3 of the Best and Worst Ways to Spend a Tax Refund

Today’s post is written by a good friend of mine, Nate VandenBerg. Nate is an experienced CPA who helps people make wise decisions with their money. Enjoy this helpful article.


Photo credit: cohdra from morguefile.com

Over 100 million people this year are expected to receive a refund from Uncle Sam when filing their taxes. At $2,800 for the average refund, millions of taxpayers will have to make the decision on what to do with the refund check.

The traditional options of paying off credit card debt, saving for retirement, or saving for college are great options.

Here are 6 “alternative” options for spending your refund check that have the potential to change the trajectory of your finances and relationships.

Best Ways to Spend a Refund

Prepay your mortgage

Save 8 years of mortgage payments by applying your tax refund to your mortgage! This is real, it actually works! Don’t assume the mortgage schedule your bank provides you is the only timeline to pay off your mortgage. You can save $65,000 of interest over the life of a $250,000 30 year mortgage at 4.5% by using your refund every year to pay down the principal of your mortgage. This results in a payoff a 30 year mortgage in 22 years!

Start a Business

Always wanted to start that blog? Launch your dream product? Write that book? Using all or a portion of your refund to fund your start up business could be a life changing event. What if you fail? Then you just paid $2,800 for one of the most valuable learning experiences you will ever have in your life. Apple was started with $1,750. Starbucks with $4,050 split among 3 people. Take the leap.

Take Your Family on Vacation

Probably not the advice you were expecting to see under the Best list. Don’t waste your money and spend frivolously. Plan it out, get the best deal you can and set the money aside to be used for the vacation. If you have children, the only job that you specifically have been assigned to do is to be the mother or father of your children. That’s a special assignment, be wise with the time our God has given us and create memories with your children they will cherish forever.

Worst Ways to Spend a Refund

Put Money Down on an Item you Can’t Afford

“Pay us $2,800 and we’ll let you pay us $300-$400 every month for the next 5 years! In exchange, we’ll provide you with an asset that loses 60% of its value in those 5 years!” Sounds like a fantastic proposition right? Wrong.

I’m sure you’ve heard an advertisement like that, it’s just phrased differently. For some reason it doesn’t have the same ring as “Buy a car from us by April 15 and we’ll double your tax refund!” My point here is, if you can’t afford to purchase a new car without your tax refund, it probably isn’t a great idea to purchase it with your tax refund. Don’t turn a tax refund into a debt payment that you’ll have to pay for the next 5 years.

Nothing

Most likely, human nature will take over if you deposit your refund check into your bank account without a plan of action for the funds. You know that Starbucks habit you have? Love to go out to eat? These are not bad things, but congratulations you just fueled the habit! Without a plan of action for the cash it may slowly erode over time and 3 months down the road you’ll look back and not have anything to show for it.

Buy One of These

You can buy anything off of ebay! In March 2008 somebody purchased a cornflake shaped like the state of Illinois for $1,350! Please, I beg you to not make a purchase like this with your tax refund. But, if you do, at least persuade the seller to throw in the Florida cornflake for another $1,450 to round out your purchase to $2,800!

If you are one of the over 100 million people that will receive a tax refund this year, consider using it to pay down your mortgage, go on vacation, or start a business. Or, if your heart desires, buy that cornflake.

What is the most memorable way you have used your tax refund in the past?

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3 Things Olympic Athletes Teach Us About Success

With the Winter Olympics underway in Russia, millions of eyes are watching these elite athletes compete for the gold.

Ripping the Turn
Have you ever wondered what it takes to be an elite Olympic athlete? One thing is for sure.  It’s not easy.  For every athlete that qualifies, there are lots more that don’t.

The question to ask ourselves is, “What can we learn from these winners about success?”

Here are 3 Things Olympic Athletes Teach Us About Success:

1) Talent is not enough.

There are lots of talented athletes.  It’s consistency and hard work that separate the good ones from the great ones.

It’s common for Olympic athletes to train 4-8 years in a sport before appearing on the world stage.  They put in countless hours working on their craft, oftentimes early in the morning when the rest of the world is sleeping.  Some do this on top of a regular job.

They realize it may be 1/10 of a second that keeps them out of the Olympics.  Every moment counts.

To experience the success no one else experiences, you have to be willing to do the things no one else does.

2) Success doesn’t come without sacrifice.

