Archive for July, 2015

Selective Focus

I have shared some ideas about focus in earlier memos, but I feel that yesterday’s KBL (KirstenBosch Lesson) about focus is worth thinking (and doing) about.

I’m still getting to grips with the features of the camera on my phone, and decided to try out the “Selective Focus” mode.  The instruction is: “Tap an object less than 50 cm away to focus on, then tap the Camera button to take a picture.”

SelectiveThe result, as you can see, is that “the object” is in focus and everything else is not.

A couple of things came to mind about how to use “selective focus” every day…

As my learned photography friend said after seeing the picture: “Sometimes you must only focus on one (thing).  Otherwise it is just too busy and your eyes keep wandering around all the time. What works is if one is in focus and the other (objects) are out of focus, like in this picture.”

How many things to do you have on your “To Do” list for today?  For this week?

What are you areas of focus in your life? Family, career, spiritual, financial, manager, thinker, explorer…

Do you also find that when you try and give equal attention to everything your energy and time “keeps wandering all the time”?  How could “selective focus” improve things?

Let’s talk “desk” again – how many things are on your desk right now?  Go ahead and count them.  Now apply “selective focus”: select one thing to do now, keep that on your desk and remove everything else.  Complete the task.  “For best results, repeat.”  How does it feel?

How many things are you trying to manage in your head?  Write them down and then use the “Selective Focus” mode of working on just one.

It is impossible to focus fully and intelligently on more than one thing at a time – we know multitasking is a myth.  I felt such a relief on Saturday – some admin tasks required attention, my credenza needed to be re-organised and I wanted to get into finally putting the content of our workshop into an e-learning format.  I chose the latter and for the rest of the day that was the only thing I worked on.  And when I noticed the other stuff that needed attention, I pulled a face at them and told them “not today” and was at peace with myself.

I am going to print out this picture and keep it in sight to remind me to focus on one thing at a time.

Have a fun and focused week!

Quote: “That’s been one of my mantras – focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.” – Steve Jobs

What’s happening: Just to let you know that we have revised and improved our workshop content and delivery – you can now benefit from “Productivity Breakthrough (Outlook Edition): 8 Basic Work Habits That Are Guaranteed To Skyrocket Your Productivity”. If you want me to send you the new outline and structure just click here to send me an email with 8WH in the subject line and I will send it to you by the end of business today.

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When I went outside to enjoy the 270 degree panoramic view from Table Bay to Table Mountain a few days ago, I saw that this part of Cape Town has been turned into “City of Gold by the sea”.



Just a few minutes later the sun disappeared behind the clouds and the magic was gone.

A friend of mine, who is a keen photographer, explained the “golden hour” in photography to me and Mr Google further enlightened me:  “In photography, the golden hour (sometimes known as magic hour, especially in cinematography) is a period shortly after sunrise or before sunset during which daylight is redder and softer compared to when the Sun is higher in the sky.”

It reminded me of what Tony Robbins calls “The Hour of Power” and of an article I read in FastCompany about what successful people do in their first hour the day.

This, together with my experience of the golden hour in Cape Town has given me a deeper appreciation for the value of the “productivity routines” we have included in our Productivity Breakthrough programme.  We do not include the “at home routines” but focus on what you do with your first and last 30 minutes of your day “at the office” and the last hour on a Friday as the sun sets over your work week.

These are “golden hour” opportunities that you can use to preview/review your day, align the actions in your calendar and tasks with your priorities, reflect on what you can learn from the day to make tomorrow better and to keep your self management system up to date.

I am not talking rocket science!  Just think how different things would become if you asked these questions at the end of every day: “What happened today?  What worked?  Wat did not work?  What can I learn from today that will make tomorrow better?  Who did I interact with today – any closing calls to make or emails to send?  What does tomorrow look like?  Anything I need to prepare?”

The “Good Start”, “Strong Finish” and “Weekly Productivity Pit Stop” routines are powerful, yet many people find it easy to allow other things to steal away these time slots.


I think Jim Rohn has the answer: “It doesn’t seem to matter.  A minor oversight, a poor decision or a wasted hour generally doesn’t result in an instant and measurable impact. More often than not, we escape from any immediate consequences of our deeds.”

I am more than happy to share examples of what our clients do in their morning, afternoon and weekly routines.  Happy to share that with you:  –  Click here to pop over to my web site where your article is waiting.

When you get this information, schedule 30 minutes every morning and afternoon and one hour per week to see what this can do for you.  I encourage you to ring-fence these time blocks and just do it.

You will be happy that you took advantage of these “golden hours”!

