October 28, 2016
It’s been half-term for my kids which generally means it’s bit of a mixed week between work and other things…one of which has been getting my driveway done.
Before you get in any way impressed I should confess that my neighbour is a landscape gardener who’s been doing his own driveway…and I’ve just piggy-backed onto his project!
Without going into the whole shebang in great detail, a couple of things have stood out to me as the project neared completion.
I had a go at some aspects of the work on my own, with my own tools. It involved a couple of evenings well beyond the fall of darkness and some severely sore legs from all the crouching down.
Then I would watch the expert. He had the right tools and (more than) a bit of know-how and the difference in how quick and how well things got done was incredible. A circular saw instead of a hand-saw. A petrol whacker-plate. An open-backed Transit instead of my family-wagon with the seats down. I could go on.
The difference in progress (productivity) between me on my own – getting there but it’s a hard slog – and the expert with the right tools and plenty of experience was immense.
Leading people, teams and organisations can be much like this. You can get it done by instinct, common sense and what you’ve picked up from others along the way or get in the right tools, with some expert guidance and see much better results with less toil and in less time.
I share loads of these kinds of tools for free (one complimentary place for the first person from any organisation) at the Foundations of Success workshop. If you, like me with my driveway, know some help would make a huge difference, you’re very welcome to get along.
October 14, 2016
You’ll no doubt be familiar with most of the common ways that are suggested to help you improve your productivity. Things like:
- Don’t multitask; land one plane at a time
- Switch off email alerts (If you’ve worked with me you’ll know I’m quite insistent about this)!
- Start with planning your day / week / month rather than just launching into ‘doing’
These are all great and loads of my work is helping busy managers and leaders improve their productive use of time. It is still the biggest pressure that so many people face at work and it’s no small issue outside of work too.
I have also stumbled across some far less conventional ways of getting more done that are worthy of your consideration. You may find one or more of them helpful, and if not helpful, perhaps at least interesting! Waiting over. My three juicy nuggets of wisdom are:
Plan some messing about time!
Do something deliberately slowly.
Stop and chat for longer than usual.
- Plan some messing about time! If you have things you’re interested in but aren’t crucial to your work at hand, keep a list and schedule some down time (not loads) casually playing / learning / experimenting / reading etc…generally just satisfying that interest. Sometimes brilliant new ideas come from these times. It will also help focus you on the more serious work for the rest of the day
- Do something deliberately slowly. Think of something important that has many options and requires your thought and creativity. Decide how long it should take. Then double it. Deliberately take it slowly. Explore every option. Discuss every possible outcome. Pretend that there’s no hurry at all. You might uncover some gold that otherwise would have remained lost forever.
- Stop and chat for longer than usual. “Grab a quick coffee, quick chat…and straight back to it.” Most of the time that mantra may be spot on. However, the discerning amongst you will sometimes recognise the time that this one conversation could lead somewhere. It might just open a door, solve a problem or reveal an opportunity if given the chance.
Have a great day. Perhaps do a little less, a little slower….just this once!
September 9, 2016
We often define change that we’d like to see, even implement change in a positive way. But how many times do things waver or even completely disintegrate so that 2 years, 2 months, even 2 weeks later, the initial enthusiasm and adherence of the new way has evaporated and things are back the way there were before.
In this video, taken from the Foundations of Success Workshop, I share one of LMI’s foundational concepts – the critical importance of securing lasting change through spaced repetition.
September 6, 2016
Today is my kids’ first day back at school and my second day back at work after returning from our holiday some silly time in the middle of Sunday night!
After time away, do you ever experience the “who am I and what do I do here” feeling? I certainly do! There’s the horrible discomfort that comes from being out of the habit: the work habit or the school habit…or the exercise habit, or whatever. It’s why we can often feel like we need a holiday just a few days after coming back from one!
The trick is to get straight back into starting and ending well. If you do that bit, the middle will mostly take care of itself. Avoid the temptation to put aside all those good disciplines. Make a list – yes, physically write it down! – of all the positive actions that have helped you stay productive in the past and make a bigger-than-usual effort to make sure those things happen again from day 1.
Get straight back into your ten magic minutes habit – review your goals, make a plan, schedule important tasks. Set an end point.
Re-establish your end-of-day routine. Review what’s gone well. Record today’s victories. Transfer unfinished tasks. .
This start well / end well mantra works! In fact, it works like a dream and you can apply it not just to organising your day, but to almost everything you’re involved with – staff one-to-one’s, monthly team meetings..the list goes on.
Decide how to start and how to finish. Do that routinely and the bit in the middle goes better and better!
Have a great start to autumn!
May 10, 2016
Let’s say that I work 50 hours on average. Most work about 40. I often meet people who work 60.
In a working day it may not always be possible amidst the many and varied demands that come my way to carve out an hour or two to invest in some important new project, or to meet with an interesting new contact to explore exciting possibilities. In a week though, it’s always possible. That is why I love weeks!
Let’s say that I sleep 8 hours a night. I rarely do. Neither do most people I ask about this. Six or seven seems to be usual.
If I do sleep 8 though, that’s 56 hours each week just laying back and catching some zzzzz’s. And I work 50 hours remember, so that’s 106 of my 168 hours already taken. Blimey, I still have (quick bit of maths…sneak out the calculator while no-one’s looking…168 – 50 – 56 = ) 62 hours each week to do other things with that aren’t working or sleeping. Of course lots is spent doing all those things that need to happen just to keep life going, but can I find one or two hours amongst those 62 (or 52 if you work 60 hours….or 42 if you work 70 hours) to invest in something meaningful that will make my world a better, happier place? I definitely can. That is why I love weeks!
May 3, 2016
This is the start of a new topic that’s been on my mind for a while and I’ve just begun writing. I hope you enjoy. Feel free to join in using #Mission168 if you find it interesting and worth sharing!
There are 168 hours in a week. You may already know this. There are 52 weeks in a year. That’s 52 defined sets of 168 hours, every year for our entire lives.
This is why a week is my favourite block of time.
Months are good, but there just aren’t enough of them to create the same sense of rapid progress and achievement.
Days are good. There are loads of them. But they come and go so quickly, and there are so many variables on any given day that can lead to ending a day far from where you had intended to be.
Weeks, though, tend to be long enough periods of time to be reasonably predictable in the kinds of things going on and the amount of time I might have available to achieve something significant, but short enough to still feel like a new one is just round the corner, offering a fresh start and the promise of new opportunity.
This is why I think working in weeks is a good thing. I’d love to hear your thoughts too as this series unfolds.