Olympic athletes are focused people.  I’ve heard it said F.O.C.U.S. is:  Following One Course Until Success.

Focus requires saying no to many things so you can say yes to a few things.   Those few things focused on consistently over time help you achieve your goals and dreams.

Olympic athletes maintain strict eating schedules by saying no to foods that hinder their performance and yes to a diet that enhances it.  They say no to things that distract them from their training schedule and yes to things that contribute to their success.

3) Pushing yourself is balanced with pacing yourself.

Olympic athletes know they need to push themselves beyond their comfort zone, but at the same time need to take time to rest and rejuvenate.

It’s not uncommon for these elite athletes to sleep 8-10 hours per night followed by a 30-90 minute siesta during the day.  The rest helps repair the muscles that the strenuous exercise has placed on them.  It helps them refocus their mind and continue to keep their eye on the goal.

Just like a high performance race car needs to stop to re-fuel, we need to take regular breaks and rest at least one day per week.  It’s necessary if we are to operate at full capacity and achieve our goals and dreams.

These aren’t the only things we can learn from Olympic athletes, but if we apply them to our lives we’ll go further faster.  

What’s one goal or dream you have?  Go for the gold.  I believe you can do it.  

One Thing Successful People Do

There’s no such thing as an overnight success. Success in the sense that something great and lasting was built. Maybe it’s a great business or marriage. Chances are it took time. Lots of time.

Group of happy business people clapping their hands

As the saying goes, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.”

We often times hear about success stories only after all the hard work is put in and view it as an instant success.

The good news is all of us have been gifted with the potential for success.

The difference between successful people and unsuccessful people is often one thing.

PERSEVERANCE:  Not giving up when things get tough. 

When I think of perseverance, I think of five famous people that you’ve heard of and maybe didn’t know their story.

They didn’t give up when things got tough.  In fact, if they did give up, we would have never heard about them.  PERSEVERANCE was the difference in them being average and them doing great things.

1) Walt Disney

Did you know that Walt once was fired from a job because they thought he wasn’t creative enough? What if he gave up?  There would be no Mickey Mouse.  There would be no Walt Disney World. He didn’t give up when things got tough.

2) Thomas Edison 

Edison tried 1,000 times to make the light bulb.  What if he gave up on the 999th time?  He didn’t give up!

3) Hellen Keller

Helen Keller was blind and deaf and learned to speak and read.  She went on to graduate college and become a speaker and author.

4) Albert Einstein 

When we think of smart people, everyone thinks of Albert Einstein.  One of the greatest thinkers of all time. He didn’t always remember to comb his hair, but he was really smart in Science.  He didn’t talk until he was 4 and didn’t read until he was 7 and some people called him mentally slow and challenged.  He didn’t let that stop him from going on to make some of the greatest discoveries that science has ever seen.

5) Michael Jordan 

Some would say Jordan is the greatest basketball player of all time.  (If you are a Miami Heat fan, you may say that title would go to LeBron James.) Michael Jordan was amazing on the court, many times unstoppable.  But did you know he once got cut from his high school basketball team?  What if he quit?

PERSEVERANCE.  That’s what made the difference in all of these people’s lives between being average and great.  They refused to give up when things got tough.

Here’s the cool thing.  God knew that you and I would have great days and tough days and He made a promise to us that would help us persevere through the tough days.  It was a guy named Paul the Apostle that wrote one of the greatest things in the whole Bible.  He wrote it while he was in prison and it is my favorite scripture, my life verse.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. – Philippians 4:13

I’ve come back to that scripture over and over again in my life, especially when something is hard.  “God, this is tough, but I’m not going to quit because you promised you will give me the strength to succeed.”

What would your life look like if you persevered, followed your dreams and never gave up?

You would become everything God created you to be and you could make a difference in the world!

God has an amazing plan for each and every one of us.  He wants to use your life to make a difference in the world by serving others.

In fact, there is another scripture in the Bible that says, “I know the plans I have for you.  Plans for hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11

God has made you to be great.  So go be great.  Persevere when things are tough, because you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you.  Don’t give up.  Go make a difference in the world!

What is one area you need to persevere in to see your goals achieved?

 

7 Tips to Increase Your Energy Without Caffeine

If you’ve ever wished you had more energy, you are not alone.  Americans more than ever are tired and worn out.  If that sounds familiar, than this post is for you.

Tired...

