How Keeping Track of Time Helps Boost Your Productivity

Everyone has 24 hours in their day. So why do some people seem to get so much more accomplished than others? You may think you need to “burn the midnight oil” to get things done, but from a health perspective that’s an unsustainable plan that decreases your quality of life. A better and healthier way to boost productivity is to do intentional time tracking. Time tracking gives you the data to examine what you are spending your time on, it helps you create work-life balance, and it increases your productivity during the times you are actually working.

Time Tracking To Gather Data

Before you can implement any change, you first need to examine your baseline. For one week, write down the activities you are spending time doing, then time yourself to see how much time you are spending on those activities.

In this step, you are not setting timers or reminders to help you transition from one activity to the next, you are simply timing yourself to see if you have an accurate perception of how you spend your time. When you get up in the morning, set a stopwatch to see how long it takes you to get ready for the day. When you sit down at your desk to work, start a timer to see how long you work before becoming distracted by another task or co-worker. And when you start making your evening meal, time yourself to see how long it takes to get dinner on the table.

For example, Sally needs more sleep. She is not sure why she can’t seem to get to bed on time. Part of Sally’s evening routine is watching TV on her computer. She believes she spends about 30 minutes before bed watching TV. Sally decided to try time tracking to help her evaluate how she spends her time. On Friday evening, when she sat down with her computer, she set a timer to see how long she was actually spending watching TV. Sally was surprised to find out she spent a full 15 minutes on browsing and selecting a documentary she wanted to watch, and then another 45 minutes viewing the documentary. Sally was spending almost twice as much time watching TV as she thought!

Time Tracking To Create A Healthy Work-Life Balance

Once you have the data from your time tracking experiment, you can examine it. Some people like to use colored pencils or symbols to mark how much time they spent on tasks in different areas of their life.

During this process, you will want to choose your categories. Some people may separate activities into work, family, and friends. Whatever categories you choose, they should reflect your lifestyle. Exercise might be an entire category if you are trying to make exercising a larger part of your life. Too many categories will make things complicated, but three to six should be a manageable number. Once you’ve established your categories, on your tracking sheet color or mark the activities you tracked, so it is easy to visualize how much time is being spent in each area. If you would prefer a graph, then transfer the information and graph it. At this time you should also prioritize those categories and decide how much time you want to be spending on each one.

Rita knew she needed to start eating healthy, but cooking took more time than she felt she had. After tracking her time and looking at her categories, she realized she was spending an extra half-hour more at work every day than was necessary. She often stayed late to talk to friends in the parking lot or grab a coffee before going home. Rita realized her life balance was out of whack and that she needed to be spending that “work” time on her health instead. Rita started leaving work on time and going home. She then had plenty of time to cook a healthy meal and eat it by a reasonable hour.

Time Tracking To Increase Productivity

Once you have your categories balance, you can then increase productivity within each category. You may have to spend a certain number of hours at work every day. But at work, you can notice how much time you spent talking to coworkers, eating lunch, answering the phone, or working on a project. Within that block of work time, are you accomplishing everything that you can?

One method that people like to use when working, cleaning house, exercising, or doing other tasks, is called the Pomodoro Technique. The Pomodoro Technique “is a time management method developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s. The technique uses a timer to break down work into intervals, traditionally 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks. These intervals are named pomodoros, the plural in English of the Italian word pomodoro (tomato), after the tomato-shaped kitchen timer that Cirillo used as a university student.”

The Pomodoro Technique helps you concentrate on your task for an ideal amount of time without becoming burned out. For example, if you sit down to write a newsletter, spend at least 25 minutes on the task before stopping to answer a text, go to the bathroom, speak to someone, or eat a snack. Then, once the time is up, take a short, five-minute break. Short breaks will keep you refreshed without allowing you to be distracted for too long. And scheduling breaks at certain intervals gives you the peace of mind to let things like texts wait, knowing you will still be able to check them in a reasonable amount of time.

