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Why Your Next Meeting Needs a To Do List: Boosting Workplace Productivity



How to Use a To Do List to Boost Productivity at Your Next Meeting

Why Does Your Business Need a To Do List? Moving Creative Ideas From Conception to Completion is the Key Marker for Professional Success.

We’ve all been there. You sit down with inspired, like-minded folks to collaborate on a personal or professional adventure and the ideas start pouring forth like manna from heaven. Creativity is at an all-time high, you’re blasting through obstacles to map out the big picture and passion runs deep as your visions come to life right before your eyes. You’re about to be a part of something big. This is really happening!

And then you leave the meeting.

Why Your Next Meeting Needs a To Do List

What happens now? What was that plan again? What do I need to do next? Do I need to make that phone call or is she doing it? Wait, what did we say? Didn’t you mean this? I’m confused.

How do you channel that ball of ambitious energy into clearly defined, actionable items that boost productivity and actually get things done? How do you make sure that every attendee took away the same information? Using a simple to do list can set clear expectations that will provide purpose and planning to take your creative ideas from conception to completion.

Define: State Your Intentions

The pre-meeting to do list

A simple to do list can boost productivity before your meeting even begins. Set the stage for focused energy by clearly defining the purpose of your meeting and what you need to accomplish during your time together. Be intentional by listing each objective concisely and directly. This allows attendees to modify their expectations and prepare appropriately, which will boost productivity and set the stage for an effective business meeting. A pre-meeting to do list might look something like this:

To Do List

  1. Choose an Event Date
  2. Identify 4 Potential Venues
  3. Assign Clients for Sponsorship Requests
  4. Design Website Copy for the Development Team

Focus: Stay the Course

The in-meeting to do list

The largest threat to an effective meeting that must accomplish the pre-defined objectives is the rabbit trail. When ideas are freely flowing and excitement begins to build, focus can easily shift to new ideas and projects that don’t line up with the original intent for meeting. While these ideas and projects may be fantastic and deserve attention, they don’t serve a purpose for the here and now.

There are two ways to steer attendees back on course while also acknowledging the potential that was discovered off task. While losing focus is definitely a fundamental mistake that restricts present productivity, ignoring truly creative ideas that pop up unexpectedly can also be a misstep for future productivity. You can have the best of both worlds.

Most importantly, a strong leader must be present and able to capture the attention of the group with ease and authority. A productive meeting is not a dictatorship, it’s a democracy. An appropriate leader respects that every attendee has a voice, but can and will take action to gracefully shift the team back to the task at hand.

To Do List

Create a “call box” for off task ideas that deserve attention and have potential, but not at that moment in that meeting. If brainstorming sparks an organic topic that could develop into an action plan for the future, reserve the right to pause conversation, take note on your to do list that an item has been placed in the call box, with the collaborative agreement that it warrants more discussion at a later date.

To do lists are essential to channeling focused productivity in any meeting. It should be an extension of the pre-meeting to do list, with a bit more depth and direction for the allotted time. An in-meeting to do list might look something like this:

  • Choose an Event Date
    1. Decide between weekend or weekday
    2. Discuss seasonal obstacles
      1. Tourist season
      2. Weather preferences
      3. Competing events
    3. List top 3 potential dates
  • Identify 4 Potential Venues
    1. Review team recommendations
    2. Narrow down the list for second round review
    3. Consider potential obstacles
      1. Budget
      2. Size
      3. Layout
      4. Parking
      5. Permits
    4. Make final selections for future review
  • Assign Clients for Sponsorship Requests
    1. Split client list by industry type
      1. Medical
      2. Legal
      3. Corporate
    2. Review sponsorship packages
    3. Create teams
  • Design Website Copy for the Development Team
    1. Brainstorm landing pages
    2. Identify appropriate content
    3. List call to action opportunities

Assign: Time to Take Action

The take home to do list

The objectives accomplished in any meeting serve one important purpose – to identify the tasks that must be completed next in order to move forward with a project or directive. Meetings are set with the specific intention to collaborate and convert on a common goal. The only way to be sure what is discussed is then actualized in an efficient and productive manner is to create the take home to do list.

