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Good day from Durban, where I have just listened to a beautiful piece of music – Johan Strauss Sr’s Radetzky March with Herbert von Karajan conducting the Vienna Philharmonic – and the audience!  It was recorded at the New Year’s concert in 1987 – but remains timeless.  Listen and watch it here.

 

What struck me was the relatively little effort Von Karajan uses to convey his message and get the orchestra and audience to respond.  Small hand movements result in big changes.

 

But that would not have been possible (I think) without having practiced it, explaining what he wants when he does what.

 

I think it is fair to say that we want to live our lives and achieve the things that really matter to us with as little effort as possible.  I mean, if you can achieve the same or better result at an effort level of 4 rather than 9 out of 10 – why not?

 

But that does not come without preparation.  Using little effort during execution requires preparation.  It requires thinking, planning and organising your work so that when it is time to execute, you are ready and get things done relatively effortlessly.

 

It’s number 7 of the 8 productivity principles our work is based on – Slow Down to Speed Up.

 

Why don’t we make this week a week of slow down to speed up, and do things at their appropriate “pace”.  Speed reading and speed typing sounds good, but speed yoga and speed meditation?

 

Look for opportunities where you can take more time at the front end and save time when it comes to doing.  In this way, you will make fewer mistakes and reduce rework.

 

Never rush to make a mistake!

 

Quote: “Stop rushing. Slow down and enjoy the beauty of life.” ― Debasish Mridha

 

What’s Happening?

Productivity Breakthrough Masterclass. I read something over the weekend that made me think – and that is maybe the reason for the creative procrastination on launching the masterclass. I will be running a BETA masterclass over a 6-week period and I want YOU to help me design in. You can participate in the beta masterclass at no cost.  The only commitment I would like from you, is that you will participate in one or two surveys and attend all 6 sessions and give feedback on what you enjoy, what you don’t like and what I can improve.  If you are keen to join, click here and I will be in touch.

 

Outlook Productivity: Public Workshops.  Get information about our public “Outlook Productivity” workshops in Cape Town, Johannesburg, Durban and Bloemfontein.

 

Outlook Productivity: Custom workshops for your company. Get information about our in-house “Outlook Productivity” workshops customised for your business.

 

Individual Productivity Coaching I would like to be your personal productivity coach to support you in achieving your productivity goals.  If you would like to discuss this possibility, click here to let me know

 

Have a fun week!

When putting in petrol yesterday, I asked the attendant why he thought all people were not millionaires.  He gave me a very interesting answer: “Because I think then we will not care for each other anymore.”

 

There may be many Rand-millionaires around, but do you think it is safe to say that there are not too many “productivity millionaires” in the workplace?  If that is true, let’s see how we can still care for each other productivity-wise.

 

See whose life you can make easier today – it does not matter what you do.  Here is a suggestion: Listen to the words that people use and when you hear unproductive statements like “I don’t have the time”, “I cannot say ‘no’”, “It has to be perfect”, or anything beginning with “I have to…”, ask the person if they usually believe a lie.  They will probably say that they don’t.  Then ask them why they believe the lie they just told you.

 

Following the general flow of the self-inquiry developed by Byron Katie, ask them if their statement is true, and help them formulate the opposite of their statement and check how things will be different if they believed the new statement.

 

You are probably familiar with a few “turn-arounds”:

 

“I have to” – “I choose to”.

 

“I don’t have the time” – “I have all the time I will ever have and choose carefully what I do with it.”

 

“It has to be perfect” – “Good enough is good enough.”

 

And take good care of yourself first.  Remember: If you don’t take charge of your life, the rest of the world will.

While strolling on the promenade on Sunday morning, the rusted guard rails caught my attention and made me think…

When they were first put up many years ago, they would most probably have been shining examples of what new guard rails should look like!

But even as their appearance changed over the years of silently making the promenade safer for people, they still fulfill that function today.  And they don’t care whether you like them or not – they still do their job.  They don’t care who you are – they still do their job.  They don’t care whether the sun is shining or whether it’s raining – they still do their job.

It’s the same with your “productivity guard rails”, or let’s call it “productivity principles”.  They will do their job whether you like them or not, irrespective of who you are and what your job title is, and they will never stop working.

For example, the principle of clarity.  You will be more effective and productive if you make your work visible and actionable.  Your Inbox is not your work – until you have processed your new emails into actions and projects which you manage in your Calendar and Task list.

Or take the productivity principle of “slow down to speed up” – people who rush (so I have read somewhere) make up to 25% more mistakes than people who don’t rush.  Never rush to make a mistake!

Or the principle of alignment: do your daily reviews, starting with revisiting your personal and business mission statements and making sure that everything on your “to do” list supports that.  If it does not, your performance will suffer.

