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Planning to Decrease Holiday Stress
by On December 17, 2008

As you’re coming into full swing the holidays, this article is guaranteed to take some of the stress out of the holidays and help you kick off the New Year with harmony in all areas of your life.

A great first step is to simply take some quiet time for yourself and come up with you priority list. Things that are meaningful to you. Go to lunch by yourself, or at least get to a place that you will be uninterrupted for a half hour or more and think about the things that want and need to do as you wrap up the New Year. I call this creating your “wish list.” Amidst all the craziness of your days, I realize this might seem unrealistic. But more likely than not there are things that are very important to you that simply aren’t getting done because in the hustle and bustle of your busy day they are simply overlooked.

Once you have your wish list in front of you, grab out your calendar, or your planner, open up your schedule and make sure and schedule time for a couple of the most important things for you that you’ve been putting off. In addition to your deadlines, and your family commitments, and all the responsibilities that traditionally consume your days and weeks, making a firm commitment to yourself to do whatever; to have dinner with a friend you haven’t seen in months or spend a couple of hours exercising, or catching up on some reading, or taking a class that you’ve been putting off for a couple of years, or just planning a getaway with your significant other, whatever it might be. You’ll feel less overwhelmed, you’ll feel reenergized because of the deposits you are making back into you. And not surprisingly, you’re actually going to accomplish more I your everyday activities as a byproduct. You’ll be feeling better and you’ll have more energy throughout the day.

This is simple stuff, but you know that it works. Make a promise to yourself that you’re going to put yourself first a couple of times these next few weeks and you’ll have a lot more to give to others.

Happy Holidays!

Be Free!

Eric Plantenberg

Snooze Bar Challenge
by On October 20, 2008

If you are like me you have had a love/hate relationship with your Snooze Bar over the years. There are some mornings where there is nothing sweeter than hitting the button, and driftily falling back into your pillow with a soft thump and there are other mornings where you pound on the button, feeling as though it is some overly intense drill sergeant who is screaming at you to wake up “earlier than you really NEED to”.

The one thing that I know about the Snooze button is that it hasn’t ever helped me hit my goals. Now, I’m not saying that it has been the reason I’ve missed my goals either BUT I (like many of us) am on “high alert”, “all hands on deck”, “there’s a fire in the kitchen” type of a place to hit my goals for the Fourth Quarter. So, what I am doing is 6 work weeks of NO SNOOZE BAR!

Basically, from today until Thanksgiving, Monday through Friday I am going to set my alarm for the time that I choose to get out of bed and NOT HIT ANY SNOOZES. I am also making a commitment to waking up with enough time to read, stretch, workout, shower, walk aimlessly around the house, and check my facebook before my scheduled day starts. I am planning on doing this all on my own, but would love to have some accountability. So, feel free to ask me at any time how this is going OR to comment below that you are taking the Snooze Bar Challenge with me.

Be Free!

Tom Weber
VP of Sales

How to Schedule Time for FUN
by On August 20, 2008

How many times have you said, “I don’t have the time…..” or “I wish there were more hours in the day.”

The truth is, we are each in the position of being in control of setting our schedules, our priorities, our budgets, our relationships, and our thoughts, and yet many people relinquish that authority to chance. An old adage says that, “people plan to fail by failing to plan.”

Today I am going to talk about your time and how to be proactive with your planning. It can literally change not only your day, but the rest of your life!

In my speaking engagements, I often ask people what is their favorite thing to do. I am consistently surprised by the number of people who, immediately after telling me their favorite thing to do, follow up by stating, “But I never have time to do it.”

Why? If something is your favorite thing in the world, why do you never have the time to do it!?! I would venture to say it is a result of a lack of planning. Now, I am NOT saying that if golf is your favorite subject, by planning your time, you will be golfing all day. What I am saying is that if golf is truly your favorite thing to do, but you “haven’t had the time” to golf in the last month, you are short changing yourself!

Brian Andreas said, “everything changed the day he figured out there was exactly enough time for the important things in his life.” “But where is it?” you ask. The most common answer is in planning- you prioritize the things that are on your calendar instead of prioritizing the people and activities that are the most important to you.

There are four steps to being proactive with your time.

#1. Plan Ahead
Pick a half an hour sometime between Friday afternoon and Sunday night that is going to be your weekly planning time. A week is short enough that you know the majority of commitments you have scheduled and is long enough to allow for flexibility.

#2. Decide Your Priorities
Is it the gym? Taking your kids to the zoo? Golfing? These are the things that are usually overlooked-they things you “never have time to do.”