Boosting Productivity

As you move through your in-meeting to do list, have a corresponding list prepared that will provide specific assignments that achieve your in-meeting objectives. Be as detailed as possible, and focus on setting S.M.A.R.T. goals that are measurable and time driven. After the meeting, make sure each attendee is given a copy of the take home to do list so that everyone remains on the same page and has a clearly defined reference. A take home to do list might look something like this:

  • Event Venue
      1. Call all 4 venues
        1. Confirm date availability
        2. Schedule walk throughs
        3. Provide feedback on each venue to team at next meeting with final recommendation
  • Client Sponsorships
    1. ACTION ITEM: Team Assignments
      1. Medical: MOLLY and SAM
      2. Legal: JACK and LISA
      3. Corporate: LINDA and BOB
        1. Pitch sponsorship opportunities to 15 clients each
          1. All initial asks must be done within 1 week
        2. Update master list with end results (Success/Fail)
  • Website Copy
      1. Create website mock up (layout) for three pages as an example (Make final selection for template, font, color scheme)
      1. Develop website copy for 2 main landing pages
      1. Create 4 blog posts for publication when website goes live
      1. Connect with Development to set up a meeting 3 weeks from now
  • Call Box Items – Assigned to the agenda for 2/25/15 meeting
    1. Event Catering (Dale’s BBQ is running a special through June)
    2. Interns (Local college could supply for parking/tickets/etc.)

Report: The Results Are In

The post-meeting to do list

Meeting coordination often drops off after the last person leaves the conference room. To this point, you have defined your objectives for the meeting, worked through your task list, and assigned appropriate projects. All done, right?

Female Architect - To Do List

Wrong. Accountability is the last piece of puzzle for long-term success and is the fire that can boost productivity and keep team members on task long after the meeting has come to a close. Proper team communication means continuing the conversation at a later date to bring your original objectives full circle to completion. Developing a list of results not only provides a sense of satisfaction as the team moves closer to the end goal, but can also identify potential areas that need more attention in future meetings.

This type of follow up does not have to be absolute or even announce full completion. It is simply a method of reporting progress to the team to keep the lines of communication open. A post-meeting to do list might look something like this:

  • Date and Venue: KELLY
    1. Venue A – Contacted – Meeting 3/15
    2. Venue B – Contacted – Date Unavailable
    3. Venue C – Met 3/12 – Good candidate
    4. Venue D – Met 3/13 – Not big enough
  • Client Sponsorships
    1. Medical: MOLLY and SAM
      1. 25 contacted
        1. 20 yes
        2. 5 no
      2. 8 calls scheduled
      3. 2 in person meetings scheduled
    2. Legal: JACK and LISA
      1. 18 contacted
        1. 14 no
        2. 4 yes
      2. 10 calls scheduled
      3. Working to identify more clients
    3. Corporate: LINDA and BOB
      1. Linda – Vacation this week – Back next week
      2. Bob
        1. 8 calls made – pending response
        2. 12 contacted
          1. 9 yes
          2. 3 no

Who Knew?

A Simple To Do List is a Powerful Asset

In a world where technology is constantly evolving and new methods of communication are being introduced to market at rapid fire pace, who knew that you could boost productivity with a simple to do list? The US Navy was spot on when they developed the K.I.S.S. principle (“Keep it Simple, Stupid”) in 1960. Avoid unnecessary complexity and stick to the basics.

The to do list is a powerful asset for any meeting and can be the catalyst for forward momentum that keeps your team members informed, motivated and on task. The to do list has one purpose – to get things done. There’s simply no better way to boost productivity than using this type of laser beam focus to achieve results efficiently and effectively.

