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How to Boost Creativity During the Day

How to boost creativity during the day “How do I schedule my day?”

I hear this question from clients and friends alike. Deciding how to structure our time and steward  our resources is top of mind for all of us.

 We’re working longer. But that doesn’t mean we’re getting any more done.

Of course, scheduling your work day depends on lots of factors. If you work in an office, home office, what type of work you do, etc..

No matter what field you are in and what type of business you do, there are three habits that will help you have the best day possible.

(Two of the habits, we have already covered here together, just click the links for the article on each one.)

3 Keys to Structuring Your Day:

1.  Do the things that have the most impact. 

2. Stay focused and avoid wasting your time.

3. Schedule breaks throughout the work day.

This one is so counterintuitive, you may be tempted to roll your eyes, skim over it and never think of it again. (How do I know this? I used to do the same thing!)

We can only stay focused on a single task for about 90-120 minutes at a time.

Physiologist  Nathan Kleitman, a groundbreaking sleep researcher, first coined what he called  the “basic rest-activity cycle”: the 90-minute cycles during which you progress through the five stages of sleep. Kleitman found the 90-minute pattern in our days, too, as we move from higher to lower alertness–the ultradian rhythm.

Have you noticed how you have certain times of day where you operate at peak performance and other times you seem to be phoning it in? Ultradian Rhythm at work! 

Our brains are meant to have breaks.

We can only focus on a single task for a limited amount of time before our focus and work suffers. When we take a break, we are allowing our brains to  process.

The brain gradually stops registering a sight, sound or feeling if that stimulus remains constant over time. For example, most people are not aware of the sensation of clothing touching their skin. The body becomes “habituated” to the feeling and the stimulus no longer registers in any meaningful way in the brain. 

Taking a break from the task at hand allows our brains to make breakthroughs in our work. (Research)

Want to remember more and be more creative? Take breaks during  your work day.

Your brain needs time to be away from the computer screen. In my opinion, checking Facebook does not *really* count as a break, neither does checking your email. Why? Those things are too closely tied to your work because you are still staring at the screen.

Try going outside for a few minutes, do some stretches, chat with a colleague or friend, say a prayer or (if you must stay at the computer) watch a 5 minute clip on Youtube that will make you laugh. Disengage and get out of the normal ‘head space’ that your brain is in during the work day.

Try this for a few days and your brain will thank you! 


P.S. I was inspired to write this article after seeing a new marketing promo from Staples. It is a gorgeous scrolling infographic that highlights our need for breaks at work. (I don’t know if it will make people go buy their supplies at Staples, but either way, it’s a cool infographic. Kudos to the creative team!)

Here are the screengrabs from the Breather infographic. Enjoy!

1 in 5 workers feel too guilty to take breaks

58 planes take flight

5 new businesses are started
204 million email is sent
21 million cups of coffee
9% more productive when you take breaks at work
13% more accurate
breaks give our brains a chance to process information
Solve problems and boost creativity
Go take a break
It'll be worth it

How to Work Less and Do More

Productivity, technology, Alli Worthington

Did you know that email takes up the largest chunk of people’s workday? An average of 28% of the work day is spent organizing, deleting and answering email. How much time do you spend on email? Or on Facebook? Or the gazillion other things that pop up during your day? Who knows, right? The work piles up and the day seems to fly by.

And did you know that every time we try to multitask and switch our focus it takes an extra 25 minutes to refocus to what we were doing before? No wonder our days feel overwhelming with so much to do and so little time.

I’m here to help. It doesn’t have to be this way.

One of the first things I work on with my clients is identifying where their time goes. Our days are easily filled with distractions and time stealers that add up slowly.

The secret to spending our time on the right things is to first know what we are spending our time on.

The first step in getting control of our days is identifying how we spend our time.

How to Work Less & Do More

1. Make it Easy and Automate

When doing anything in life or business, you want to make it as easy as possible to succeed. So instead of busting out a spreadsheet and writing down how you spend your day (seriously, I’m depressed even writing that sentence) we want to automate it.

Today I’m showing you how I use a brilliant tool called Rescuetime. You can download it, and it runs in the background of your computer. Rescuetime will silently document how you spend your time for you. At the end of the week, you will receive a full report of exactly how you spent your time, if you spent time on things that weren’t productive and every little detail in between.

Below is my Rescuetime dashboard. You can see that it shows me my week at a glance and let’s me run reports, check my productivity and my progress.

Rescuetime also allows you to manually add your offline work activity as well, I obviously do not track my offline time.