#3. Write it Down
Yes, actually write down your schedule for the week. If you only think about it, you will not stick to it. So…write down the things that you have committed to and can not change-from your office hours to evening activities. And then, this is the great part, schedule in your fun stuff! Decide when you will play tennis with your kids and which night is a good date night. Don’t try to squeeze the most important things into your busy schedule, instead schedule them!

#4. Follow it!
Commit to your personal meetings as much as you commit to the meeting with your boss. After all, they are your priorities-your favorite subjects-don’t leave them out!

So, now you have the steps to being proactive with your time-go be proactive! You’ll be amazed how time you magically find.

Be Free!

Leah Simpson

How to Master Your Time by Brian Tracy
by On August 19, 2008

Those who get more done in less time get more out of life . . . more rewards, more success, and more free time to pursue their dreams and enjoy themselves.

In fact, you’ll discover from success expert Brian Tracy, that “the quality of your life is largely determined by the quality of your time management.”

In the program, How to Master Your Time, you will learn you don’t have to be cold and calculating to be well organized. Time mastery does not mean letting the clock rule your life. In fact, the very opposite is true: time mastery gives you the absolute freedom to do what you want, when you want to do it. Ironically, you even learn to make time for spontaneity. The more time you make for yourself, the more free time you’ll have.

Unlike many programs on time management, this program has no charts, no forms, no daily schedules. Tracy believes in them but knows you are quite capable of developing them for yourself. His purpose in this program is to teach you the philosophy of time management, to help you internalize it, and to help you develop a belief system that will make your every moment more efficient.

As Tracy puts it:
“This program is the result of 20 years of experience-of research and teaching with more than 200 corporations. I designed this program to give you everything you will ever need to know about mastering your time for your personal life and career.”

You’ll make a decision to become excellent at time management . . . to concentrate on the highest pay-off tasks. Your life will simply begin to work better.

You will learn to:
• Use positive self-talk and affirmations to change your self-conceptions about time
• Visualize efficiency and excellence using mental rehearsal techniques
• Model your own behavior after the most efficient people you know
• Learn to lead others as an example of successful time management
• Become results-oriented, working smarter, not harder
• Delegate more effectively and become more adept at prioritizing
• Energize yourself with the positive results of your labor

By becoming a master of your time, you’ll greatly improve the sense of control you have and in turn improve your well-being in every aspect of your life.

Remember, time is your most precious and perishable asset. You can begin investing it more wisely by listening to these tapes and putting their wisdom to use. Start today!

Time Management Workshop Review – Using Time as It Is Meant to Be Used
by On August 18, 2008

I had an amazing time teaching the last four Time Management Workshops part of the Fundamentals of Freedom Workshop Series.  This session was entitled Using Time as It Is Meant to be Used and workshops were held in Madison, WI, Oconomowoc, WI, Austin, TX and Boise, ID.  We have two more Time Management Workshops coming up in LA and San Diego, CA.  Visit our website to enroll.

Below are some of the comment from graduates of these workshops

“I am so glad that I made this investment!!  I’m the most excited about the ‘2 Hour Solution.’  I’m in serious need of this exercise.  I look forward to coming back next quarter a better and more productive version of myself.”  Heather Haynes, Broker, Century 21 Whitewater Clark

“I am delighted that I followed through and attended this course.  I’m convinced that I now have some “light on my path” so that the next few critical steps to effectiveness are clear.  Thank you for really actionable strategies!”  Jacob Nordby, Chief Imagination Officer,

“I really enjoyed this workshop!  I got a grasp of where I can gain some time, but most of all, where I fail to schedule recreation time and fail to realize the important of scheduling ALL my important goals.”  Penne Stimpson, Bookkeeper / Administrative Manager, Assist 2 Sell

“Thank you for taking the time to teach these principles.  The ability to (1) set goals effectively and (2) manage the individual activities necessary to achieve those goals is an unbelievable skill to have and severely lacking with most people – including myself.  Very practical application strategies for anyone to implement both professionally and personally.  As usual Roger [the instructor] mixes a great sense of humor with specific area expertise to make for an educational and fun presentation.  Thanks again, I’m excited to put these strategies into practice.”  Roger Shoup, Fundraising Consultant, Great American Opportunities

“Excellent class!  Very inspiring and easy to follow.  This class kept my full attention and I am so excited about the changes in my time management.  This has always been an issue for more and has caused a lot of anxiety!”  Katie Keller, Thornton Oliver Keller

