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Too much, too soon

I wouldn’t say that I was close to death, but it felt pretty much like that after I cycled for just 6 km of the 11 km circular route in Jonkershoek on a hot Saturday!  And, let me admit, a few of those kilometres were covered on foot… Thankfully, Richard came to the rescue and fetched me and his wife, Senomi…

 

Last week I was happy that I completed 10 km on my first cycle after how many years, but as I mentioned to you, that was on paved roads in a complex with just a teenie-weenie, very flat gravel section.  I thought I was ready to conquer Jonkershoek.

But it was not to be.

Too much, too soon!

It did not take me one week to become unfit – so how could I think that just by getting on a mountain bike would turn me into a super-fit human being!

I can  only speak for myself, but don’t we often fall flat if we try and implement everything we just learned at a workshop or other training event within the space of a day or two?

Too much, too soon!

It’s the same with improving our productivity, is it not?

It did not take us one day to get to our current level of productivity – yet we want to get more productive instantly.  We buy books, watch videos and TED talks about productivity.  We get all excited and want to turn everything on its head, and with one wave of the magic wand be  transformed into super-productive human beings – NOW.

Too much, too soon!

Wouldn’t you agree that a better approach would be to change one productivity habit at a time.  I recently read this statement by Bill Baren “take on less, so you can master more. You do not want to be a dabbler, you want to be a master.”

The more productivity habits you want to change at the same time, the fewer you will master.  Decide on the one you want to master, then move on to the next. If you not have it yet, you can download my article about 8 Basic Work Habits to Rapidly and Sustainably increase Your Productivity  at this link.  Pick just one (I suggest Work Habit 1) and focus on that until you feel you have mastered it.  Feel free to contact me at any of the details below with any questions.

And again…“take on less, so you can master more.”

Quote:  “Too much of anything isn’t good for anyone.”  ― Ray BradburyThe Illustrated Man

Outcome of “name survey” for my new productivity improvement programme:  The survey is now closed, and I am happy to let you know that “Productivity Mastery System” was the most popular.  I am adding the promise of “success” for those who choose to participate, and the full name will be “Productivity Mastery Success System”.  Details are still being fleshed out and the first programme kicks off in April 2018 – you can read more about it here, keeping in mind that details may change.

What’s happening?

 If you use MS Outlook, we can help in this way (click what’s applicable for you):

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.

If you and your team/company use Outlook for Mac: Click this link to let me know if you want us to contact you to use Outlook for Mac to increase productivity.

If you want to increase team productivity but without using technology, click here and I will be in touch.

Grab a fun week!

 

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Saturday morning found me driving though the fog to my friend Richard in Somerset West – not for breakfast or to bounce some ideas off him, but *drumroll please!* to get on a bike again after a good many years of noon-biking due to hip issues which included the hip replacement (thanks, Lindie!) you may be aware of.

I am happy to tell you that I completed (only) 10km riding on (very) flat paved roads with a short section of gravel.  But it’s a start!

And, as so often, the experience wanted to teach me something…

I am no expert in the area of mountain biking but after looking at Richard cycle for a bit, I suggested we stop and check if his saddle height was optimal, because he looked a bit uncomfortable.  We stopped and after about a minute we took off again, with his saddle height increased by about 3 cm.

“Hey, this is much better!”, he said, “I can feel there’s a lot more power coming from my legs now.”

1 minute.  3 cm.  A small change.  A short time.  A big positive impact.

As you venture out in the (relatively) new year,  keep in mind that small changes you make can have a big impact on your productivity, happiness and sense of fulfilment.

Keep the saying in mind: “huge doors swing on small hinges”.

Here are just a few examples to experiment with, and see how wide open your productivity doors can swing open if you install these “small hinges”:

  • Change the way you see things. Stop believing the “unproductive lies” you are telling yourself.  Things like “I don’t have the time”, “It has to be perfect”, “I am not worthy”…  Turn it around, implement it, and see what happens!
  • Slow down! People who rush make more mistakes than those who do not. This intriguing book title comes to mind: “If you don’t have the time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?”
  • Learn from every day and every experience. Ask yourself simple questions to help you extract the maximum learning from something, and use that to have a better tomorrow.  Questions like “What just happened?”, “What worked?” “What did not work?”, What could I have done differently to make it better?”

Something else that I learned from the cycling experience, was that it is so easy to tap into the same event to achieve different things.  In this case it was exercise, laughter, friendship, breakfast (only towards the end!), chatting about a few things – and learning that cycling in light rain can be fun!

All the best for making small changes that can have a major impact for you this year!

Quote: “If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” – Wayne Dyer
What’s happening?

It’s full steam ahead!  At Productivity Pit Stop we are dedicated to make your life easier and improve the quality of your life as you get your work done.