I spend an average of 10 hours doing group and individual coaching and 5-10 hours writing per week. I don’t need to document it, but the option is there and could come in handy depending on your needs.

Rescuetime tutorial, productivity


2. Identify Where Your Time Goes

Run Rescuetime for a week and look for patterns of heavy use for certain sites. You will quickly see patterns emerge of how you spend your time.

Rescuetime tutorial,  productivity

Click to see full-size


2. Categorize Your Most Visited sites & Activities

After you know which apps and sites you use most, the next step is to categorize them in terms of how productive each activity is.

Here is a screenshot of one of my week’s online activity in detail.

Rescuetime tutorial, productivity

Click to see full-size


4. Monitor Your Daily Patterns

After Rescuetime gathers your data, you will be able to quickly see at a glance how you spend your time. You can see from the screenshot below, that I keep my activities rather standard.

As an entrepreneur this did not come easily for me, I used to work all the time, but I worked inefficiently. Skype would pop up with chats, the ping from Facebook would distract me, and I would lose an hour or two during the day. I used to work 12-14 hour days unfocused, and now I work 8-10 hour days that are focused.

Did you skim that last part? I used to work 12-14 hours a day, and after I had data on how I spent my time, I narrowed my work day down to 8-10 hours. How much less time could you spend working if you stayed focused?

Rescuetime, how I spend my days

Click to see full-size


5. Protect Yourself From the Lure of Time Wasters

I have alerts that pop up and warn me if I’ve spent more than 30 minutes a day on Social Networks and 1 hour on email. (Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I do cheat and use my phone, but it still keeps me focused during the day.) You can even block certain sites during specific time periods. That’s a bit extreme, but I’m not judging.


Rescuetime tutorial, productivity

Click to see full-size


The Secret to Working Less and doing more

Once you know what is taking up your time, you will be able to edit out all the things that are distracting you. And you’ll soon have more entries for your  Stop Doing List!

So go ahead and install Rescuetime today, and you will be on your way to working less and doing more. After you use it for 30 days, let me know what you learn and how much time you are able to save everyday.





Secrets of Success: How Reading Gives You an Edge

Secrets of Success. How reading makes you smarter and happierEver since I was a little girl, I’ve loved reading. I was the girl who checked out all 20 books, until they told me I couldn’t check out anymore at one time. My favorite books were always about practical wisdom. (I’ve always had a special appreciation for Benjamin Franklin!) I’m all about Secrets to Success. By this I mean key lessons, beneficial behaviors, and bits of wisdom that just work.

One of the best secrets to success? Reading. What you’re doing right now, in fact! Congratulations, you successful person, you!

In all seriousness, did you know that by reading more you can actually become smarter, lower your stress levels, keep your brain young and fit, and flat out be happier? It’s true. You can.  Here’s the how it works.

4 Ways Reading is a Key to Your Success

1. Reading is the best way to relax

Have you ever felt stressed and opened Facebook or turned on the TV? More than likely, you felt more stressed or just as tense after scrolling online or watching TV. Reading helps us all chill out, and it is a healthy escape from the stresses of day-to-day life. Only six minutes of reading can reduce stress levels by more than two-thirds.

2. Reading helps you focus and boosts productivity

If you are like me, you are online a lot. We all know that the fast-paced world we live in is not great for our brains. All the back and forth distractions can hurt our ability to focus.  We need to balance the time we spend racing around the Internet and skimming articles, with time spent focused on a great book.

I’ve found that even reading for a short period each morning helps me to be able to focus, remember things more clearly and be more productive during the day. If that isn’t enough, reading can help fight dementia and even Alzheimers as we age.

3. Reading gives you a competitive advantage

Reading a great nonfiction book will give you an edge because you will gain wisdom you can use in your career. You will be smarter if you are an avid reader. Period. Here’s something to think about. Have you ever noticed how reading biographies and memoirs of people who have overcome crazy odds and challenges and done great things encourages you to do your best?

I’m way less likely to feel sorry for myself if I lose a sale or get a nasty comment about my work when I compare my circumstances to the experiences of pioneers and leaders who’ve gone before me. That is seriously humbling!

4. Reading gives you a psychological boost

There’s nothing like diving into the story of a person who lived life well to remind us that life is more than the (sometime depressing) images and messages we see on TV, life is beautiful and full of opportunity to live it well. Studies show that reading self-help books can also help lessen depression. 

Feeling ready to crack open a book or two?

Good. I have some suggestions! Here are two great books, both written by friends of mine, that will inspire you and make you smarter and happier- guaranteed.