Or the principle of completion: finish what you start, otherwise those “open loops” will come back and haunt you all the time. The same principle also “guards” you against procrastination and perfectionism.  At the end of every day, review your day and check if you have any “closing” phone calls to make or emails to send.  Carry things forward that you did not complete.

Like the guard rails, we also age over time, and may even become a bit rusty!  But by working true to the productivity principles we teach in our programmes, you can ensure optimal productivity at any age:

  • Think “productive”
  • Clarity
  • Alignment
  • Focus
  • Flexibility
  • Completion
  • Slow down to speed up
  • Continuous improvement.

To get my article “Productivity Breakthrough: 8 Work Habits to Rapidly and Sustainably Increase Productivity” in which I discuss these productivity principles, just click here to send me an email with “Article” in the subject line, and I will email it you on the same day I get your request.

Have a fun and productive week!

I have not been to Three Anchor Bay during low tide for a while, and I was happy to see lots of activity on and around the beach on Sunday.  People participating in the Super Hero Sprint (you should have seen the costumes and make-up!) and seagulls and other birds having breakfast, provided quite a spectacle!

While some of the birds were finding something to eat in the washed-up bamboo, most of them were at the water’s edge where a small wave brought some disturbance every now and then, but maybe also some fresh food!

They positioned themselves where they had the best opportunity to get what they were there for.

That made me think of the talk “Extraordinary Visions!” by Dewitt Jones, famous landscape photographer for National Geographic, that I was privileged to attend while I was with the Covey Leadership Center.

I can write a book about my experience, but I suggest you rather visit Dewitt’s web site and watch the 7-minute preview.

In creating extraordinary visions, he goes through four steps:

  • Focus the vision – celebrate what’s right with a situation, and not looking for what’s wrong.
  • Train the technique – vision without technique is blind.
  • Put yourself in the place of most potential.
  • Be open to possibilities you’ve never dreamed of – continuously finding the next right answer.

The seagulls put themselves in the place of most potential for an early morning snack!  The water’s edge had more potential than the parking lot…

Are you currently in the place of most potential to live a productive, happy and fulfilling life?

Do you have a focused vision for your personal productivity?  What will it be like when you are getting more of your “right things” done with as little effort as possible?  What will it feel like?  What will it look like?

Are you training your technique, be that how to plan and organise better, deal with email or get out from under paper overload?  Or say NO to people who are crossing your boundaries?  Or to delegate things that other people can do? You should only do what only you can do – that’s your unique contribution to your own life, your family, community and organisation.  Delegate or outsource the rest.

Are you trying new things, are you open to possibility, are you ready to look for the next right answer if something you tried did not work out the way you thought it would?

I know you will love the preview of DeWitt’s talk.  Watch it now if you can.  These 7 minutes will inspire you.

 

Quote: “By celebrating what’s right with the world, we find the energy to fix what’s wrong.”  – Dewitt Jones

What’s happening – opportunities to train your technique!

 Outlook Productivity: Public Workshops.  Get information about our public “Outlook Productivity” workshops in Cape Town, Johannesburg, Durban and Bloemfontein.

Outlook Productivity: Custom workshops for your company. Get information about our in-house “Outlook Productivity” workshops customised for your business.

Productivity Breakthrough Masterclasses. The Masterclasses are scheduled to begin in July. We will not rush through this programme, but give you enough time to understand the underlying principles (the WHAT) and then implement it (the HOW).  If you want me to keep you in the loop, just click here to let me know.

Individual Productivity Coaching I would like to be your personal productivity enhancement coach to support you in achieving your productivity goals.  If you would like to discuss this possibility, click here to let me know.

 

Have a fun week finding the next right answer!

Dying tulips

Some of the tulips that are giving me so much joy, have started shedding their petals and now just the stalks remain.  The petals have left their foothold “at the top” and have silently fallen to the table in a random pattern.

But even in this process of dying, there is beauty.  The petals are still full of colour and my table has never had such a beautiful table cloth…

You and I will also one day “lose our foothold on life”, and die.  And though our bodies will mercifully not be “on display” others will still remember us.  Not for the clothes we wore or the cars we had, or even for our academic qualifications or the amount of money we have made, or the things that we did, but for who we were as people.

Too often we end up doing, without having though deeply enough about being.

Without clarity about the person we want to be, we can live very busy lives without experiencing true productivity and happiness.

Do you have a written personal mission statement?  If so, revisit it during a quote time this week.  If not, I suggest you visit this web site and begin to develop your mission statement.

Your mission statement is a decision-making tool that enables you to say YES or NO to things.  Without it, you may well spend all your time spinning your wheels, but staying stuck in the mud.

Life is not about being busy.  Life is about doing the things that will help you to become the person you want to be.