“This was a great kick in the bottom to focus on goals and prioritizing with quadrants awakening that I do have time to do important things if I would quit wasting time in Q4!  I’m excited to get an accountability partner and get to work on short and long term goals.”  Dayna Teutsch, Account Executive, First Horizon Wholesale

“I learned a lot about how I clog my day doing mindless things when I think I’m ‘multitasking.’  This workshop was useful as long as I commit myself to using the tools.”  Kevin Cutler, High Desert Realtors

“Great help in providing insight to things I need to do, and not to do, to achieve my goals.  It was an eye opener on my scheduling and needing to delegate administrative work.”  Joanne L. Gardner, Account Executive, Daniels Head Insurance

“Always enjoyed learning new idea on how to better improve business personal life!  Enjoy meeting like minded people who are hungry for success!”  Jose Segarre, Broker/Owner, Exit Homerets Realty

I look forward to seeing everyone again at the next workshop in the Fundamentals of Freedom Workshop Series entitled Creating Record Breaking Results.  During this goal setting workshop you will learn: 

–  The hidden power of goals
–  The characteristics of an effective goal
–  How to expand your thinking through dream building
–  How to create and build the life of your dreams
–  The four stages of learning and how to apply them to accomplish your goals.

Workshops will be held around the country.  Visit our website for dates, locations, times and to enroll.

If you want to learn how to set and achieve goals, you can not afford to miss this amazing goal setting workshop. 

Be Free!

Roger Seip

3 Steps for Running an Effective Meeting (That People Actually Want to Attend)
by On August 13, 2008

      Download the 3 Steps for Running an Effective Meeting mp3

(1. Right click the link 2. Choose “Save Target As”)

When you hear people talk about meetings what do you normally hear?  Maybe, “a waste of time” or “nothing productive ever comes out of our meetings.”  I’m not ripping on the complainers because actually they have a point.  Often times there’s no focus during a meeting.  There is a lot of rambling about trivial issues and the important issues aren’t even addressed.  So, with all this negative energy surrounding meetings, I thought it would be helpful to discuss what it takes to run an effective meeting.  That is a meeting that people actually want to attend. 

From my experience there are three key steps to running an effective meeting and oddly enough none of the steps occur during the meeting itself.  That might seem a little strange, but I promise that if you take care of the three steps before the meeting, the meeting will take care of itself. 

First you must care enough to prepare, in detail, before the meeting.  Second, you must care enough about the members of your team to help them effectively prepare for the meeting.  Third, you must care enough about others and their success that you follow up on their progress after the meeting to help them achieve their objective. 

The common thread in all three of these steps is that you care.  You actually care about yourself and your time.  You care about the members of your team, their success and time.  And you care about the subject matter being discussed.  If you’re missing any of those three, it makes sense to reconsider whether a meeting is even necessary. 

Preparing for a Meeting
So let’s first look at what you need to do to properly prepare for a meeting.  When doing your preparation, try to identify the results that you want to accomplish from the meeting.  Important – that is not the same as the agenda.  An agenda simply lists what you intend to discuss during the meeting.  Going back to one of the main complaints of ineffective meetings, that issues get discussed but then nothing gets decided on, you instead need to come up with an ideal outcome for each item on the agenda.  That way when the topic is brought up during the meeting, you’re ready to discuss what needs to be done which moves you towards your desired result. 

Preparing Your Team Members
What can you do to make sure that your team members are prepared?  What I do is simply send everyone a proposed agenda for the meeting well in advance of the meeting so that they can do research and form an opinion or ideas of their own before the meeting even begins.  Then, once you’ve prepared and you’ve helped your team members prepare, you don’t have to worry about the meeting.  The meeting will take care of itself.  All you need to do at the meeting is to be clear about what needs to get done, who’s going to do it and when it will be completed.  So, once you’ve established the who, the what and the when, the last step that you need to do is follow up. 

Follow Up
How often, after a meeting, do you go back to your workspace and forget that a meeting even occurred?  If you’re like most people the answer is pretty often.  That’s why it’s so important to immediately send out an email after the meeting recapping who agreed to do what by when.  Then continue to follow up on a daily, weekly or monthly basis to track their progress and to offer help. 

So remember, the common elements in any successful meeting are that you effectively prepare, you coach your team members to come prepared and you follow up on the progress being made.  I strongly encourage you to respect the time of the people that you’ve been entrusted with and take their development seriously by running effective meetings.

Be Free! 

David Meyers

What Are You Focused On? Focus Breeds Success
by On August 6, 2008

As summer starts to wind down, it’s a great time to refocus our energies. Vacations are over, kids are going back to school, the weather will be changing soon. It’s not that it’s time for the fun to end—trust me, I’d never suggest that! But it’s important to bring things back into focus every so often.

