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In my previous blog on Managing Your Time, I urged you to look at “time” as you do “money.” I invited you to assign a dollar amount to each work task in your day. By the end of the day, ideally, if you did everything on the list, you’d figuratively earn a day’s pay....read more
If money drives you, think about placing a dollar amount on your day equal to the effort and efficiency you put forth. This is one of my clients' favorite strategies for enhancing productivity and assessing their performance at day’s end. For example, imagine a day...read more
Planning the next day’s activities with inspiration as your guide helps you make better choices with your time. In the next two blog posts, I will share ways of enhancing your performance in more mindful and meaningful ways. These approaches yield improved mental...read more
As a leader, delegation is an essential skill for maximizing productivity and managing stress when workloads are large and deadlines are tight. The problem is, many entrepreneurs wait too long to entrust others. This is often where “delegating” gets its bad name....read more
Among the many attributes associated with entrepreneurs, the tendency to worry is high on the list. Worriers, like entrepreneurs tend to be conscientious, ambitious, competitive, and always on the lookout for opportunity. These positive traits may also associated with...read more
Q: I’m an intrapreneur in my company. I come up with and execute revenue-producing ideas with little risk to me personally. But when a great idea goes bust, I have a hard time shirking it and moving on. I think this tendency will come to bite me when I’m my own boss someday. Transitioning is hard, what to do? Dan R. Toronto, Canada
“Transitioning” has a broad definition. For those who have the gift of hyperfocus, breaking away from one activity to move on to something else is challenging. You know you need to stop, but you need a team of wild horses to drag you to the next activity. Others need lots of time to stop thinking about one task so as to start thinking about the next task. For example, you may find yourself in a meeting with your accountant, and as he points out the numbers, your “guy in the basement” (see blog from 5-8-18) is still stuck on the design of your packaging.
Dan’s transitioning concern is about moving on emotionally from a failed project to a new idea. Even though he experienced no personal financial loss, the time spent grieving, blaming and shaming wastes time and energy. Lots of hands go up when you ask founders if they know what Dan is going through. One solution is to step back and examine the situation like a scientist peering into a microscope − what went wrong and how you can avoid these mistakes the next time around. Common missteps to avoid in your next project include:
- communication failures between persons and departments
- no “walk through” period to identify weaknesses or ambiguities in the process
- identifying persons key to the success of the project who were not suited or not in favor of the project from the start– the stealthy saboteurs
- a lack of oversight during the rollout; poor monitoring the money, service quality and customer feedback.
Swallow that “jagged little pill” and take responsibility for the failure. Even though others may have contributed to the project’s demise, release your grudges. These persons know who they are, what they did and realize they have let you down. You have learned something new about the people you work with. Be professional and remain cordial. Note that especially in small companies, you may need these folks again in the next project. Perhaps, next time, they’ll step up to the plate.
Emotional self-regulation is a core executive function that every self-starter needs to master. Learn about effective, non-medication ways to manage your emotions and make transitions easier. Contact me at [email protected]
Q: There are times when I’m concerned or worried about a problem with my business and there’s no one I can talk to about it. My family and co-founder will listen, but I have to be careful there. Even though the problem is fixable, they will tend to overreact and that’s not helpful. What to do? Janice B. Portsmouth, NH
Break away from the crowd and write down your thoughts, worries, fears and concerns. My clients often roll their eyes when they hear the word “journaling,” mostly because it sounds too earthy-crunchy, or it suggests just another to-do. Not something you need to do every day but writing down the problems, how you feel about them and possible solutions, is helpful when you need clarity before taking action. Expressing yourself to yourself on paper, ignoring the need for perfect grammar or punctuation, relieves stress. Swear, doodle and write down all the non-PC things you’d like to say! Put it all out there…on paper, of course. How liberating! Writing out self-affirmations, or your WHYs can perk up your spirits and jostle you out of that stuck, murky state of malaise.
