from Daily Grammar Lessons Blog
You think you’re locking in your career by never missing a day.
You’re not alone.
Research shows that more than a quarter of workers fear that taking time off will make them seem less dedicated. Others think that vacation-time martyrdom will boost their chances for a raise or a promotion (it doesn’t).
But, this (very American) cultural phenomenon of rarely taking time off and almost never using all of one’s vacation days is bad news for employers and employees alike. And managers know it.
According to Project: Time Off, managers agree that paid time off (PTO):
So, if the boss is on board, why did Americans donate 658 million vacation days to their employers in 2015?
More than 66 percent of employees report getting mixed or negative messages about time off and just don’t want to take the risk, deal with the stress, or let the work build up.
However, there are important reasons to make PTO a priority.
Recently, we explored the benefits of self-care and treating yo’self for motivation and productivity. Using up your PTO takes these ideas to the next level, and the benefits are just as profound.
Put a little excitement in this Monday, and do these things today:
When you have an idea of what you’re working with, there are a few best practices that will set you up for success when you do take time off.
Planning is highly correlated with increased use of time off. Many people fear the amount of backed-up work they’ll come back to if they take time off. By wrangling your workload effectively, you will be able to build in adequate buffers to your vacation time and remove the stress that can accompany time off.
Take advantage of lulls in your industry to minimize backlogged work before and after vacation.
A lot of people take vacation whenever they can squeeze it in. By planning, you are able to optimize not only workflows but also total time off, getting the maximum bang for your days-off buck.
Advanced notice to your team—with regular reminders—works wonders. You can set early deadlines, and your colleagues will often cooperate to make project requests farther in advance so you’re not bottlenecked before or after your time off.
By planning far-ish in advance for PTO, you get to look forward to your coming vacation. It’s fun to see the details come together. Plus, on rough days, it can be highly motivating to have something concrete to look forward to/daydream about.
Now that you know how much time off you have, when some good times to go on vacation are, and how you’re going to plan for that time, let go of the worry that your boss will be angry or that you’ll fall behind, and plan a trip!
How much vacation do you take? How do you prepare for it and what tips would you share?
Are you feeling frustrated and unproductive? Like you’re constantly busy but the things that really matter aren’t getting done?
Check out these six time management tips that will help you increase productivity, lower stress, and get you closer to your goals!
There was a day when I looked up and realised that I had become someone who professionally replied to email, and who wrote as a hobby. I started answering fewer emails, and was relieved to find I was writing much more. —Neil Gaiman
Are emails pulling you away from your actual work? Finding your creative flow—especially when writing—is tough enough as it is. It doesn’t help to have the constant distraction of emails dinging into your inbox.
The solution? Instead of responding to each email as it comes in, have set times of day where you’ll work through all your messages. Schedule several hours of uninterrupted work so you can focus and get in the zone, then take thirty to sixty minutes to catch up on emails.
While you’re in work-mode, be sure to close your email tab on your browser and turn off notifications to your phone, so it’s out of sight, out of mind.
And don’t worry, unless you’re corresponding with galactic invaders, waiting a few hours to respond to your emails will not cause the world to end.
Can’t find the time to get all your to-do’s done? There are plenty of awesome apps to help you organize your to-do lists, but have you tried scheduling tasks directly on your calendar?
Using your calendar of choice, create appointments for all your big to-do’s. You’ll have a visual reminder (and notifications) of exactly what you should be working on and when.
Remember to schedule tasks at your peak performance time. When and where are you at your most creative? Do you write best sitting in bed at midnight? Or at 7 a.m. in your favorite cafe? Avoid scheduling your creative work for times when you’re going to be tired or distracted.
Be realistic and give yourself enough time for each task. This can reduce guilt if you’ve felt like you should be getting more done, but can now see there aren’t enough hours in the day. And this can also reveal a problem if you’ve been wasting a lot of time on distractions or busy work.
Planning your week (or month) in advance will help you save time and maximize your productivity. Know when your deadlines, important meetings, and obligations are happening and work backwards from there.
Giving a presentation on Thursday morning? Block off your Wednesday night for prep time or rest.
Want to spend less time in the morning prepping your lunch? Schedule meal prep for Sunday night so you can batch your lunches.
Feeling burnt out and need to introvert? Schedule alone time for Tuesday. Know you’ll need human contact? Plan game night for Friday.
Scheduling things like gym time and laundry will keep your life running smoothly. And remember to always allow enough time for a good night’s rest—your work will take twice as long if you’re exhausted from too little sleep or working long hours without a break.
Spending way too much time browsing Facebook? Watching cat videos? Keeping up-to-the-second on developing news?
If your willpower is failing, you may need to give yourself some extra help to unplug from your time-wasters.
Remove time-wasting sites from your browser’s bookmark bar so you’re less tempted to visit them. Minimize distractions by turning off your phone notifications during work hours (or if that’s too advanced, just turn your phone on silent and toss it in a drawer).
In need of desperate measures? Download an app that will block you from visiting Facebook and other sites.
Of course, it’s worth differentiating between the true time-sucks and activities that aren’t work-related but are beneficial. Grabbing lunch with a friend is a great social thing to do. Just make sure you have a set start and end time, so you don’t chat for two hours and lose half the afternoon.
Sure, who doesn’t want their work to be perfect? But striving for perfection is a sure way to kill your productivity and creativity.
The pressure you feel to produce perfect work can lead to procrastination, anxiety, “playing it safe,” and a lot of wasted time making marginal improvements to work.
When you reset your expectations away from perfection, you’ll find it’s easier to experiment and take risks, to get projects finished and move on to bigger and better things.
Improving your writing takes a lot of practice. You’re not going to write a “perfect” novel or blog post or ad campaign the first time around. Don’t let the expectation of perfection paralyze you from growing your skills!
