Archive for July, 2017

I wish I could share the aroma arising from the plants on “The Koppie” in Kirstenbosch on Sunday with you!  Maybe technology will be developed to do that – catch the aroma and WhatsApp it to friends…

It was a glorious morning and for the first time after my hip op, I went (without a crutch) to The Dell and many other wonderful spots in what must be one – for me, anyway – of the best “soul-feeding” places I know.  I also know it will never run out of soul-food…  And it was wonderful to hear the sound of running water in the streams again!

On my way to Kirstenbosch, I pulled off to put in petrol.

The attendant and I exchanged pleasantries, and after wishing each other a pleasant day, I said that I was going to Kirstenbosch.

“Where’s that?”, he asked.  “Is it close to Stellenbosch?”, picking up on the “bosch”.

I said that it was the most beautiful garden in Africa, just on the other side of the mountain.

At first, I was surprised that he did not know of Kirstenbosch, but then I realised that there was just a disconnect between our worlds of reference, and for some reason I assumed that he would know what I was talking about.  Not a good assumption!

How often, especially when asking someone to do something for us, don’t we assume – or even expect – that the other person knows what we are talking about and asking them to do?  That can become a big time-waster!

Two productivity principles come to mind to avoid misunderstanding: “Clarity brings power” and “Slow down to speed up”.

When someone asks you to do something, or even in general conversation, and you are not 100% sure of what they want or are referring to, slow down and clarify exactly what they mean.  “Let me just check with you…are you saying ABC?”, rather than pretending that you know what’s being asked, only to sit down at your desk afterwards and thinking “Now what on earth am I supposed to do?”.

And when you ask someone to do something for you, before you let them go, slow down and ask them to explain to you what they understand the assignment to be.

But the importance of clarity stretches way beyond these examples.  Are you clear about your top three priorities for today?  Are they visible and actionable in your calendar and not just in your head or in your Inbox? What is the one single most important thing you want to achieve this week?

At a different level, what is the kind of life you want to live?  If you are not clear about that, then why are you doing what you will; be doing today?  How will today’s actions contribute to your life purpose and help you live a productive, happy and fulfilling life?  Slow down to figure it out, otherwise you could just be wasting your time and energy on irrelevant activities.

Quote: “First, say to yourself what you would be; Then do what you have to do.” – From the book “The Art of Living”.


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After saying goodbye to my daughter Lindie and three granddaughters at Cape Town airport yesterday, I spent the rest of the morning walking, standing, sitting, observing and just enjoying the stretch of the Sea Point promenade between the Mouille Point lighthouse and Three Anchor Bay. It’s always good to see everyone doing their own thing and people allowing others the space to do that.

Watching the waves rolling in, breaking into “pieces” as it hit the rocks, and “reuniting” again after the breakup, made me think of our lives.  How often doesn’t it happen that we plan ahead for all the activities in the coming day or week, just to have it blown to pieces when we hit some or other “rock”? But fortunately, we don’t have to stay “broken”.  Just like the waves, we can pick up the pieces and move on and create a new wave.

One section of the promenade is currently in “rehabilitation”, and is fenced off with a sign telling people to follow the sign for the detour.

After the work has been completed, the fencing will be removed, and that section of the promenade will again be open, to be enjoyed for various activities. So it’s just a short-term inconvenience.  It’s “no entry” – for now.

Many, if not most, people I meet in our workshops and individual coaching sessions, tell me they find it difficult to say “no” to others, with the result that they take time they could have focused on getting their own work done to do things that other people should be doing.

This can lead to frustration, and cause them to work after hours and over weekends to get their own things done.

The reason for not saying no?  Someone said that she wanted people to like her.  Others say they want to be seen as a team player, or don’t want to let a colleague down.

But keep in mind that life is not a popularity contest, and in a formal work situation you will not “score points” for doing other people’s work, and even fall short of your own performance metrics.

Maybe it is time to “fence off” the time you need to get your work done and tell those who keep interrupting you, asking you favours, wanting you to help them, that your past behaviour of saying “yes” to everything is currently “under rehabilitation” and that they should follow the sign for the detour and go and ask someone else!

You may just be surprised that people (like those on the promenade) follow the detour without complaining, allowing you to be more productive as you get your right things done.

Quote: “I refuse to please others at the expense of my emotional well-being. Even if it means saying “no” to people who are used to hearing “yes”” –  Unknown

What’s happening?

 My recent survey confirmed that people who implement our productivity tips, tricks and techniques, on average save 40 minutes per day – that’s one month every year that they wasted before working with us!  Maybe it’s time to get your team on board, or to join us for a refresher.  Follow the relevant link below and I will be in touch.

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.