Quote:   “One of the exciting things about the formula for success—a few simple disciplines practiced every day—is that the results are almost immediate. As we voluntarily change daily errors into daily disciplines, we experience positive results in a very short period of time.” – Jim Rohn

What’s happening? Here’s an opportunity not to be missed. If increasing personal productivity is important for your company and there are more than 50 Outlook users in your company, you may qualify to join our new series of open programmes as my guest to experience and evaluate our new “Productivity Breakthrough (Outlook Edition)” workshop. Click here for the details and to apply for your seat(s).  I will be in touch within a few business days to discuss this opportunity with you.

Have a fun day.

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After my unhappy “torn and dirty menu” experience at one restaurant that I told you about last week, I went to the restaurant next door the following evening.


The menu was clean and attractive and displayed the food beautifully.  But I made “the big mistake” by ordering a steak in a restaurant that specialises in pizza and pasta.  The steak was so tough that even the manager could not cut through it. He offered me a replacement, which I accepted.  Sadly, the same thing happened


Lessons learned: The obvious one – don’t order steak in a pizza place or the other way around! 


Also: Don’t put things on your menu that you cannot deliver expertly.  It may look good to advertise that you offer pizza and pasta and steak and fish, but if you cannot consistently deliver a top quality experience then it should maybe be removed from your menu?


The same with us – it may look fantastic if you tell people that you are good at A and B and C and more, but is it not better in the long run to stick to your knitting and deliver consistently excellent work doing what you do best?


I just received an enquiry to find out if we do any training in Excel.  We have had similar requests in the past and the temptation is sometimes strong to add that to our offering but hat will take too much energy and focus away from what we are good at which is to help people implement productivity-improvement principles using Outlook as the vehicle.


We teach what we allow.  If you keep on allowing people to take advantage of your inability to say “no” and you keep on taking on work that is not your “knitting”, then you are teaching them that it’s OK.  What we allow is what will continue.  They will be back again and again.  And you will continue to scatter your energy and lose focus.


A suggestion: make a list (menu) of all the things you do during the rest of this week.  Then identify everything on the list that is not your “knitting” and decide how you are going to deal with it from next week onwards. Are you going to delegate it?  Or will you begin saying “no” to things that should not be doing? 


Or will you allow it to continue?


Quote:   “That’s been one of my mantras – focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.” – Steve Jobs


What’s happening? Public “Productivity Breakthrough (Outlook Edition)” workshops are back on the calendar in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban.  Click here to get your personal Productivity Breakthrough – see you there!


I wish you a happy and focused week!

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This week’s focus point: What a learning-rich week I had in Upington! I did a few Productivity Breakthrough workshops there and went to the Mall for something to eat in the evenings.  After sitting down at a restaurant Wednesday evening I was given the menus. The mmenuain menu (as you can see in the picture) was torn and dirty and the other menu (drinks or desserts) was dirty on the outside and on the inside it had so much dirt and “stuff” sticking together that I could scarcely open it. I called the server and asked her what would go through her mind if she received menus like these when visiting a restaurant and she said “What else is broken and dirty here?”   My thoughts exactly.  If they care so little about the state of their menus, what does the kitchen look like, and the chef, their system to supply and deliver food… Trust is replaced with doubt and suspicion. Have a quick look at the space on and around your desk.  Imagine you were looking at someone else’s desk – someone you do not know.  You are looking at their “menu”. Messy deskWhat’s the first thought that goes through your mind along the lines of “If this person’s desk looks like the one in the picture, what is their __________________ (fill in the blank) like?”  This person’s thinking?  Planning?  Organising skills?  (Self) management skills?   Would you trust this person and delegate important tasks to him/her? Would you promote him? Would you put them in charge of an important project that requires orderly planning, organising and execution? <Please note that I am not suggesting a squeaky clean empty desk but an orderly environment.> Now go back a few paragraphs, read it again and replace “their”, “them” and “him/her” etc. with “you” and “me”. If your answers are “yes”, then well done. If you don’t like what you see and feel that the “menu” your work space represents is torn and dirty, click here to send me an email, enter DESK in the subject line and I will send you some tips on creating a more productive environment.

Monday Morning Perspective:   “In the scope of a happy life, a messy desk or an overstuffed coat closet is a trivial thing, yet I find – and I hear from other people that they agree – that getting rid of clutter gives a disproportionate boost to happiness.”  – Gretchen Rubin

What’s happening? Public “Productivity Breakthrough (Outlook Edition)” workshops are back on the calendar in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban.  Click here to get your personal Productivity Breakthrough – see you there!

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