Don't have enough time to do the things you want? I am Laura and am a time and project management expert. Ask Me Anything!

Laura L Rose
Jun 18, 2018

She helps busy professionals and entrepreneurs create effective systems so that they can comfortably delegate to others, be more profitable and have time to enjoy life.

Laura specializes in time management, project management, professional development, and work-life balance strategies.  She helps busy professionals and entrepreneurs create effective systems so that they can comfortably delegate to others, be more profitable and have time to enjoy life even if they don’t have time to learn new technology or train their staff.

Want more information?  Check out her website at www.LauraLeeRose.com

This AMA will end Jul 31, 2018 4PM EDT

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Should communication with employees outside the working hours be allowed? Is it ok to have WhatsApp chat groups where team leaders can request specific information for other team members at all times?
Jul 31, 8:28AM EDT0

Communication between employees outside of working hours is fine, with the understanding that each employee has the right "not to respond" until the next workday.

Everyone has total control of their Do Not Disturb time.  Employees should feel empowered to take control of their time as their own.  Individuals can certain turn-off their apps, not read their email, turn on their Out Of Office, allow the voicemail to answer the phone, etc.

Putting in rules to tell people what to do and when to do it -- is counter-productive.  If you allow people to work the way they are most comfortable, they will be the most productive.   If you respect the way that each employee is most productive, you will have a very productive team.

Jul 31, 8:44AM EDT0
Do you think working in shifts would be more productive for the business than using one employee for a longer more permanent duration?
Jul 31, 3:41AM EDT0

Company production is the combination of cost and time.  This equation includes resources and costs such as equipment, manpower, training, administrative activities, vacation/employee benefits, etc.

Having said that, you will need to determine the "cost" of shifts versus one employee.  The answer will be different in different situations.  This would also include the various equipment needed, administrative overhead costs for additional employees, management costs for multiple shifts, facility overhead for multiple shifts, etc.

Typically - I recommend considering "automation" and "optimization" as your first course of action.  Using the 4D technique also helps eliminate and reduce time-consuming activities as well.  Using some automation, optimization and time-management skills may assist in reducing both cost and time, which allows one employee to accomplish more in the original time slot.

I know your situation is different.  Please feel free to set up a one-on-one consult.

To participate in a confidential One-on-One Laser Coaching Session with Coach Laura, just click the link below, pick the session time that works for you, and sign up. Each session will include 20 minutes of Laser Coaching with time afterward for a few questions. Take advantage of this opportunity to experience coaching. . Sign up now and come ready to chat. One-on-One Laser Coaching Signup

Jul 31, 8:27AM EDT0
Should overtime be avoided at all costs? In what situations do you recommend working overtime?
Jul 30, 11:16PM EDT0

It would be COSTLY to avoid overtime at all costs.  It would not be a good business decision to make blanket statements like that.   The moment one declares a blanket statement like the above, a situation that breaks the rule will inevitably appear.

Creating realistic work schedules will reduce the need for continuous overtime.  I have a presentation and paper on 12 Tricks to Realistic Scheduling.  Email me (Laura@LauraLeeRose.com) if you would like a copy.

The intention behind realistic scheduling is to have enough buffer to absorb regularly occurring speed bumps.  It also includes Risk Analysis and Risk Management in the front-end of the project, as well as at every iteration or milestone.  It also includes being aware and including vacation and sick days in the schedule.  It also includes Recovery Protocols and Critical Path Analysis.

Realistic Scheduling will reduce the need for overtime.  Then - the few times you need people to work overtime - you properly compensate them with additional pay or additional vacation or time-off.

Jul 31, 8:36AM EDT0
How can one spot that is losing the balance between professional life and family?
Jul 30, 3:41PM EDT0

If your family is complaining about it - you have probably lost some balance between professional life and family.

If you are asking yourself this question - you have probably lost some balance.

If you are not happy with your professional life or family life - you have probably lost some balance.

Jul 31, 8:37AM EDT0
As a business coach, what would you say is most important for a business to succeed?
Jul 30, 2:32PM EDT0

The very first thing is for the business to have an effective Business Plan and Marketing Plan in place.   These documents outline the roadmap that this business will follow.   If these plans are strategically sound, the business will be successful.

