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Archive for January, 2017

Be where you are

I won’t bore you with a long story about my hip joint that needs replacement, except to share something practical I have learned from it with you.

At times, it’s rather painful to move around, so I have become more aware of where I am, and ask the question “While I am here, is there anything else I can do, or is there anything here I can take with me?”  Apart from saving me a few back-and-forths, it has made me more aware of what I am doing.

This thinking of “where am I now, and what can I do here?”, is one of the foundational principles to organise the things you have to/want to do.  Rather than having one long “To-Do” list with anything from making a phone call to speaking to Jo Soap on it, organise your action reminders by “where will I be when I do this?”.

This means separate lists for phone calls, things to do at home, a shopping list, emails to send, things to do when next you are online etc.  It’s like using “buckets” for the various lists.  And when you are focussed on making phone calls, you work inside that bucket without being distracted by things you cannot do anything about anyway, because you are not in the right context.

In your electronic self-management system, you can allocate categories to tasks and then look at what needs to be done by category.

grid

 

If you prefer to work with a paper system, it can be as simple yet powerful as having a single sheet of paper with different sections/categories (as in the picture) for different kind of activities (Thanks for this, Joan!).

Or maybe you like using something like the Bullet Journal – The Analog System For The Digital Age.

Whatever system you use (and remember that the word SYSTEM is an acronym for something that Saves You Stress Time Effort Money), keep it simple and manageable by oganising similar actions together.  You will feel less overwhelmed, be more organised and in control, and live lighter.

Try it, and let me know how it goes.

 

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Coming from Cape Town, I got such a fright in Bloemfontein on Thursday evening when the sky became darkened by fluffy swirling things and then big wet things started falling from them!  My friend Igno then explained that this phenomenon is called “rain”.  It was such a nice experience…

Another great experience in Bloem was the opportunity I had to do our “Productivity Breakthrough for Outlook Users” workshop with a firm of consulting engineers.  What I again realised is that the work we do “works” across all industries and disciplines because it is based on principles of rapidly and sustainable increasing individual and team productivity.  It does not matter if you are an engineer, financial adviser, teacher, doctor, business professional or whatever, it works.  Because principles are like gravity – they work everywhere, for everyone, in any language, and whether you like them or not.

One of the principles in our Productivity Breakthrough programme is to finish what you start. It not only applies to actions and projects, but also to your “work day”.  At the end of every day, before you leave the office, review the day.  Who did you interact with today?  Are there any closing emails to send or calls to make?  Reschedule uncompleted actions to the first suitable time for it to get done – and be realistic when doing this.

Then, when all is done, give your work day a metaphorical “Save and Close” click.  The day is done. You have done what you could have.  There is no need to stress about “uncompletes” because you have either completed or rescheduled them.  As far as today is concerned, they are done.

Now go home and be fully “at home”.  Another productivity principle kicks in now – be where you are.  If you are at home, be at home.  If you are at work, be at work.  If you are having a conversation with someone, be with that person in body and mind.

Tomorrow you will open a new day, work smart at getting the right things done with as little effort as possible (i.e. have a productive day) and at the end the day you will again “Save and Close” your office day.

bellWhy not get yourself a bell that you can tap at the end of the work day, and when you hear the sound, say to yourself “Saved and Closed.”  The day’s opportunities are now gone. Never to be the same again. Look forward to tomorrow.

Tap that bell, and give yourself a pat on the back for a day well used.

 

Quote: “Oh! listen to the water mill, through all the livelong day, | As the clicking of the wheels wears hour by hour away; | How languidly the autumn wind does stir the withered leaves | As in the fields the reapers sing, while binding up their sheaves! | A solemn proverb strikes my mind, and as a spell is cast, | “The mill will never grind again with water that is past.”” The Water Mill by Sarah Doudney

What’s happening?

Our public Productivity Breakthrough workshops (Outlook Edition) are back in full swing in Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg and Bloemfontein.  Why not join us wit a few of your colleagues?  Click here to send me an email and I will get back to you with the details.

“Productivity Breakthrough (Outlook Edition)” workshops at your premises for your team.  We come to you and do our very popular workshop with you at your premises.  Click here and I will contact you to discuss.

Individual productivity coaching. This can be a face-to-face or virtual programme that we design together and I will support you to implement a system of efficient workflow management that suits your way of thinking and working. Click here to let me know if you are interested and I will contact you.

Enjoy “clicking” Save and Close at the end of today!

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Here’s this week’s Monday Memo – except that it is Wednesday!

I spent the weekend with my brothers and sisters at Vleesbaai – it is not often that we can all be there at the same time in the place that holds so many memories for us. We had a lot of fun and it is therefore no surprise that my “normal” weekend routine was severely disrupted.  To the degree that I never got around to putting pen to paper!

Monday went by, with half the day spent on the road.

Tuesday was a big “catch up” day – and still I did not write.

Then I thought that I might as well leave it – who will notice?

Have you ever had this experience of not doing something at the time you should have done it?  I am not talking about procrastination, which is something we choose to do, but when some things just keep “slipping”?

Apart from not keeping your commitment to yourself and maybe others, feelings of guilt show up – not a positive space to be in!

And all of this could have been avoided by just taking the action when you should have.

