Category Archives: success

How to Save Time

I decided to put this valueable information all in post rather than a downloadable PDF. Put these into action ASAP & give feedback.

Practical Suggestions to Create Time To Pursue Your Interests & Increase Productivity.

Business

Little Mo – Many business experts and consultants stress the big picture or big task/project.  Rightfully so, if we don’t accomplish the big things the smaller one usually won’t matter.  Because larger scale projects require more thinking and pondering, you can find yourself stuck by over analyzing. What works for me is to tackle a series of small tasks first.  The momentum and sense of accomplishment is something I build on.  It clears my head, readying me for the larger tasks at hand.

Touch it – Do it.  Too often we handle a document, review it, only to deal with it later.  A waste, you’ve invested time in it, complete it now; otherwise, you will re-read / re-review it when you actually deal with it.  Live by the Touch it Once rule!

Email, a huge consumer of our time, is a great place to implement this concept.  When you open an email, deal with it, if possible.  Even if you need to check another document, email etc. for the answer, you will save time, gain momentum and clear your mind to focus on the next.  Only flag the emails that absolutely need input or careful consideration. Read, act, then go on.

Shorten and reduce meetings – We have way too many meetings, wasting the collective time of all the attendees.  First, invite only critical persons, too often people are in meetings with nothing constructive to add or learn. (I am fan though of including, at times, junior staff/interns, as a learning experience) Many meetings are just plain unnecessary. Use email/phone/ or video conferencing if truly necessary.

Don’t let attendees get too comfortable.  Do away with the coffee and donuts, I like standing meetings. Get to the point and get to work.  Shorten meetings, use a timer and let people know you are.

Strategy meetings require ‘homework’ beforehand to be productive.  Demand that participants come prepared otherwise you and the others are wasting valuable time.

Personal Life

T.V.  As if we didn’t already know this sorrowful fact, we watch way too much TV, wasting hours to the detriment of our goals and pursuits.

I confess to being an ex-news junkie but the news rarely changes during the day.  The networks just spin it a bit differently.  Rarely is there a REAL developing story that compels us to watch.  I am not talking about the endless babble about a storm that is days away yet is covered from every minute angle. Pick a news broadcast you like and give it no more than an hour a day.

We are all connected in some way during the day, if there is something you need to know, you can be sure you will know it.  Being an hour or three behind the story will not change a thing.   TV news once a day, should give what you need, watching 2- 3 times a day is just regurgitation, even during a crisis

A TV pet peeve is the time spent on the weather. Broadcasts start with a tease and continue, giving a ridiculous amount of detail.  I couldn’t care less about Doppler pictures and temperature readings in 30 different places.  All you need is what the highs and lows of the day are and if sunny, cloudy or precipitation expected.  You can get all this on your phone, web, or in seconds on the weather channel.

Use commute time productively – We spend a lot of time commuting and if we use that time on something like reading a book we want to, studying something we have an interest in, listening to an audio book if we are driving, or the news and weather so we don’t have to waste time watching it on tv!

Bank on Line – I realize there is some trepidation about this subject but clearly it is as safe as any other means we use to pay bills.  You can set up your regular payments and forget about them.  Schedule your payments to vendors who accept payments via ACH for the last due date. No need to address envelopes and buy stamps.  You will also have an easy organized place to check your payment histories.   I also advocate receiving bills on line.  Schedule for payment and then save them into a folder, dramatically reducing the handling time.

Reading material – Slim it down, we are inundated with reading materials concerning the field we work in. Depending on the area of expertise, condense the publications/materials you read.  Most times they are all a version of each other.  Find the one that covers the bases and stop wasting time on others. A great example are newspapers, there really is no need to ready two or three papers a day.

This said with an eye towards the flood of sources we now draw from (web, mobil, tv, radio, print…)

DVR – Instant time saver -get a DVR, 30%, yes 30%, of each hour is devoted commercials.  Record a show, fast forward thru them and ‘pocket’ the time!  An easy way to pick up time.

Don t make your schedule based upon TV programming!  Use your ‘prime time’ to pursue your hobbies and interests.  If you choose, you can watch your ‘DVR-commercial free’ later (in place of the news and weather you already know!)

Lunch hour – we all need to be refreshed but we can use our lunch time to pursue an interest we have or to get a bit exercise (freeing up time we wd use later in the day)

Multi Task – we are a nation of mult-taskers, or so we think.  They number of people who cannot perform two routine tasks simultaneously is astounding.  Learn to do it NOW!

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Saving Time – Ways to Save Time

As promised, I have concrete, time saving ideas that actually work!

These free, practical suggestions apply to both your work and personal life.

To get your free copy via email, please subscribe to my blog (its free as well).  You will also receive all new posts via email automatically.