Jul 31, 8:45AM EDT0

How do you manage to stay focused at work when you know that you have big problems at home?

Jul 30, 10:09AM EDT0

That is certainly a difficult situation.  

In my opinion, if your problems at home are affecting your work performance, it may be worth taking a few days vacation to focus purely on your home situation.

Contact professional help with your home situations and focus on those for a few days.  Once you get a plan in place to help with the home situation, you will once again be able to focus on your work.  At that time, you will feel better because you have a plan in place (and working that plan) for your problems at home.  At that time, you will also be able to better focus at work, because you are taking strategic action on both fronts (work and home).

Jul 30, 1:37PM EDT0
Do you evaluation needs to be done after every successful or failed project to see if the methods used need to be changed?
Jul 30, 3:04AM EDT0

Yes.

Some people call them Lesson Learned Sessions.  Some people call them Post Mortems. 

Whatever you call them - I recommend have mini-evaluations after each major milestones or iterations (versus waiting until the end of the project).   If you have mini-evaluations and make tweaks throughout your project, you will have a better system at the end of your project.

In the interaction-evaluations,  focus on tweaks and processes that can be implemented in the next two iterations.   At the end of the project, focus on tweaks and process that can be implemented on the next project in its entirety. 

If you need more information on the Lesson Learned process, please setup a one-on-one chat.

To participate in a confidential One-on-One Laser Coaching Session with Coach Laura, just click the link below, pick the session time that works for you, and sign up. Each session will include 20 minutes of Laser Coaching with time afterward for a few questions. Take advantage of this opportunity to experience coaching. . Sign up now and come ready to chat. One-on-One Laser Coaching Signup

Jul 30, 1:42PM EDT0
What are the most effective ways to deal with anxiety and still be productive in business?
Jul 30, 1:38AM EDT0

It depends upon how evasive and intrusive the anxiety.

One recommendation is to seek professional assistance with the anxiety and follow the doctor's instructions.  Sometimes it is necessary to step away from the business a few days to focus on recovery.

Once you have a diagnosis regarding your anxiety, you can get a plan in place for recovery.  Once you start executing on that plan (with professional help), you will once again be able to focus on your work.  

Jul 30, 1:47PM EDT0
Do short naps actually help increase focus and productivity? Should nap time be scheduled at the workplace?
Jul 29, 8:12PM EDT0

Meditation and small breaks throughout the day does increase energy levels - which in-turns affect focus and productivity.

I would not make "nap time" a mandatory workplace activity.  But I would encourage individuals to take breaks when they feel their energy is waning and they are losing focus.  Then allow people to design their breaks as they see fit to increase their energy and productivity.

Jul 30, 12:06PM EDT0
How does one fire an employee that is not performing well and that has not covered the PIP to the fullest?
Jul 29, 11:40AM EDT0

The PIP should have included the consequences of not fulfilling the PIP contract.  Since the PIP contract included the consequences and is signed by both the employee and the employer/manager - it is just a matter of following the PIP plan to its conclusion.

Often times, because the employee can see how the contract will end - they either quit before the PIP conclusion or are very well prepared for the dismissal (or change of role, or demotion, or whatever was discussed at the beginning of the PIP).

Jul 30, 12:02PM EDT0
How many hours of sleep do you recommend in order to increase productivity?
Jul 28, 10:29PM EDT0

Everyone is different but 6-8 hours works well for me.

In addition, I would recommend 10 minutes naps in the afternoon to increase productivity and energy.

If you sleep more than 20 minutes, it is not as effective and you will feel groggy and lethargic. 

Last edited @ Jul 29, 9:52AM EDT.
Jul 29, 9:48AM EDT0
What is the role that smartphones play in lowering productivity? Should smartphones be banned from the workplace?
Jul 28, 1:27PM EDT0

It's not the tool, it is how people use the tool.

Smartphones have many features that can assist with productivity - if it is used that way. 

