. For powering through your to-do list, Momentum is a focus app. It seeks to keep you focused on one task a time and if you deviate from your task, it reminds you of your working objective. It can be used for tasks, but crucially it helps you to form healthy habits for long term changes in your productivity.

3. Work/Life Balance

There are some great apps to help you strike the ideal balance between home and work, for example Way of Life helps you to eliminate bad habits that get in the way of your work/life balance such as, lack of sleep, poor diet and develop good ones instead. You create daily/weekly goals and track whether or not you are meeting them. Another golden gem is Cozi Family Organiser, the app allows you to manage and sync your families appointments and activities so that you never miss out on your child(s) special event or even story time. The app even allows you to collect memories such as favourite restaurants/recipes so that you can be there for your family, amidst workplace chaos. Other helpful apps you should download are your grocery shops app – this can simply be downloaded from their website. This allows you to order your weekly groceries, from your desk, for delivery at a convenient time at your home – saving you time and unnecessary stress.

 

 

6 ways to improve your communication today

communication

Leadership and communication go hand in hand. How we communicate with others is integral to our success. Communication is a leadership skill that has multiple dimensions, verbal, non-verbal, and written, so if you want to get better at this critical skill, here are some proven strategies to learn;

1. Learn the basics of body language

Nonverbal communication accounts for 55 percent of how a public speaker is perceived. This means that the majority of what you say is communicated not through words, but through body language. Things like posture and eye contact matter. Stand tall and look people in the eye. Crossing your arms or reducing your size, in any way, communicates closed body language and a lack of confidence. Read more on body language here.

2. Get rid of filler words

Things like “Ummm” may seem innocuous but they drastically reduce the persuasive value of what you’re saying. Most of us use them out of habit. One way to get rid of them is to start keeping track of when you say words like “um” or “like.” You can also start to try to pause before you speak. Silence is not always bad, in fact, it communicates confidence and control and be assured that the silences feel longer to you, than they do to your audience.

3. Lead with empathy, not ego

When we have to have difficult discussions try to always lead with empathy. This means instead of using judgment “What you did was wrong/unacceptable”, start with “Why did you decided to do that?” or “How could I have helped you more in this situation?” or “How was this in your eyes?”. This takes you into an open and honest conversation where the other person can feel comfortable responding. This will help you to find solutions far more effectively and also build respect in those around you.

4. Listen, actually listen

One of the best things you can do to improve your communication skills is to learn to listen. So many of us are just waiting to respond. However, an effective conversation is a line of words elegantly connected with listening. So, instead of responding with “yes, but”, try and replace it with a follow-up question. Let people finish what they are saying and don’t interrupt if that is your inclination. Genuinely, listen to the speaker. These simple skills can go a long way in building trust with those around you.

5. Make your communication two way

Ask more questions and seek feedback. This is different to listening and more about keeping your mind open to input from others. The most successful people and companies are the most flexible. Asking questions about how others feel about a given topic or how they think something could be done better puts you in an active role. Asking questions is also a core leadership skill, it builds trust and keeps your mind open to innovation.

6. Create stories

Stories are powerful. They activate our brains, make presentations engaging and make us more persuasive than others. Use stories to bolster a point, “I think we should do it this way because of a time..”, use it to create trust, or prove characteristic points about yourself to a new audience for example, “I believe I can do this, because…” In its simplest form, a story is a description of cause and effect. Everything in our brain is looking for the cause and effect relationship of something we’ve previously experienced. This is simply how humans are wired. Stories help you to make your points stronger and are more memorable for your audience.

How the Japanese philosophy of Kaizen can revolutionise your work

Kaizen

Kaizen, which translates roughly to “good change,” is a Japanese productivity philosophy, used by the likes of Toyota, in their famous Toyota Production System to promote serious organizational change. The philosophy is that constant and continuous, improvement is conducive to big, long-term advancements. The Kaizen mantra is that “everything can always be improved.”

Kaizen and Market Leadership

Toyota famously embodied the Kaizen philosophy in their production warehouses. They believed that all employees should have an input into Toyota’s self-improvement, so much so, that any worker on a production line can stop the line at any time to address a perceived problem, correct an error, or suggest to management a better way to do things with the object of waste reduction and increased efficiency. The results of Toyota’s production system are phenomenal, resulting in their rapid market domination and high-profit margins. Toyota began offering instruction in the methodology to others most notably non-profit organizations with the goal of improving their efficiency and increasing their impact. After three months of working with Toyota SPB, a disaster relief organization based out of New Orleans reported that their home rebuilds had been reduced from 12 to 18 weeks to 6 weeks. Further, construction industries reported that after employing the Toyota method (Kaizen) construction errors had reduced by 50 percent.