Quote: “A mission statement is not something you write overnight… But fundamentally, your mission statement becomes your constitution, the solid expression of your vision and values. It becomes the criterion by which you measure everything else in your life.” – Stephen R Covey

I was so sorry that we did not have any rain in Cape Town over the weekend, but as a result we had the most glorious Saturday that you could ask for.  Apart from a short walk from the Sea Point swimming pool to Graaff’s Pool, I also went up Signal Hill to enjoy the view and watch paragliders launch.

It’s quite a process!

The pilot and passenger get all tied up (one pilot said to his passenger that he thinks they are both a little bit crazy, but he more than she, because he is doing it so often!) and then launch when the wind is just right, running down the slope with the aid of two runners.

And off they go…

Sometimes we have to be “a little bit crazy” to begin something we have not done before, but fortunately there is always help at hand from someone who is “a little bit crazier”, who has done it before and can guide you to do the right things at the right time and also tell you what not to do, e.g. “just keep running and do not jump”.

And don’t forget the help from people that you cannot even see properly, but without whose help you would probably not fly.

After attending our productivity workshop people sometimes have difficulty to stick to the suggested new behaviours and routines, and fall back into the old bad habits.  They find it difficult to “launch”.

If this is true for you as well, get the support of someone who has already gone that route, or even someone who, just like you, also wants to be more productive, have less interruptions, say “no” easier, focus on the job at hand and use technology more efficiently yet appropriately.

Get a “productivity buddy”, someone who you check in with daily, who can help you to stay focused and make the changes you want to make.

The check-in can be a few-minutes phone call or once a week maybe over a cup of coffee.

If you want to launch your “productivity enhancement paraglider”, get help, otherwise you may just stay stuck.

Quote: “Be strong enough to stand alone, smart enough to know when you need help, and brave enough to ask for it.” — Mark Amend

I was listening to a podcast on Saturday about “productivity”.  Alex Mandossian shared several very useful tips under the umbrella-theme of “Simplify”.

He says that overwhelm paralyzes productivity.

What can cause overwhelm?

  • Working on other people’s agendas.
  • Having too many decisions to make.
  • Having too many thing on your “To Do” list.
  • Multitasking (which we know should rather be called “Switch-tasking because we switch between activities.
  • Addiction to saying YES.
  • Fuzzy arrangements with others.
  • Having too many priorities.

On priorities, he quotes Jim Collins, author of “Good to Great”, who says that if you have more than three priorities, then you don’t have any.  This was quite a wake-up statement for me.  I stopped listening, reviewed my work, and wrote down three current business priorities.

From now on, anything that I am asked to do or get an idea about, will be filtered through my current three priorities.

I have it printed out and stuck on the wall and if something does not support those priorities, it doesn’t get done.  It’s like having a “DO NOT DO THIS” list.  This is now my (very simple) agenda.

Here’s a thought: If you do not have an “agenda” or a “mission” (personal and professional) then you can easily end up living other people’s agendas, which paralyzes your personal productivity.  Click over to the FranklinCovey Mission Statement Builder web page to begin developing your personal, family and team mission statements (or “agendas”).

Here is the thing: Once you have invested time and decided what your agenda is all about, you have already made hundreds of other decisions.

For example, Steve Jobs, by dressing the same every day, did not have to make that simple daily decision of what to wear.  It’s been said that Albert Einstein had a few versions of the same grey suit because he did not want to waste brainpower choosing an outfit every morning.  Just for fun, here are pictures of 18 famous people’s dress code.  Once the dress code has been decided – no more decisions required!

In a nutshell, simplify things.  Invest the time and energy to create your agenda/mission.  Crystallize your current three personal/business priorities.  Do only those things that are aligned with your priorities – say NO to the rest.

Take back and protect YOUR agenda!

Quotes:

“First, say to yourself what you would be; then do what you have to do.” – From “The Art of Living” by Epictetus.

“I always like to do the things that I think are right.  I am not trying to be a model, I am trying to be myself and do the right things.” – Rafael Nadal

What’s happening?

 One-on-one private productivity enhancement coaching.   I have just recently again had the privilege of working with people individually (albeit online using Skype/telephone), supporting them to enhance their individual productivity in their workplace.  I enjoy doing this, and find it extremely gratifying to see how the quality of other people’s lives improve in the process.  There is no fixed schedule or format – what we decide to work on is built around the person I work with, whether that is the CEO of a company, a budding entrepreneur or even a young adult.  If you would like to have a complimentary conversation to see if and how you could benefit, click here to let me know and I will be in touch.

Outlook Productivity: Public Workshops.  Get information about our public “Outlook Productivity” workshops in Cape Town, Johannesburg, Durban and Bloemfontein.

Outlook Productivity: Custom workshops for your company. Get information about our in-house “Outlook Productivity” workshops customised for your business.

Productivity Breakthrough Masterclasses.  This is finally coming together after a few false starts and this is now going to be the winter version!  I will shortly have everything up on a web page that you can visit and register.  In the meantime, if you want me to keep you in the loop, just click here to let me know.

Have a fun and simplified week!