4 Things To Get A 25th Hour In Your Day

How many times have you said, “I just wish I had more time for …?” With global business buzzing by in nanoseconds and a world of information in your phone, having time to get everything done seems more and more elusive.

At one point in my life, I let time win. Between my more than full-time job, a second job teaching at night, family, pets, my two blogs, and other business activities, time owned me. There was never enough of it and I always felt defeated by it.  As the days/months/years were slipping past, I felt stressed and on the road to burnout.

That is when I started applying the same time management principals that I use on business projects to my life. In a project, getting stuff done isn’t about time, it is about planning and priorities. It’s about making choices.

If something is important to you, be honest, you find the time to do it.

If your kid is in a sports game, you find the time to be there. You put it on your calendar and you make it a priority.

If your favorite band is in town, you are there. You buy the tickets as soon as they come online, you put it on your calendar, you make it a priority.

People are able to find the time to do things that are important to them when they choose to make ‘that moment’ a priority. We are constantly making choices (though not always easy ones) about how we spend our precious time.  And true, there is never ENOUGH time in the day to do every single thing we have on our list, some things have to go because time is about making choices as to what is important to you.

Change the conversation in your head.

By changing how you speak about time you can change how you manage it. Start looking at time in terms of your priorities instead of the minutes that a task takes. Priorities are choices and choices are manageable.

According to Andrew Newberg, M.D. and Mark Robert Waldman, words can literally change your brain. I challenge you to change the phrase “I don’t have time” to “it is not a priority to me.” (This idea came from an article titled “Are You As Busy As You Think” by Laura Vanderkam, The Wall Street Journal, February 22, 2012)

Try these phrases out loud:

“I would love to help you write that proposal, but I can’t BECAUSE WINNING NEW BUSINESS IS NOT A PRIORITY TO ME.”

“I would really like to help you with that school project, but I can’t BECAUSE YOUR EDUCATION IS NOT A PRIORITY TO ME.”

“I would really like to go to the gym to work out, but I can’t BECAUSE MY HEALTH IS NOT A PRIORITY TO ME.”

If this is starting to feel a little uncomfortable, I understand. Changing your internal language in this way shows you what you make truly important in your life and sometimes that is hard to look at. This language shift shows you what you are willing to place on top of your limited time resource list and the result may surprise you.

Everything cannot be important at the same time, so your job is to determine what really is your priority so that you can action that time appropriately. (Note: I am NOT suggesting that you say this phrase, “because X is not my priority,” out loud to other people – that would be rude and may get you fired or divorced.)

Get Control of Your Time

1. Know where your time goes by keeping a time log.

The first step to managing anything is to understand what you are trying to manage. Do you know how you spend your 168 hours per week? (That is what we all get, no more, no less.)

  • Track – Over the next few days (a week would be great) track your time in 30-minute blocks (or as often as you can). How much time do you spend on business tasks (and what are they), eating, watching TV, Facebook, you get the idea? The more you track the better your ability to make wise time choices.
  • Be honest – If you Tweet 5 times a day at 5 minutes each time, that adds up. The more honest you can be with yourself, the better handle you will have on the positive and negative uses of your time. (No one is going to see this but you, so why not be real?)
  • Evaluate – Group your activities so that you can see those things that you are doing repeatedly or that are wasting your time. Time wasters are things like unnecessary social media activity, talky people who wander into your office, inefficient workflows, etc. I look at the ‘must-do’ vs the ‘want to do’ when I review my list.
  • Fix – Once you identify the time wasters, you can reduce and maybe even entirely get rid of them. (Tip: I set a timer for 15 minutes when I open Facebook otherwise I can get lost in cute puppies and high school classmates.)

2. Change how you speak about time

I challenge you for the next week to erase the phrase “I don’t have time” from your vocabulary. Replace it with “it’s not a priority.” Then after that week, move on to step 3.

3. Order your priorities

Take the time log from step 1 and put the activities into an order of importance for that day. Did you spend time on activities that got you to your business or personal goals? Did you get distracted or waste time doing a task someone else could have done? This is the hard part – what really was important to you in that day? If spending time with your family was important, then why were you wasting time on Snapchat? If you had a work deadline, what did you have to ‘not do’ to get it done and was the ‘not do’ something that was important to you? Again, priorities are about choices and making the best choices for you, in the day, with the time that you have.

4. Schedule your time to make more time.

Now you should be ready to schedule your future priorities into your daily calendar. Don’t just schedule work meetings. Make sure to include social media time, family time, doctor’s appointments, and the gym. Once you start ‘owning’ your schedule based on priorities, you will find that your time will become more manageable. (I schedule walking my 3 dogs for 45 minutes every day, 365 days a year. If I don’t they will make sure I know they are important by acting out.)

Whether you use Google, Outlook, or a paper DayTimer, make sure to carve out blocks in your day/week to accomplish what is important to you. If you don’t schedule things, then you can’t complain that you don’t have time for them – you did not give them any importance.

