Archive for the ‘Time management’ Category

I am so glad that I met Kevin Horsley, international grandmaster of memory and author of  Unlimited Memory: How to Use Advanced Learning Strategies to Learn Faster, Remember More and be More Productive, a few years ago and that we could catch up over a cup of coffee on Friday.

I mentioned our new “8 Basic Work Habits That Will Skyrocket Productivity” workshop to him.  He asked me what the habits were and I named them.  “That’s only seven”, Kevin said when I was “finished”.  I forgot “Finish what you start”!

In the next 5 minutes he helped me to use a method (“number-shape pegs”) to remember the habits very easily by associating information I already know well (the numbers 1 to 8) with new things I want to remember, e.g. the names of the habits by associating it with the numbers using a very vivid picture of what the number represents.

Check it out below. 

Number (of habit) Shape See the shape as vividly as possible (weird and wacky imagery allowed!) Description of habit
1 Pencil Pencil writing in a brain Think Productive
2 Swan Swan on misty lake, wearing glasses with wipers so it can see clearly Clarity: Make your work visible and actionable
3 Camel (Two humps on its back in the shape of a 3) Camel walking on a red line Alignment: All actions must be aligned with one’s priorities
4 Boat sail People on a boat all looking at a whale while all the time focusing their  binoculars Focus: Stay focused on the task at hand and avoid distractions and interruptions
5 Snake Snake sliding through an electric adaptor plug Adapt when priorities change
6 Elephant (with trunk above its head) Elephant storming through the finish line Completion: Finish what you start
7 Fishing rod and line Lazy guy relaxes and takes time out fishing and just very slowly reels in the catch Slow down to speed up
8 Snowman Snowman reading a book Learn and improve


This method is particularly useful to remember lists of things, and here is how I will use it to help people in our workshops remember the 8 basic work habits very easily:




Here are the associations (pardon my handwriting!):



Thanks, Kevin!   Oops, what is habit 6 again…ah, the elephant finishing!

If you have to/want to remember any list, try this method – it works.

Quote: “Happiness is nothing more than good health and a bad memory.” – Albert Schweitzer

What’s happening: “Productivity Breakthrough: 8 Basic Work Habits That Will Skyrocket Your Productivity” public workshops for Outlook users in Bloemfontein (7 October), Johannesburg (14 October, 8 December), Durban (4 November), Upington (11 November) Cape Town (18 November), or invite us in-house.

Remember to have fun this week!

Read Full Post »

There was a great response to the “Work Habit Evaluation” I suggested on Monday – thank you!

I am happy to share the results with you.  The Work Habits are arranged  from the one people find the most challenging at the top.  (Note: percentages are rounded so won’t add up to 100.)

28% Work Habit 4 Focus: Stay with the task at hand – no multitasking, minimal distractions and interruptions.  Turn off notifications.  Say “no”.

21% Work Habit 2 Clarity: Make your work visible and actionable.  Your Inbox is not your work; you have to process your Inbox and then work in your Calendar and Tasks.

20% Work Habit 6 Completion: Finish what you start.  Beware of perfectionism and procrastination.

11% Work Habit 3 Alignment: Make sure that the actions in your calendar and task lists support the achievement of your current priorities.  Delete the rest.

10% Work Habit 7 Slow down to speed up: This is the paradox of high performance.  Things need to be done at the appropriate pace.  People who rush make 25% more mistakes.

4% Work Habit 1 Think “Productive”

3% Work Habit 5 Adaptability: Be flexible and adapt to changes in context. Renegotiate commitments with yourself and others. Under-schedule.

3% Work Habit 8 Lifelong learning: There is always a better way of doing things; continuous improvement.


I really appreciate all the feedback because it helps me to review the content and focus of our new “Productivity Breakthrough: 8 Basic Work Habits That Will Skyrocket Your Productivity” workshop to ensure we address the  areas where you and others who will do the workshop will benefit from most.

Information about our public workshops in Bloemfontein, Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg and Upington is available here in case you are interested.

Once again – a sincere thank you for participating!

Have a fun and productive day.

Read Full Post »

When I went outside to enjoy the 270 degree panoramic view from Table Bay to Table Mountain a few days ago, I saw that this part of Cape Town has been turned into “City of Gold by the sea”.



Just a few minutes later the sun disappeared behind the clouds and the magic was gone.

A friend of mine, who is a keen photographer, explained the “golden hour” in photography to me and Mr Google further enlightened me:  “In photography, the golden hour (sometimes known as magic hour, especially in cinematography) is a period shortly after sunrise or before sunset during which daylight is redder and softer compared to when the Sun is higher in the sky.”

It reminded me of what Tony Robbins calls “The Hour of Power” and of an article I read in FastCompany about what successful people do in their first hour the day.

This, together with my experience of the golden hour in Cape Town has given me a deeper appreciation for the value of the “productivity routines” we have included in our Productivity Breakthrough programme.  We do not include the “at home routines” but focus on what you do with your first and last 30 minutes of your day “at the office” and the last hour on a Friday as the sun sets over your work week.