Individual Productivity Coaching If you would like to discuss one-on-one virtual or in-person productivity coaching, click here to let me know, and I will be in touch.

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I met Ivan last Wednesday while enjoying a few days at Vleesbaai with Marlene, Lindie, Werner and their children.

Ivan was going about his work of harvesting oysters when I asked him about the process, the permit required etc.

His permit allows him to take 25 oysters per day.  He currently sells them for R6 each for a maximum income of R150 per day.

He brought me about 15 oysters and shared his special oyster recipe with me.  He told me that when he has a moment, he enjoys playing with the ingredients and spices until it tastes “just right”.

Ivan has been doing this since 1978, the year after he left school.  If he would have sold 25 oysters per day for, say 300 days per year, over this period at the current price of R6 each, he would have made about R1,8m.

On Sunday, Roger Federer won Wimbledon for the 8th time and earned just over R37m for his effort, beating Marin Cilic in 1 hour and 41 minutes.  What a result for Roger, who turned pro in 1998, 20 years after Ivan turned pro at harvesting oysters.  Roger has earned just more than $107m during his career.

These two men play very different “games” with vastly different rewards, yet they have something in common.

They are experts in their field. They stick to their knitting.  They both add value to other people’s lives.  They both make other people happy.

As you and I go about our daily work, let’s think about Ivan and Roger, and ask ourselves if and how we are adding value to other people’s lives. It does not matter what your activities are, whether it is how you run or participate in a meeting, how you delegate, what you say in an email, how you greet your colleagues in the morning…

I am sure both Ivan and Roger find fulfillment in what they do.  Do you find fulfillment in what you do? Do you have a “bigger picture” for your life, and are all your activities aligned with that picture? Do you have a “big yes” for your life?

This is a very important question because you must take care of yourself first, before taking care of others.  We hear this instruction every time we get into an airplane: “…put on your own oxygen mask first…”  If you are “out of oxygen”, you cannot properly help others.  Add value to your own life first, then you can effectively add value to the lives of others.

If you are not sure about what your personal “mission” is, I recommend you take the time and create a first draft by visiting the “mission statement builder” on this FranklinCovey web site, where you can also find examples of personal mission statements.

A very valuable book in this regard is “Man’s Search for Meaning”, written by Victor Frankl – here is a quote from the book:

“What was really needed was a fundamental change in our attitude toward life. We had to learn ourselves and, furthermore, we had to teach the despairing men, that it did not really matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us.

We needed to stop asking about the meaning of life, and instead think of ourselves as those who were being questioned by life—daily and hourly. Our question must consist, not in talk and meditation, but in right action and in right conduct.

Life ultimately means taking the responsibility to find the right answer to its problems and to fulfill the tasks which it constantly sets for each individual.”

I wish you an enjoyable and productive week of self-discovery!

Two quotes from Roger Federer at Wimbledon 2017

 Before the tournament: “I’m playing very well. I’m rested. I’m fresh. I’m confident, too. Then great things do happen.”

After winning: “I always believed that I could maybe come back and do it again. And if you believe, you can go really, really far in your life, and I did that,” Federer said. “And I’m happy I kept on believing and dreaming and here I am today for the eighth. It’s fantastic.”

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0.16 seconds

0.16 seconds.

That was the difference between the winning time of Greg Minnaar and second place Troy Brosnan at the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup Downhill at Lenzerheide in Switzerland on Saturday.  A difference of just about 0.09%.  Or about “one wheel” between first and second place.

Percentage-wise, the difference between first and second place in Cross Country Race in Lenzerheide was 0.06%.

0.16 seconds was also the difference in first and second place lap times in one of the qualifying races at the Austrian Grand Prix over the weekend.

In a horse-race, the difference between first and second place is often not measured in “horse-lengths” but by a head or a nose.

To win first place, you don’t have to be twice as good/fast/big/slow/pretty/ugly as the second-place winner.  Just a fraction better.

(By the way, I saw a T-shirt slogan “Second Place Is the First Loser”.  *sigh*)

Maybe you are feeling in “second place” as far as your personal productivity, happiness and living a fulfilling life are concerned.

The good news is that you can get into “first place” by making small changes in the way you do things.  You don’t have to change careers, go to university, enrol for evening classes or even work twice as hard.

Once you have made the decision to “change course” to higher productivity, all you need is small “trim tabs” to keep you on course when things want to take you off course.  Here are 3 high-performance trim tabs:

  • Be crystal clear about your personal and professional priorities. This will enable you to say “no” to anything that distracts you from your priorities.
  • Say “go away” when people keep on crossing your boundaries. Or “electrify” your boundary fence 😊
  • Take a few minutes at the end of every day to review the day, learn and plan for a more productive tomorrow.

