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Road trip 2018

It’s over.

My 2018 working road trip of about 3 000 km and 10 days from Cape Town to Johannesburg and back via Bloemfontein, came to an end at about 18:15 on Saturday.

It’s good to be back, but the wide open plains of the Karoo and Free State are already calling me back…


Rather than chasing a goal of rushing to Johannesburg and get back in the shortest possible time, my intention was to enjoy the road trip and extract as much learning and enjoyment as possible from it.

This was also an exercise in “jungle gym” planning and living – put the frame, slides, tyre swings and other options for fun in place  and then decide what to do in the moment.  But be sure to build the framework, otherwise there can be no activities and fun!  If everything was “planned” solid from minute to minute, there would be no flexibility to make use of opportunities as they arise.

Stressful, to say the least.

So I pulled off at Hanover, visited the house I called “home” between 1964 and 1970 (isn’t it strange that everything looks and feels smaller than it seemd to be when I was 14?), and also the church building (must be one of the most beautiful church buildings around, both inside and out) where my father used to lead the services and my mother used to slide in behind the organ keyboard (and had difficulty in reaching the foot pedals!) to play the hymns my father gave her ahead of time so she could first practice them at home before the service.

And it was good….the impact and value of the experience will exponentially outlast the time invested…

In Bloemfontein I stayed with Igno van Niekerk and his family, and learned so much from them.  We even teamed up for an impromptu  and first-time “Igno is now live” Facebook Live Broadcast, discussing “time management”.  This event has attracted more than 600 views by Saturday – unplanned, but done end enjoyed in the moment – within the “jungle gym” framework for the week.  And, even though it was on air for just short of 5 minutes, apparently it had some value and impact – watch the video here to “get” why I say this

Igno suggested that I visit the Richmond Museum on my way back to Cape Town, after enjoying breakfast at Vetmuis (Fat Mouse) and I am very glad that I did both!  I met Johan Tolken, the museum curator, who gave me a personalised tour of the Richmond Museum, sharing many stories…  If ever you are within striking distance of Richmond, do yourself a favour and stop by!  Johan is a great person to get to know.

He not only explained relics from times gone by, e.g. an “His Masters Voice” “78” gramophone player he had to wind up before we could listen (you can see it here on my video) to Mario Lanza singing the Drinking Song from The Student Prince (never knew  that in the movie his voice was used for singing during actor Edmund Purdom’s performance) ,  and the Saddle Horse Museum (one of two in the world), but also the most amazing collection of old films and film projectors, and a “45” record collection of famous Afrikaans poets reading parts of their work, and LP records with music from the days of LM Radio… It amazed me that experiences from more than 40 years ago were still so vivid in my memory.

Talking about poetry, in his poem Tram-Ode, Uys Krige mentions the railway siding Dwaal in the Karoo. Even before I left on the trip, my mind was made up to visit Dwaal.  I am both happy and sad that I did.  Happy because it “closed the loop” and I experienced it, and sad to see how things have deteriorated over the years…

Talking about deterioration, a popularised, and probably scientifically questionable, version of the Second Law of Thermodynamics states that things tend to a state of maximum disorder (entropy). Saibal Mitra, a professor of physics at Missouri State University, said: “At a very microscopic level, it simply says that if you have a system that is isolated, any natural process in that system progresses in the direction of increasing disorder, or entropy, of the system.”

Whether scientifically accurate or not, the gist of the statement is true for my desk, that spontaneously devolves to a state of maximum disorder, as do Inboxes and gardens and scrambled eggs (you cannot  unscramble scrambled eggs)!

This law is macroscopically (and sadly) visible in the town of Springfontein, a small small town about 150 km south of Bloemfontein just off the N1. There are well-maintained places, like the SAPS office and a number of private properties, but it broke my heart to see the state of affairs at what used to be the swimming pool area and the sports field.   Have a look at selected images at the link above… and imagine you can hear the people encouraging the athletes, visiting the restrooms and buying refreshments…

Order and disorder – are they opposite sides of the same coin?

And that the side you experience every day depends on the work you put into maintaining your systems?

Take-aways from my road trip?

