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I recently set a goal for myself — a goal to set goals. This was a challenge given to me by my boot camp trainer. What she really wanted were long-term goals: this week, this month, this year. But I told her, I have enough trouble committing to what I’m making for dinner, much less what I plan to do with my life a month from now. So she suggested I keep it simple and shoot for daily goals.

Always looking for tools to streamline and add fun to my day, I went in search of an app. There were a lot of them. I wanted it super simple, motivating and free. What I discovered was a really cool Chrome extension called Momentum.

Morning Zen
Momentum is brilliant in its simplicity. Each morning, I open a new tab in the Chrome browser and up pops a stunning zen-like photograph and a welcome, “Good Morning, Jeanne.” Then it asks me, “What is your main focus for today?” I type in my answer and then all day long, each time I open a new tab, I see that beautiful photo and a reminder of my goal. And as if it can read my mind, Momentum also reveals a relevant, motivational message of the day. It’s like a fortune cookie for my soul.

A “to-do” list sent from heaven
The simple and beautiful structure of Momentum would be enough, but what really gets me excited is the to-do list feature embedded to the right of the screen. It sounds silly, I know, to get excited over a to-do list. But this one is so freaking easy to use! When I discovered it, it was like a “where have you been all my life?” moment.

I juggle dozens of requests from multiple clients all day long. And I need to keep track of all those tasks so that at the end of the day I can report the time that I dedicated to each. With the Momentum to-do list, I just enter the tasks as they come to me and check them off as they are completed. And the best part is that anything that wasn’t accomplished is carried over to the next day. No more writing and re-writing lists in a notebook.

Cue the angels singing.

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Mark up 12-9-14 FINAL low rez w caption

 

I like the idea of New Year’s resolutions, but I tend to set the bar pretty high with unrealistic goals that I rarely follow through on. That’s why I resolved to come up with achievable goals this year. Here are eight easy and fail-proof resolutions that everyone can make.

1. Clean out and organize email inboxes regularly
It is so important to have a clean inbox or, in my case, inboxes, because then important information is never lost or forgotten. I answer my emails daily, but I really only reorganize and clean out my inbox in desperate times when I am looking for one particular email. I sometimes find that the folders I created to file away emails are also outdated, because what I had originally developed the folder for has become more complex and now requires subfolders. Regardless, I will be cleaning and reorganizing my inbox once a week to ensure that I can easily find any information I need at moment’s notice.

2. Delete all the out-of-date files
In the process of compiling a final report from a recent, very large meeting, I found we had saved quite a few revisions of the same files, so I had to dig to find the final versions. Now that the meeting is over and the year is ending, I made it my personal goal to clean out the files so that we only have the most up-to-date documents saved and everything is in the correct folder. We won’t be hosting a meeting like this for another six years, so when we revisit the files again, I want them to be organized and a helpful resource.

3. Update your office/work space
Rearranging or reorganizing your office could reenergize your work space and help your productivity. Evaluate whether your current set up is the most functional or whether your desk might be more organized with the help of letter trays or shelves. Updating your office could also be as simple as adding a new piece of décor, like a new painting or a plant.

4. Use social media…more
Social media is a powerful tool. I continue to learn more and more about its power, both in my personal and professional lives. Whether it is deciding on whether to start using social media for your company or clients, or reevaluating the platforms that you currently use, make fun and realistic goals for your accounts. These goals could include exploring a new social media platform, reaching a certain number of followers by the end of the year, or starting a hashtag trend.

5. Streamline your mornings
I find that when I am rushed in the morning, my whole day feels altogether hectic. It would be so much easier to lay out my clothes, pack my breakfast and lunch, and get my gym bag ready the night before, so that when I get to work, I am calm, relaxed and ready for the day. I know that another alternative would be to just get up earlier, but if I am going to make realistic goals here, getting up early is not one of them.

6. Take the stairs
Regardless if you make any fitness goals this year, this is a resolution everyone should just do. Luckily, I work in a building where an elevator is not an option, but I have had jobs in the past where it was way too easy to take the elevator over the stairs. Think of all the calories that could be burned WHILE at work, not to mention it is great for your legs and your heart!

7. Bring a lunch
It is really easy to eat lunch out every day, especially if you forgot to pack one the night before and you are running late (see resolution 5). And if you work in downtown Madison like I do, where there are a plethora of wonderful restaurants to choose from, it is even easier. But if you bring a lunch at least once a week, you will not only save money, you’ll probably choose healthier options, too.

8. Learn a new skill from your colleagues
Work is where we spend most of our time during the week, so we spend quite a bit of time with our colleagues. Whether you want to learn a new recipe or how to use a computer program, your colleagues may have a skillset to share, you just have to stop and ask. My colleagues happen to have diverse areas of expertise, so I look forward to working with them over the next year to learn new things and get to know them better!

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in Workplace Issues 1583 0
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Our team recently participated in a webinar detailing how to save yourself an hour every day using various tools in Outlook. It inspired me to review my very first blog post and see what else I’m doing to save myself time every day. I came up with these Dos and Don’ts to make sure you are saving time and not wasting it in Outlook.

DON’T duplicate efforts. There are so many great tools in Outlook—Inbox, Task List, Calendar—just make sure you aren’t over-using them. An example of overuse: keeping an item in your inbox, flagging it for follow up in your task list, and adding a calendar reminder to attend to the item. One of these methods will suffice on its own. Do you need to respond to the email? Keep it in your inbox. Is it something that needs action from you but not a response to that email? Copy it on to your calendar and delete it out of your inbox.

DO sort by date/conversation. This one is an absolute must. It keeps your inbox tidy by collapsing all messages from a single conversation in to a single item, keeping the most recent item on top, regardless of the sender. Bonus: it spares you from the embarrassment of not responding to the most recent email in a conversation. To set your inbox up to sort this way, select View > Date (Conversations) > check “Show as Conversations.”

Wiseman - Sorty by Date-Conversation

DON’T be afraid to delete emails. Guess what? When you delete an email, it does not go in to some deep, dark black hole of forgotten emails. Keep your inbox tidy so it can be your to-do list! Delete emails that you’ve attended to—you can always search through your “Deleted” folder later on if you need it.

DO use the “recurring” feature on your Calendar. There are so many tasks that I only need to do once a month or even once a year that I would completely forget about if they were not on my calendar. To speed things up, I use the “recurring” feature (Appointment > Recurrence). You can set it to recur daily, weekly, monthly or yearly. Within the weekly option, you can specify certain days of the week (MWF? Tues-Thurs?). For monthly, you can select a specific date (10th of the month) or week (second Friday of the month). Yearly has the same options.

Wiseman - Calendar Recurrence

DO use “Drafts” to save time. I find myself sending the same emails over and over: responding to questions about a specific event, detailing steps on how to access a certain portion of a website, etc. When I notice this happening, I save a draft of the email: open a new message, type or paste the message, close out, hit “Yes” to save changes —this saves it as a draft. The email is now in my draft folder for quick copy-and-paste access when I’m responding to an email.

Wiseman - Save changes

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Tagged in: email organize outlook
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