Business & Work Book Pick

Out of Office 13916587865_5a2747116d_z

by Simon Salt

If you are thinking about how to set up a home office and what all the options are, you will love Out of Office. Simon goes into great detail on how to set up productivity systems, boundaries (both personal and psychological), and how to work with remote teams.

I like Simon’s book so much, I endorsed it. If you have any questions about all the ways you can work out of office, this is a great choice. Find Out of Office here.

Life & Inspiration Book Pick

Hope Runs Hope Runs

by Claire Diaz Ortiz

  I can’t say enough about this book, and Claire’s story of meeting and bringing Sammy to the U.S. under her guardianship. I met Sammy when he and Claire spoke at BlissDom together a few years ago.

 As I read the chapters he wrote (he and Claire co-wrote the book) I was amazed at his perspective, his strength, and his ability to thrive despite such hard circumstances early in life. Here’s a bit of the beautiful story you will find in this book:

“When Claire Díaz-Ortiz arrived in Kenya at the end of an around-the-world journey, she decided to stay the night, climb Mount Kenya, and then head back home. She entered an orphanage, seeing it as little more than a free place to spend the night before her mountain trek.

Sammy Ikua Gachagua had lost his father to illness, his mother to abandonment, and his home to poverty. By age ten, he was living in a shack with several other children and very little food. He entered an orphanage, seeing it as a miracle with three meals a day, a bed to sleep in, and clothes on his back.

Hope Runs is the emotional story of one American tourist, one Kenyan orphan, and how one day became one year that would change the course of both of their lives forever. It’s about opening your heart to outrageous possibilities. It’s about what it means to hope for the things you cannot see.

It’s about how God can change your life in the blink of an eye.”

Hope Runs is a fast read (I read it in a day) and if you have tweens and teens, you may want to give your copy to them to read when you are done. The book is an adventure and a lens to a very different world. Sammy’s chapters will be especially fascinating for boys. My older guys loved it.

*Speaking of people who love to read, Claire can read me under the table. She reads 150+ books a year.

I have never done a giveaway on this site before, but I love this book so much I’ve decided to give 5 copies away.

Simply leave a comment below and 5 people will win a special copy!


Should You Post That Selfie? This Flowchart Can Be Your Guide.

Should you post that Selfie? Use the Selfie flowchart at (Infographic) Selfies. Love them or hate them, we can’t escape them. I love seeing faces pop up all over the web of my friends and people whose work I respect. What I don’t like is the word, “Selfie.” It just sounds ridiculous.

On Facebook yesterday, I asked for your opinions about selfies. So far, we have over a hundred comments and it is still going.


See the whole conversation and join in here. 


My favorite comment was from George Smith, Jr-

 Selfies are like establishing shots in a movie. When done right – it adds context, gives the viewer a chance to see the person behind the camera. When done too often, seems like a mess with no “story” to it. The best people online use photos to establish a storyboard for their life.

One of the biggest take aways from the conversation on Facebook is that most folks love seeing each other’s faces, but many feel awkward or uncomfortable sharing their own self-portraits. Some think it is a bit narcissistic, but most do not.

The truth is, the selfie discussion itself is a big mirror that reflects our individual views on much more than just self-portraits online.

We are part of a cultural shift where CEOs, solopreneurs, pastors and farmers are sharing their daily lives. Selfies can be used brilliantly to tell the stories of who we are, our day-to-day lives and, as George said, to let people see the person behind the camera.

Not only that, faces in images are good for business. They are 38% more likely to get likes and 32% more likely to get comments. 

If you are still unsure of whether you should post a selfie or not, here is a handy flowchart.

Should You Post a Selfie- Alli Worthington (Infographic)


What do you think? Pro-Selfie or No-Selfie?

10 Ways to Use Pocket Like a Pro

How to use the Pocket App br “Hm. This looks interesting. Let me bookmark it to read later.”

How many times over the years have you done that? Countless, I’m sure. Me, too.

I don’t make space during the week to read everything  I want, so I save a lot of it for time I’ve set aside for just this (generally evenings or weekends).

However, bookmarks? They are a thing of the distant past. When I want to tuck something aside to read later (as oppose to archive forever in Evernote, my digital archive/brain) I simply tuck it in my pocket. Pocket with a capital “P,” that is.

Pocket is an app built specifically for this purpose…in fact, it was originally called Read Later. It syncs with over 500 different apps: Buffer, Twitter, Facebook, and Flipboard just to name a few.