  • Do jungle-gym planning: Put the framework for your day/week/month/year/life in place, and then allow life to play itself out.
  • Within your  jungle-gym framework, be flexible and never be afraid to do something for the first time.
  • Invest time to discover people and places that are new to you.
  • Choose order above disorder.  Put energy, time and effort into maintaining your systems – or go the way of Springfontein and Dwaal.
  • Never underestimate the value of friendship.
  • Have fun – enjoy both the process and the result of whatever you are doing.
  • Focus on what’s happening – not how long it’s taking.

Quote “We should seek the greatest value of our action.” –  Stephen Hawking


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100 Not Out

Dena told me a number of years ago about a 100 day yoga challenge – you were to do something for 100 consecutive days.  And if you skipped or missed it on any day, even day 99, you started again at day 1.  That sounded like a very strict regimen!

On 23 November 2017, I said to myself that for the next 100 days I would not drink any alcoholic beverage (even though my grandfather Perold created the Pinotage cultivar!) and eat only food “my grandmother would recognise as food” – aligned with my intention to enjoy a healthier lifestyle.

“But why this time of year, when it’s time to party and it’s the festive season?  You are going to struggle!”, some of my friends and family said.

I am not saying this because I am a wonderful person, but just because it is true – I told them that I have made up my mind about it, and therefore it cannot be difficult to do it.  Once the “battle of the mind” has been won, it’s not an issue any more.  You just do it.

On 3 March 2018, I ticked off the last of  the 100 consecutive days of living my intention and in the process dropping 12,5 kg of my body mass. (No, it’s not blood on my “daily record”!)

Today is day 9 of my next 100 day challenge: continue with what I was doing the first 100 days and add very (and I mean VERY) moderate exercise until 12 June 2018.  It’s just around the corner!

After that will follow another 100 day period of still healthier eating and a little more vigorous exercise,  followed by another cycle and another…

It’s 100* – not out.

I believe we can change anything we want to by taking baby steps (I refer you to B J Fogg’s work on Tiny Habits)  – I have just proved it to myself.

Keep in mind that you have not arrived at your current reality by chance or overnight.  It took time.  Therefore it will take time to correct the situation you want to improve.  Time and different choices.  I mentioned Jim Rohn’s work before and would like to point you to this article about his “formula for failure and success” in which he notes that ”One of the exciting things about the formula for success—a few simple disciplines practiced every day—is that the results are almost immediate.”

Start small.  Write down just one thing you would like to improve and have “better” in your life.  Read up about it, Google to your heart’s content, speak to others… and choose one tiny thing you can do for 100 consecutive days…and do it.

Like drink a glass of water first thing in the morning. Do two push-ups. Stand up and stretch every hour. Write down everything buzzing around in your mind at the end of the day. At the end of a work day, take 5 minutes to review the day, learn from it, preview and plan for tomorrow. Start your day in your Calendar rather than your Inbox. Say NO. Think before you speak. Say no to back-to-back meetings.

Have fun!

Quote: Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible. – Francis Of Assisi

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(Thanks for the picture, Richard!)


As I was huffing and puffing up to the “Yeah, I can see Camp’s Bay!” bench on Lion’s Head on Saturday, a group of boisterous young people passed me on their way down.

I don’t know whether they have actually reached the summit, but something one of them said, caught my attention… “Our aim was not to get to the top;  it was to be together.”

This made me wonder about the difference (if any) between “goals” and “intentions”. Did they have a goal or an intention?

“Goals” sounds so good – and we believe we must have them…  And make sure that they are “SMART” – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant/Realistic, Time-specific”.  Sure you’ve heard that before!

On the other hand, “intentions” may sound a bit airy-fairy, i.e. “not practical or not based on the situation as it really is”, according to the Cambridge Dictionary.  Or, as Collins puts it, “ideas that are vague, impractical, and unrealistic”.

My left brain says “just go with goals” but I feel there’s more to life than just chasing goals…

So, to get more clarity in my mind, I read up a bit here, and here, and watched this TED Talk by Mallika Chapra.   The way I feel now, is that there’s a lot more to be read, watched and thought about!