  1. Email and Data Entry and Maintenance – Employees who’ve recorded data at home in the field don’t have to take time to transcribe it when they return to the office. Today’s smartphones allow data to be modified on the go and accessed from anywhere.
  2.  Improved Collaboration and Sharing – At their core, smartphones are about communication. With instant access to everything from email and texting to team collaboration apps like Dropbox and Salesforce, smartphones make working with others – even remotely – easy.
  3.  Virtual Meetings and Conferences  FaceTime is videoconferencing in your pocket.  You can also record a meeting for transcribing and note taking at a later time.
  4. Increased Employee Work-Life Balance – Mobile employees can work anywhere. This might be a workaholic’s kryptonite, but it also opens up new possibilities for busy professionals to adjust their schedules to accommodate personal events like soccer games, ballet practices, or girl’s night out.
  5. Access to your calendar - anywhere. Utilizing the phone calendar keeps you organized and prepared. All your important dates and information plugged and synched from your email calendar to your phone is best practice. One can keep track of all date and meetings so that surprises are reduced from lack of organization.
  6. Reduced research time with Voice input assistance. Digital assistants such as Google Now, Siri, and Cortana have turned input from a chore to a delight. With your voice, you can invoke the GPS, make entries on your calendar and task list, dial a phone number, write an email, or search the world’s knowledge. Those examples are just the beginning. Google Siri commands, Google Now commands, or Cortana Commands, and you can quickly learn to do the same.

Instead of "banning" smartphones from the workplace,  I recommend making a habit of blocking certain hours during your workday and  "turn it off".  Block off certain "Do Not Disturb" time in your workday for Heavy-Duty Work.  Block all meetings, calls, email-reading, text, and turn off your phones.

Jul 29, 9:48AM EDT0
What are your thoughts on the use of the so-called smart drugs? Do you recommend the use of that kind of medication in order to increase productivity?
Jul 27, 11:02PM EDT0

I do not recommend any drugs.   I am not a doctor mor in the medical field. 

I do recommend checking with your physician before taking any type of drug.

Jul 28, 6:18AM EDT0
What are the best strategies to prevent procrastination?
Jul 27, 9:51PM EDT0

One of the best strategies to prevent procrastination is to complete the task WITH someone.    

It's a lot easier to complete something if you make an external commitment (commit to someone else or line up an accountability partner) or attach a Reasonable Forcing Function to your project.

An example of an accountability partner is to just make a commitment to someone else (a family member, a co-worker,  an associate or friend) that you want to complete this task by XX date.  They are then allowed to ask about your progress throughout the project.

A reasonable forcing function is when you attach an important event to your project.  For example, you want to promote yourself and your experience through speaking engagements but you keep procrastinating.   A reasonable forcing function is to submit several abstracts to various professional conferences.  Once one of your abstracts is accepted, you work on your presentation and paper.  Conference presenters are also allowed in the event free of charge.  You will be able to take advantage of all the training and work on your professional development at the same time.

You have a home project to complete your entertainment center by summer.  A reasonable forcing function is to invite family and friends to a July 4th celebration - including a movie or dance in your entertainment center.

Combination of accountability partners and reasonable forcing functions example:   You want to drop a few pounds before a big event.  Several of your friends are going to the same big event.  Your group makes a commitment to exercise/walk 3 times a week and share your health journals.  Your group support and celebrate each other along the way.

You want to write a book on topic X but are procrastinating.  You tell a friend about your goal - as a way to line up an accountability partner.  You find out that they also want to write a book, but on topic A.   You and your friend both agree to meet weekly for 4 hours (in the morning) to work on your respective books.  At lunch, each share your progress and exchange ideas.

You now have a regular "play-date" for working on your book.

Jul 28, 6:20AM EDT0
In a regular day, how many hours do you recommend to allocate exclusively to work? What are the negative effects that might stem from increased working hours?
Jul 27, 5:29PM EDT0

That is a challenging question because everyone is different.   

If you have a position that is aligned with your passions and energizes you, then you can work for many hours without feeling any negative effects.  If you have a position that doesn't match your talents, skills, and experience than a few minutes can exhaust you.