If you use MS Outlook, we can help in this way (click what’s applicable for you):

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.

If you and your team/company use Outlook for Mac: Click this link to let me know if you want us to contact you to use Outlook for Mac to increase productivity.

If you want to increase team productivity but without using technology, click here and I will be in touch.

I went to Kirstenbosch for my usual New Year’s visit today, not only to enjoy the beautiful and tranquil environment, but also to do some thinking about the year ahead.  After the little bit of rain last night, everything was so revitalised!

After writing “2018” at the top of the page, I paused and thought about what to write next.  “Goals” came to mind as a possibility, as it used to in the past.  What do I want to HAVE in the year ahead?

But then Epictetus tapped me on the shoulder, saying “Hey, Gerrit, first, say to yourself what you would be; then do what you have to do.”

First BE, then DO, and only then comes HAVE.  To quote from  the “Do-Re-Me” song from The Sound of Music, “Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start”.  And I realised again this morning that “the very beginning” is to be, not to have.

“Doing” cannot be skipped – you cannot just think “I want to be a great friend” and then enjoy the best friendships without ever doing something to make it happen!

So instead of making a list of things I want to HAVE, I wrote down what came to mind as I switched my focus from having to being.  What and how I would like to BE this year…

To look at, and reflect on, a “to-be” list instead of a “to-do” list is very different and in a sense liberating.

Why not give it a shot, and let me know how it went?

Quote: “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”  Ralph Waldo Emerson

What’s happening

 I’m stuck – please help? I am in search for the best name for the new programme I’ve told you about. Your input will help a lot!  Just follow this link to a one-click survey  (3 optional pieces of info) to let me know what you think.  All I can say is “Thank you very much!”

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.

So here we are – the last Monday of 2017.  Not a lot of 2017 left.
I wonder if the gentleman in the picture had thoughts of “not a lot of me left” after he must have somehow lost his right leg and arm.  Looking out of my window on Saturday, I saw him gathering plants on the mountain.    You should have seen him get around the mountain doing his business on his prosthesis!

I wanted to chat to him, but we did not get together.
Seeing him, made me tink of this true story, which I am just going to share with you as I first got it.
“Itzhak Perlman, the violinist, came on stage to give a concert at Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center in New York City. If you have ever been to a Perlman concert, you know that getting on stage is no small achievement for him. He was stricken with polio.

To see him walk across the stage one step at a time, painfully and slowly, is an unforgettable sight. He walks painfully, yet majestically, until he reaches his chair. Then he sits down, slowly, puts his crutches on the floor, undoes the clasps on his legs, tucks one foot back and extends the other foot forward. 

Then he bends down and picks up the violin, puts it under his chin, nods to the conductor and proceeds to play. By now, the audience is used to this ritual. They sit quietly while he makes his way across the stage to his chair. They remain reverently silent while he undoes the clasps on his legs. They wait until he is ready to play. 

But this time, something went wrong. Just as he finished the first few bars, one of the strings on his violin broke. You could hear it snap – it went off like gunfire across the room. There was no mistaking what that sound meant. There was no mistaking what he had to do.  People who were there that night thought to themselves: “We figured that he would have to get up, put on the clasps again, pick up the crutches and limp his way off stage – to either find another violin or else find another string for this one.” 

But he didn’t. Instead, he waited a moment, closed his eyes and then signaled the conductor to begin again. The orchestra began, and he played from where he had left off. And he played with such passion and such power and such purity as they had never heard before. Of course, anyone knows that it is impossible to play a symphonic work with just three strings. I know that, and you know that, but that night Itzhak Perlman refused to know that. 

You could see him modulating, changing, recomposing the piece in his head. At one point, it sounded like he was de-tuning the strings to get new sounds from them that they had never made before. When he finished, there was an awesome silence in the room. And then people rose and cheered. There was an extraordinary outburst of applause from every corner of the auditorium. We were all on our feet, screaming and cheering, doing everything we could to show how much we appreciated what he had done. 

He smiled, wiped the sweat from this brow, raised his bow to quiet us, and then he said, not boastfully, but in a quiet, pensive, reverent tone, “You know, sometimes it is the artist’s task to find out how much music you can still make with what you have left.” 

What a powerful line that is. It has stayed in my mind ever since I heard it. And who knows? Perhaps that is the [way] of life – not just for artists but for all of us. So, perhaps our task in this shaky, fast-changing, bewildering world in which we live is to make music, at first with all that we have, and then, when that is no longer possible, to make music with what we have left.  (Jack Riemer, Houston Chronicle)”

Let’s taek courage from these two examples and live life with whatever we have left!