You will not receive any offers, advertisements, spam etc.

Note – Current subscribers will receive it

automatically.

So, pick up time now!

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Slackers – How to Handle Them

We know them, they are in the office,  are in our department, they are everywhere.

They are the slackers. They do little, hide a lot and get by while aggravating the hell out of us.

Slackers take credit for work done by others, pretending to have contributed.

Slackers are experts at appearing to be busy and engaged.  We may all get equal credit or pay but the reality is that in a group of five, at least one will not make any meaningful contribution.

Take the Slack Out

The only way to deal with the slackers in our midst is by a combination of tight management and encouragement.

First, we must have an honest but polite discussion. Preferably one on one, but if you are on a team or group of some sorts, you can have a meeting and bring the topic up.   Keep it on business terms, don’t attack the person.

Try language like the following;

We need everyone to participate equally in this department or on this project.  It is not only fair but essential to have everyone share the work.  Otherwise, we will be unable to accomplish our goals and will make appropriate changes to address the failures of those responsible. Make it clear there will be harsh consequences for failing to contribute meaningfully.

With the warning in place, you need to designate, if in management or request such from a manager, a specific task and a corresponding time line for completion.  When you designate to a known slacker, you must be definitive in what and when it is expected.  If you leave anything unclear you can be sure they will exploit it.

It may be easier, though tedious, to break down the task into tiny components with corresponding timelines, or to hand feed each piece.  That leaves the slacker with very little wiggle room.  You should engage the slacker, being sure they acknowledge they have what they need to do the task at hand.  Then you need to monitor the progress according to the time line set.

Document any failures, you will need them.

If you are not in a management position then you must get the evidence and be tactful.   Ask for a review or meeting and during that time of feedback you can say you are being held back by someone who is not carrying their weight.  This is a time to identify the person and specify the failures.    General, wishy-washy complaints will not work.  If you want management to take action give them hard evidence!

The Effort is Worth It

We must acknowledge that in any setting there will be one or two who step up and do the lions share.  That is a fact of life.  However that being said, we should not allow ourselves to be taken advantage.

The main thrust is to grow and improve our situations, failure to address slackers is unacceptable.

If you can either expose a slacker and they contribute or are tossed out, you will reap benefits in productivity, not to mention the stress reduction!

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Time Management – Efficiency

Certain people are able accomplish many

things while others are unproductive to say the least!

Why do some habitually hit their goals while others are unable to accomplish things or do so at a slow, frustrating pace?  What contributes to the difference?

What do we do with the time we have?

An important component of productivity is time management.

Everyone gets the same 24 hours in a day,  7 days in a week, it is how we use them that makes the difference!

Many people seem frozen by the agenda of things to accomplish and talk about all they have to do but never make a dent in the ‘pile’.  Can we increase our productivity?

The good news is we can all improve our productivity by managing our time, a precious resource that must be tightly controlled.

Three O’s

I witness three areas preventing or inhibited productivity on a daily basis – Over Thinking, Over Blabbing and good Old fashioned Procrastination.

Many people put themselves in the circle of Paralysis by Over Analysis.   They over think the task at hand, wasting precious time thinking of the best way and every conceivable consequence. I am not suggesting you recklessly pursue action but if you aren’t building rockets or working with nuclear materials, make a reasonable assessment and get t0 work.  Stop over analyzing and take action.

Incessant Talking – We are a culture of chatters.  Communication is essential but there is a limit to the amount of time we frit away discussing a task at hand and about totally unrelated subjects.  Two areas of blabbing  to be dealt with.  First, if related to the task at hand, put a time limit (for most subjects 5 minutes) on discussion.  For meetings large or small, require that the participants stand. Don’t let anyone get comfortable.  As for unrelated, ‘small talk’ ban it entirely until the in box is empty!

Procrastination – First be honest with yourself, face the fact you are putting off doing something meaningful with menial diversions.  It then truly comes down to focusing, blocking out your tendencies to avoid doing something difficult, and getting down to work.

The common thread here is simply to take action!  Don’t let another day fly by without doing what you need or would like to get done.

I have an article coming out that will give you actual tos and ideas to increase your productivity.  The ideas work and are applicable to the work environment and in your personal life.

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Social Science Experiment Is Over

Somewhere along the way we lost ourselves. We no longer demanded that you act responsibly, work and civilly participate in society.

No One to Blame but Ourselves

We looked the other way, selfishly enjoying ourselves, while ignoring our responsibilities to parent and teach.  We didn’t set expectations for those dependent on us and attempt to manage the results.  We needed to instill core family values and discipline them, instead, we threw money at problems and poverty and went our merry way. You see it is much harder to do the tough work to form behaviors than to buy them and our conscious off.