Are you using your time to get closer to your goals, or are you putting everyone and everything else first?
Maybe you want to build your audience, write your memoir, get your MFA, or change careers. Make yourself and your future a priority by scheduling time every week, or every day, to work toward your goals.
Large projects can feel overwhelming, so break things down into manageable pieces. If you want to finish your first draft in six months, how many pages will you need to complete per week? How many hours per day will you need to write?
Life may be busy, but don’t let anything get between you and achieving your dreams!
The post You Will Want to Learn These 6 Time Management Tips appeared first on Grammarly Blog.
On the heels of our breakdown of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s writing habits, we’re serving up more writing wisdom from none other than the fabulous Tina Fey! The award-winning comedian-screenwriter-actress-producer-author has spent the past twenty years blazing trails as one of the great comic geniuses of our time.
And just in case you’ve been hiking the Amazon or watching only C-SPAN for the past twenty years, here’s a quick recap of her career . . .
In the early ’90s Fey fell in love with comedy and joined the cult of improv as a player at Chicago’s Second City Theatre. Then in 1997 she made the big leap to Saturday Night Live. Originally hired as a writer, she was promoted to head writer just two years later and went on to join the cast and skyrocket to fame as co-anchor of Weekend Update. In 2005, Fey broke out on her own to produce, write, and star in the hilarious TV comedy 30 Rock.
During the 2008 election, she split our sides (and possibly influenced history) when she returned to SNL to impersonate vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin. Her caustic and insightful autobiography, Bossypants, spent five weeks on the New York Times Best-Seller List. She’s the mastermind behind Netflix’s Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Oh, and let’s not forget, she wrote and starred in one of the greatest teen comedies of all time—Mean Girls. (So fetch, amiright?)
Read on to learn how you, too, can achieve your goals and aspire to reach the highest levels of writing like Tina Fey!
What I learned about “bombing” as an improviser at Second City was that bombing is painful, but it doesn’t kill you. No matter how badly an improv set goes, you will still be physically alive when it’s over.
What I learned about bombing as a writer at “Saturday Night” is that you can’t be too worried about your “permanent record.” Yes, you’re going to write some sketches that you love and are proud of forever—your golden nuggets.
But you’re also going to write some real [bad ones]. And unfortunately, sometimes the [bad ones] will make it onto the air. You can’t worry about it. As long as you know the difference, you can go back to panning for gold on Monday.
Exposing your writing to the public—or even just to friends or coworkers—can be a vulnerable experience.
How will your work be received? Are you on your way to skyrocketing your company’s sales, becoming a thought leader, publishing the next big YA novel? Or will your work be forgotten in obscurity, buried in the digital depths of the Internet?
In reality, this isn’t an “either/or” situation. We all want to be churning out shining gems left and right, but sometimes you’re going to write a piece that doesn’t quite land.
And that’s okay. It’s all part of the process. Maybe you haven’t reached the level you want to be at yet, but you have to start somewhere.
So keep working, keep writing, and don’t let the fear of failure hold you back from going for your dreams.
The show doesn’t go on because it’s ready; it goes on because it’s eleven-thirty. This is something Lorne has said often about “Saturday Night Live,” but it’s a great lesson in not being too precious about your writing. You have to try your hardest to be at the top of your game and improve every joke until the last possible second, but then you have to let it go.
You can’t be that kid standing at the top of the waterslide, overthinking it. You have to go down the chute. . . . You have to let people see what you wrote. It will never be perfect, but perfect is overrated.
Did you hear that? We all want our writing to be perfect and amazing, but at some point we’ve got to let it go!
This can be easier for those of us with deadlines at work or school, where another human is counting on us to deliver something. But letting go can can feel more difficult if you’re working on a novel or personal blog post or any project where the timing is completely up to you.
If you’re struggling to put your writing out there, consider:
The thing that always fascinated me about improv is that it’s basically a happy accident that you think you’re initiating. You enter a scene and decide that your character is in a bar, but your partner thinks you’re performing dental surgery.
The combination of those two disparate ideas melds into something that could never have been created on its own. It’s more difficult to do that as a writer, but I’ve found the general philosophy of it to be quite helpful. It reminds me that if I stumble onto something unexpected in my writing, something that I didn’t anticipate or intend, I should be willing to follow it.
The takeaway? Don’t be afraid to try new things with your writing. Keep your inner critic away from your early process.
Give your zany, inner creative writer the chance to frolic, explore, and take risks. Scribble away with abandon, then go back later wearing your editor hat and tidy things up. You can’t polish your golden nuggets if you don’t write them in the first place because you’re too afraid to branch out.
In school we’re taught to stay in line, follow the rules, and memorize the right answer. But creativity isn’t about looking for one right answer, it’s about exploring possibilities. So grab your hang glider and your crampons—you’ve got some new horizons to explore!
When faced with sexism or ageism or lookism or even really aggressive Buddhism, ask yourself the following question: “Is this person in between me and what I want to do?” If the answer is no, ignore it and move on. Your energy is better used doing your work and outpacing people that way. Then, when you’re in charge, don’t hire the people who were jerky to you.
Life is full of drama, y’all. There will always be haters on the sidelines telling you that you can’t do what you’re doing.
Maybe you’re like Tina, breaking into a field where you’re underrepresented. Maybe you’re trying to climb the company ladder, or establish yourself as a freelancer. Whatever your reality, remember to choose your battles wisely.
You may feel threatened or hurt by the naysayers, but Tina’s right, if that person is not a real obstacle then it’s up to you to move onwards and upwards. Focus on your goals, and work to become an agent for change. You have a message and a mission that people need to hear, so don’t let the morons and fuddy-duddies trip you up.