I wish you a Merry Christmas, and let’s talk again in the New Year.

Have a fun time!

Last week I received an email from Bill Baren, in which he shared a concept that I have already adopted.  And, like most powerful things, it is very simple.

Every year, he creates a personal theme for the new year.  His theme for 2018 is “Year of YES”, and he talks more about it in this post, which I recommend you read (you can safely ignore everything else on his page!).

To quote Bill: “The “container” that a theme creates for your year is super powerful. It shapes how you see, how you think, and what you DO.”

I followed the process he suggested, and my personal theme for 2018 is “Year of Completion”.   I have a few projects in a state of incompletion – things that I have wanted to do for a while, but never succeeded in completing.  For example, to create a compilation of my Monday Memos and publish it as an e-book.  Now it is time to decide: do it or dump it.

Here is an example of how this theme has guided one of my choices on Sunday.  As I was leaving Kirstenbosch, I could turn left and go back home the same way I came, or I could turn right and travel back to town via Hout Bay.

I’ve been promising myself for a while now that I will take a drive on Chapman’s Peak to enjoy the view towards Hout Bay.   So, being guided by my new personal theme of “completion”, and even though the wind there was blowing as if it is going out of fashion, I made a right turn and am so happy that I acted on my promise to myself, and brought completion to what I have been wanting to do for while.

Good feeling!

For me, “completion” touches a slightly different nerve than to stop “procrastination”.  The focus and motivation feels different and more positive.  It may essentially be the same thing, but “Year of Completion” just sounds better to me than “Year of Stopping Procrastination”.  Procrastination is a behaviour, while completion is a need (again – just my view).

The Zeigarnik Effect is the tendency to experience intrusive thoughts about an objective that was once pursued and left incomplete.  Have you experienced the same phenomenon?  How did it impact your productivity?

Observations about the Zeigarnik effect and your productivity:

“Since we experience intrusive thoughts about uncompleted tasks, the key to productivity is working in focused periods of time, while avoiding multi-tasking and disruptions. Getting a task done means peace of mind, while the intrusive thoughts mean that you will experience anxiety when leaving a task unfinished to focus on something else.” (Alina Vrabie).

“When you start a task but you’re unable to finish it, you tend to remember it and keep thinking about it. This distracts you even when you try to move onto something else.  Constantly thinking about unfinished tasks tends to cause people stress, making them unable to fully focus on a new task. This hinders their ability to work efficiently.“ (Kari)

A few closing (!) thoughts:

  • Don’t multitask – it kills productivity.
  • Minimise interruptions and distractions.
  • After reading Bill’s post, you may want to craft your own personal theme for 2018.

Have fun till next time!

 

What’s happening?

Productivity Mastery: The central theme for this programme is to create, live and enjoy a productive, happy and fulfilling life. It will be a virtual programme of 8 weeks, using a mix of coaching and leaning methodologies, and will be delivered through group and individual sessions for groups of 4-6 people at a time.

If your current reality includes things like uncertainty about what truly matters to you, where you are at in your life, not having a personal/familiy purpose statement, not being crystal clear about your values, fuzziness about who and what you would like to become, and also everyday things like email overload, interruptions, distractions, too much to do and not enough time, inability to adapt to changes in your context, not having enough time for yourself and your family – then you will benefit by participating in this programme which delivers a time-proven system focusing first who you want to be and become, and then on doing what needs to be done to get there.

For more information, click this link to send me an email , and I will keep you in the loop.

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.

 

 

So the Blitzbokke were eliminated 12-19 by New Zealand in the one semi-final at the Sevens tournament in Cape Town on Sunday.  To us the language of News24, “Mass exit at CT Stadium after Blitzboks knocked out in semis…hours before the final.”

Why did they leave?

Deon Viljoen and I had a fascinating conversation on the Friday before the game, and he introduced me to the thinking and work of Mike Dooley, and The Matrix reproduced below from Mike’s web site.

In my limited understanding, one should attach to things on the left-hand side of the matrix and detach from things on the right-hand side of the matrix – things that are dependent on time, space, matter or others to various degrees.

Back to the rugby – what did the people who left the stadium attach to within the context of the event for which they probably paid good money?  To a specific outcome that was beyond their control (e.g. the Blitzboks to win the title in front of their home crowd) or to having a good experience with friends while at the same time enjoying some good quality Sevens rugby?

On which side of The Matrix are the things you are attached to?  Are you attached to driving a certain type of car, living in a specific city or town, being or becoming a millionaire or working in a specific organisation?  Or are you attached to something like living a productive, happy and fulfilling life?

