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Archive for January, 2018

Yes you can

Last week I had the privilege of working with four different groups of people in Bloemfontein and Welkom for my Outlook Productivity workshop.  5 different organisations were involved (thanks Hannes, Annalie, Henk, Jako, Alina, Sharon and Annamarie for making it happen!).

Driving through the Free State, thinking, I realised that it does not matter whether you are in academia, heavy construction, financial services, construction plumbing, signage design and creation or  the food industry, the very same principles for being more productive as individuals and teams are exactly the same and will work:

  • For everyone
  • In any industry
  • Anywhere
  • In any culture.

That’s exciting because anyone and everyone who is keen on improving their performance and productivity can do so – and that includes you! “It won’t work for me” is simply not true.

You may be familiar with the “8 Basic Work Habits to Rapidly and Sustainably Increase Productivity” , but in case you are not, feel free to get your copy at this link.

One of the things people enjoy most in the workshop is to do a “mind dump” or a “brain dump” to get to a state of mental calmness rather than having a “whiltewater” mind that keeps distracting you from the job at hand.

It’s so easy to do!  For the last few minutes before you leave the office (or just before you go to bed), sit down and using any medium you want, empty your head;  just write down everything and anything that comes to mind.  Do this as fast as you can, don’t worry about spelling, don’t judge thoughts as they pop up, and don’t try and be organised here!

Sometimes people feel a bit overwhelmed when they do this for the first time, but mostly people feel more relaxed, a bit more in control and feel that they can now do a better job of prioritising their “things”.

After a workshop someone emailed me to say that she did a massive mind dump the previous evening and for the first time in many months she had a night of uninterrupted sleep!

Get rid of the junk and the clutter in your mind.  Keep a sheet of paper (yes, paper) on your desk and whenever something pops into your head that has nothing to do with the task at hand, write it down.

Get it out of your head an into your system.

Develop and maintain “A mind like water”.  With a mind like water you can be ready for anything coming your way, respond appropriately and can easily adapt to changes in your circumstances.

To quote Bruce Lee: “Be like water making its way through cracks. Do not be assertive, but adjust to the object, and you shall find a way around or through it. If nothing within you stays rigid, outward things will disclose themselves.

 Empty your mind, be formless. Shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.”

My wish for you this week is to get rid of the buzz in your head, do a mind dump every day and then take it one step further when you review your mind dump and turn it into visible actions in your calendar and “to do list”.

Have fun with this, and enjoy the benefit of being more relaxed, focused and in control!

 

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M-Moment

It was an unexpected gift on Sunday morning to be welcomed to the misty promenade at Mouille Point by what must have been about 20 dolphins, in smaller groups of 4 or 5, swimming, playing and having breakfast in the ocean, not too far from the coast.  One even jumped out of the water!

People stopped, pointed and talked about it.  People who don’t know me from Adam stopped and asked me if I have seen the dolphins and we talked about it for a while…

What I originally thought would be about a 40-minute walk, expanded to about 2 hours of beautiful moments.

Maybe I experienced what it means to “live in the moment”?

To just give yourself to what’s happening – like just drinking in the sound of thunder and lighting and then the rain on the roof at Igno’s home in Bloemfontein, where I am staying for this week’s workshops in Bloemfontein, and then on to Welkom.

But tomorrow things revert back to “watch-time” again…  When “the finger points” our workshop begins.  When the finger points, we will have lunch.  When the finger points, we will close the session.

We can get so driven by a “when the finger points” mindset, or “chronos” mindset, where we think of time as discrete units that can be measured and added, that we sometimes (if not often) neglect the experience and enjoyment of events, irrespective of how long they take.

A moment is not measured;  a moment is experienced.

I think there needs to be a balance, and we owe it to ourselves to proactively build more moments of beauty into our lives.

But is that being productive?

What is personal productivity?

My definition avoids the mechanistic definition of “more output with less input”, which is surely valid in certain circumstances, e.g. where a factory produces widgets and if 100 can be produced per minute, it is more productive than producing 1 per minute.

