Feeds:
Posts

Archive for February, 2016

I enjoyed coming back to Cape Town yesterday after three very enjoyable days with clients in Pretoria and Johannesburg. I always book a window seat so I can get one of the best views in the world – Table Mountain, Table Bay, Robben Island…

2016-02-28 17.37.37-2I knew I was back home when I heard helicopters flying by, and when I went outside to see them water bombing yet another fire on the slopes of Devil’s Peak.   I take my hat off to the pilots, not only for the precision of both their timing and target area, but also for being completely focused in the moment and yet to be fully aware of their surroundings without being distracted.

I am sure that they have mastered this skill by many hours of training and practice and not by watching a video or reading a book about it.

Is it not the same way for you and me as well?  We tend to read books, watch videos, search the internet and even attend a workshop about improving productivity and then think we are OK.  While these things can create a Productivity Breakthrough (i.e. gaining a productive insight; making an important discovery), we still need to put in the time to become a “Productivity Master”.

I paraphrase from the book “The ONE Thing” by Gary Keller: “Mastery is a commitment to becoming your best, so to achieve extraordinary results you must embrace the extraordinary effort it represents.  Mastery is a path you go down instead of a destination you arrive at.  Mastery is a way of thinking, a way of acting, and a journey you experience, learning and re-learning the basics on a never-ending journey of greater experience and expertise.  Mastery actually means… we become masters of what is behind us and apprentices for what is ahead.  Expertise tracks with hours invested.”

Last week I suggested you do a daily review just before leaving the office.  Do it every day and you will be well on your way to becoming a “productivity black belt”.    You have to work at doing the basic “productivity moves” better and better.  It does not come overnight but only with time and regular practice.

Practice saying “no”.  Practice delegation.  Practice blocking off time for yourself in your Calendar.  Practice your daily review.  Practice batch processing your email.  Practice having a productive mind-set.

The time you invest in practicing will pay back in Spades as you become a master of your own productivity improvement journey and “water bomb” the fires that are burning up your productive time.

Enjoy!

Quote: “As you progress along the path of mastery, both your self-confidence and your success competence will grow.” – Gary Keller.

What’s happening?

2016 public workshops: “Productivity Breakthrough: 8 Basic Work Habits of Exceptionally Productive People (Outlook Edition)”

In-house Productivity Breakthrough workshops customised for your team.

I’ve been thinking of developing a Productivity Mastery Group Coaching Programme for teams and other groups in organisations.  Details still to be fleshed out, but if you would like me to keep you in the loop, just click here to let me know.

Have a super week.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

I had such an interesting week last week while visiting clients in Marquard and the Christiana district.  In the unlikely event that you don’t know where these towns are, here is a map (Pardon the low quality).

map2

I learned a few things during my travels.

One is that the same productivity principles work for everyone no matter the industry and geographical location.  In the office in a city or in a potato field or at a feedlot, the same things help the people and teams in the business to improve their productivity.

Another one is that knowledge of the kind of roads you will be driving on helps you to choose the most appropriate vehicle for those conditions.  When we were finalising the arrangements for the Christiana visit, my host strongly advised me against hiring a car and driving the 200km or so, and said that he would rather come and pick me up with his bakkie.

This was a good thing, because the gravel roads that we took must be the laboratory where all shapes and sizes of potholes are designed and tested.  With a small rental car, I would probably have had four flat tyres within a few kilometres!

What’s the point?

When you know what lies ahead, you can choose the most appropriate tools to get the job done with as little effort (and risk) as possible.

Every day and every week, visit your calendar and look ahead at the next day and week and visualize the “road ahead”.  Will it be smooth or corrugated?  Any “potholes”?  What’s the worst thing that can happen and how can I prepare for that?