It’s easy for life to start going in a million directions. You may have heard it said before that it’s been proven our brains move 7 times faster than someone can speak. Multi-tasking does often make us more productive and it’s necessary at times because it’s what allows us to juggle all the different areas of our lives.

But anytime you truly want to accomplish something, you need to bring that focus back to that one point. Don’t look to the side, don’t look behind you, you need to look specifically at that point. Think about when you are driving, you need to keep your eyes on the road to make sure you get where you want to go and don’t end up in a ditch! We must have this same concentration when we are striving to accomplish major goals in our lives.

Success comes from directing your energy to one finer point. Even dog training suggests you put a gentle leader on a dog that doesn’t focus well while walking. Do you know what that is? It is the strappy thing that goes around the dogs muzzle to guide him. The gentle leader brings focus to one point and wherever the dog’s nose and eyes lead, his body will follow. This calms the dog’s mind and allows him to accomplish the task at hand, walking in a straight line and in a controlled manner.

So bring all of your focus in as though you are balancing it on the head of a pin or your energy is concentrated like a laser. When you have total mental focus, your ability to accomplish tasks, solve problems and be more effective overall dramatically increases.

The sun’s rays are not strong enough to cause a fire until they are brought to a focus through a magnifying glass. So it is with our lives. We often don’t start experiencing TRUE success until we really focus on what we want, where we are going and HOW we are going to get there.

I will leave you with this quote:

“In time, you can become what you earnestly desire to be,
if you set your face in the direction of the things you want
and bring all your powers to bear towards its attainment.”
– J. Herman Randall

Enjoy the rest of the summer!

Be Free!

Lauri Sompres

4 Steps on How to Manage Your Schedule Like a Business Owner – And Start Getting RESULTS
by On July 25, 2008

Today I am going to write about a tangible way you can increase your enjoyment, pay, and recognition at the office, while impacting more people through your work,. It starts with a mindset of treating your professional life as a BUSINESS instead of a JOB. This mindset plays a huge role in the activities you devote your time to throughout the day.

We will start with how you manage your schedule. Regardless of your title, you can create a schedule from a business owner’s perspective. The key difference is a business owner creates a schedule based on the RESULTS he or she wants to accomplish. An employee creates a schedule based on the HOURS that he is supposed to work. Here’s what you do:

Step 1 – Make a list of things you want to accomplish in the upcoming week. Most people I coach find Sunday evening the best time to do this. Your list includes scheduled appointments and projects you should tackle. For example, you have a meeting with a client, AND you should create a new marketing plan. That plan has been getting away from you for months because you can’t find the time.

Step 2 – Determine how long each activity will take. For some activities, this will be simple–your client meeting that always takes an hour will take an hour. Other activities are not so obvious-your marketing plan is tougher-are you going to COMPLETE it this week? Maybe not-after all, you’ve put it off for months. But you should spend two hours getting a start on the project. You may find it more challenging to determine the right amount of time when you are starting out. That’s fine, make your best estimate, and monitor your time when engaged in the activity. Did you give yourself enough time? Too much time? When the same activity appears on your schedule again, make the necessary adjustments.

Step 3 – Create a schedule for the week by determining when the best time will be to accomplish the items you have to do. Obviously, your Wednesday, 4:00 client meeting is best done Wednesday at 4:00. But your marketing plan can happen anytime (which is, by the way, why it hasn’t happened yet). Pick a time for everything, and put it on your schedule just like the 4:00 meeting.

Step 4 – Stick to your schedule! We often stick to our schedule with others but not with ourselves. You’re cutting yourself short! Treat your meetings with yourself as important as the meeting with clients, and you’ll be setting out on a path to finding great success with your time.

Be Free!

Leah Simpson

Can I Have Some More Hours? – Effective Time Managment
by On April 10, 2008

David ShoupWe all have the same 24 hours each day to utilize as we see fit, but how are some people able to accomplish extraordinary results and others are scrambling to get the minimum requirements done in any given day? How can some find the time to balance work, personal life, personal health & fitness, and family responsibilities and still manage to take that vacation without stress or concern? What abilities do they have that I don’t?

If you have found yourself asking the same questions or relating to anyone of these scenarios, know that there is hope. Here are four ideas that have had a powerful and profound impact on my ability to accomplish more in any given week and if you’ll apply these concepts to your business, I am confident it can do the same for you.