How to Use a To Do List to Boost Productivity at Your Next Meeting


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Organizational Tips

Top 10 Family Safety Tips from @GetReadyNowPack



Family Safety Tips

Life as a busy working mom is more than hectic! The best way to combat the crazy and chaos is to do our best to prepare in advance whenever possible. Emergency preparedness is one area we often skimp in, leaving us stressed and scrambling when disaster strikes (sometimes even by our own doing!). Our friends at Get Ready Now have a few simple routines, habits and family safety tips that will keep us in control when life strikes back.

Family Safety Tips

Regular Car Check Ups

We’ll admit, guilty as charged! We often overlook the basic maintenance that keeps our car running and in tip top shape. Then, when our car decides to bite back with a little reminder about how much we’ve been neglecting it, we’re stuck in all the wrong places at all the wrong times. If you have trouble remembering to give your car some much needed love, be sure to download our Google calendar reminder list!

Keep Your Phone Fully Charged

Oops…guilty as charged again! We hate hunting down our phone chargers and have a really bad habit of tossing our phones under our pillows instead of plugging it in at night, which usually means it’s teetering near death right when we want to make an important call the next day. Invest the few dollars to keep phone chargers handy. One in the kitchen, one in the office, one in the bedroom, one in the car. Do your best to stay charged up so you have some mileage on your phone’s battery when you need it!

Stay Tuned to Weather and Disaster Warnings

We all have our phones within reach around the clock, so be sure to sign up for phone alerts or download your favorite weather app to stay in the know and be ready to move and take action when regional warnings are issued!

Have an Evacuation Plan in Place

This is a big one. Whether it’s talking about your family plan to exit the house in the event of a fire or learning your local evacuation routes and shelter locations, take time to sit down with your family and make sure everyone, young and old, understands exactly what you’ll do, where, when and how should you need to evacuate your home for any reason. This can feel like a scary conversation, especially for little ones, so we often avoid it and then reality is much, much scarier when emergency strikes and we are not prepared. Bite the bullet, map out your routes and practice it as a family!

family safety tips

Know How You’ll Reconnect With People Who Matter

If your phone died right now, would you know how to reach the most important people in your life? Yup, us too. Busted. Memorization not your thing? Make sure you store contact information safely in a few different places so you can reach out to friends and family in the event of an emergency from wherever you are. When it comes to evacuation and fire escapes, set up family meeting points where you will all head should you get physically separated. Plan for the worst case scenario!

Learn What to Do if You’re Caught Away From Home

This is more about having a plan A…through double ZZ. Emergencies breed fear and fear breeds panic, so our best defense is a good offense. Spend some time thinking through the different scenarios that might result in your being stuck somewhere you don’t want to be, unable to get somewhere you do what to be. What will you do? Where will you go? Confronting your fears, establishing plans and considering your options will empower you to act with clarity and purpose when life goes awry.

Have an Emergency Kit (or Ten) and Know How to Use Them

An emergency preparedness kit is only helpful if you know where it is, can easily get to it, know what’s in it and how to use it. Thankfully, our friends at Get Ready Now can help us there. They have vehicle packs, grab and go packs and have thought about everything you’ll need in an emergency from start to finish. Their bags are waterproof (win), clear (double win) and the supplies inside are good for 5 years (triple win!). Their website has complete lists and even videos detailing exactly what is in your pack and why it’s important. Use the code FREESHIP for free shipping! Woot! Woot!

Don’t Forget to Plan for Your Pets

Many of us overlook preparing in advance for what will happen with our pets in an emergency. We adore these beloved family members and can hit a wall of panic when disaster strikes and we realize we have not accounted for their needs along with our own. Make sure your emergency kits have extra pet food and include your pet care in evacuation planning and practice.

Stay in the Know and Sharpen Up on Your Emergency Skills

Are you CPR certified? Do you know how to safely perform the Heimlich Maneuver? Do you know how to start a fire outdoors? Consider signing up for a local safety or survival skills course. When disaster strikes, our knowledge base fuels our ability to stay calm and act effectively, which can save crucial time in an emergency or even save somebody’s life!