For now, I summarised some of the differences, as I understand it, to reflect on…

Goal Intention
What you want to “do” or accomplish. Guideposts for who you want to “be” and how you want to “show up”.
(This one is just for me!)  Walk to the top of Lion’s Head by 31 October 2018 and enjoy the extraordinary view from the summit.  Every time I walk on Lion’s Head, to be present to the sights and smells along the way, noticing the beauty of the plants and unexpected vistas with each twist in the trail.  Enjoy the company of friends and nature’s beauty.
Goals are external achievements. Intentions are your inner-relationships with yourself and others.
Goal setting helps us to see the future, understand what we want, create a plan, and stay on track to get it done. Setting and living your intentions allows you to focus on who you are in the moment, to recognize and live your values, and to raise your emotional energy, which in turn raises your physical energy.
Goals are focused on the future. Intentions are in the present moment.
Goals are a destination or specific achievement. Intentions are lived each day, independent of reaching the goal or destination.
Measurable outcome. Wish.
Specific destination. Deepest desire.
Specific action plan. Opportunity for many ways to get there.
What can be measured externally What I would like internally
Attached to the outcome. Detached from the outcome; open to something bigger, better, different.
What we aspire to be.
Comes from our souls and reflect our deepest desires.
A future projection of the mind. Comes from a place of presence.

I have a feeling now, that the reason why I miss goals, could be that I have not grounded them in clear intentions.  Maybe if I not only say “I want to publish an e-book with 52 of my Monday Memos by 30 April 2018”, but also that my intention is to share my everyday experiences, and the thoughts it triggers, with everyone that wants to read it, I could be giving myself a better chance to achieve the goal because it is not just about getting the book published.

What are your thoughts about this?

I look forward to hearing from you and learning from you!

Quote: “[Values, intentions and goals] go hand in hand together. One flows into the other and all three are essential to living a life that is rich with meaning and fulfilment.” –  Christie Inge


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There were so many facets of life “on display” Saturday  in and around the relatively small space of the Company’s Garden in the centre of Cape Town!

Entering through the Arch for Arch next to the beautiful St George’s Cathedral, strolling up Government Avenue with the houses of Parliament and Tuynhuys on the left, having breakfast at the restaurant, watching Cosmic Collisions in the Iziko Planetarium, just strolling around – all these wonderful experiences were rounded off with a visit to the South African National Gallery in which you can find many beautiful and interesting exhibitions and collections.

One of rooms was – empty!  Yet it was filled with promise and excitement…

A sign on the door read: “Exhibition installation in progress.  Apologies for the inconvenience.”  A simple sign to let me know that, apart from empty space, there is (not yet) anything inside to see.

It’s all about managing expectations.  It’s telling me “You are welcome to enter, but don’t expect to see anything”.  It’s almost like drawing an imaginary line on the floor separating “live” exhibitions from future possibilities.  By the way, I did not see anyone enter the room!

It’s a simple technique that leaves nobody upset about encountering an empty room, and then choosing not to “cross the line” because they know what to expect on the other side of the line.

Why do we sometimes, if not often, struggle to manage expectations of others, using simple techniques?  Why do we allow people to cross our boundaries and interrupt us, which causes loss of focus and a decrease in productivity?

How difficult is it to send an email to work colleagues on a Monday (why don’t you do it today), communicating your priorities for the day and week, and requesting them to respect the boundaries (i.e. not interrupt you) because you are working on an “exhibition in progress” and need time to complete it successfully and in the most productive way?

In an open-plan office you can have an “expectation management” agreement (like one of my clients in Bloemfontein) that between 09:00 and 11:00 every day, everyone stays focused on their work without talking, emailing and calling each other.  It works.  It’s called their “No Fly Zone” and people get “shot down” if they were to enter the No Fly Zone.

You can do many simple things to manage expectations – even of yourself by yourself.  Write down what you would like to achieve today, and also write down a list of “enemy aircraft” that could break into your “exhibition installation in progress” space, and disrupt you while you work towards achieving your priorities for today.

