Archive for May, 2015

I was intrigued by the “Trellis Garden” in the Singapore Botanic Garden during my recent visit.  To quote from the sign, it “showcases the … climber collection.  Climbers are plants that require support in order to grow upwards to harvest sunlight.”

It made me think of you and me.  We are “climbers” in our lives and want to harvest our sunshine.  And we need support.

It also made me think about how we go about getting our “sunshine”.  We set goals and plan our days and weeks in our diaries and because there so many things we want to do and achieve we make the mistakes of overloading our calendars.

Look at the first picture below:  The trellis structure is not solid – it is a framework with lots of open space to enable the climber to climb and have air and sunshine and to develop into a beautiful showpiece over time, like in the second picture.  This would not have been possible with a solid framework.


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I like the concept of “trellis time management” – when you plan your day or your week, leave lots of open space in your calendar so that life can happen on the fly and you have space to adapt to changing realities and new opportunities.  Eliminate back-to-back meetings.  Don’t be rigid.  Free up time.  Jeff Weiner, CEO of LinkedIn, calls it “the importance of scheduling nothing”.  He schedules nothing for 90 minutes to two hours every day.

Your calendar for the week should look like the first picture above – it provides the framework for your week to “climb” and give you sunshine.

At the end of the week take a look and review what worked, what didn’t work, and get out your pruning shears to trim back activities that took you nowhere are grew so wildly that they distract from the beautiful shape of your climber for the week.

Perspective: “There is no faster way to feel as though your day is not your own, and that you are no longer in control, than scheduling meetings back to back from the minute you arrive at the office until the moment you leave. I’ve felt the effects of this and seen it with colleagues. Not only is it not fun to feel this way, it’s not sustainable.” – Jeff Weiner

What’s happening? I am in the process of creating a private, members only “Productivity Club”.  Details to follow, but in essence it will be an online space where, you can join the club for a small monthly fee and enjoy benefits like free access to all my online teleseminars and webinars that non-members pay for, discounts for specific services, regular interviews with people from who you can take tips and lessons that relate to living a productive, happy and fulfilling life and also to help you improve productivity in your team.  There will also be a members’ forum where you can interact with club members and even set up your own mastermind groups.   If you would like to be kept up to date with this development, click here to let me know.  Thanks!

Enjoy your next stab at “trellis life management”!


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I found real soul-food Sunday morning in (you guessed it) Kirstenbosch… On Saturday I enjoyed “body and mind” food with my brothers and sisters when we got together for my birthday celebration over the weekend (the 65th so I guess I have now formally joined the ranks of the retire-able crowd in SA!).  

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Walking on one of  the pathways, I noticed some rather big rocks that prevented the construction team to create a “straight and easy” path.

Why were they left in place and not removed?  I don’t know the answer, but it might be something like “These rocks are too big to move!  Let’s accept them, work around them and use them to our advantage rather than try and remove them.”

In our everyday lives at home and at the office we often encounter problems/challenges.  Some we can deal with – and even resolve- but at times it might just be easier to accept challenging things as part of the landscape, leave them where they are, and then work around them and use them creatively to our advantage, rather than wasting energy and time trying to change something we cannot change anyway.

Use challenges (like these rocks) as focal points in the landscape of your life, incorporate them into your reality and enjoy the result.

Monday Morning Perspective: “Happiness is not the absence of problems; it’s the ability to deal with them.”  – Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free


Have a fun week!

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Last week at “Swan Lake” in the Singapore Botanic Garden, I noticed people throwing what looked like bread into the lake.  Needless to say that it attracted (by prior conditioning) many turtles and fish to gather in that area.

It struck me that these animals were kept in a state of dependence for as long as they were being fed.  They just hang around and come back for more when a new bunch of feeders arrive.

It made me think of the power games people can play in any environment, be it in the office or at home, especially when delegating work.

They keep other people dependent on them by not “teaching them how to fish” but by feeding them bits of information at a time – but not enough to enable the other person to go away and do what they have to do.  In this way they come back for more and then yet for more information. Maybe the person delegating or giving the information, in some funny way gets a kick out of having people coming back to them and approach them as a “centre of knowledge and wisdom”, keeping the other person in a dependent mode.

What a waste!  When you ask someone to help you with something, spend more time and use the framework of the Win-Win Agreement, popularised by Stephen Covey in his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Visit this link for guidance on writing this agreement.

Using this tool you clarify up front:

  • Desired Results
  • Guidelines
  • Resources
  • Accountability
  • Consequences

Both parties make sure they are crystal clear about the agreement, and from that moment onwards the agreement manages – you don’t have to keep feeding the other person.

Make them independent of your morsels of information.

Try it – it works!

Monday Morning Perspective: “Surround yourself with the best people you can find, delegate authority, and don’t interfere as long as the policy you’ve decided upon is being carried out.”  – Ronald Reagan

What’s happening?  Interested in attending a public Productivity Breakthrough (Outlook Edition) workshop?  Please click through to this 30 second 5-field survey to let me know   Thanks!

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It struck me on the flight to Singapore last week, and also at the taxi rank at the airport, that context is everything in terms of “pecking order” and priorities.

It does not matter if you are a big boss in your business – when the air stewardess asks you to put your seat upright during a meal, you do it.  And at the taxi rank, when the lady holds out her hand to tell you to wait in line, that’s what you do.  And she will tell you which taxi to take – it has nothing to do with who you are, how many children you have or what your job title or academic qualification is.That’s appropriate for the context you are in.  When the context changes and the lady at the taxi rank comes to work in your business the roles change.

The same with your everyday living.Your context helps you make the right choices in the moment.  Right now you are reading this memo and all is OK but if a fire breaks out in your office, I am sure that change in context will make you choose differently!

I think this make a case for awareness during your working day, time after work and for your entire life.  Be guided by the questions I learned from David “Getting Things Done” Allen.  The best thing to do right now is not driven by A, B, C, D or E priorities but by:

  • where you are (you cannot mow the lawn if you are not at home, even if it is priority AAA)
  • how much time you have (in the same place you might choose to different things with 10 or 100 minutes available).
  • your energy level (better not to do your most strategic tasks when your batteries are flat – rather do filing or water the plants).
  • your current priorities.

If the lady in the taxi rank context can tell you what to do, so can your changing context during the course of a day.

Happy prioritising!

Perspective: The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” – Stephen R. Covey

What’s happening?  I have received a number of requests to offer our “reworked” and upgraded Productivity Breakthrough (Outlook Edition) workshop as a public workshop.  I would like to get a feel for the level of interest.  Please click through to this 30 second 5-field survey to let me know – only if you are interested!  Many thanks.

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