Let me share these thoughts with you from Mike’s web site, as the quote for today:

Quote: “When your dreams or ‘end results’ are stated generally, in broad brush strokes, like wealth and abundance, friends and laughter, health and harmony, then please, by all means, attach yourself to them. Attach, attach, attach. There is no limit to what you can have and no reason to expect anything less.

But when your end results are specific, like the ultimate car, a hot date, or a home in the country, do not attach, do not attach, do not attach.

Material details and specifics are always ‘how’ to get to a grander picture of your life and are never important in and of themselves. They’re ‘cursed hows’ disguised as end results. Steps disguised as destinations. By all means, think of them, put them in your scrapbook or on your visionboard to remind yourself of the kind of possessions and adventures that are your birthright. But do not give them any importance, through attachment, greater than what you are truly after: a fuller, richer life with all cups running over, the details of which will take care of themselves when this is your end result.

Know the ‘wows,’ not the ‘hows.’  “ – Mike Dooley

What’s happening?

Productivity Mastery: The central theme for this programme is to create, live and enjoy a productive, happy and fulfilling life. It will be a virtual programme of 8 weeks, using a mix of coaching and leaning methodologies, and will be delivered through group and individual sessions for groups of 4-6 people at a time.

If your current reality includes things like uncertainty about what truly matters to you, where you are at in your life, not having a personal/familiy purpose statement, not being crystal clear about your values, fuzziness about who and what you would like to become, and also everyday things like email overload, interruptions, distractions, too much to do and not enough time, inability to adapt to changes in your context, not having enough time for yourself and your family – then you will benefit by participating in this programme which delivers a time-proven system focusing first who you want to be and become, and then on doing what needs to be done to get there.

For more information, click this link to send me an email , and I will keep you in the loop.

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.

According to Gardening Know How, gardenias are notoriously tricky to coax into bloom, but it can be done.

I have a gardenia bush in a pot outside on the stoep, and it took a bit of a beating the last few months with strong winds and also a few pests that made themselves at home.  The whole plant looked very dead, but it responded extremely well after I treated it following the advice of a very helpful lady at Stark-Ayres in Rosebank (Cape Town’s Rosebank).

There are about 20 beautiful flowers at the moment and another 15 to open in the next few days.

Apparently it blooms on new growth, so my almost dead plant must have been the right place for that to happen after I pruned it a bit!

The flowers will give me joy for a while with their beauty and fragrance, and then they will die, and provided I take good care of them, next year this time the flowers will be back.

Fortunately you and I don’t die every year!  But maybe we should “kind of” die to give ourselves the opportunity to become revitalised and produce new growth.  The gardenia does not keep on flowering year in and year out without taking an annual break.

The “big annual South African break” (commercialised and exploited since October by some retail operations) is almost upon us.  What are your plans to stop “blooming” for the year and refresh and revitalise yourself?

People often complain that there is so much going on in their lives so that hey have lots to do and not enough time.  Does it have to be that way, or are we overloading ourselves with unnecessary “stuff”?

Maybe not a bad idea to pack your virtual pruning shears and cut away the things that are sapping your energy.   To quote Bernice Ross: “Whether you’re pruning your trees or your life, you prune first for strength and second for form.

When pruning for strength, begin by looking for habits, patterns, decisions, and choices that rob you of your energy, confidence, or emotional well being.

For example, is there an activity you feel you “should” do, yet the activity saps your strength and no longer serves any useful purpose?   Has your life taken a direction that no longer supports you? If so, it’s much like a large branch growing over the neighbour’s fence. If you don’t cut it off, eventually there’s going to be a problem.

The sooner you take care of cutting away the “erring branch,” the less likely you are to have difficulties.”

While on the topic of shearing, what can you learn from sheep shearing?

(NOTE: Shear Sheep for the Productivity of the Animal (GC: I always thought he main reason for shearing sheep was to get the wool!)

  • Shearing is generally carried out in the spring, so sheep don’t become overheated in the summer.
  • A long fleece is likely to become dirty and drag along the ground, increasing the possibility of flystrike.
  • A bulky fleece decreases the mobility of sheep.
  • In HOT weather, sheep with too much wool are extremely susceptible to heat stress!!
  • Shearing keeps stained wool and mud-contaminated wool separate from new fleece growth.

Be bold between now and when you kick off the new year, and let the shears go click, click click!

Quote: “Everything has seasons, and we have to be able to recognize when something’s time has passed and be able to move into the next season. Everything that is alive requires pruning as well, which is a great metaphor for endings.” –  Henry Cloud

What’s happening?

Productivity Mastery: Group Coaching Programme: The start date for the first 8-week programme of 2018 is planned for 23 January.  Only 4-6 people per group on this virtual programme which has the central theme of living a productive, happy and fulfilling life.

For more information, click this link to send me an email , and I will keep you in the loop.

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.