No Cheating! Check Those Smoke Detector Batteries Regularly

Admit it. We’ve all done it. It starts beeping, out of love to let us know that something’s up and it’s not in prime shape to save our lives. And we beat it to death with a stick, rip out the batteries, and cuddle back up in bed. And then leave it. And then leave it. And then leave it some more. NO MORE. Get those batteries in, set calendar reminders to test all smoke detectors regularly and keep your family safe, starting in your home, today.


Use the code FREESHIP for Free Shipping on Your Order!



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Organizational Tips

24 Super Awesome Articles for Busy Working Moms



24 Super Awesome Articles

You may have noticed a bit of feast or famine over here at Chaos & Kiddos. Why? Because we’ve been sharing the love all over! Yup, that’s right. When we’re not here actively posting, it’s usually because we have the great honor to share our voice on other platforms. We thought you might like to keep up with where we’ve been! So…check out these 24 super awesome articles for busy working moms. Enjoy!


Need a little parenting pick me up? Look no further! Grab a cup of coffee and kick back for a good read. Pick up a few tips and tricks, and give yourself a pat on the back, because you’re doing an AWESOME job.

Am I Chipping Away at the Foundation of My Children’s Success?

Why You Need a Family Mission Statement

Want to Teach Children? Get a Family Pet

10 Tips to Get Better Photos of Your Children

Potty Training: How to Graduate from Rewards to Real Life

It Takes a Village: Today’s Isolated Mom

Working Moms

Tell the truth…We bet you’re working too hard! It’s ok. We all do. Let’s band together and give ourselves permission for a little TLC, a whole lot more community and the opportunity to thrive professionally and personally, being our best selves for those we love most.

Working Moms Get a “Free to Grow” Permission Slip from Sprout

The One Question You Should Be Asking Yourself Every Day

How I Finally Realized Being a Workaholic Wasn’t a Good Thing

Redefining Success as a Suddenly Single Working Mom

How to Combat the Working Mom Woes

Professional Opportunities for The Stay-at-Home Mom

Tips for the Working Mom: How to Excel in Both Worlds

Small Business

Our very favorite!! Sharing the tips and tricks to help your business grow, the creative ideas that are making big waves in the entrepreneurial and those little reminders that get you back on track as a motivated, focused small business owner.

Meet the U.S. Company that Beat France to the Email Ban Idea

How to Maintain a Healthy Business Partnership

The Evolution of the Social Media Management Model

With This Tweet, I Thee Wed: How to “Put a Ring on It” and Transform Your Followers Into Brand Advocates

Why I Left Corporate America

Get More Instagram Followers and Grow Your Business

The Fountain of Youth: A Childhood Lesson in Healthy Competition

The Enlightened Entrepreneur: The Best Ways to Achieve Real Success

Health and Wellness

Last, but certainly not least, the most important part. Staying healthy and being well. The journey towards balance is just that…a journey. Join us as we walk together towards a more meaningful, enriched life.

Why You Need to Renegotiate the Contracts in Your Life

Baby Steps to Balance: The Journey Towards a Better Life Begins With Your Very First Step

The Top 10 Cheerleaders You Need to Survive Your Divorce

How to Set Boundaries That Balance Your Life

Do you have any super awesome articles for busy working moms? Share them below in the comments! Let’s face it, time is a hot commodity around here, and most of us don’t have time to blog hop! So…if you’ve done us the great honor by taking time out of your busy day to stop here, then THANK YOU! From the bottom of our hearts. And if you have a resource to share, please do so! Any opportunity we have to connect a resource with a need, whether it’s our information or not, is a big win for us, and for YOU!

And that’s why we’re here. For you. XOXO

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Organizational Tips

5 Tips for Time Management



Time Management

Let’s face it. Being a working mom can be pretty crazy sometimes. How are you supposed to fit all of your activities into one 24 hour period, and manage to get 8 hours of sleep every night?