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Personal time management is not a once and done task. We all slip and get lost in time wasters every now and then, and our priorities are always changing. This is the time management process that works for me and helped me find the 25th hour in my day. Let me know what works for you… if you have the time.

5 Ways To Get Your MOOC On

People love acronyms and one of the newest one in the learning industry is MOOC.  What is a MOOC you ask?  Maybe this illustration can help:

MOOC_poster_mathplourde

Image: “MOOC poster mathplourde” by Mathieu Plourde

The internet is an incredible vehicle for teaching and learning.  Massive Open Online Courses or MOOCs, became popular about two years ago when colleges and universities realized the potential of this creative way to reach a lot of students at once. A MOOC basically is a course online that is open to many people at the same time.. Originally they were free and no-credit courses, but that has been changing.  There are all kinds of courses now available on the internet, from Chemistry to Pottery, and most of the top educational organizations in the world are developing them.  Sooner or later, you probably will take a MOOC.

Online education can be a real win for many students, especially those that can’t get to a classroom, but (based on the statistics that I am seeing), this type of learning has its challenges. According to research done by Shanna Smith Jaggars, Assistant Director of Columbia University’s Community College Research Center, 32% of students failed or withdrew from for-credit online courses (compared with 19% for equivalent in-person courses) 1 and, according to educational researcher Katy Jordan, MOOCs have generated 50,000 enrollments on average but with a completion rate below 10%. 2  Reading those statistics got me to thinking about how to help students do better (and maybe want to complete the course).

Here are my five suggestions on how to be successful when taking a MOOC:

1.  Practice Good Time Management

Knowing how to manage your time is critical when it comes to online learning.  It is just to easy to do everything else before you sit down to do your course work.  Everyday physical demands, like work, family, and community obligations, can get in the way of virtual activities.  To better manage your time you need to:

  • Understand the syllabus of the class and when assignments are due. (I actually print it out and put it in the front of my notebook – and yes, I take notes).
  • Add assignment due dates to your everyday calendar.  You need to make sure you allow yourself enough time to get the work done.
  • Make a ‘to-do’ list daily and make sure some MOOC activity is in there, every day.

2. Manage Your Work Environment

womanatdeskYour physical space is a critical factor of success when working online. A good study environment without distractions is essential to any student’s success but especially an online student.

  • Build a quiet space. Make sure that you have a private and quiet space to get your work done.  If you have kids, they should be somewhere else and pets should be walked before you sit down to work.
  • Build a functional space.  Make sure that the lighting in your space is sufficient and that you pay attention to the ergonomics of your computer/chair/screen/keyboard for maximum comfort.
  • Turn off your phone.  Make sure that people know you are taking a class between the hours of X and Y, so they leave you alone.
  • Turn off the TV and avoid games.  Control temptations by removing them from your reach during study time.  You might even consider uninstalling computer games if you find yourself playing “solitaire” instead of studying.
  • Shut down your browser (except for the class, of course).  It is easy to get lost on the internet, so make sure that you have no tabs open other than the class.  You can check Facebook later, when you are not in school.

3. Commitment and Motivation

Like with all schooling, the motivation and commitment to attend to what needs to be done to succeed is important.  But with online classes it may be the biggest success factor of all.  Unlike a class room course where you are surrounded by your peers and an instructor that can give immediate support, online students must figure a lot of things out on their own.  You have to be your own technical guru, know when to ask questions and how, do your online classwork every day no matter what, and keep working through stumbling blocks that come up.

  • Be committed to the process and understand what you want from the course.  What is your MOTIVATION?  There are many reasons to take classes, make sure that you have the willingness to succeed.
  • Understand how the classroom software works, especially when it comes to asking questions and requesting help.
  • Log in every day and make progress on your course, even if it is just a bit.  Students that do the best in online learning are those that make daily progress.
  • Persevere through the technical and other challenges that the online learning environment may pose to you.  Just keep at it.

4. Communications Skills

32661230When you are learning in an online environment, your written communication skills and reading ability are extremely valuable. It is up to the student to communicate their needs in writing almost exclusively because in online classes you are rarely seen or heard.  Unlike a physical class, the virtual world does not allow for non-verbal cues to tell the teacher that you don’t understand something, it will be up to you to ask, in writing.  Also, make sure that you are ready for a great deal of screen reading, though there may be some hard copy books as well.

  • Understand how the teacher and staff want to be communicated with.  Usually, online instructors allow for multiple ways to reach them. There should be instructions in the beginning of any course detailing things like when to email, what the instructor and teaching assistant’s office hours are, how to join discussion groups, team chat rooms, etc. By following the instructions and using the tools provided by the course, you will have the easiest time communicating with the staff.
  • Use your best business like communication style.  Unless told otherwise, the informal style of text messages and chats is not very effective when working with teachers and staff online. The more you can write in full sentences in a courteous tone, the better received your communication will be.  Even if you are frustrated or angry about something, remember that the teachers and staff at the other end of your communication deserve to be treated as the professionals.

