• 5 Tips on How to Be More Effective

    Manage yourself and be disciplined in the choices you make about what you do with your time.

    There’s a lot of talk swirling around about time management – but what is it, really? Time cannot be managed. It marches on, whether or not you complete the tasks necessary for executing your business strategy.

    What you can do though is manage yourself and be disciplined in the choices you make about what you do with your time.

    In order to become more effective in our actions, we need to learn to focus on outcomes, with ends not only in mind, but with intense concentration on those ends. This means eliminating distractions.

    We all live in the new age: the “dimension of distraction”.  With the relentless use of email, constant 24/7 bombardment of media from all different channels, and a sense that we need to be connected socially at all times, focusing has become more difficult than ever. In fact,

    The average manager is interrupted every 8 minutes[1] and the average employee spends 28% of their time wrapped up in unnecessary interruptions (plus recovery time)[2].

    These distractions can take up a huge portion of the workday and significantly reduce your level of productivity…if you let them.

    How can you, an entrepreneur focussed on success, eliminate the time you and your employees waste in distracted behaviour? How can you increase productivity? How can you elicit high-level activity for the realisation of goals in alignment with your business strategy? How can you enhance “time management?”

    Here are some tips for achieving all of the above:

    • Dissect every long-term goal into smaller, manageable short-term goals. And then, focus on each one without interruptions. Log out of email. Shut down social media. Silence your phone. Focus specifically, and solely, on the task (goal) at hand, and watch how quickly these things get done without distractions.
    • Designate “open door” times. An open-door policy dictates that you will be available for questions, comments and conversation during a predetermined times (e.g. 3-5 pm). At all other times, your door is closed while you work on executing your business strategy. Remember that every distraction requires five minutes’ worth of recovery. Multiplied over a week’s time, that’s hours of productivity lost.
    • Keep a journal to discover your most productive activities and times of day. Ever notice how some days are more productive than others? And how you seem to be most industrious in some environments (more than others)? Write down where you are, what times you’re there and what you’ve accomplished every day. Look for positive production patterns and repeat them.
    • Follow the 80/20 rule. Remember that 80% of your results will come from 20% of your work and time investment. Find out what’s most important to your business strategy, couple that with your most productive times, places, and tasks…and come up with your very own unique plan for getting the most done in the least amount of time.
    • Replace to-do lists with an appointment book. Appointment books aren’t just for meetings anymore. Use one to schedule tasks necessary to the implementation of your business strategy, and watch your commitment to, and results of, getting those tasks done improve. Block out times to work exclusively on specific tasks, in order of importance. Eliminate distractions during those blocked times. Assign a desired outcome to every time block / task, so you’re continually striving toward a short-term goal.

    Are you struggling with too many distractions on a daily basis and looking for the most efficient way to manage your attention to tasks…and therefore “manage your time?” Then might I suggest that we schedule a FREE 30-minute consultation, in which you and I will discuss your unique business strategy and how to best execute it? Contact me here to schedule an appointment.

    [1] Priority Management

    [2] Basex

  • 7 Benefits of Delegating

    When you learn to delegate, you learn to help your business succeed.

    In the previous blog, you learned the difference between accountability and responsibility, and now it’s time to learn how you can remain accountable while delegating responsibilities to others.

    Many of you will admit that delegating is difficult. For some, it’s perfectionism or a lack of trust that keeps them from handing over tasks. Others feel that it’s just easier to do it themselves, they don’t want to impose, they enjoy the tasks they’re completing or they just don’t feel they have the time to monitor and follow up on delegated tasks.

    Letting go and trusting that others will complete tasks is a big problem for many business owners. They think that micromanaging is a better, more comfortable solution…but they end up disempowering their staff and generally driving down their businesses.

    The practice of business owners doing the highest value jobs, whilst passing other lower-level tasks to employees (or to managers, who then delegate to employees), is a good business practice that will ultimately result in the following benefits:

    1. You can devote the majority of your time to those tasks most important to building your business, its relationships and its reach.
    2. Employees get opportunities to grow and to feel empowered with responsibility.
    3. Employees feel challenged and proud of what they’ve accomplished, meaning they will be champions for your business—at work and on their own time.
    4. You are not highly skilled in every task. Chances are that someone else within your organisation is better at a lower-level task than you are.
    5. There’s no better or more efficient way to get things done than to delegate tasks to those people who are best equipped to complete them.
    6. Something that feels tedious to you will feed someone else’s passion.
    7. Developing your delegation skills (and overcoming your fear of it) is a valuable skill that will help you to advance your career.

    Even with all of these benefits in mind, it can still be difficult to get started in learning to delegate. Many leaders choose to bypass the acquisition of this valuable skill—and unfortunately, their businesses suffer.