These are “golden hour” opportunities that you can use to preview/review your day, align the actions in your calendar and tasks with your priorities, reflect on what you can learn from the day to make tomorrow better and to keep your self management system up to date.

I am not talking rocket science!  Just think how different things would become if you asked these questions at the end of every day: “What happened today?  What worked?  Wat did not work?  What can I learn from today that will make tomorrow better?  Who did I interact with today – any closing calls to make or emails to send?  What does tomorrow look like?  Anything I need to prepare?”

The “Good Start”, “Strong Finish” and “Weekly Productivity Pit Stop” routines are powerful, yet many people find it easy to allow other things to steal away these time slots.


I think Jim Rohn has the answer: “It doesn’t seem to matter.  A minor oversight, a poor decision or a wasted hour generally doesn’t result in an instant and measurable impact. More often than not, we escape from any immediate consequences of our deeds.”

I am more than happy to share examples of what our clients do in their morning, afternoon and weekly routines.  Happy to share that with you:  –  Click here to pop over to my web site where your article is waiting.

When you get this information, schedule 30 minutes every morning and afternoon and one hour per week to see what this can do for you.  I encourage you to ring-fence these time blocks and just do it.

You will be happy that you took advantage of these “golden hours”!

Quote:   “One of the exciting things about the formula for success—a few simple disciplines practiced every day—is that the results are almost immediate. As we voluntarily change daily errors into daily disciplines, we experience positive results in a very short period of time.” – Jim Rohn

What’s happening? Here’s an opportunity not to be missed. If increasing personal productivity is important for your company and there are more than 50 Outlook users in your company, you may qualify to join our new series of open programmes as my guest to experience and evaluate our new “Productivity Breakthrough (Outlook Edition)” workshop. Click here for the details and to apply for your seat(s).  I will be in touch within a few business days to discuss this opportunity with you.

Have a fun day.

Read Full Post »

This week’s focus point: What a learning-rich week I had in Upington! I did a few Productivity Breakthrough workshops there and went to the Mall for something to eat in the evenings.  After sitting down at a restaurant Wednesday evening I was given the menus. The mmenuain menu (as you can see in the picture) was torn and dirty and the other menu (drinks or desserts) was dirty on the outside and on the inside it had so much dirt and “stuff” sticking together that I could scarcely open it. I called the server and asked her what would go through her mind if she received menus like these when visiting a restaurant and she said “What else is broken and dirty here?”   My thoughts exactly.  If they care so little about the state of their menus, what does the kitchen look like, and the chef, their system to supply and deliver food… Trust is replaced with doubt and suspicion. Have a quick look at the space on and around your desk.  Imagine you were looking at someone else’s desk – someone you do not know.  You are looking at their “menu”. Messy deskWhat’s the first thought that goes through your mind along the lines of “If this person’s desk looks like the one in the picture, what is their __________________ (fill in the blank) like?”  This person’s thinking?  Planning?  Organising skills?  (Self) management skills?   Would you trust this person and delegate important tasks to him/her? Would you promote him? Would you put them in charge of an important project that requires orderly planning, organising and execution? <Please note that I am not suggesting a squeaky clean empty desk but an orderly environment.> Now go back a few paragraphs, read it again and replace “their”, “them” and “him/her” etc. with “you” and “me”. If your answers are “yes”, then well done. If you don’t like what you see and feel that the “menu” your work space represents is torn and dirty, click here to send me an email, enter DESK in the subject line and I will send you some tips on creating a more productive environment.

Monday Morning Perspective:   “In the scope of a happy life, a messy desk or an overstuffed coat closet is a trivial thing, yet I find – and I hear from other people that they agree – that getting rid of clutter gives a disproportionate boost to happiness.”  – Gretchen Rubin

What’s happening? Public “Productivity Breakthrough (Outlook Edition)” workshops are back on the calendar in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban.  Click here to get your personal Productivity Breakthrough – see you there!

Read Full Post »

This week’s focus point:  : DeWitt Jones, in his one keynote address and article “Extraordinary Visions”, shares an important life and productivity lesson: “Quit your flapping and ride your thermals.”  I had the privilege of experiencing this talk live, and like to watch the video every year when it’s time to review and re-think about what’s possible for  getting better results with less effort.



But let me not spoil it for you.  You can read the article right here (731 words; 2.5 minutes to read).


Monday Morning Perspective:  “Don’t focus on building your weaknesses.  Understand your strengths and place yourself in a position where these strengths count. Your strengths will carry you through to success. “- Peter Drucker



Productivity Breakthrough:  The dates for the Productivity Breakthrough worshop have been rescheduled to 8 October 2014 (Johannesburg) and 16 October 2014 (Cape Town).  More details are available on this web page, from where you can book your seat at these workshops or let us know if you want to be alerted about upcoming workshops in your area.

Read Full Post »