It does not take huge amounts of energy to activate a trim tab – it’s like putting in 0.08% more effort to get to first place.

Do it, and see what happens.

Quote: “Big doors swing on little hinges.”  – W. Clement Stone

What’s happening?

BETA (i.e. FREE) Productivity Breakthrough Masterclass. I will be running a virtual BETA masterclass over a 6-week period from 3 August to 7 September (2017) and I want YOU to help me design in. You can participate at no cost. All you need to do is tell me one thing that you think can make the biggest change in your personal productivity and life balance. I will also appreciate if you will participate in one or two very short surveys and give feedback on what you enjoy, what you don’t like and what I can improve.  If you are keen to join, click here, give me your advice, and I will be in touch.

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I once again had the privilege of enjoying peace, calm and silence (except for my 24/7 tinnitus!) this weekend at “The Green House” on the farm Witwaterskloof in the Bot River district.  This is where my friends Jo and Anthony are building their dream of permaculture farming and gardening that they are sharing with others and will establish a training centre.




The concept of “permaculture” again intrigued me and I did a bit of research (fancy word for “Googling”) and learned the following:


“Permaculture is a system of agricultural and social design principles centred around simulating or directly utilizing the patterns and features observed in natural ecosystems. “


“The Permaculture garden is a lot more than an organic garden. Intelligent design uses free, sustainable energies and resources. It is energy-wise and collaborative to minimise the impact of a site on the surrounding environment.”


Permaculture” is permanent agriculture, whereby you put a system in place that becomes self-sustaining after 3 years.


I am wondering what “Perma-productivity” would look like, i.e. putting a system in place that becomes a self-sustaining “permanent productivity” system by cultivating productivity habits based on time-proven productivity principles.


What would it be like to directly utilise the patterns and features of the natural ecosystem that is you, your work environment and your preferred way of working?  To intelligently use your own free, sustainable energies and resources to impact on your productivity?


One free resource – maybe the most important one – you have, is your mind.  It may have cost some money to get your mind to where it is today, but you don’t have to “rent-my-mind” every day!


The way you use your mind is up to you.  You choose what you feed it.  You can feed it positive affirmations or destructive thoughts.  As I understand it, your mind accepts whatever you tell it; it does not question it, and over time acts on its strongest current “programmes”. (You may find value in the articles that come up when you Google “be careful what you feed your mind”.)


So is you keep telling yourself “I am not worthy”, “It must be perfect”, “I don’t have the time”, I cannot say ‘no’”, “I am not good enough”, these beliefs end up driving your behaviour pattern, giving you the results you are currently getting. Want different results?  Create a different mind-set!


Here’s some “week-work”: Every time you think/tell yourself something negative about your, others, or a situation, write it down.  Review it at the end of the day and week and ask yourself whether you can say with absolute certainty that those thoughts/statements are true.


When you believe these things, does it add or take away from the quality of your life?  Write different versions of the opposite of these statements/thoughts.  How would things change if you were to live according to these beliefs?


Here’s to a fresh start to your “perma-productivity”!  I look forward to exploring this theme in more detail down the line, and your input will be of great value!



Quote: “Don’t lower your expectations to meet your performance. Raise your level of performance to meet your expectations. Expect the best of yourself, and then do what is necessary to make it a reality.” –  Ralph Marston

What’s Happening?


I need your help… I know there are people “out there” who will also enjoy getting these memos – but I don’t know them!  If you know of your friends, family members or business associates who might also enjoy receiving these Monday Memos, please forward this email to them and tell them to click this link to add their name to the list.  Also, tell them that if they don’t like it, it takes just one click to opt out.


Discovering how you do your best work. Another way of thinking about “perma-productivity”, is to work according to your unique Pattern of High Performance.  My late business associate, Dr Jerry Fletcher, developed a process that helps you discover the way you consistently do your best work. You can read more about it here, or get the book here.  If you want me to assist you in the process, click here to let me know. I wrote a memo about this in April 2017 – you can read it on my blog over here.


Productivity Breakthrough Masterclass – let’s take a test drive!  I will be running a virtual BETA masterclass over a 6-week period and I want YOU to help me design in. You can participate at no cost.  The dates have not yet been finalised but it will kick off towards the end of July.   It will be an online event and I will record the sessions for your convenience.  The only commitment I ask from you, is that you will participate in one or two surveys and give feedback on what you enjoy, what you don’t like and what I can improve.  If you are keen to join, click here and I will be in touch.


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.


Individual Productivity Coaching If you would like to discuss one-on-one virtual or in-person productivity coaching, click here to let me know, and I will be in touch.


Have a fun week as you begin to build your perma-productivity system!

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