I like to think of personal productivity as getting your “right things” done  as effortlessly as possible.  Not “more things done in a shorter time”, but getting the right things done.

The fact that a golfer will remember a hole-in-one “for ever” comes from the experience, not how long it took.  Impact is not determined by duration but by experience.

Why not do just one thing this coming weekend (and do not take any kind of watch with you) where you can lose yourself in the moment.  Just “be” and experience the moment.  Then write about it afterwards.  Then do it again.  And again…

To quote Nadine Star, at the time an 85-year old woman from Louisville, Kentucky when asked how she would have lived her life differently if she had the chance:

”Oh, I’ve had my moments.
If I had to do it over again,
I’d have more of them.
In fact, I’d try to have nothing else – just moments,
one after another, instead of living so many yeas ahead of each day.”

Do yourself a favour and read the full quote at this link.

Enjoy!

 

What’s happening?

“Productivity Mastery Success System”:  The name has been chosen and it’s full steam ahead to launch this brand new programme for an April start for the first group of no more than 10 people.  An overview is available at this link – exact details to follow soon!

If you use MS Outlook, we can help in this way (click what’s applicable for you):

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.

If you and your team/company use Outlook for Mac: Click this link to let me know if you want us to contact you to use Outlook for Mac to increase productivity.

 

If you want to increase team productivity but without using technology, click here and I will be in touch.

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Too much, too soon

I wouldn’t say that I was close to death, but it felt pretty much like that after I cycled for just 6 km of the 11 km circular route in Jonkershoek on a hot Saturday!  And, let me admit, a few of those kilometres were covered on foot… Thankfully, Richard came to the rescue and fetched me and his wife, Senomi…

 

Last week I was happy that I completed 10 km on my first cycle after how many years, but as I mentioned to you, that was on paved roads in a complex with just a teenie-weenie, very flat gravel section.  I thought I was ready to conquer Jonkershoek.

But it was not to be.

Too much, too soon!

It did not take me one week to become unfit – so how could I think that just by getting on a mountain bike would turn me into a super-fit human being!

I can  only speak for myself, but don’t we often fall flat if we try and implement everything we just learned at a workshop or other training event within the space of a day or two?

Too much, too soon!

It’s the same with improving our productivity, is it not?

It did not take us one day to get to our current level of productivity – yet we want to get more productive instantly.  We buy books, watch videos and TED talks about productivity.  We get all excited and want to turn everything on its head, and with one wave of the magic wand be  transformed into super-productive human beings – NOW.

Too much, too soon!

Wouldn’t you agree that a better approach would be to change one productivity habit at a time.  I recently read this statement by Bill Baren “take on less, so you can master more. You do not want to be a dabbler, you want to be a master.”

The more productivity habits you want to change at the same time, the fewer you will master.  Decide on the one you want to master, then move on to the next. If you not have it yet, you can download my article about 8 Basic Work Habits to Rapidly and Sustainably increase Your Productivity  at this link.  Pick just one (I suggest Work Habit 1) and focus on that until you feel you have mastered it.  Feel free to contact me at any of the details below with any questions.

And again…“take on less, so you can master more.”

Quote:  “Too much of anything isn’t good for anyone.”  ― Ray BradburyThe Illustrated Man

Outcome of “name survey” for my new productivity improvement programme:  The survey is now closed, and I am happy to let you know that “Productivity Mastery System” was the most popular.  I am adding the promise of “success” for those who choose to participate, and the full name will be “Productivity Mastery Success System”.  Details are still being fleshed out and the first programme kicks off in April 2018 – you can read more about it here, keeping in mind that details may change.

What’s happening?

 If you use MS Outlook, we can help in this way (click what’s applicable for you):

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.

If you and your team/company use Outlook for Mac: Click this link to let me know if you want us to contact you to use Outlook for Mac to increase productivity.

If you want to increase team productivity but without using technology, click here and I will be in touch.