We gave things without requiring anything for it.  They had no skin in the game, why are we surprised they feel entitled?

Different kind of Ellis Island

We also compounded our problems with newer immigrants.

What a difference a generation makes!  When millions flocked to our shores for a better life, they toiled hard at work and even harder at becoming Americans.  They learned the language and assimilated quickly.  It was not an abdication of who they were, they still practice their customs and cultures, but realized and desired to be a part of something bigger – AMERICA!  Their contributions are legendary and a reason prospered into a beacon for the underclass around the world.

Newcomers to America are accommodated to such a large degree that they have no incentive to learn English and integrate into our society and culture.  Thinking we’d make it easier for them led to neighborhoods filled with signage in other languages and children unable to learn in school because they didn’t know English, resulting in tremendous disaffection.  (Interestingly, Arizona, now maligned for its immigration policy, actually mandated that children be taught in their native language and ‘imported’ Spanish speaking teachers from Mexico!  It proved to be a colossal failure as Spanish speaking children performed even more poorly.)

Disastrous Results

This disaffection and resentment manifested itself in many ways but some recent events like the riots in England are ringing alarm bells.   In short, we need to turn course quickly in order to have a chance at changing the tide.

In order for a democracy to survive and prosper it needs the far majority of its people participating.  We cannot have the outrageous amounts of folks we have now living off the government!  Fiscal disaster that it is, it is just not sustainable for democracy.

We must make the distinction between those who are unable to take care of themselves and those who are simply unwilling.  Safety nets for legitimate, verifiable reasons should be maintained.  Other programs dealing with poverty must be managed with an eye to outcomes.  If it does not change behavior, leading to independence, it should be changed until it does.  If you get something (Sickness and aged etc aside) from the government or society you should be required to do something. Is there a legitimate reason, that those getting a year or two of unemployment checks not be required to gain a new skill to be employed (or clean a park?) as a condition of getting the check?

Nothing less than the very fabric of our society is at stake.  We need ideas and action now!

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Gratitude – Essential to Happiness and Peace

Gratitude is the Right Attitude

Simply acknowledging things to be thankful for is real a game changer. You will surprise yourself with how your outlook and attitude will improve when you recognize and practice this happiness tool.

I am not an advocate of the ‘It could be worse’ crowd as a way for making you feel good that others are in worse shape.  It takes less energy to remind yourself of the good stuff in your life rather than comparing your lot in life with others.

You are guaranteed to be much happier and peaceful.

“Gratitude is the best attitude.”  ~Author Unknown

Practice Being Thankful

There are no shortages of things to be grateful for.  The problem is we take so much for granted that we overlook them.

You need to be conscious of the good things in your life!

We tend to acknowledge things, like health, only when there is a problem.  How about starting the day thankful you feel good? (Okay, after a few cups of coffee!)

You can see, smell, talk, walk etc.  No small thing at all and it starts the day off in the right frame of mind.

On your way to work or play, take notice of the sun, clouds, trees, flowers, snow.. (opps, went overboard there!)  Being aware of and thankful of nature’s role in our world has a calming effect on our lives.

“We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.”  ~Thornton Wilder

People In Our Lives

Gratitude is a sure relationship builder or saver.

We have many people in our lives, at times they may cause us angst or put a demand upon us.  It is important to balance this ‘heavy’ side of relationships with the other side of it.

First off, no one is perfect, rather than harping on the things a person may do that irritate us, remind yourself of all the good attributes a person may have and be thankful for them.  You will find that the exercise elevates the relationship dramatically and the annoyance factor dissipating.

It IS the Little Things!

Be thankful for little things, we tend to focus on negative things, which create negative vibes. I am sure we all have arrived at work complaining about the traffic, but did we ever use the time to think not of everything we need to get done that day but on someone we love, some pursuit we enjoy, a recent accomplishment….

Being grateful insulates us from the tendency the culture has towards negativity and the focus on what we do not have.

We must practice being grateful and happy with what already have rather than get pulled into the message that we need this and that to be happy.  You will find that being grateful actually enhances your  joy and growth opportunities.

Do it as soon as you finish this article and drop me a line on your thoughts.

“He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.”  ~Epictetus

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Why be Loyal? Key to Relationships

Key to Relationships and Happiness 

Loyalty can be expressed in many forms, to a brand, company, family or person.

We hear people professing their loyalty to products or brands,  “I only shop at Saks” or “I’m hooked on Apple” etc. but the most important expression of loyalty is the type shown to other people.

Being loyal to others is a fundamental ingredient to having integrity.  You simply cannot have integrity by acting in self interest.

False professions

Often times we profess our loyalty but abandon others  whenever that loyalty comes with a cost to ourselves.  People make promises and commitments to others but break them.

