How Productive Are You?

Are Your Digitally Distracted...

I was sitting in a meeting this week and all I saw and heard was iPhone lights flashing, phone alerts vibrating the table, and people responding to emails when they should have been focused on the subject being discussed. Some may say they can multi-task, but that simply is not true. We must stop and start a bunch of times which decreases our productivity significantly when we don’t focus on one tasks.

Understandably we all don’t have the luxury of focusing on one task at a time, but we certainly can get a lot better. This year I taught Getting Things Done (GTD) by David Allen at an Executive Forums retreat with a friend and it is amazing what changes you can make to be more productive. A couple key items that you can change are:

  1. Block Check Email – depending on your position of course, only check email 2 to 3 times a day.
  2. Only put things on your calendar that you are going to do or get done. Not wish lists or tasks items.
  3. Turn off all alerts in outlook or whatever email system you are using.
  4. Turn off phone alerts and flashes.

Do You Own Your Day?

Or Does It Own You....

Owning your Day starts with habits before breakfast which make a huge difference on how your day and life will end up. quandrant-ccsv2 I was talking to a friend this week about time management and how he seemingly is always chasing his day. It reminded me of a blog I wrote a year ago on owning your day and what the most successful people do before breakfast. Since I read the book I incorporated a lot of the habits and they really work. How about you?

Do you feel like you are chasing your day from the start or do you own your mornings?

The book was really interesting and was documentation of actual successful people and what they really did before breakfast.

Here is the quick run down:

How Sharp Are Your Leadership Skills?

What are you doing to sharpen your leadership skills? Have you taken inventory of your leadership skills and assessed how you rank? One of my annual goals that has been really consistent in my life and is one of more core values is Forever Learner. This has evolved over the years from technical learning, to management learning and the big jump to leadership learning. Once you hit a maturity level with the combination of experience is usually when the “light bulb” of leadership turns on.

I love learning and was “sharpening my saw” as Stephen Covey calls it in his book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and ran across this YouTube video on Jim Collins’s Top 10 Rules for Success. I highly recommend watching it and then evaluate which of the 10 rules you are applying – both at home and at work. I have read 3 of Jim Collins books and they are a must read if you are in any position of leadership.

Action Items

Good Luck and keep learning – readers lead and leaders read.

Do You Have Vulnerability-Based Trust?

Do you have vulnerability-based trust in your life?  Do you know what this means? I have heard a lot on this topic lately and think it is critical if you want to grow as a person, in a relationship, in your family, or at work.

I learned a lot about this from Patick Lencioni in his book Five Dysfunctions of a Team and I feel it applies in life equally to business. He focuses on business but the life and business integrated world we live in, we need to apply his concepts across all of our life domains. Lencioni walks through five areas of team dynamics with Trust being the foundation and results at the top.

1. Trust—Teams with trust are completely open honest and vulnerable with one another. They’re comfortable letting their guard down and being themselves around one another.

3 Ways to Fail at Everything in Life

I was talking to a close friend about people that just blame and complain and how destructive it can be to a person and their future. Weird enough as I was discussing this topic I ran across the facebook post that summed it up pretty concisely.

3 Ways to Fail at Everything in Life

  1. Blame All your Problem on Others
  2. Complain About Everything
  3. Not Be Grateful

Have you checked yourself on the above topics? Do you blame all your problems on others, complain how you were brought up, or circumstances you faced? Some people refer to this as BCD – blame, complain, and defend. It is often an immediate first reaction when we are confronted with difficult situations. For some, BCD has become a habit. It has become a default way of reacting to challenging events.

Coach Urban Meyer explains, “BCD has never solved a problem, achieved a goal, or improved a relationship. Stop wasting your time and energy on something that will never help you.”

Thoughts Get Clarity Through Lips and Pencil Tips

As we approach the last week of January, 1/12th of the year is done. What have you done to work toward your goals, your vision, and your life purpose? These can be hard questions, but time is not going to stop because you lack planning or discipline to execute a thought. Thoughts or wishes are not a plan, they are simply just thoughts and wishes.

Thoughts and wishes can get clarity when you talk them out with friends or colleagues and write them down. Journaling can significantly help, in fact I wrote a blog on what the most successful people do before breakfast, and one of the things they do is journal so they can get their thoughts out of their head and write them down. Not type them into a system, but write them down to solidify their meaning.

Action Items

  • Start a new habit today – journal your thoughts every morning.
  • If you want to push yourself, workout, listen to a podcast, and write down your important tasks you want to accomplish for the day.
  • Read this blog to adopt some new morning habits so you own your day.

If you don’t get clarity on you and live a healthy life – you won’t be able to help others – Good Luck.

Have You Decided What to Change for 2017?

What's Right, Wrong or Missing...