Grab a fun week!

 

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Saturday morning found me driving though the fog to my friend Richard in Somerset West – not for breakfast or to bounce some ideas off him, but *drumroll please!* to get on a bike again after a good many years of noon-biking due to hip issues which included the hip replacement (thanks, Lindie!) you may be aware of.

I am happy to tell you that I completed (only) 10km riding on (very) flat paved roads with a short section of gravel.  But it’s a start!

And, as so often, the experience wanted to teach me something…

I am no expert in the area of mountain biking but after looking at Richard cycle for a bit, I suggested we stop and check if his saddle height was optimal, because he looked a bit uncomfortable.  We stopped and after about a minute we took off again, with his saddle height increased by about 3 cm.

“Hey, this is much better!”, he said, “I can feel there’s a lot more power coming from my legs now.”

1 minute.  3 cm.  A small change.  A short time.  A big positive impact.

As you venture out in the (relatively) new year,  keep in mind that small changes you make can have a big impact on your productivity, happiness and sense of fulfilment.

Keep the saying in mind: “huge doors swing on small hinges”.

Here are just a few examples to experiment with, and see how wide open your productivity doors can swing open if you install these “small hinges”:

  • Change the way you see things. Stop believing the “unproductive lies” you are telling yourself.  Things like “I don’t have the time”, “It has to be perfect”, “I am not worthy”…  Turn it around, implement it, and see what happens!
  • Slow down! People who rush make more mistakes than those who do not. This intriguing book title comes to mind: “If you don’t have the time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?”
  • Learn from every day and every experience. Ask yourself simple questions to help you extract the maximum learning from something, and use that to have a better tomorrow.  Questions like “What just happened?”, “What worked?” “What did not work?”, What could I have done differently to make it better?”

Something else that I learned from the cycling experience, was that it is so easy to tap into the same event to achieve different things.  In this case it was exercise, laughter, friendship, breakfast (only towards the end!), chatting about a few things – and learning that cycling in light rain can be fun!

All the best for making small changes that can have a major impact for you this year!

Quote: “If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” – Wayne Dyer
What’s happening?

It’s full steam ahead!  At Productivity Pit Stop we are dedicated to make your life easier and improve the quality of your life as you get your work done.

If you use MS Outlook, we can help in this way (click what’s applicable for you):

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.

If you and your team/company use Outlook for Mac: Click this link to let me know if you want us to contact you to use Outlook for Mac to increase productivity.

If you want to increase team productivity but without using technology, click here and I will be in touch.

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I went to Kirstenbosch for my usual New Year’s visit today, not only to enjoy the beautiful and tranquil environment, but also to do some thinking about the year ahead.  After the little bit of rain last night, everything was so revitalised!

After writing “2018” at the top of the page, I paused and thought about what to write next.  “Goals” came to mind as a possibility, as it used to in the past.  What do I want to HAVE in the year ahead?

But then Epictetus tapped me on the shoulder, saying “Hey, Gerrit, first, say to yourself what you would be; then do what you have to do.”

First BE, then DO, and only then comes HAVE.  To quote from  the “Do-Re-Me” song from The Sound of Music, “Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start”.  And I realised again this morning that “the very beginning” is to be, not to have.

“Doing” cannot be skipped – you cannot just think “I want to be a great friend” and then enjoy the best friendships without ever doing something to make it happen!

So instead of making a list of things I want to HAVE, I wrote down what came to mind as I switched my focus from having to being.  What and how I would like to BE this year…

To look at, and reflect on, a “to-be” list instead of a “to-do” list is very different and in a sense liberating.

Why not give it a shot, and let me know how it went?

Quote: “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”  Ralph Waldo Emerson

What’s happening

 I’m stuck – please help? I am in search for the best name for the new programme I’ve told you about. Your input will help a lot!  Just follow this link to a one-click survey  (3 optional pieces of info) to let me know what you think.  All I can say is “Thank you very much!”

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.

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