My recommendation is to figure out your strengths, skills, talents, and experience.  Then work with a mentor, coach or your manager to discover positions and jobs that match those strengths.

I have a worksheet that can assist with that.  Email me at Laura@LauraLeeRose.com or set up a chat session if you would like more information.

To participate in a confidential One-on-One Laser Coaching Session with Coach Laura, just click the link below, pick the session time that works for you, and sign up. Each session will include 20 minutes of Laser Coaching with time afterward for a few questions. Take advantage of this opportunity to experience coaching. . Sign up now and come ready to chat. One-on-One Laser Coaching Signup

Jul 28, 6:31AM EDT0

What are the first steps of time managmenting

Jul 27, 12:09PM EDT0

Well.  The first steps of time management is to realize that you need to improve your time management techniques.

I wrote a book on time management:  "TimePeace: Making Peace with Time". 

It is written in novel form.  You will follow an investigating journalist as he tried to uncover the secrets behind the success of the TimePeace Institute.  

As the story unfolds, you will discover various ways to better use your time; therefore, be at ease and at peace with it. We follow our hero, Dereck Wilde, a mediocre investigative reporter, while he tries to uncover the mysteries of the TimePeace Institute. Mystery and Matthew Chase, founders of TimePeace, seem to live a charmed life. Dereck Wilde is suspicious and wants to find out their secrets. But because of his disorganization, time management and lack of professionalism, Dereck gets demoted at his newspaper. With nothing to lose, Dereck enrolls at the TimePeace Institute to complete the assignment on his own. During his journey, he is introduced to different people with various professional and personal issues. As he meets these different people, Dereck finds himself changing his own habits to become more effective, productive and professional. As he becomes more proficient in every part of his life, he finds that not only his professional goals are achieved but his personal and private life is affected. Follow Dereck as he finds his passion, purpose and even love.

It's sold on amazon.com

Jul 27, 12:31PM EDT0
Which time-management and productivity apps do you recommend?
Jul 27, 4:26AM EDT0

Basic time management tools:

  • Calendar (either paper or electronic)
  • Timer (can be on your phone, computer or separate app)
  • SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timebound) goals

There are several good calendars and project time tracking tools out there.  

I like and use Harvest Time Tracker,  but there are lots of other good time tracker tools as well.

Any tool that allows you to combine two or more of the above is good.  Just make sure you use them.  The tool is only useful if you actually use them.

Jul 27, 6:51AM EDT0
How can someone make a precise assessment of an employee’s best skills?
Jul 27, 12:50AM EDT0

A precise assessment is difficult because hopefully everyone is constantly developing.

There are several skills assessment tools that can assess individuals' current aptitude and talent

  • You will want to Test both technical and soft skills sets. 
  • You will want to Focus on job-specific skills. 
Jul 27, 6:36AM EDT0
How can one eliminate the possibilities of excuses for the delegated work?
Jul 26, 5:41PM EDT0

The best way to eliminate the possibilities of excuses for the delegated work is to clearly identify the goal, reason why the goal is important, and why it needs to be completed on time.  You lay out these ground rules up-front along with your one-on-one meeting schedule.

You explain (up-front) your expectations which include how you want status and issues to be reported.  You explain and review (up-front and at every weekly one-on-one meeting) how you and your team plan to manage every risk and contingency.

You and your team conduct Risk Management Analysis and develop contingency plans for any risk that are both high probability and high impact.

You monitor progress and when things are not going to plan, you make changes to get them back on track.

If you don't focus on excuses, then they will not materialize.

Only focus on progress and performance.

Jul 27, 6:44AM EDT0
What are the key traits that entrepreneurs must seek in people in order to find a good team leader?
Jul 26, 7:49AM EDT0

Some qualities to look for in an effective team leader - that will inspire the trust and respect of the team and stimulate production within the workplace.

  • A Clear Communicator. Effective team leaders communicate clearly. 
  • Organized. 
  • Confident in the Team. 
  • Respectful to Others. 
  • Fair and Kind. 
  • An Example of Integrity. ...
  • Influential. 
  • Willing to Delegate.
Jul 26, 10:56AM EDT0