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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:

 

peg1

 

Here are the associations (pardon my handwriting!):

peg2

 

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!

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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.

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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!

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What a fascinating week!  I spent about 22 hours on the road driving from Cape Town to Bloemfontein last Sunday and then came back on Saturday. I wanted to experience the wide open spaces of the Karoo and Free State again…and what a joy it was!

And I learned three important lessons.

I pulled off for an hour or so at Hanover, where I used to live 50 years ago – what a sobering experience. Gone were the beautiful flower beds my mother used to have.  In their place there was … nothing.  At first I thought back to the way things used to be, and why it had deteriorated to where it is now.  But then I was served Lesson 1 from this trip: “What was, was.  What is, is. Move on.”

Lesson 2 came from Eric, a trainee petrol attendant. He was all smiles and I asked him if he was happy.  “Yes, I am very very happy!” he said.  I asked him why. He said:”I had a vision. I am going to be a millionaire. I am going to have a school and teach children who cannot afford to go to other schools how to use a computer.  I will charge them R200 per month.  I have already started.  At the moment I am working on my capital.  Now I have to focus. Then it will happen.  I am going to be a millionaire.”

A simple, straight forward lesson in productivity:

  • Have a clear picture of what you want to achieve.
  • Know why you want to achieve this outcome.
  • Make a plan to get here.
  • Stay focused on the right actions.

Eric’s lesson can work for you and me today and every day. What do you want to achieve today?  Do you have a clear picture of what a successful day looks like? Write down your plan of how to achieve it – this can be a simple “to do” list.  Then eliminate distractions (email notifications, interruptions, distractions from your own mind, Facebook, Twitter, SMS, WhatsApp….) and all other activities that will take you away from your goal for the day, so that you can stay focused on the things that matter most for today.

Doing this will give you a much better chance of getting in  bed tonight knowing that you have done what you wanted to get done today.

Lesson 3 came from two of my Bloem friends. I stayed with Igno van Niekerk and his family (if you are a photographer check out Igno’s site) for a few days.  Christo Spies, who is a keynote speaker and mental performance coach and has worked with some of South Africa’s top sportsmen and women, was so kind as to give me three complimentary days in their lovely guest house, Matanja.  They gave me the opportunity to do some work with them in the evenings and both of them implemented the things that we discussed right away and were very happy that they did.  Lesson 3:  How often don’t we learn something new (read a book, attend a course, get some coaching…) and then not do anything with our new knowledge?  Reinforce and cement new knowledge by applying it as soon as you can.

Productivity quote:  “An organization’s ability to learn, and translate that learning into action rapidly, is the ultimate competitive advantage.” – Jack Welch

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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.

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