Robert felt he could never get his projects finished at work. He did a time tracking exercise and gathered data on how he was spending his time. He was surprised to see how many times he was stopping to answer emails throughout the day. After checking, it would then take him another five minutes or so to get back on task and return to the project he was working on. Robert knew he had to check his emails, but his daily projects were more time sensitive. Robert decided to prioritize his work projects by only writing answers to non-urgent emails once in the morning and once in the afternoon. He also decided to use the Pomodoro Technique to balance work time with checking for urgent email requests. Robert gained at least an hour a day by decreasing the transition time back and forth from projects to emails.

If you want to increase your productivity, then start with time tracking today! Gather the data to examine your baseline, decide how much time to spend on different categories to optimize work-life balance, and then start using time tracking on individual tasks to increase productivity. ILA offers many time tracking devices, such as the Color and Sound Coded Timer, so that even those who have visual or hearing impairments can still stay on task and get the most out of their day.

Daylight Saving Time: Do You Ever Forget?

Whether Daylight Saving Time is beginning or ending, it’s often met with groans and sighs. In the spring, we lose a precious hour of sleep. In the fall, we theoretically gain it back, but those with pets or children know the internal alarm clock is not so easily fooled. There are pros to Daylight Saving, as well as cons, but one of the simplest inconveniences to Daylight Saving is that not only do you have to remember to change all of your clocks, you have to remember how to change them.

The History of Daylight Saving

Benjamin Franklin is credited with first introducing the idea of Daylight Saving through a satirical article he wrote while ambassador to Paris. He wittily claimed to have discovered that the sun provides light as soon as it rises, and proposed that people get up earlier to make use of the summer daylight. Although this was before electricity, he believed people could save money on candles this way.

However, Daylight Saving Time was never considered a practical option until Germany established it in May 1916 as a way to conserve fuel during World War I. The rest of Europe shortly followed, and the United States came onboard in 1918.

President Wilson wanted to keep Daylight Saving Time after the war ended, but since it robbed farmers of an extra hour of morning light, the country as a whole rejected the idea. But at the start of World War II, on February 9, 1942, President Franklin Roosevelt re-established Daylight Saving Time, calling it “War Time.”

After the war, states were given a choice of whether or not they wanted to observe Daylight Saving Time. There were no uniform start or stop times, which caused chaos. So in 1966, Congress enacted the Uniform Time Act, requiring any state observing Daylight Saving Time must begin it on the first Sunday of April and end it on the last Sunday of October. This lasted until 2007, when the Energy Act of 2005 went into effect, expanding Daylight Saving Time for another four weeks.

Who Observes Daylight Saving Time?

In the United States, most states observe Daylight Saving Time. Arizona and Hawaii do not. The territories of American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the United States Virgin Islands also do not observe Daylight Saving Time.

Most countries of Europe observe Daylight Saving Time, but Asia and Africa don’t. Other continents are mixed. Paraguay and Southern parts of Brazil observe while the rest of South America doesn’t make a change. New Zealand and Southeastern Australia observe Daylight Saving, but people in the northern portion of Australia keep their clocks the same year round.

Do You Remember To Change?

Aside from the debate over whether Daylight Saving is beneficial, most people have experienced the frustration of forgetting to change their clocks or at least forgetting how to change their clocks. Reminders are set, manuals come out of the drawer, and next-morning activity planners expect to see at least one or two people arrive early or late.

One way to eliminate the stress of remembering the time change is to use atomic clocks. Atomic clocks stay perfectly set with the help of a multi-band receiver that picks up the time based on your time zone. If set up properly, an atomic watch or clock should know your location and adjust the time accordingly.

Atomic clocks can come in the form of a watch or a desktop or wall mounted version. Even if every clock in your house is not atomic, using an atomic clock for your bedroom alarm can relieve you of the stress that comes with forgetting to wake up at the correct time.

No matter how you feel about Daylight Saving Time, it is most likely here to stay. The best thing you can do is to set yourself up for a successful transition by using as many automatically-syncing timepieces as possible. And maybe study up on that microwave manual.

World Sight Day: Bringing the Focus on Visual Impairment

Have you ever heard of World Sight Day? This year, World Sight Day falls on Thursday, October 12th. This day of recognition is designed to bring the focus on visual impairment and get the numbers out about preventable blindness. According to the World Sight Day website, “80% of the world’s blind are avoidably so.”