5. Technical Understanding

You don’t need to be a geek to take a MOOC, but you do need to know your way around your computer and the software that the course is given in.

  • Take the course orientation on how to use the learning system, if one is offered.
  • Make sure the equipment you are working on meets the hardware and software requirements stated by the course.  If it does not you will want to fix your technical issues before you ever get started.
  • Make sure you are familiar with a few of the standard tools used in MOOCs: word processing software, spreadsheets, browsers (specifically how to get to places on the internet and how to download information).

 Have you taken a MOOC yet?  What worked for you?

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Keep up the good attitude. See you next blog.

– Lorian

 

 

 

Lorian’s Social Connections

Email: thedigitalattitude@gmail.com

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Website: http://www.digitalattitudellc.com

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References

Image 1: “MOOC poster mathplourde” by Mathieu Plourde {(Mathplourde on Flickr) – http://www.flickr.com/photos/mathplourde/8620174342/sizes/l/in/photostream/. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:MOOC_poster_mathplourde.jpg#mediaviewer/File:MOOC_poster_mathplourde.jpg

1. http://ccrc.tc.columbia.edu/presentation/moocs-unbundling-implications.html

2. http://www.katyjordan.com/MOOCproject.html

Don’t Add To My WorkLoad!

I have been thinking a great deal about how I live (aka: how I spend my time), and to be honest, I think I could use my time more wisely.  My goal is to use social media as a tool to replace work that I am already doing, not to add to my work load. I keep hearing that I need to work smarter, not harder.  Coming up with that equation is … a lot of work.

arg-fish-storyI read an interesting article by Clay Shirky, called “Gin, Television, and Social Surplus,” on WorldChanging, about the use of leisure time. He calls it ‘Social Surplus.’ Social surplus is “time we have when we are not doing paid work, our so called ‘leisure time.”  He says that years ago (20th Century), we spent time engaged in ‘consuming prepackaged media,’ like film and TV, and that now (21st Century) we devote our time to ‘producing and sharing.’ in addition to consuming.   Therefore, he defines the use of social media as a leisure activity.

accountantHe is part right, because most of the blogging and browsing and tweeting that I am doing is during my leisure time (my personal time).  I am doing a lot of business work in my ‘social surplus‘ time.  I am working harder and longer hours then ever before.  This had made me realize that I need to switch some of how I look at things, and some of how I work, because he is also wrong, not all of my social media use is personal, and therefore, not all ‘social surplus.’  For example, reading news is part work, part leisure;  IBM email, is all work; Twitter, is 90% work; Facebook, is 100% leisure; this blog, is work, but DogDaz.com blog is leisure.  It is clear that the lines between work and leisure (professional /personal), at least on the internet, have blurred with the advent of social media.  It is not about finding clear lines between the two, but about how I learn to work differently in another medium.  Luis Suarez is a perfect example,  He is the IBMer that gave up email and communicates only through social media for all his projects and communications.  I don’t sense that he is trying to figure out where his professional tweets end and his personal tweets begin (if you know what I mean).  Trying to keep the two worlds separate is a waste of time and energy.

Let’s look at what I might do differently to make this swap:

  • Instead of buying and reading newspapers, I am going to get my news headlines on my Twitter feed and Facebook (ie: BBC, CNN, NPR, local news).  I still like the Sunday paper though, so I am keeping that (or I won’t have anything to use when repotting plants).  If I want more than the headline, I can click on the link in the news feed.
  • I stopped randomly playing around on the internet to see what was out there a long time ago, because I think it was a big time waster for me.  Occasionally I still do like to nose around for entertainment and good books but I will be setting my timer to ensure I don’t get lost for hours (sometime I forget to go to bed).
  • I have not given up reading books or watching TV, but I have always limited TV to shows that I have recorded.  I need to be more choosy on the books, I guess, because my pile gets bigger and bigger.
  • When I have a business question and I need lots of input, maybe I can Tweet it, verses calling or Instant Messaging a million people?  That would really save time.  I really need to start leveraging the community of experts out there better.
  • $545E5FB844589F58I need to stop feeling guilty about using social media during work time.  This is a hold over for me probably because I have worked virtually for so many years and had to make sure I limited my use of the www outside of work to after hours. (I may be showing my age but who remembers the BOSS screen on the early computers?)  Those days are gone.  As long as I am using social media to do a better job, I think that it is something that is part of my job, and therefore, it is not ‘social surplus,’ but ‘SOCIAL NECESSITY’ (my term).

What are some ways you can think of incorporating social media into your routine by replacing something you already do in a different medium?   

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Keep up the good attitude. See you next blog.

– Lorian

(All the Social Butterfly’s views are her own)