Then shoot them down as they try to get your attention – it can be something simple like turning off email notifications, switching off your phone, and using something like the Pomodoro Technique to help you stay focused on high-value tasks.  Or just think and say “No”.

Be creative, and create your version of the “Exhibition installation in progress.  Apologies for the inconvenience”  sign!

Quote: “What you allow is what will continue.” – Unknown

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So South Africa has a new President, and I wish him all the best.

We also have a new First Lady, a new…  What’s next on the “new “list?  A new Deputy President is a must, and if one can believe the rumblings, a new Cabinet will be announced soon.  I wonder who will be in and who will be out?  Will we welcome back previous ministers, say hello to new ones and goodbye to others?

The mix of “the new” and “the old” came to mind as I was walking on this section (in picture) of The Boomslang Tree Canopy Walkway in Kirstenbosch on Sunday.  When The Boomslang was built, it was “the new” and the trees were “the old”.

The designers left space in “the new” so that there was still enough room for “the old” to become part of the overall new structure as it takes up its place within “the new”, without competing and screaming and shouting for more space, but just by being.

As human beings we strive for improvement.  We want to live better lives as we work to change our condition for the better.  Labelling something “New and Improved!” is not unfamiliar strategy!

You also want to improve your personal productivity and live a happier and more fulfilling life, otherwise you would not have joined our workshops or productivity mastery programme – and you would not have been reading this!

Surely this means you want to have “New and Improved” ways of managing your workflow, and get the right things done easier and faster?

In the “new”, should you not be leaving space for a bit of “the old” when starting out?  I have seen many people fail to make a meaningful change in their productivity because they wanted to “do it all” overnight – get a new computer, install the latest apps, reorganise their desk. Then they get overwhelmed and before they know it, they are back in their old unproductive habits.

Don’t fall into that trap.  When you learn new skills or gain new knowledge, implement “one at a time” and gradually replace old work habits with hew and improved work habits.

For example, and this is just my thinking, it is not necessary or even advisable to replace manual systems (like a paper-based diary) with a brand-new electronic system in one fell swoop.  Do it bit by bit and let both systems co-exist for a while.  As your trust in the new system grows, you can scale down using the old one.

Jim Rohn, entrepreneur, author and inspirational speaker, wrote “The formula for failure and success” (You can get an extract of the full article in my Dropbox at this link – I suggest you read, reflect and act on it…):   “Failure is not a single, cataclysmic event. We do not fail overnight. Failure is the inevitable result of an accumulation of poor thinking and poor choices. To put it more simply, failure is nothing more than a few errors in judgment repeated every day.

Now why would someone make an error in judgment and then be so foolish as to repeat it every day? The answer is because he or she does not think that it matters.”

He continues, later in the same article: “Now here is the great news. Just like the formula for failure, the formula for success is easy to follow: It’s a few simple disciplines practiced every day.”

Note the word “few”!  Rome was not built in one day – neither will your new productivity improvement system.  Take it slowly but surely, and feel free to contact me at any time if you need assistance.

Thought from George McKeown in his book Essentialism (not verbatim): “It is better to make a 1 000 metres progress with one thing than to make 1 metre progress with 1 000 things.”


What’s happening?

 Want to become a Master of Personal Productivity?  Drop me a line for more info about my new programme that kicks off in April.  You  will work with me individually and be supported within a small group as you enjoy living a productive, happy and fulfilling life.  Click here to send me an email and I will contact you with information.

Get your “right things” done easier and faster using Outlook: Click here to let me know if this sounds like something of value to you (and even your team or other individuals in your company), and I will contact you to discuss.  Please include a phone number so I can call to understand your situation and needs a bit better.

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Missing something?

I noticed this interesting pattern on steps close to Milton Beach  in Sea Point.

From where I was standing, it was a seemingly zig-zag pattern, but when you look at it from the top of the stairs, where a friend of mine, Alicia, was standing, it

was a very different pattern, with half the detail missing.

Now I could stand at the bottom of the stairs and you at the top and we could both describe what we see, but because we have different view points (of the same reality), what we describe is different.



I am not right and you are not wrong, or the other way round.  It’s just that we see the same thing differently.