This evidences a total lack of loyalty.  At times legitimate issues prevent us from honoring a committment. Thats ok as long as we take the time to explain the reason we can’t live up to our commitments.  We all know people who always have ready excuses but anyone who contiually disappoints another lacks loyalty and integrity.

Dependable

We need to be loyal to our friends and families who need and rely on us, if only for support or company.

Even when some other opportunity presents itself we must keep our commitment. That is the ultimate expression of loyalty, putting yourself behind the needs or expectation of someone else.

Its central to your integrity and connected directly to unselfishness.

Believe it or not it is personally rewarding to honor your commitments!

Loyal to a Fault

As with most things there can be a downside to loyalty when we remain blindly loyal to someone to their detriment.  Protecting some one under the guise of loyalty when their behavior is destructive is unacceptable.

In that case true loyalty and love would demand that we stop enabling and approving of the behavior and help them seek the help they need.

Don’t Break the Trust

Can you be trusted with loyalty? Can you be counted on?

Loyalty –  the elixir for healthy relationships!

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Success – Beg, Borrow and Steal

Why try reinvent the wheel?

We live in time where innovation is highly coveted and richly rewarded.  Everyone dreams of coming up with something new and hitting it big. The problem is that ground breaking ideas and implementation are very difficult and rare.

I am not speaking of giving up the pursuit of innovation but in support of gains that are easier to attain.

Easy Pickings

Opportunity to make improvements that produce tangible results are all over the place.

Put pride aside, in this case only, to learn from others who have proven strategies and processes.

“Beg”

There are leaders in every segment of life and business.  We should be open to learning from them.

Seek them out,  they have developed best practises and benefit from them as a result.  Most people are open to sharing and helping others.  Think of how much progress is made in the software area with the open systems available for all to contribute!

“Borrow or Steal”

We need to ‘borrow’ their best ideas and practices.

There is no shame in using ideas that others have developed, its a basic tenet of learning.

We can also learn from the mistakes they make, helping us to avoid mis-steps.

If people are unwilling to help, sharing their strategies or practices, then we must “elbow” them in ourselves.  We can research what sucessful competitors do, check with their suppliers and clients to get a sense of how they operate.

Study the habits of sucessful people or people who have a skill we desire. We can emulate their behavior and gain from it.

Open your eyes and ears, asking questions and implementing winning strategies!

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Breakfast of Champions or Food Poison? Feedback Can Crush or Build Confidence

Words are powerful

Criticism or Feedback are powerful.  We all know the term constructive criticism, the problem is we rarely practice it.  Its unfortunate, as criticism is necessary to grow in any endeavor.

Breakfast of Champions or Food Poisoning?

Proper feedback from a coach, teacher, friend, co-worker, client etc is an invaluable tool to improvement.  If the feedback is given constructively and and delivered in a caring manner, the recipient will incorporate it, using the suggestion to achieve their goals.  This type of criticism is what has been called the Breakfast of Champions.  Those open to constructive criticism ‘eat’ the feedback and improve!     Those that shut it out, struggle or fail, its that essential!

On the other hand, criticism can be poisonous.  Belittling, negative feedback is unquestionably destructive!  Sorry, but even if it is well intended and meant to help, it hurts!  Very few people are truly motivated by being humiliated.  We must ‘restrain’ our judgmental tendencies and craft our interaction in a way that is helpful.  Just think how nice a world this would be if we can give and receive this type of support.

Why good teachers/rare impact

Invariably, anyone who achieves a level of accomplishment in anything, 9sports, arts, business, etc.0  has had a memorable teacher, coach, mentor or guide.

The impact they have in nurturing a pursuit cannot be overstated.  The feedback they dispense is always framed positively,  meant to support the individual on their journey.  Good deliverers balance the criticism, offering praise for any progress, no matter how small, while pointing to an area for improvement they know is within reach.

This is not to suggest that it is ok to mislead and be dishonest, but to recognize that people have different skill sets and learn at different paces. The key here is for the coach/teacher to determine that the person has the drive and will to do what is needed to achieve reasonable goals and working alongside, support their pursuit.

Do we enjoy judging?

The flip side is judgmental dismissal!  It seems many people relish in the harsh put down of others, cloaking it as criticism or being ‘real’

Pure nonsense, that type of poisonous feedback not only disheartens but also erodes a person’s self esteem and confidence.

In some cases it causes a backlash, where a receiver shuts out the feedback and gives rise to animosity towards the person giving it.

Look for the positive

No one is an expert out of the box.  We need to look for the positive aspects of a person’s endeavor, even if its just their effort or interest, and praise that. Then we can craft ‘suggestions’ about how to improve, mindful of the damage or help it can render.

Try thinking of parenting as the ultimate feedback machine, it may help to soften the criticism we render.

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