    A survey has found that 46% of companies have a high level of concern for their employees’ delegation skills. However, only 28% of them offer training to develop those skills[1].

    It rarely works well for the same person to be both accountable and responsible for any task or project. For this reason, delegation of duties is crucial to success. But as you can see in the above stat, there isn’t a lot of support for developing those skills.

    So, what can you do to get started? The first step is recognising that everybody in an organisation should be doing tasks that are their highest value.  What tasks/roles do you have that add the highest value? Focus on freeing up your time to do more of these higher value tasks and hand down everything else.  Specifically delegate those tasks that are:

    • repetitive
    • a complete task, rather than part of a bigger task
    • of interest to an employee
    • within an employee’s specific skillset
    • important for building an employee’s skillset
    • outside your own skillset
    • of low importance
    • not urgent (yet!)

    After you have identified tasks that would work well for delegation, follow these guidelines when communicating the tasks to your employee(s):

    • Give a clear explanation of what the job entails.
    • Stipulate what you expect the employee to learn by completing the task.
    • Ensure that the employee knows where to go for help or support.
    • Clearly communicate what you expect as an end result, but leave the method up to the employee.
    • Ensure that the employee knows who is accountable for the task (i.e. who should be reported to).
    • Invite questions and opinions.
    • Agree on a plan of action for moving forward (due date, etc.).
    • Articulate your confidence in this person.
    • Monitor their progress, particularly the first few times they complete this type of task.
    • Give feedback and recognise the employee for a job well-done.
    • Remember to reward the completion of tasks, over time, with benefits, raises in pay, promotions, etc.

    When you learn to delegate, you learn to help your business succeed. You may not realise it, but many of your employees are just waiting to be given more responsibility—because that is an indicator of your trust in them. Learn to trust your staff and to delegate and you will be surprised at the level of talent already in your business waiting to be discovered. By learning to delegate you are developing your staff by helping them to grow and increase the highest value tasks that they can do in an organisation.  If everyone spends most of their time doing their highest value tasks your business will grow rapidly.

    Need some guidance as you break through your fear of delegation? Or are you wondering if your current delegation plan is the most effective and efficient it can be? Let’s schedule a 30-minute consultation. We’ll discuss how you can use delegation to fuel your business’s success. Contact me here.

    [1] Institute for Corporate Productivity

  • Who’s stealing your Time???

    2014-08-04 16.23.38

    Who doesn’t wish that there were an extra two or three hours in the day to just get everything done?  One of the most pressing issues that we face daily is how to manage all the demands placed on us by work, family, friends and others, whilst also maintaining our health, well-being and emotional sanity.

    It is all too easy to become victims of working too hard, playing too little, perhaps drinking too much and sleeping too poorly.  No wonder we end up drawn out and stressed, feeling like we are barely surviving rather than living with passion.  Whilst I am a big supporter of endeavouring to be more, do more, have more, give more, this cannot be to the detriment of our inner alignment and ensuring a fully balanced life.

    How can we stop this vicious cycle of feeling constantly that there is not enough time?

    The first place to start is to ask: “Where is my time going?”

    To Do or Not To Do?

    Do you start your day with a clear achievable plan of what you want in terms of results for your day?  Or are you just blindly following your “To Do” list?  I know that for much of my adult life I have let my To Do list be the dictator in my life.  My To Do list is never satisfied; it is a hard task master and never acknowledges me.

    No matter how hard you work during the day do you end the day feeling a sense of overwhelm with just how many things that there are still on your list?

    So here is some bad news…there will always be too many things on your list to ever get finished.  The good news though is that you can change how you view your To Do list so that you become master of it and use it to serve you in your life to get what you want.

    The first place to start is to use Steven Covey’s time management matrix (from the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People) to assess what is important to you and how you are spending your time.

    So create a table like the one below with 4 boxes labelled as shown in the diagram. Re write all your To Dos in each of these 4 boxes depending on each task’s level of urgency and importance.

    Isabel

    Like most people you will probably find that most of your To Dos are in quadrant 1 whilst those tasks in quadrant 2 (those what will make a positive difference in your life) perhaps keep getting moved from one To Do list to another e.g. update CV, write chapter of my book, create business plan, organise “date night”, go to new yoga class etc.

    One of the key ways to feel a sense of accomplishment every day is to look at your To Dos daily and pick at least one thing from quadrant 2 and make sure that you take one step towards completing the task each day.  This way you know that you are moving forward and step by step making a difference in your life.

    Where Does Time Go?

    How can we ensure that there is enough time to get done some of the things in quadrant 2?

    One important exercise is to start monitoring how you are actually spending your time.  This will help you to raise your awareness to see if you are getting results or simply “being busy”. It is very easy to be the latter so start by splitting your day into 15 minute slots and use the same quadrants you have created previously to note down how you spend your time.