Why Kaizen works

Kaizen means that nothing is ever seen as a status quo – there is a continuous, collective force to improve everything which results in small, often imperceptible, changes over time. These incremental changes add up to substantial long-term advancements, without having to go through any radical and often risky, innovations. It’s a much safer and employee-friendly way to instill changes that must occur for a business to be truly competitive.

How to implement Kaizen

Notably, Kaizen is a philosophy, as opposed to a methodology meaning that it can be implemented in various ways from employee suggestion boxes to more rigorous employee inclusion methods such as Total Quality Management.

The most effective way to implement Kaizen is to understand the core elements of the Japanese production system, which can and has been, successfully applied to any work environment.

Much of the focus is on reducing “waste” and this waste can be identified in the following ways;

  • Movement – moving materials (or people) around before further value can be added to them

For example, moving people to different locations for meetings when it can be done virtually or having databases of information which take time and effort to get into (such as contact details) when these could be printed and put on a wall.

  • Time – spent waiting (no value is being added during this time)

For example, enforcing prompt meetings and properly organized calls where non-attendees are reduced.

  • Defects – which require re-work or have to be thrown away

This has a lot more to do with effective delegation than employee incompetence. If a junior had been briefed properly than re-works should be eliminated – if not then it’s a hiring system failure.

  • Over-processing – doing more to the product than is necessary to give the “customer” maximum value for money

This can range from adding too much detail to presentations/document designs – streamlining decision making lines.

  • Variations – producing bespoke solutions where a standard one will work just as well.

For example, creating new documents when you could use a precedent.

For more information on Kaizen read this insightful blog by MindTools.

 

Sleep; why society needs to universally embrace the lie in

Why we need more sleepWe can ignore our yawns. We can ignore the devastation that strikes us, when our morning alarm wakes us after yet another late night at the office. The one person we can’t ignore, is mother nature. If she tells us we need more sleep, we should listen. The Earth has a rhythm. Every 24 hours it rotates on its axis, basking its surface, alternately, in darkness and sunlight. In turn, quite magnificently, evolution has provided all of Earth’s organism’s – from bacteria to humans – with the ability to coordinate their internal, metabolic processes, with that of the environment around them. This evolutionary masterpiece is called our “Circadian rhythm” which is also known as our “internal body clock”.

Listen to mother nature

Circadian rhythms, regulate the periods of alertness and sleepiness experienced throughout a day, in response to the light and darkness of surrounding environments. It controls our physical, mental and behavior changes – making us feel sleepier, if we are sleep deprived. The advantage of having Circadian rhythms, is that they influence us to perform activities at biologically advantageous times during the day. This means, reflects Issac Edery in his influential paper on Circadian rhythms, for the American Physiological Society, although we have tried to create “cities that never sleep” we cannot escape the resistance of endogenous clocks that regulate much of our physiology and behaviour. Whilst everyone has a unique Circadian rhythm, 7.5 – 9 hours a night of sleep is, generally, considered sufficient sleep for adults.

The diligent worker

Edery and several other prominent scientists including Paul Kelley, of Oxford University’s Sleep and Circadian Neuroscience Institute, note, that modern working culture of “being the first to arrive and the last to leave” means that our work schedules are now, entirely, at odds with our Circadian rhythm, we are sleeping far less, which is not without consequence to our health. Malfunctions in our Circadian system can lead to chronic sleep disorders, depression, obesity and at the very least unproductivity which, appears to defy the very objective of lengthy work schedules. Kelley concludes that most of the working world are still waking up far too early. “It’s not rational to start the day at 8am” he continues, its simply just to feed into the bias that you’re only a committed worker if you’re chained to your desk. Kelley suggests that 10am is the ideal work day start time. Experts are now urging employers to reconsider long work schedules in favour of ones that sync with our body clocks.

More sleep = More productivity

Christopher Barnes in his white paper on “why it pays to ensure adequate sleep for your employees”, argues, many organisational leaders do not understand health and organisational benefits of monitoring healthy sleep schedules, for their company’s performance. Bad habits include sending emails during the night which shows a “no sleep” culture in the company. Barnes makes 7 helpful suggestions for companies to promote better sleep habits for employees here.

In a series of studies carried out, respectively, by scientists Roenneberg and Ryan Olsen, workers who adjusted their work schedule to their individual biological clocks were far more productive, healthier and focused, both in work and out of work. Olsen suggests “with technology today there is no reason to have a rigid schedule” he continues, productivity is when “you stop focusing on time and decide what results you are paying people for”.

Written by, Leila Mezoughi for PCALaw

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