In your family, or at work, save yourself the stress of things left undone.  Close your “open loops” or they will stay in your memory, just like prof Zeigarnik found and explained in “On Finished and Unfinished Tasks”.

If you want increased productivity and peace of mind, finish things you start.  Uncompleted tasks linger in your mind and will only “leave” when done.  Don’t “multitask” because all this means is that you are switching from one task to the next without completing any of them, and you will keep having intrusive thoughts about the unfinished tasks.

Mininise distractions and interruptions, because they all have the same effect.  People often tell me that they cannot do anything about distractions and interruptions.  Is this true, or do we allow it?

Remember that “what you allow, will remain” – if you allow people to interrupt you, that is what will remain.  Be firm with managing your boundaries.  Say “no”.  You will be more productive and less stressed.

Quote:

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What’s happening?

Our public Productivity Breakthrough workshops (Outlook Edition) are back in full swing in Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg and Bloemfontein.  Why not join us wit a few of your colleagues?  Click here to send me an email and I will get back to you with the details.

“Productivity Breakthrough for Outlook Users” workshops at your premises for your team.  I come to you and do our very popular workshop with you at your premises.  Click here and I will contact you to discuss.

Individual productivity coaching. This can be a face-to-face or virtual programme that we design together and I will support you to implement a system of efficient workflow management that suits your way of thinking and working. Click here to let me know if you are interested and I will contact you.

Read Full Post »

2017-01-08-09-18-43Yesterday morning I spent time reading in The Garden of Extinction in Kirstenbosch, displaying “a selection of the ±1500 South African plants that may soon be extinct in the wild”.

It made me think of what Tom Peters once said: “Become distinct or become extinct.”

Thanks to Google, when looking around for the words “extinct” and “distinct” I read that “Mass adoption of electric cars will send diesel extinct in UK”, according to today’s pages of the UK’s Independent.

 (By the way did you know that you can easily find a word on a web page by pressing Ctrl+F while on the page, type your word into the search box that shows up in the top right hand corner of your screen, and there you go!)

18 years ago, LM Nagle wrote in www.pubmed.gov: “As we move into the next millennium, will nursing become extinct or distinct as a health care profession?”

With 8 days of 2017 already gone, we have roughly 98% of the year left, filled with opportunities to become distinct,”coming from ‘to distinguish,’ which is when a person or thing is set apart from the pack”. (Thanks www.vocabulary.com.)

Many people are happy to just be “part of the pack”, and there is nothing wrong with that choice when it is made consciously.  For someone to be “the leader of the pack”, there has to be a pack!

But how about you?  I encourage you to imagine that you are still alive on 9 January 2018, and as you look back over the past year, ask yourself if you have grown towards becoming “distinct” or whether you have slipped towards become a bit more “extinct” in terms of your personal and professional life.

This is about more than just “being productive”; it is about living a productive, happy and fulfilling life.

In which areas could you grow and improve? Maybe you already know, but a simple self-evaluation tool like “The wheel of life” can help you to quickly identify areas of your life that you would like to improve.  Once you’ve done the “analysis”, prioritise the areas for improvement and begin with the top priority, then on to the next and so on.

Here is an “assignment”: For each of your improvement areas, using the format of a news paper story, write your success story.  E.g. “9 January 2018.  Cape Town.  Yesterday saw the successful completion of a 12-month project launched by Gerrit Cloete a year ago, to become more distinct than extinct.  Although he initially had a hard time to …….”  Etc.  Then read it again on 9 January 2018.

Quote: “Remember my mantra: distinct… or extinct.” –  Tom Peters

I wish you lots of “distinct-making” productive fun this week.

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Where are you?

I wish you a crème de la crème 2017!

Who knows what can happen between now and your next New Year celebration?

At 14:00 on Sunday, 1 January 2017 a flotilla of yachts left Cape Town for Rio de Janeiro.

rio-bigI have no knowledge of yachting or this race, but it seems that other yachts have already departed on 26 December 2016. On the picture to the left, you can see their positions at about 15:00 on 1 January 2017, as indicated by the arrow heads.

Comparing that to the “straight line” between Cape Town and Rio, one might as well think: “Hey, guys, where are you going??” Obviously, they know things I do not!

 

 

And about one hour after leaving the safe harbour of Cape Town on Sunday, you can see the positions of the “1 January 2017 flotilla” in the picture.rio-small

To the uninitiated (that’s me), it looks like chaos – and no one is headed directly to Rio!

Maybe this is illustrative of your and my 2017. On 1 January, we are in relatively calm and well-known (and safe?) waters. We may not like it, but we know where we are.

Then we leave the safety of the harbour and set off on a journey of 365 days to a date that we know (31 December 2017), as well as our personal and professional goals, but we have no idea of the routes we might take to get there, and of what i awaiting us on those routes.

We don’t know if we will experience doldrums or high seas, peace or turmoil, certainty or uncertainty along the way. All we know, unless we die before then, is that we will reach the date of 31 December 2017, when we will be able to look back, learn from 2017 what we can, and then repeat the process until the last 31 December of our lives.

The important thing is that we have a destination in mind for 2017. I am not referring to “New Year’s Resolutions”, but to something meaningful to achieve in the next year.

Enjoy your journey to 31 December 2017 – and remember that you are the skipper of your life!

Quote: “It is not only for what we do that we are held responsible, but also for what we do not do.” – Moliere

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