<Sidebar: 8 hours of sleep. Every night. Wouldn’t that be nice?>

How can we keep our time properly managed in this crazy, beautiful life we live?

The internet is filled with posts about time management and how you can achieve better time management skills. Those posts are great! I’m sure they have helped loads of working women achieve balance among chaos. Instead of compiling a list of 50+ time management tips, I figured it would be beneficial to condense my most successful time management practices into 5 easy to implement tips that every mom can benefit from!

snowflake (1)

Start Organized, Stay Organized

Keeping track of your time is more than keeping an eye on the clock. Time management starts with an organized mind. A great way to keep an organized mind is to keep track of your schedule, to-dos and other objectives with a daily schedule. You can choose to use an electronic calendar, or use a traditional pen and paper method, or even a combination of the two.

Personally, I like to use Google Calendar. Google Calendar allows me to keep order amongst chaos in so many different ways. Check out this post on 10 different ways you can use Google Calendar.

Be sure to keep your workspace organized as well. An organized work space allows the mind to stay organized by focusing on achieving your daily goals without dwelling on the clutter around you.

Say No, & Mean It

As loving and caring women, we want to provide assistance to everyone and anyone. And every once in awhile that is okay! But filling your schedule with too many appointments, too many distractions, and too many favors can be a real bummer for managing your time. Especially for things that come up at the last minute.

Recognize that it is okay to say No to something that will not benefit you or your family. It is also important to embrace the fact that saying No doesn’t mean that you do not care about others, or that you feel that your objectives are more important. It simply means that you have taken the time to evaluate the cost to benefit ratio, and have found that it might not be in your family’s best interest to add one more thing to your plate. If you have trouble saying No, be sure to check out Embracing When and How To Say No.

Create A Distraction Free Zone

Distractions are the main cause of poor time management. Distractions can be spontaneous (phone calls from a client, your toddler pouring the dog water all over the floor [again], etc), or self-induced (procrastination). A distraction free zone can help you to focus on the task at hand, and benefit from the increased productivity that will result.

In order to create a distraction free zone, start by identifying your most productive space in your home; the space where you feel like you get the most done. This could be your office, your kitchen, your porch, anywhere that you feel productive. Make this space more productive by taking steps to eliminate physical and electronic distractions.

Be sure to let your family know where your distraction free zone is, and let them know it is important to you that you remain distraction free when you are in this space (unless it is an emergency). Turn off electronic distractions by keep your phone turned off when you are in your distraction free zone. Also, be sure to turn off desktop notifications that are potentially distracting (emails, calendar reminders, and social media notifications).

If you need a little extra help staying off of social media while you are working, check out the variety of apps that will curb your social media enthusiasm, including SelfControl for Apple products, and for all platforms.


Identify Time-Vacuums In Your Life

Time-vacuums are things in your life that suck time like a Dyson sucks spilled cheerios. Time-vacuums can including meetings, social media, work tasks, and people. Yes, certain people can be a HUGE time suck for you, and can wreak havoc on your time management abilities.

By identifying these time-vacuums, you will be better equipped to keep your time-vacuums at bay, or even eliminate them completely from your life. By managing your time-vacuums, you’ll be able to keep your distraction free zone free and clear of any impending black holes that will devour your time.

Schedule Family Time & You Time

Probably the most important aspect of time management is being able to schedule time for yourself and time for your family. Be sure to schedule a little bit of detox time for yourself every day, even if it’s only 15-30 minutes of exercise, a cat nap, catching up on the latest episode of your favorite show, or stepping out to your favorite salon to get your nails touched up. You are an amazing woman, and you deserve a little bit of time to unwind!

Family running on beach holding hands smiling
Scheduling time with your family is so important to better time management. View your family time as a reward for working hard and kicking butt! Your family loves you, and they are proud of you! Keeping up with family traditions and making time to show your love and appreciation for your kids, your spouse, and other important people in your life allows you to practice an attitude of gratitude. Gratitude for your family. Gratitude for your friends. Gratitude for your beautiful life.

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