You can be the best time manager on the planet, but without sufficient energy, you’re up a creek without a paddle.  Plans can fizzle fast.

When we increase our energy, we increase our capacity to do the things that matter most to us. Things like spend quality time with family and friends or quite possibly start that side business or hobby you’ve been thinking about.

Whatever your goal, increasing your energy is always a win-win.

I am not against caffeine and do in fact, drink green tea in the morning.  However, if you are looking to limit your caffeine intake, there are some good alternatives.

Here are 7 Tips to Increase Your Energy Without Caffeine:

1) Get enough sleep.  

Studies show many Americans are sleep deprived.  Most people need 7-9 hours of sleep per night to perform at their peak.  What can you eliminate from your schedule to “make more time” and allow yourself to get more sleep?

2) Drink more water.

Our bodies are comprised of over 50% water.  We need it to function properly.  The challenge is most people aren’t drinking enough of it.  Water cleans and energizes your system.  Cut the soda and opt for water instead.  Your body will thank you for it.  Shoot for at least 8 glasses per day and make sure you drink a glass upon waking in the morning.

3) Exercise regularly and eat healthier.

Diet and exercise can drastically change your energy level.  Food is fuel.  Put the wrong fuel in your system and you will get poor results.

Exercise allows oxygen to flow through your body, which produces more energy.

A good goal is to cut back on sugar and white carbs (white bread, white rice and white potatoes).  Replace with good protein and more green vegetables and good fats like nuts, seeds and avocados.  Personally, I drink a protein smoothie every morning with greens in it.  Sounds strange, but it’s really good.

If you are just starting out with exercise, try to make it a goal to get your heart rate up with some form of movement for 20-30 minutes per day.  A brisk walk with some headphones will do wonders for bringing up your energy level.

4) Take a nap.

Studies have shown that even a brief 20 minute nap can recharge your batteries and bring your alertness back.  If you sleep too long, you can wake up groggy and feel worse.  Personally, a 20 minute nap works great for me.  I typically will do this when I get home from work.  If I feel I need a little more time, I will set my alarm for 40 minutes.  I know some experts that recommend taking your nap after lunch in a quiet spot to refresh and finish the day strong.

5) Focus on your strengths instead of your weaknesses.

If you’ve ever done something you aren’t good at, you know it literally zaps your energy.  On the other side of the spectrum, when you do something that comes easy to you, it gives you energy.  Do your best to work in your strengths and delegate your areas of weaknesses if possible.

6) Do something you are passionate about.  

I recently heard John Maxwell say he doesn’t believe in high energy people and low energy people.  He believes there are passionate people and non-passionate people.  Focus on something you are passionate about and your energy will soar.

7) Take regular breaks.

Budgeting our energy is much like budgeting your finances.  You only have so much at the time and you need to make the most of it.  Shoot for regular breaks at minimum every 50 minutes.  Try working for 50 minutes and taking a break for 10.  Go on a quick walk around the office or outside.  Stretch.  Get a glass of water.  Regular breaks help manage energy and increase productivity.

* Bonus:  Breathe properly.  

Breathing comes naturally, but are you doing it correctly?  Pay attention to how you’re breathing.  If you are in the habit of taking shallow breaths, try taking deeper ones with your diaphragm.  More air equals more oxygen, which adds energy to your system.  At the very least, if you work at a desk, stand up and take a few deep breaths every hour.  It will reduce stress and restore energy.

These are not the only ways to increase energy, but they certainly will give you a boost to your day if you apply them.  

What is one way you have found that helps you increase energy?

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Are You Living Your Dream Life?

We all want to get the most out of life.  Sadly, not many of us do.

RSDigby_0418
Bronnie Ware is a nurse who spent years as a nurse caring for patients in the last 12 weeks of their life.  She noticed a common pattern that emerged among her patients and decided to put her observations into a book called, “The Top Five Regrets of the Dying.”

Here are the top 5: 

1) I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

They regretted not following more of their passions and dreams.

2) I wish I hadn’t worked so hard. 

They regretted missing valuable time with their kids, family and friends.

3) I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

They regretted internalizing their feelings at missed out on resolving conflict.

4) I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

They regretted letting relationships lapse.

5) I wish that I had let myself be happier. 

They regretted missing out on some of the simple joys of life and experiencing life to the full.

The good news is that you and I have a choice today how we can change our lives for the better.  Change that will help us avoid some of these regrets and live life to the full.