History of World Sight Day

In 2000, The International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) launched “World Sight Day,” a part of their Sight First campaign, with VISION 2020. VISION 2020: The Right to Sight is a Global Initiative for the Elimination of Avoidable Blindness by the year 2020. It was formally launched from W.H.O. Headquarters in 1999.

In 2002, “The State of World Blindness” began being presented on World Sight Day. This report looks at issues surrounding blindness, the cost of global blindness, and highlights the achievements and future goals of VISION 2020.

On World Sight Day, 2003, Pope John Paul II officially recognized VISION 2020: The Right to Sight and blessed the fight against blindness around the world. Since then, participation in World Sight Day has grown. Every year hundreds of activities are planned. The IAPB provides downloadable materials and information packets that can be shared with the media or on your own social media to help pass along the key messages of the day.

World Sight Day 2017

Every year, World Sight Day has a slightly different objective. This year the call to action is “Make Vision Count,” and the theme is Universal Eye Health. Since World Sight Day is an international day of awareness, Universal Eye Health was chosen as a focus because it is in keeping with the WHO’s Action Plan 2014-2019.

This theme will be used for the next several years, but each year there will be a new call to action. For “Make Vision Count,” people were encouraged to take part in a photo contest to show the impact of eye health in people’s lives. They were also encouraged to share their photos on social media. Another activity that was promoted for World Sight Day 2017 was the blindfolding of statues. Celebrities and government officials were also asked to blindfold themselves to experience blindness, temporarily.

The goals of World Sight Day 2017 are to encourage people to:

  • Invest in eye health by increasing budget allocations to address need.
  • Address the human resources crisis in eye health by invest in training, innovation, and research
  • Integrate eye health at every level of the health system
  • Withdraw user fees to the poorest.

Preventable Blindness

According to the World Sight Day website, “In 2010, just over 28% of the world’s population were affected by Myopia (short-sightedness). This is predicted to rise to 34% by 2020 and nearly 50% by 2050. In 2014, approximately 422 million people – or 8.5% of adults worldwide – were living with diabetes, compared to 108 million in 1980. Low- and middle-income countries account for approximately 75% of the global diabetes burden. Approximately one in three people living with diabetes have some degree of Diabetic Retinopathy (DR) and one in 10 will develop a vision-threatening form of the disease.”

Children’s vision should be especially protected since their eyes are still developing. Children should be taken to regular eye doctor appointments, whether or not they seem to be having trouble seeing. Children with visual impairments are not always aware that what they are seeing is abnormal and may not be able to communicate visual problems to adults accurately.

In America, many people have access to eye care, but they sometimes neglect taking important steps in protecting their vision. Preventing blindness or visual impairment can sometimes be as simple as using protective eyewear when you are outside, using glare-reducing, blue-light blocking filters on your screens, or using proper lighting to prevent eye strain. Also, eating well and not smoking will help keep your eyes healthy.

This year, consider participating in World Sight Day. If you’ve missed the 2017 events, mark your calendar for 2018. The issue of preventable blindness is an important one. You can be part of a great initiative to help raise public awareness of blindness and vision impairment as major international public health issues.




This Fire Safety Information Is a Must-Know For The Deaf and Hard of Hearing

If you are deaf or hard of hearing, you may be more at risk during a fire emergency. Quick action is required when responding to a fire, and being hard of hearing may delay how soon you receive an alert. You must rely on adaptive safety equipment, so the quality and functionality of your system is essential.

Fire Safety Statistics

According to the National Fire Protection Society, “Three out of five home fire deaths happen from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms.” Fatal fires typically occur when people are sleeping. That’s why it’s so important to have an alarm system that will wake you.

Cigarettes and other smoking paraphernalia are responsible for most home fire deaths. However, most fire injuries are caused by cooking equipment. About one out of every 338 homes report a fire each year. When smoke alarms are working, it cuts the chance of dying in a house fire in half.

Not very many Americans have practiced a fire escape plan. The majority have made a route, but only one-third have one planned and rehearsed. Since the time available to get out of your house in a fire emergency is often five minutes or less, practicing your plan to the point of muscle memory can be the difference between life and death.

Fire Safety Plans

Because timing can be everything in a fire emergency, it is essential to have a fire safety plan and to rehearse it. This issue is so critical that the U. S. Fire Administration has put out a Fact Sheet for the deaf and hard of hearing that has special recommendations.