If you are not yet in  the habit of doing a quick review at the end of every day (probably won’t take more than 10 minutes), pause before you leave the office and ask:

  • What happened today?  What worked?  What did not work?
  • What can I learn from today to make tomorrow better?
  • Who did I interact with today?  Any “closing the loop” calls to make or emails to send?
  • Have a look ahead at the next day and the rest of the week (or the next 7 days) and evaluate “the expected quality of the road ahead” using the questions mentioned earlier.  Are you ready and prepared? Then choose your best approach (the “tools”) for the road ahead.

In this way there will be fewer unpleasant surprises and you will have a smoother ride.

By the way, that bakkie went through and over potholes as if they barely existed – all due to having the right tool for the job!

Quote: As my Daddy often reminded me growing up on our farm in Nebraska, ‘Half of any job is having the right tools.’ – Barbara Hemphill

What’s happening?

2016 public workshops: “Productivity Breakthrough: 8 Basic Work Habits of Exceptionally Productive People (Outlook Edition)”

In-house Productivity Breakthrough workshops customised for your team.

I’ve been thinking of developing a Productivity Mastery Group Coaching Programme for teams and other groups in organisations.  Details still to be fleshed out, but if you would like me to keep you in the loop, just click here to let me know.

Grab a fun week!

Read Full Post »

Wednesday, as I was returning home after a very good one-on-one productivity coaching session with a client, I wanted to get some food from the shop up the road. No problem – except that the parking lot was full and I had to pull up against the pavement some 50 meters away.

I got what I needed, got back in my car and pulled away.  Only to hear from the left front wheel that I had a flat tyre!  I parked so close to the pavement that I punctured the tyre. It was hot and I was parked on an incline, and I now had to change the wheel.

I started the process and after maybe 5 minutes a young lady stopped and asked: “Do you need any help?”  Hey, I might be 65 but I don’t need help from a young lady to change a wheel!   I declined her offer of help.

I got the wheel with the flat tyre off the whatever-that-thing-is-called, when a guy walked by and asked: “Can I help?”  Again I declined.  I can do this!

Then the angel of the day arrived…  He did not ask if he can help or if I needed any help.  He just said: “Let me help you.”

“Thanks!”, I said and within a few minutes the job was done.

To get things done, sometimes we just have to say “Yes, thank you”, when assistance is offered, rather than struggling along, wasting time and energy in the process.

And when you see someone in need of help, and if you know you can help, don’t ask if you can help.  Just say: “Let me help you” and dive right in.

Let’s get real, and get things done with less effort by accepting help and giving help.

What’s happening?

2016 public workshops: “Productivity Breakthrough: 8 Basic Work Habits of Exceptionally Productive People (Outlook Edition)”

In-house Productivity Breakthrough workshops customised for your team.

I’ve been thinking of developing a Productivity Mastery Group Coaching Programme for teams and other groups in organisations.  Details still to be fleshed out, but if you would like me to keep you in the loop, just click here to let me know.

Grab a fun week!

Read Full Post »

A few days ago I saw a number of “cleaning staff” of the City of Cape Town clean up the beach at Milton and also Three Anchor Bay.   Not only were they picking up plastic bottles and other stuff that people left behind, but also the sea bamboo that was washed ashore.

Thank you to these people who regularly do this work to ensure a clean environment.

This is not a job that is done just once, but probably at least once a week.  Regular maintenance is required.

The same goes for our lives.  At least once a week we should “clean up” our calendars and task lists to make sure that it is kept current and uncluttered.  Only when your system is current your mind will trust it to give back the right information at the right time.

Take some time on a Friday afternoon to do a “weekly review”.  Not only will you feel more in control of things, knowing that everything is up to date and that you are ready for the new week, but you will also be more relaxed and give yourself a better chance to “be in the weekend” more fully.

David Allen, author of Getting Things Done, suggests the following steps.