Question of the day:  Which one of these five things do you need to get back on track with?  Go for it!  Your life is a gift from God.  How you live it is your gift to Him and the world.  

 

 

12 Life Lessons I’ve Learned in 43 Years

I turned 43 today.

I feel a bit like Forrest Gump sitting on a bench, reflecting on what I’ve learned in my life.  (Cue music and feather floating in the air.)

Sit down
I wish I learned these things earlier, but I guess this is all part of the journey.

Here are 12 Life Lessons I’ve Learned in 43 Years.

1) Giving is better than receiving. Serving others brings great joy.

2) You can’t change other people, but you can change yourself.

3) Life is better when you focus on your strengths instead of your weaknesses.

4) Starting each day with gratitude leads to greater perspective and a happier life.

5) Words are powerful. They can be used to shape people’s futures, for better or for worse.

6) Money doesn’t buy happiness. (But it can be a blessing when you use it in the right ways.)

7) Everybody needs encouragement. People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.

8) Life can be hard at times. I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.

9) Everybody is in the people business. Most of our success in life is built around how well we interact with others.

10) Life is not meant to be boring.  Have fun and create adventures.

11) A marriage of your dreams is possible.  Dating your spouse and learning their “love language” are keys to creating it.

12) God is faithful.

Bonus:  Chipotle is better than Moe’s.  (Moe’s fans, please refer to #2)

What has been the best advice you’ve ever received?  Would you share it in the comments below?  

Yes You Can

English heart surgeon Martyn Lloyd-Jones said, “Most unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself rather than talking to yourself.”

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We all have tapes that play in our head.  Many times, those tapes are saying something negative.  “I can’t do that”.  “I’m not smart enough”.  “I would fail if I tried that”.

However those thoughts got there, I think many people have a tendency in general to gravitate first towards the “I can’t” mentality.

What if we could change that?  What if we started with “I can”?

I happen to be a Christian.  One of my life verses from the Bible is:  “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” – Philippians 4:13

Attitude is everything.

Someone once said, “If you think you can, you can.  If you think you can’t, you can’t.”

In other words, if you start with an “I can’t” mentality, it will be 10x harder to accomplish something than if you start with an “I can” mentality.

A positive attitude will trump a negative attitude every time.

Here are 3 Ways to Have an “I Can” Attitude:

1)  Surround yourself with the right people.  Experts tells us we will be the average of the 5 people we associate with.  Your friends are a preview of your future.  Are you surrounding yourself with mostly negative people?  Seek to limit those relationships and surround yourself with positive people.  You will begin to notice a big difference in your attitude.

2)  Fill your mind with the right stuff.  Read books and listen to podcasts that are life giving. If your media diet consists of only watching the news, it’s probably time to change the channel.

3)  Remind yourself of the right things.  God has created you to be amazing and unique.  There is nobody else on the planet exactly like you.  You have gifts and talents and were created to do great things.  Remind yourself of past accomplishments.  Rediscover (or discover) what you can be the best in the world at and work on your strengths instead of focusing on your weaknesses.

Change your attitude.  Change your life.

Yes You Can.

What is one area you can have a more positive attitude in today?

How Disney Achieves Excellence

You would be hard pressed to find a person that hasn’t experienced the Disney brand in some form or fashion.  Whether it’s a theme park, movie, product or resort, Disney does it right. They are known for their excellence.

Just how do they achieve it?

Cinderella's Castle, Walt Disney World
Walt was a stickler for detail.  He believed details mattered.   To give an example, if Disney was to paint something in one of their parks a certain color (let’s say white for example), they would test dozens of shades of white in various sunlight situations.  All to get just the right shade as it related to the surroundings.

In the early days when Disneyland had opened, Walt would make his “imagineers” (those that designed the park) crawl through the park on their hands and knees to get the same perspective as a child.  He wanted them to experience things as their guests and make changes accordingly.

He also required his staff to ride the rides and eat with the guests to see things from their angle.  Adjustments were easier to make to serve them better.

Walt believed in “Fresh Eyes”.

Fresh eyes as a leader is the ability to see things from a fresh perspective.  Specifically from the perspective of those you serve.

In business, what does your customer experience when they interact with your company?

Is your environment clean?  Were they greeted with a warm welcome?  Was the process efficient?  Did you exceed their expectations so much they would give you a word of mouth referral without you asking?

