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Archive for September, 2017

It took me 4 hours and 385 km to get to Vleesbaai on Friday and on Tuesday morning it will take another 385 km and 4 hours to get back to Cape Town.

Worth the effort and time?

You bet!

I had my first go at making “Cloud Eggs”, spent lovely time at one of my favourite places in the world, Blaasgaatjie, where the wild water always has a calming effect on my wild mind, just sat and watched the waves roll in and enjoy being part of a natural rhythm while thinking about my life and its meaning and enjoyed a braai with a view!

This was “the other end of the stick” that I picked up when I decided to set aside the time and resources for the weekend away.

And the unexpected arrival of my friend Jo made it even better.  Always good to have a good sounding board.

In my workshops and coaching I suggest that we do not try to “manage time” (because we cannot) but rather focus on our action management.  It’s not how long something takes that determines the long-term impact on the quality of our lives, but what we choose to do.

Ask any golfer who has hit a hole in one for how long they will remember it, and the answer (every single time I have asked the question) is “for ever”.  That’s the impact of the action (incident) not whether it took golf ball 5 or 6 or 10 seconds to make the journey to the cup.

Let’s not focus just on “chronos” time (linear time; 1 minute plus 1 minute = 2 minutes) in our lives, but proactively create opportunities for “Kairos” time (appropriate time; experiential time; “quality time”, if you wish) that will have a long-term positive impact on the quality of our lives.

And the productivity improvement link?  When you plan your day’s work, don’t ask “how long is the meeting going to be?” but rather ask if this meeting is the most productive thing to be doing (the action) right now.  It’s not “how long will I spend ‘doing email’”, but is going to my Inbox the most productive thing I can do right now. Change your mindset from “time management” to “action management” and from “chronos” to “Kairos”.

I look forward to the 4 chronos hours on the road back to Cape Town tomorrow because I am turning my car into a concert hall and have some of the best soloists and orchestras in the world fill my soul with Beethoven’s piano and violin concertos – and MIKA’s Grace Kelly, The Beatles “When I’m 64” … It’s going to be “Kairostic”!

Quote: “When we pick up one end of the stick, we pick up the other.” – Stephen R Covey

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Things take time

Spring in Kirstenbosch!  Every week something new!

Yet, the beautiful flowers in this flower bed did not just appear magically since last week.  It is the result of a natural process, that will eventually lead to their death and disappearance…and rebirth next year this time.

You and I also want to enjoy beautiful lives, but often we are not prepared to give things the time required to germinate and then develop to yield productive, happy and fulfilling lives.

We want instant results after reading a book or attending a seminar – without putting in the time and effort to achieve it.

Life doesn’t work like that.

 

 

Life is a “work in progress” – just like these plants I saw, with just the tips of new growth showing today.  Next week there will be new growth and “development”.  Not today.  Not now.

I cannot find the exact quote, but Stephen R Covey used to say something like “don’t pull up the plant to see how the roots are growing.”

Don’t rush things.

 

Plant the seeds of improving productivity, fully realising that time and effort will be required to bring it to fruition.

If you want to improve your productivity, don’t go for some “life-changing” goal (like never working on weekends again) and expect overnight success, but rather follow the advice of Professor B J Fogg and make a small and achievable change in behaviour (e.g. say “no” when people ask you to give them your time when what they want has nothing to do with your priorities).  You may enjoy his TED talk on “tiny habits” at this link.

Shane Purnell says that for a tiny habit to work it must be

  • Easy
  • Done Daily
  • Take < 30 seconds
  • Anchored to an existing habit or behaviour.

A tiny habit follows this format: “After I (existing habit or behaviour), I will (tiny habit)”. E.g. “After I get up from my chair, I will walk around for 30 seconds.”  Or “After I get up in the morning, I will do one push-up.”  The new behaviour can “grow” in terms of duration or number of repetitions.

Choose just one tiny habit for this week, and have many tiny bits of fun!

Quote: “Cramming doesn’t work in a natural system. In the short term, cramming may appear to work in a social system. You can go for the “quick fixes” and techniques with apparent success. But in the long run they just don’t work.” – Stephen R Covey (paraphrased)

 

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I noticed this sign in the area for threatened species in Kirstenbosch.  It bears this quote by Margaret Mead: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.  Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”   I assume it is placed in this specific area to inspire us to make sure that we do something to save these threatened plant species from extinction.Not just one individual (although I am sure one person can change the world – ask Apple users!), but “a small group”.

Over the weekend I was in conversation with three people who all mentioned the importance of implementing any changes (yes, also to increase your personal productivity), with the support of a small group.  It is so true that we have more difficulty in changing a habit or sustain any changes in our behaviour if we do it as a “lone wolf”.

Choose one person you know, like and trust and ask them to be your sounding board and accountability partner as you implement (one at a time) the habits of personal productivity that form the basis of our work:

 

  • Think productive
  • Make your work visible and actionable
  • Align your actions with your priorities
  • Slow down to speed up
  • Focus
  • Adapt to changes in your context
  • Finish what you start
  • Learn and improve every day

Meet for a cup of coffee once a week, or do a virtual check-in.  Do it for a month or two, and experience the difference.

Your next action: decide right now who you will work with, and call or email them to get their support.  And of course, you return the favour by supporting them.

Enjoy!

Quote: “People who have been diagnosed with a life-challenging illness and attend support groups, on average live  twice as long after diagnosis as people who don’t.” –  Marianne Williamson (slightly paraphrased.)

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During my visit to Bloemfontein last week my good friend Igno and I went for a ”down and up the hill” walk.

Downhill was easy, but when we turned around, I looked up and saw “The Hill” in front of me and said that this is going to be one heck of a challenge for me since I still have a bit of tendonitis.

Igno had good advice: “Don’t look up and look at the hill you have to climb…Look down at the ground in front of you and focus on the next step you must take!”

That worked for me, and before I knew it, The Hill was conquered!

I then realised that I tend to try and conquer “hills” in my work.  And when the “hill” seems too steep and long, I tend to put off taking the first step.  One of the tips for overcoming procrastination is to break the task down into doable chunks.  If the thing I want to achieve is so big that I feel overwhelmed by just thinking about it, it is easy to avoid it.  So make it less scary!

Much has been written about this, e.g. the book The 15 Second Principle: Short, Simple Steps to Achieving Long-term Goals by Al Secunda – “The 15-Second Principle is designed to give successful people the tools and techniques they need to stay focused and committed to their forgotten or abandoned goals. It offers a simple yet powerful system to give anyone the freedom to break through stagnation, fear and setbacks.”  It comes down to engaging with things you are avoiding for just 15 seconds every day.  If you follow the link above, you will get th gist of it in the book preview.

The guys at Asian Efficiency suggest that you commit to working on your goal for 5 minutes per day.

Focus not on climbing the hill, but on taking the next step.

That is what I will be doing every day this week on a specific project that I have been avoiding for the last three weeks.

I invite you to join me in just taking the next step on something you have been putting off.

Quote: “The really happy people are those who have broken the chains of procrastination, those who find satisfaction in doing the job at hand. They’re full of eagerness, zest, productivity. You can be, too.” – Norman Vincent Peale

 

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