We can get into a fight about it, or we can change places so I see it from your point of view, and vice versa.


Productivity point: Make sure you get the full picture of whatever you are busy with whether you work a project with others, or you just need other’s perspectives on your own project.

To do this, practice one on our basic work habits, viz. Slow Down to Speed Up, as well as the well-known Habit 5 Seek First To Understand, Then To Be Understood from Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (having been part of the local company representing Covey’s work and having the privilege to teach his work for about 8 years, make it difficult for me not to reference touch points with his work!).  He brilliantly illustrates the power of this productivity principle in this 8-and-a-half-minute video clip.

When you take the time up front to “fill in the gaps” and see all the links in a pattern, then you will execute much faster and won’t waste time defending your viewpoint if it is based on incomplete information.

Quote: “I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I’m not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.” – Robert McCloskey

What’s happening?

Want to become a Master of Personal Productivity?  Drop me a line for more info about my new programme that kicks off in April.  You  will work with me individually and be supported within a small group as you enjoy living a productive, happy and fulfilling life.  Click here to send me an email and I will contact you with information.

Get your “right things” done easier and faster: Click here to let me know if this sounds like something of value to you (and even your team or other individuals in your company), and I will contact you to discuss.  Please include a phone number so I can call to understand your situation and needs a bit better.

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What a lovely unplanned Sunday morning!  I got up and couldn’t decide whether I wanted to go to Kirstenbosch or the Mouille Point Promenade.  As I was driving out of the complex, I decided in the moment to go to Signal Hill and Lion’s Head instead.

And what a good choice it turned out to be!

I parked close to the Kramat and took the path to the beginning of the easy walk up Lion’s Head, from where I walked to the first bench from where I could see Camps Bay beach. For now, that’s far enough, but hopefully I will be able to reach the top in a few months’ time!

This experience was not part of a 5-year plan or even a weekly plan.  It just happened.

The more I think about it and live it, the more I like to think that one has to develop and maintain a mindset of “in the moment” flexibility and spontaneity and listen to your intuition about what the best things is to do in a given moment.

Yes, by all means have things to do in mind (“planned”, even) e.g. to enjoy the morning out of doors.  But how about not planning in so much detail that it stifles creativity and prevents us from making choices on the spur of the moment.

Of course there are things that have to happen as per pre-planned schedule – that’s not what I am thinking about.  But let’s create more open, uncommitted time slots in our calendars.  Avoid back-to-back meetings like the plague – you cannot be in two places at the same time when the one meeting ends, and the next one begins.

Make it part of your meeting culture to have at least 30 minutes between meetings as the standard operating procedure.

I am not saying you are currently doing anything wrong – it’s just my two cents worth: Plan for “big rocks” (e.g. enjoy Sunday morning outdoors) , not “pebbles” (e.g. at 07: 10 I will take my first step up the mountain).  You may find it valuable to view the short video clip of Stephen Covey demonstrating the importance of doing this.

The few times I “pebble-planned” my day, completely filling it with minute by minute activities and meetings; when something changed, I had to re-plan everything.  There was no flexibility. Just frustration and stress. I drove myself crazy!

What works better for me now, is to plan and schedule at a “higher” level and let the details sort themselves out.  E.g. plan a block of time for “communication”, rather than planning every phone call and email by the minute. Also, leave LOTS of open space in the day… Jeff Weiner, CEO of LinkedIn sets aside 90 to 120 minutes of unscheduled time every day.

This just works much better for me;  I have more flexibility and much less stress should things go awry.

You will have to play around and find the approach that works best for you – I suggest you include “trellis planning” in your mix, where you plan the framework (the “big rocks” for the month/week/day) yet leave space for the plant (i.e. the details of the day) to use the framework, but also have the freedom to also fill the gaps.

Enjoy your quest!


Quote:  “Self-education through play and exploration requires enormous amounts of unscheduled time—time to do whatever one wants to do, without pressure, judgment, or intrusion from authority figures. That time is needed to make friends, play with ideas and materials, experience and overcome boredom, learn from one’s own mistakes, and develop passions.”  ― Peter Gray



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