As far as escape plans, they recommend practicing your escape plan every month. The best escape plans include two ways to exit each room. And every room in the house should be evaluated. It’s important to check your windows to make sure screens can be removed quickly, and the windows don’t stick. Consider putting rope ladders in second story rooms.

If a fire does occur, you should implement your safety plan as quickly as possible. Don’t waste time trying to save property or trying to access other areas of the house. If the home is smokey, stay low. Crawl under the smoke and cover your mouth with your hand. If a door is hot to the touch, don’t open it or attempt to go through it.

Fire Safety Equipment for The Hearing Impaired

Before installing fire safety equipment, you may want to call your local fire department on their non-emergency number to get their advice on where to place your alarms. They will recommend that you install a flashing or vibrating smoke alarm on every level of your home. And once you have alarms installed, don’t forget to test them monthly and change the batteries once a year.

Smoke detectors with strobe lights are a common piece of fire safety equipment for the deaf or hearing impaired. Detectors like the Kidde Talking Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detector with Strobe give a bright, flashing signal to warn of smoke, heat, or carbon monoxide. This detector also comes with an audible warning as well. This is important because you need to make sure your detector will alert everyone in the household.

Another excellent choice in fire safety equipment is the HomeAware alerting system . The base system  features a 110 dB alarm, bed shaker, and 2-inch scrolling notifications on a master unit display. Optional transmitters such as a smoke alarm transmitter can be added to the base system  to ensure you won’t miss any possible fire or carbon monoxide threats. Most importantly, it addresses the problem of house fires at night. While you may sleep through a hallway strobe light at 3:00 am, there’s no way you will be able to sleep through the HomeAware’s bed shaker. Whatever choice you make, ILA wants you to stay safe!

Arthritis: Top Three Ways To Make Getting Dressed Easier

When you have arthritis, what used to be the routine act of getting dressed in the morning can become a lot more time-consuming, difficult, and even painful. There are ways you can adjust your process to make things easier. This includes changing your routine, choosing different clothing, and using dressing aids to assist with the dressing process.

Change Your Routine

Are you more stiff in the mornings? Prepare for your dressing routine by taking clothes off of hangers, getting socks out of drawers, and laying items out the day before. If afternoons are best for you, take a few minutes during that time of day to stage your dressing area for the next morning.

If you know it takes a couple of hours of moving about for you to be ready to get dressed, consider getting up earlier in the day. You can spend the first couple of hours of your morning in a bathrobe or housecoat having a relaxed breakfast and some time to yourself. This gives you the chance to warm up and move about before having to tackle those frustrating fine motor dressing tasks.

Choose Different Clothing

Buttons and zippers can be tricky to hold, and grasping and manipulating the tiny pieces may cause pain. Tying bows and shoes also pose the same problems. One solution is to avoid clothing with these types of closures. Easier options for dressing include velcro and elastic bands.

The type of material and the size of the clothing also matters. Tighter shirts and blouses are harder to pull on. Clothes that have wider openings for your head, arms, and legs slip on with less effort. Lined dresses and coats also have a smoother surface and glide on rather than clinging.

Using Dressing Aids

If getting dressed is still giving you trouble, and you have clothing items that you don’t want to give up, you can try buying dressing aids to help you put your things on in the morning. Zipper Pulls and Button Loops are designed to grasp and hold those tiny pieces and help you pull them up or through.

Telescoping shoehorns serve two purposes. First, they help you get your foot into your shoe. Their length also keeps you from having to bend over to use them. This solves problems related to your grip, your balance, and your pain.

Have you ever dropped a sock on the floor and felt like it may as well be at the bottom of the Grand Canyon? Using reachers, like the PikStick, will help you reach and grasp objects that have fallen or are on counters or shelving, just out of reach. The PikStik can lift up to three pounds and is precise enough to pick up an earring!

Changing your routine, choosing different clothing, and using dressing aids should help you gain more control and become more independent in dressing than you were before. If you continue to have problems, you may want to speak to an occupational therapist about ways to improve or simplify your activities of daily living. If you decide you need more dressing or living aids, ILA is happy to talk to you about what products might fit your lifestyle and serve your purposes.


Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash