Whether it’s on a business or personal level, the amount of distractions we face is overwhelming: email, texts, meetings, kids’ schedules, keeping up with the house chores – and on and on. So here are some thoughts, apps, resources etc. to help define what you want to achieve, how to think about your goals and how to approach the tasks. Last time we focused on starting your day, this post is about maintaining your momentum during the day.
Do a Time Audit
It’s sort of a paradox that a time audit takes up time, but it’s time well spent, which will ultimately make you more efficient. For one week, log your hours in a notebook, spreadsheet or a program like Evernote. At the end of the week look at the record of what you’ve done, and it probably won’t make you happy. For work, I use a time tracking tool called Harvest to keep track of my hours that has a plugin to Asana, our project management software. It can get pretty grim sometimes, but it helps me analyze how I spend my time. So what did your time audit show? I’ve learned that many of us share the same time management challenges. Here are a few… can you relate?
This is an enormous distraction for most of us. News articles, sales at your favorite site, celebrity gossip, politics, etc. all wind up in our inboxes. So the question is… how important are they really? If they’re not important, do yourself a favor and unsubscribe. Keep a record of the unsubscribes and if you REALLY can’t get along without the cutlery sale at Sur la Table, resubscribe when you can’t take it any more. Another strategy is to direct all of the emails that aren’t critical to your day to a separate account that you only check once a day.
Check your email at set times of the day.
Prioritize – If something is urgent, respond to it right away, if not, let it rest until your scheduled email check time.
Schedule your emails to come in every half hour our (or whatever frequency makes sense for you.) That way you won’t be looking for something every five minutes.
Organize your emails – All of the major email clients have ways to create folders, archive emails, etc.
Did the Mets win last night? Who was pitching? Colon ? How old is he? Who is the oldest pitcher in baseball? What pitcher makes more money? Who is the best paid player?
Got it? Your afternoon is gone. Information and web browsing are addictive, but manageable.
If you don’t need the internet, disconnect – turn off wifi, use airplane mode on mobile devices, pull the plug if you’re hard connected.
There are also software programs that will let you schedule and block specific sites or the entire internet for specific periods of time:
Set a timer to limit your online time.
Save articles to view later – If you find an article that you need, but you don’t need it immediately, save it to look at later.
Create a to-do list – I’ve been using Wunderlist and it works great. I have to do lists for phone calls, home stuff, work, etc. Works on my computer, phone, wherever.
Easy stuff – hard stuff – Tough as it is, do the hard stuff first. Will power and self control are limited and decrease as the day goes on. You’re also fresher in the morning so the tasks that might seem overwhelming at 3:00 might seem more manageable at 10:00.
Take breaks – Try working for 25 minutes and taking a five minute break or what ever works for you http://pomodorotechnique.com/; try to meditate for 10-15 minutes; stretch at your desk or go outside. Brief diversions help you focus.
The afternoon slump – When I was a kid, we’d put our heads down on our desks in the afternoon for a rest period. That’s a luxury most of us don’t have anymore. How to avoid getting sleepy at 3:00?
Have a good breakfast (carbs and some protein to get you started, and I don’t mean a Cinnabon!)
Lunch– Have protein with your salad or sandwich. Avoid fatty foods, they’ll sit in your stomach
Take a walk – it will get your heart going, take your mind off what you’re doing and refresh you.
If you have a snack, have one with a protein-carb combination
Check your to-do list – If you didn’t get everything done, set your priorities for the next day and review your schedule.
Complete one small task – there’s always one small thing you can get done to finish the day so you don’t have to think about it.
Do a final email and social check – It’s tough not to look at email, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc at night, but that’s also a path to more evening stress. Try to close out your necessary communications so you don’t have to think about them until the next day.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art has rebranded itself. It has pretty much been panned across the board and I thought I’d weigh in.
First of all, a logo isn’t a brand. It’s part of a branding strategy, and I’ve written before about the fact that an ugly logo doesn’t necessarily make a branding program bad.
But, a bad logo doesn’t help and this one just doesn’t work. It’s loosely based on a font from the 60’s and 70’s called Trooper Roman, although they’ve lightened it up a bit. Just in case you didn’t notice, the center bar of the “E” is angled slightly to match the angle of the walls of the Temple of Dendur in the museum.
“Many people who encounter the Met can be overwhelmed by it; it can be quite hard to navigate.” says the Strategy Director at the firm that created the design. And this logo helps how? Apparently this is a two-year project, and having spent many hours in the Met looking for a painting, a sculpture or whatever, I think they need a coherent signage program, not a new logo.
“The design featuring conjoined letters grew out of the theme of connection, and the font is meant to be both classical and modern.” Guess what? the use of a font designed in the sixties (although it was a fave of mine back then) doesn’t look classical, and I hate to say it, but at this point it doesn’t look modern either. Some one else commented the the whole top of the logo is the word “THE”.
The old logo, from the early 1970s is more timeless and elegant than what the new one. And it looked better on the buttons.
So just for fun, I downloaded a free version of Trooper Roman and set the letters up more or less like they are in the new logo. I know it’s thicker and not as finished and blah, blah, blah but it only took me 45 minutes. And any designer will tell you that having the letters overlap is one of the first visual things you try with letterforms. And often discard.
The top image is the actual logo, middle one is the quickie, bottom is the actual font.
My point is if you’re going to do a logo for a client like the Metropolitan Museum of Art, don’t make it look like it was done in under an hour.
But then there’s the other Met… The Metropolitan Opera which rebranded itself a few years ago. It’s clever, it’s sophisticated, it’s timeless in the truest sense of the word, and it works across all of their materials.
So it can be done, and done well. But a brand has to go deep, whether it’s for the local library or a major institution like either of the “Mets”. The logo is a huge part of that, and in this case it’s a part that doesn’t fit.
But maybe it is impossible, don’t get me started about the Lord & Taylor rebrand. Get me a box of Crayolas®.