4 Ideas for More Effective Time Management:
Delete, Decide, Determine and Do

    Remove the “stuff” that gets in the way of you accomplishing any important task. It is the difference between being busy and being productive. Two areas that this concept has helped me most are: more efficient use of the computer and the reduction of distractions in my office. I reduced the amount of time spent checking email (twice daily) and simply removed the clutter in my office and with less to distract me I became instantly more productive.
    The first step in the accomplishment of any goal or objective is the decision to pursue or achieve it. You must decide what it is you want to or need to accomplish in a given week. Do this for all areas of your life and not just for business.A helpful way to decide is to plan your week in advance. Take at least one hour (two is ideal) every Sunday to schedule what needs to be accomplished in that coming week. Actually write down what you need to do on a certain day. You will find this to be an extremely helpful method to focus on the present and what is controllable for the week.
    Once your weekly objectives have been identified and written, determine what the high priority items are and be sure to attack them first. This will help reduce the “I should have done that” game because you’ll have done it. Brian Tracy refers to it in his book “Eat That Frog that you should tackle the biggest and most challenging task first because as the day goes on that task becomes even bigger, more daunting and less likely to be accomplished.
  4. DO
    After determining the most important tasks for the week the only thing left is to do it. The sooner you take action to accomplish the most difficult tasks/objectives the more likely you are to achieve them, the better you will feel and the less stress will creep into your life.

If you will follow these simple steps: delete, decide, determine & do you will find yourself having less stress & more time at the end of the day. These steps are instrumental in maintaining the balance between our business and personal lives that we all so richly deserve. I wish you much success and more time to do the things you truly love.

Be Free!

David Shoup

How to Handle Interruptions to Your Schedule
by On April 9, 2008

Tom Weber

      Download How to Handle Interruptions to Your Schedule mp3

(1. Right click the link 2. Choose “Save Target As”)

All of us have interruptions coming at us on a constant basis from our kids, from our coworkers, from our spouse, from our customers, from our boss. There are three simple, helpful things you can do when faced with an interruption. Prevent, delay, and deal.

Any good general will tell you that before you go into battle you must have a battle plan. Even if you know your day is going to be bombarded with interruptions you must have some sort of a plan or a schedule.

What a schedule will give you is an ability to tell people, without saying it out loud, that you are scheduled to be doing something. Make sure that you post your schedule so people can see it. Make sure everybody knows what you’re going to be doing throughout the day. As an added bonus, there is accountability. At the same time, it tells people, “I’m busy right now. Come back latter.” If they don’t know what you’re up to they may assume that you’re free and think it is okay to interrupt you.

Another benefit of having a schedule is that it gives you the ability to delay some interruptions. It is a good idea not to schedule every single moment of your day and minute by minute. Hour by hour is a great way to go because then you have blocks of time. So you have blocks, or buckets of time with nothing scheduled, some point in the middle of the day or in the afternoon on your schedule. The buckets of time allow you to delay the interruptions and address it when it fits into your schedule.

When you have an interruption, somebody walks into your office, or they call you on the phone, and they say, “Hey, I need you right now,” you can easily tell them, “You know what; right now I’m in the middle of something. I have an opening at 2:00 today. I can schedule you at that time and that way we can talk about your problem then.” What often happens is people say, “Great, I’ll talk to you then.”

Here’s the best byproduct of doing that. Typically if you tell somebody I’ll help you out by 2:00, and they know it is coming, it calms them down and many times they end up fixing their own problem. Or they find someone else to do it for them. Delaying it is a super simple technique if you truly intend on helping that person at a given time, not just procrastinating it.

I did a program for a company recently and a woman sat up in the audience and looked very frazzled and said, “But we can’t do this. Our customers drive our business. I have to take their call and I have to deal with their problem at that exact moment!” There was another woman in the audience, one of the more experienced customer service people, and she said, “Actually, what I tell them when they call and they’ve got a problem is that I’m in the middle of something else. As soon as I hang up the phone with this other person or as soon I’m done with this project which is very important I will call you back. Or I will call you back by 1:00. Or you will hear back from me by the end of the day. Letting people know that you are going to take care them fixes most of the problems.”

Now if all those things don’t actually work, and people aren’t able to allow you to delay their problems because it’s that big of a deal, well then we step into the final one and that’s to deal with the problem. Not much we can do sometimes. Sometimes we are forced to have to deal with the situation with it arises.

Handling interruptions to your schedule is easy if you remember to either: Prevent it, Delay it, or Deal with it.

Be Free!

Tom Weber
VP of Sales

I would love to hear how these 3 techniques work for you or how you handle interruptions to your schedule. Post a comment below.