It’s easy to get so entrenched working “in your business” that you forget to work “on your business”.  

Sadly enough, my experience lately is customer service in many places of business has been in decline.  It’s easier than ever to exceed the competition with just a little extra effort.

Experts say that you can exceed the competition if you can do something just 5% better.

This “Fresh Eyes” principle isn’t just for business.  It can also be used in your personal life.

You can look at your home, your relationships and your life with fresh eyes.  What is the current experience  and how can I make adjustments to make it better?  How can I serve others better?

One tip I would give you is to ask for feedback.  In business, bring in someone to give you some unbiased feedback on their experience with your company.  Set up a survey to get feedback from your customers.  Ask questions regularly with the goal of improvement.

Seeing with “Fresh Eyes” and acting accordingly always leads to improvement.  And when you improve, everybody wins.

What is one area of your organization or life you can look at with “Fresh Eyes” this week?

3 Ways To Make a Good Marriage Great

When I was younger I worked as a life guard at a community pool.

Enamoured couple is played

One day, a disgruntled older man decided he would give me some advice.  He said, “Don’t ever get married.  You’ll be miserable.”

I remember telling him, “Just because you have a bad marriage doesn’t mean I have to have a bad marriage.” It was a sad thing to see someone so negative against marriage.  It doesn’t have to be that way, though.

With the divorce rate in America hovering around 50%, there is a good chance you know someone that has been affected by the devastation of it.

No one sets out on their honeymoon with the goal of getting a divorce, but sadly many people end up there.

For the 50% of couples that don’t end up divorced, there is a percentage of those that feel their marriage is  just not what they thought it would be.

But I believe a large percentage of that 50% have a good marriage, but feel it could be better.

Whether you are married and looking for ways to make your marriage better or you are currently single and desire be married; 

Here are 3 Ways To Make a Good Marriage Great.

1) Consider Your Spouse’s Interests.

My hunch is that when you were first dating you did lots of things that typically “weren’t your thing”.  It doesn’t mean that men need to flock to the mall with their wives every weekend or that women need to go out and buy a set of the latest Duck Dynasty camo.  It does mean that marriage isn’t all about us.

How can you create a connection with your spouse with the things he/she is interested in?  It may be as simple as a conversation asking them about their interest that shows you care.

My wife, Jacque has a love for helping orphans in Mexico.  She oversees a mission trip there with a group of about 100 people.  I know she cares about that deeply and I know it means a lot to her when I ask how things are going with the planning.

2) Apologize When Necessary.

The two words, “I’m sorry” tend to be some of the hardest to say when you are married.  No one likes to admit they are wrong.  If you have offended your spouse, be quick to apologize.  Easier said than done, but sincere apologies create relational equity.  It goes a long way and shows your spouse your relationship is more important than being right.

On a similar note, when your spouse apologizes be quick to forgive.  Unforgiveness and holding grudges create a wedge in your marriage.  It’s impossible to create a great marriage if a spouse is holding onto a grudge.  Drop the rock of unforgiveness and your relationship will move forward.

3) Be a Good Listener.

Listening shows value.  Genuine listening.  Waiting for your turn to talk is not listening.  Your spouse knows you care when you listen.

A word to the men.  We have a tendency to try to “fix things”.  Sometimes our wives need to just be heard and understood.  Ask them if there is anything we can do to help, but many times they will just want to be heard.

Also, a word to the women.  Men have shorter attention spans when it comes to listening.  Men want to serve by listening, but it can be difficult to stay with a long story.  It’s just the way many of us are wired.

If husbands and wives can understand their differences, communication in the relationship can flourish.

These are not the only ways to make a good marriage great, but they certainly are things every couple can put into practice and see results.  

A great marriage is possible.  One great decision at a time.

Which of these do you feel is the most important?

 

21 Tips to Get Organized and Increase Productivity Now- Part 3

I hope this 3 part series has been helpful and given you some tips to get organized and increase your productivity.

As we said in the previous post, time is the only non-renewable resource we have.  And because you are reading this, that puts you in the top percentage of people that succeed in life.  You want to make the most of the time you are given.
Better work flow: get organized

 

As we bring this 3 part series to a close, here are the final seven tips of 21 Tips to Get Organized and Increase Productivity Now.

15) Delegate. Delegate.  Delegate.