    If you are like me when I did this exercise I was amazed by just how much time was spent in quadrants 3 and 4.  These are areas where time can be regained as To Dos in quadrant 3 and 4 can often be ditched as they are either other people’s agenda, or it is simply wasting time (e.g. filing, cleaning, meetings without purpose etc).  If you want time to do things in quadrant 2 note how you spend your time and start to limit or entirely stop doing these To Dos in quadrants 3&4.

    You can only improve that which you measure.

    Small steps pursued consistently lead to massive change.  Learning how to manage your time is a key skill to master, to help you feel more fulfilled each day and enjoy a sense of well-being and achievement.

    Try these two small steps for the coming week (review your daily To Do’s using the Covery time matrix model and monitor how you spend your time), and see what a difference it makes to you.

    As always awareness brings its own rewards and note what happens this week when you do these exercises.

    My own experience is that by monitoring my time and making sure that every day I do something from quadrant 2, I have found myself becoming more efficient and less distracted by activities in quadrant 3&4. Over time I have learnt to spend less time in fire-fighting mode and more time focused on really moving my life forward and spending it doing what I love.

    Certainly by making and spending time doing things that are important to you, life feels less “busy” and you start generating positive results in your life helping you to feel more fulfilled and stay aligned to your highest purpose.

    For more information on how to create aligned, high performance teams click here to get your free e-book:

    Engage, Enthuse and Empower your Teams

  • 4

    10 Tips To Help You Live A Life Of Passion

    I believe that passion has become rather one dimensional in our lives, with the focus only on sexual desire.  What a shame.  Passion is actually gloriously multi-dimensional, expressing powerful and compelling feelings or emotions and bringing life into vivid Technicolor.

    Living our lives with passion though is not how most of us choose to live.    Most of us go through life wishing we were somewhere else, doing something else or living somehow differently.     When was the last time in your life that you truly felt the blood pumping in your veins, your heart uplifted and experienced being totally in the moment?

    But “passion can be dangerous” you say.  Goodness, who knows where living passionately will lead us! How much easier to play safe and stay in our comfort zone, dulling the emotions and flattening our life experience.

    For the brave who choose to take the path to a passionate life, the journey takes time and is undoubtedly challenging.   If you are up for the adventure the rewards are profound.  Whilst the destination will vary the features are the same: a life lived with passion is one filled with joy, enthusiasm, simplicity, a sense of purpose, energy and feeling of being connected to yourself.

    Choosing to live your life with passion starts with shifting your mind-set.  It requires deciding that living a life with passion is a goal worth pursuing.  Apathy and lassitude are prevailing forces in our culture, so learning to live a passionate life requires discipline and commitment to overcome these tendencies.

    To pledge to a passionate life requires overcoming a lack of belief that is it possible to do so.  It requires giving up closed or negative thinking that can keep us stuck.  It requires focus, responsibility and the requirement to simplify life.  No one can be passionate if they are feeling cluttered, overscheduled and overwhelmed in life.  Being passionate by definition means to experience powerful emotions.  It is not possible to live a passionate life if you are emotionally unhealthy e.g. depressed, anxious, stressed etc.

    Passion in life starts with having a vision, goal or desire that inspires you, helping you to move towards what you want to be, do or have.  As with changing any old ways of thinking and behaving living life with passion takes time and is testing.  Being willing to keep going no matter what is one of the keys to living a life you love.

    How can you live a life with passion?

    1)      Take time – you can’t make changes in life unless you make time to reflect.

    2)      Change how you see yourself – consider who would you have to be to live the life you want?

    3)      Believe in yourself – you are the creator of your life. You are 100% responsible. You can make it happen.

    4)      Speak from the heart – dare to be honest with yourself and then with others.

    5)      BWTEIM (begin with the end in mind) – create a clear vision of what you really want your life to look like and stick your flag in the sand in front of you.  Now you have a destination.

    6)      Face your fear – look it square in the eyes and take the first step anyway.

    7)      Shut out the self-chatter – be an observer and don’t get enrolled in your mental noise.  Keep focused on vision.

    8)      Write it down – get it out of your head and onto paper in words or pictures.  This helps clarify our thinking and makes it real.

    9)      Look for fun – we miss so many amazing things in life by being so busy, keep an eye out for what brings you joy and happiness.

    10)   Keep going – learning and growth happens in your breakdowns. Have courage, be committed be curious.

    One really good coaching question I like to ask clients who may be stuck looking for their purpose and passion is to ask them:

    “What would you be doing if you only had a short time to live and/or money was no object?”

    I ask this to you now.  I would love to hear in the comments below what are you passionate about?