Assessing what to change in 2017 can be difficult.  To determine what you should stop, start or keeping doing can be a challenging process. I do a process at year end that I learned from our life plan training. It is called the 4 Helpful List tool. It allows you to review the last year and classify the following.

  1. What is Right?
  2. What is Wrong?
  3. What is Confusing?
  4. What is Missing?

The process is to basically classify your last year activities in each category with bullet points in each section. Then to classify what today’s status currently is AND how much control you have on each bullet point. Your options for control are Full, Partial, None.

We use this tool when we do life planning and it is super eye opening. It was for me when I did my life plan, especially when I had to select how much control I had on each bullet point. This tool may help you with what you should change for 2017 and set goals to actually accomplish those changes.

Action Items

  • Download the 4 Helpful Lists excel template.
    • Fill it out for 2016 activities
    • State Today’s Status
    • Classify how much control you have over that item.
  • Identify what changes you want to make.
  • Fill out the Goals Sheet to document your plan and execute it.
  • Do a Life Plan

It’s your life, own it this year…

Are You Striving for the Danger Zone of Perfection?

Perfection is the Enemy of Progress

Perfection is a topic that comes up now and then, but can really be damaging when you are setting goals. Depending on your personality type, striving for perfection can cripple you from making any progress because perfection is unrealistic.

“Perfection is the Enemy of Progress”

Striving for excellence is way different that perfection. With perfection, enough is never enough. Excellence is attainable and you can feel and appreciate that accomplishment. When my wife and I work with team members or do life planning for individuals, we talk about things that can start their progress toward a goal, take small steps and a series of wins. I like having big goals, but like everyone, I must have realistic long term goals and be very clear on them. The path becomes more clear when the goal is clear, but the path is never a straight line. When perfectionism comes into play, you usually can’t see an absolute path to a goal and that stops progress dead in its tracks.

Some downfalls of perfectionism or perfectionism traits that we all should be aware of are:

  1. Not Allowing Ambiguity – if you need absolutes today, you are in trouble. Things are moving way to fast from a technology, information, and automation standpoint. You must allow ambiguity and grace along the way to figure things out.
  2. Negative Impact of Others – if others around you see you are striving for perfection, they will be fearful of rejection and your wrath. Be careful.
  3. Risk of Failure – There is always risk of failure but we live life forward and learn it backwards. Make mistakes, but not the same mistakes.
  4. Limits Ability to Ask for Help – normally perfectionist want to do it all on their own. We can’t know everything now a days and we should be expected to.
  5. Procrastination – This is probably the biggest downfall; you never start because the path isn’t clear. Just Start, Review, Adjust, Review, Adjust and so on. Just make sure you have some guardrails around you so you don’t drive off a cliff.

Are Your Goals Written Down?

Do You have Clear Targets?

Starting a new year is always a big event for me as my wife can attest. I like to plan, document, dream, digest and discuss with my wife my thoughts for the new year. This process helps me make sure my goals make sense, my blind spots are covered and my wife and I are aligned. I feel alignment of priorities as well as working on the important goals is probably the best gift you can give yourself at the beginning of the year.

I tried a newer tool this year that I have used in business for many years. It is called the One Page Strategy Plan which was created by the Gazelles company. I am still using my other tools to process, digest and firm up my goals for the year as well as assess how in balance I am across my life domains. I usually start this process in December and work like crazy to have it done by January 1st.

If you haven’t created your goals, or a life plan for the year. Here are some questions you might consider to get your brain in gear.

  • How balanced am I across my life domains?
  • What is your biggest time waster and what are you going to do about it this year?
  • What are you doing this year that will matter in 10 years, in 50 years?
  • What bad habit will you stop?
  • What good habit are you going to begin – by when?
  • In what life domain do you need to grow this year?

Your Thoughts Are Not a Plan

Tools You Can Use for 2017

You may think your thoughts are a plan.  You may even think your hopes and wishes are a plan. The reality is your thoughts, your hopes and your wishes are simply ideas, but it certainly is not a plan.

I have been doing annual planning for many years and I continue to learn tips on how to make my plan and goals better which I like to share.  Two of my goals for 2016 was to take quarterly get aways with my wife and a family Christmas trip. It took planning and effort but we were able to pull it off. It was a great trip this year especially because we brought our daughters husband and boyfriends.

Any kind of planning takes focused effort.  Then the hard part – Execution!!!  I know a few people that are control freaks or they are seeking perfection.  Those traits kill plans everyday so be careful if you have either of those. Perfection is the enemy of progress, so remember to keep taking steps.

So how is your plan for 2017?  Do you have specific goals that are measurable, realistic and have a deadline?  I have included links to the tools I use that can help you have a successful year.   Remember when making goals if it is not a “Hell Yes, it’s a No”!

Action Steps