How many times have you heard people say, “It’s just easier to do it myself”?  Maybe you’ve even said those words.  While that statement may be true at times, experts tell us we can go further, faster over the long haul if we hand off things that are not in our strength zone.  In fact, I recently heard the leader of a large organization recommend delegating anything to someone else they can do at least 60% as well as you.  If we can delegate the things we aren’t great at, things that zap energy from us and in turn focus on the things we do best, our productivity will go out the roof.

16) Take regular breaks.

My wife often says, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”  It also makes Jack a tired boy.  Our bodies were not meant to run 24/7 without breaks.  Working this way is actually counterproductive and hurts us and the relationships with those around us in the long haul.  Try practicing the 5/30/1 system.   Take a 5 minute break during every hour you work throughout the day, at least a 30 minute lunch break (where you don’t do work) and at least one day off per week where your brain can disconnect from work and recharge with things that are life giving.  Those consistent breaks along with healthy sleep patterns will give you more energy and increase productivity.

17) Break larger projects into smaller tasks.

Many times larger projects can be overwhelming.  Just the thought of starting them is overwhelming because we don’t know where to begin.  One helpful tip is to “begin with the end in mind”.  In other words, picture the ideal outcome for the project.   Once you have that, you can reverse engineer the process by making a list of everything that has to be done to accomplish that desired outcome.  Make a list of even the smallest tasks and details.  From there, prioritize the tasks in the order of importance and sequence.  Delegate the tasks others can do and begin to schedule and accomplish the ones you can do.  By cutting everything into bite size pieces and pacing your progress, a large project suddenly becomes much more manageable and less stressful.  It brings clarity, focus and simplicity to the process and ultimately increases productivity. Bottom line:  how do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time.  O.K., we can pass on the elephant.

18) Focus on tasks that achieve the biggest results.

One of the challenges that busy leaders have is confusing busyness with effectiveness.  How many times have you asked the question, “How have you been?” To which you receive the answer, “Busy”?  Busyness does not equal productivity.  As leaders, we have to get the right things done, not just many things done.  Before you begin your day, make a list of all the things that need to get done in order to move the ball down the field.  Out of those items, ask yourself, “What one to three tasks would bring the most results if I accomplished them?”  Prioritize those in order of importance and key results and get to work.  Delegate or delay the other tasks and watch your productivity skyrocket.

19) Reward yourself for results.

Leaders love accomplishment.  Too many times we don’t slow down long enough to celebrate and enjoy the win. Try giving yourself small incentives for finishing smaller tasks and larger incentives for finishing larger projects.  It’s the carrot principle.  In fact, if you are competitive, (which most of us are) play “Beat the Clock”.  In other words, tell yourself, “If I complete this task by a certain time, I will reward myself with _______. (Pick a reward relative to the task.)  Not only will you have the satisfaction of your accomplishment, but you will also enjoy a reward a much deserved break along the way.

20) Practice pre-vacation mode.

If you’re like most people, the day before a vacation you get a ton of stuff done.  Why?  Because you know you have to.  You want to be able to leave the office without the weight of things falling through the cracks while you are gone.  So you pick up the pace and get the most important things done before you leave.  What if you applied that strategy to your workday on a regular basis?  How would that increase your productivity?

21) Limit time in meetings.

Unnecessary and/or inefficient meetings can be huge time bandits.   Sometimes they are unavoidable.  However, if it’s up to you, look for ways to limit your time in meetings.  Meetings should not be used for conveying information that can be communicated in an email, text or phone call.  The exception to that rule is if a sensitive subject is being discussed.  Things that could potentially be misinterpreted in written form should always be done verbally so all parties can hear the tone involved.  Tone does not come over well in writing.  That being said, the most effective meetings have a set agenda, start time and end time.  Valuable information is sent before the meeting to all participants so the meeting can be used for the sole purpose of doing what the group can only do together; things such as brainstorming and decision making.  After the meeting, it is always productive to recap three things:  1) What was decided.  2) Who is going to do it. 3) When they are going to do it by.  Most meetings fail because they had no structure.  Add structure and guidelines to your meetings and you will experience a much more productive day.

I hope you enjoyed this blog series and that it added value to your life and organization.

When each of these 21 strategies are applied to your life, you will see your productivity unleashed.  You will have more time to do what matters most.

Work hard.  Work smart.  Be awesome. 

Which tip did you find the most helpful?