10 Ways to use Pocket like a Pro

1. Sync Your Reading List Across all Your Devices

You’re in the middle of reading an article on your computer but are interrupted. Later when you’re on a your laptop and want to finish reading it, instead of having to search for it again, Pocket keeps it all sync’d seamlessly.

The articles  you put in Pocket while on your desktop will be on your iPad, iPhone, laptop, etc. Open up your Pocket account and there it is, right where you left off. Pocket offers reading convenience on multiple devices at it’s finest.

2. Save Everything with a Browser Bookmarklet

Save everything with the Pocket Browser bokmarklet

One of my top criteria for a productivity tool is that it doesn’t…wait for it…hamper my productivity. One of the most obvious ways to achieve this is easy of use.

Pocket excels at this. For example, adding the bookmarklet is easy; you just drag it to your toolbar and it’s right there, ready to use. When you’re on a page you’d like to read later, just click the icon and it’s immediately saved to your account. Super simple. Super convenient.

3. Save Favorites in Pocket to Evernote with IFTTT

Archive all the best content in Pocket to Evernote by AlliworthingtonAs you’re going through your Pocket content, when you find something brilliant you want to keep forever? Use my IFTTT recipe and you can set up an Evernote archive today. Once you’re IFTTT recipe is activated, all you need to do is click the star to favorite it. The article and image will be archived to a specific Evernote notebook.

Whenever you can accomplish a task with one simple click, that’s a productivity win.

4. Stay FocusedAlli is Sophia, of course.

Instead of getting distracted by the latest Buzzfeed quiz on which Golden Girl I am, I can save the article in Pocket to read later.

I like to read non-work items (and take Buzzfeed quizes, duh) at night and on the weekends.

Being productive doesn’t mean you never have fun, it just means you don’t get distracted when you are taking care of business.(Tweet it!)

5. Have Your favorite Updates Sent Directly to Pocket

Here’s a handy IFTTT recipe that will send any Malcolm Gladwell articles in The New Yorker to Pocket directly. Ok, it doesn’t have to be Gladwell, you can customize it to any RSS feed that you want. I recommend Gladwell.

6. Email Articles to Pocket

Going through your email and find a link to an article that looks promising? Just forward it to That link’s page will be added to your list, ready to be read the next time you open Pocket.

It’s also a great way to add articles while you’re on the go without opening the app. As long as you’re logged into the email account with which you registered for Pocket, you can send a link to to populate your Pocket.


7. Read Without Clutter Pocket App preview

Sometimes sites have great content but are, frankly, horrible visually. (Websites that are full of ads that take over the screen, flashing ads or that think text should be light grey and size 4- you know what I’m talking about!)  That’s when I thank Pocket for one of my favorite features; it strips away all of the sidebar chaos and just leaves the content in which you are interested.

So I often save articles to Pocket just to read them without all the awful clutter on some sites.

No ads, no visual distractions, no ugly sidebars. That’s a productivity win in and of itself.


8. Save and Share Articles with the Desktop App

Share or save all article from inside Pocket on your desktop from


Pocket makes sharing easy; reading something that would be perfect for a friend? Email it to them! Want to view the post in a browser? Easy with a *click*! Want to copy the link to your clipboard? That’s also an option in the drop-down menu.

I also love that Buffer is a ready option (as you’ll see in #10).

9. Read it at Night and Save Your Eyes

Did you know that the blue light that emanates from our screens causes eye strain at night? And that it can create difficulties falling asleep? Bad news when you’re tucked in bed enjoying some end of the day reading. Luckily, pocket has Dark Theme that, combined with dimming the screen, is perfect for this. There is also a Sepia Theme, which is a lower contrast option.

To enable it, tap the “AA” button, then the Themes button to toggle between Light, Dark and Sepia Themes. Happy eyes!

10. Share with Buffer from the Pocket App

Share with Buffer from inside the Pocket App

Got Buffer?

I sure do! The Buffer option is another one of my favorite features about Pocket. I can share across my main social media platforms with the drop down menu. (Seriously, Omega 3′s are great for sleep, just like the Dark Theme lighting option) (I’m all about the good sleep!).


Pocket is the tool I rely upon for saving articles you run across online for reading at a later time. In fact, it’s one of my most-used productivity tools. It keeps me on track on a day-to-day basis by being the perfect place to set aside content for future consumption.

Knowing what tool to use- and when- is a key for keep us all on track!

  Free Instant Website Evaluation 2014

Now that you’re ready to use Pocket like a pro, click here for my free website grader tool.

I created it to let you know what to do next to keep your website working like a pro.


More of the Use it Like a Pro Series

How to use Gmail like a Pro

How to use Evernote like a Pro

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