 

Loose papers Pull out all scraps of paper, business cards, receipts, and miscellaneous paper. Put into in-basket to process
Process your notes Review any “Journal/Notes” types of entries, meeting notes, and miscellaneous notes scribbled on notebook paper. Decide and enter action items, projects, waiting-for’s, etc. as appropriate
Previous calendar data Review past calendar in detail for remaining action items, reference data, etc. and transfer into my active system.
Upcoming calendar Review upcoming calendar events – long and short term. Capture actions triggered.
Empty my head Put in writing (in appropriate categories) any new projects, action items, waiting-for’s, someday-maybe’s, etc. not yet captured.
Review project lists Evaluate status of projects, goals and outcomes, one by one, ensuring at least one current action item on each. Browse through work-in-progress support material to trigger new actions, completions, waiting-for’s, etc.
Review action lists (Phone calls, things to do at home, emails to send etc.) Mark off completed actions. Review for reminders of further action steps to record.
Review “Follow Up” list Record appropriate actions for any needed follow-up. Check off completed ones.
Review Someday/Maybe list (“Bucket List”) Review for any projects, which may now have become active, and transfer to “Projects.” Delete items no longer of interest.

Take just 20 minutes this Friday to work through these steps – you will be glad that you did!

What’s happening?

2016 public workshops: “Productivity Breakthrough: 8 Basic Work Habits of Exceptionally Productive People (Outlook Edition)”

In-house Productivity Breakthrough workshops customised for your team.

I’ve been thinking of developing a Productivity Mastery Group Coaching Programme for teams and other groups in organisations.  Details still to be fleshed out, but if you would like me to keep you in the loop, just click here to let me know.

Have a fun week!

 

Read Full Post »

After spending the most of last week in Pretoria and Johannesburg, I was happy to visit the Sea Point promenade again this morning, where I was given many thoughts to share with you.

specAs I was walking back to my car, the sun was just starting to “de-mist-ify” the area.  I was looking at the controversial Perceiving Freedom sunglass sculpture when sunlight was reflected from windows in a building behind it, as you can see in the picture.

It made me think that even if you have the biggest and best pair of spectacles, you still won’t be able to see clearly in misty conditions – you can only see clearly when the mist is gone.

One of the things that came up again in the workshop I did in Pretoria last week (thanks, Ian and your team!) was the value of a very simple exercise that is called the “mind dump” or “mind sweep”. It clears the “mist” from your mind when you take as little as 5 minutes to jot down everything that comes up in your mind while doing this exercise.

Although some people feel overwhelmed after the exercise, most have a feeling of relief and of being more in control and organised.  This simple exercise takes things out of your head and into your system  You can have the brightest mind but if it’s misty you can’t think clearly..

I suggest you take a few minutes right now to do your mind dump.  Grab a piece of paper, open a Word document or a Task in Outlook and follow these guidelines:

  • write down anything and everything that comes up in your mind
  • everything goes, from the smallest thing to the biggest
  • don’t separate personal and business – just write as it comes up
  • write as fast as you can
  • don’t worry about spelling
  • don’t be “organised” here – this is not the place for 1, 1.1 etc.
  • don’t judge anything that shows up
  • don’t even wonder if you already have it on some other list, just write it down.

Then send and email to ne at gerrit@789.co.za to let me know how you feel.

Your next step is to take each item on the list and identify what the very next thing is that you need to do about it, and manage that action in your calendar or task list.

I can guarantee you that you will get rid of some stress and be more in control of things.

One of the nicest emails I ever received after a workshop was from a lady who said that she took almost the entire evening after the session and did a mind dump like you cannot believe – and for the first time in many months, she had a night of uninterrupted sleep.

You owe this to yourself.  Do it now for the first time, and then every day just before you leave for home, take a few minutes and do your mind dump.  You will be so glad that you did.

Quote: “Calm mind brings inner strength and self-confidence, so that’s very important for good health.”  –  Dalai Lama

What’s happening?

2016 public workshops: “Productivity Breakthrough: 8 Basic Work Habits of Exceptionally Productive People (Outlook Edition)”

In-house Productivity Breakthrough workshops customised for your team.

I’ve been thinking of developing a Productivity Mastery Group Coaching Programme for teams and other groups in organisations.  Details still to be fleshed out, but if you would like me to keep you in the loop, just click here to let me know.

I wish you a fun week!

Read Full Post »