If your concerns are multi-factorial and don’t take well to a narrative or bullet point format, draw a mind-map so you can see the interconnectedness between problems, people and things. Plus, writing by hand is soothing. It provides an inner peace in a way that typing on a computer cannot. Keep the entry or mind-map for reference and make changes when an idea pops up.
Don’t let stress strangle your startup. Meditate, exercise, and strengthen your core with CoreFour coaching. Contact me at [email protected]
Founders short on time and money tend to short communication with staff. Hasty hires, ignoring minor office tiffs, hazy objectives and the like can cost more time and money in the end. These problems aren’t too great for your health either. Minutes of wholehearted, attentive listening can save a company millions. Research shows that founders who foster a mindful listening environment meet their deadlines and quotas more often, are more successful and have happier and sustainable teams. It’s never too late to infuse more mindful listening into your startup.
Hands down, the best ways to improve communication is to have quarterly face-to-face, electronic-free, 20 minute meetings with each employee. The goal, simply by listening, makes your employees feel valued and respected for their ideas and opinions. I have found that giving an employee just five minutes of uninterrupted, earnest listening can be transformative.
Discovering an employee’s learning and communication style can be very helpful in forming teams and meeting expectations. Are they high energy and assertive, meek and agreeable, task driven or deadline driven? Are they static or growth oriented? What are their values, and why do or don’t they show up to work every day? Expensive surveys are a time hog, touted as a time saving way to get a pulse on the opinions of the group, barely skim the surface of what employees need and want to make your company great.If you offer these periodic connection conversations, come performance review time, your employees will show greater willingness to accept feedback and make needed changes.
Founders alert: Short on time and money? Can’t afford expensive consultants and training? Get a 60 minute personalized coaching session with me. Learn how a few simple changes to your listening style can upgrade your team’s efficiency and productivity. Contact me at [email protected]
So much attention is paid to diet and exercise, but what about sleep? Sleep has a greater effect on mood, energy and productivity. Diet and exercise regimens take time, planning, shopping, gear or travel to the gym. Better sleep can be tweaked with just a little awareness.
I’ve been reading Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker PhD. It’s an easy and informative guide to help understand how sleep works and why it deserves equal attention.
Like a balanced diet or an exercise routine (“interval training” for example), you need enough sleep to get the right balance; 7-9 hours for most of us. Throughout the night, while asleep, your brain produces alternating rhythms − slow wave or Non-REM sleep and fast wave or REM dreaming sleep. Walker uses a sculpting as an analogy for how these two kinds of sleep are necessary and work together. Think of your brain being a mass of clay at day’s end. During the first part of the night, the slow wave sleep (NREM) works long and hard to chip away at irrelevant data from the day, exposing a contour of the “new you” for the fast wave (REM) detail work to begin. The 2nd half of the night the master sculptor (REM) becomes more dominant; it integrates and consolidates the learning and insights (neural connections) from the previous day. By the morning both (NREM) and REM have done their jobs − Voila! You wake up ready to take on new learning and ideas.
Like an unbalanced diet or a lop-sided workout, shorting on sleep deprives you of the equalizing kind of restoration you need to be creative and productive.
Being the CEO in charge of your sleep is just one of our CoreFour strategies. Learn more about CoreFour Coaching at www.MindfulCommunication.com.
A February 2017 Inc. Magazine article by Dan Scalco titled Four Ways to Stop Procrastinating Right Now provided some helpful tips for managing procrastination such as creating false (earlier) deadlines, donating $5 to a charity for every hour you waste, and moving tasks to the afternoon if you idled away your morning. His first suggestion, however, was the (10 +2)x 5 rule. This process reportedly makes a work task “less intimidating.” The (10 +2)x 5 rule goes like this: do 10 minutes of focused work with a 2 minute break and to repeat this interval 5 times which results in 50 minutes of work. The (10 +2)x 5 rule will keep you on your toes, but it is flawed.
This rule feeds your distractible nature and discourages concentration on a task. The (10+2) x5 rule may come in handy for folding laundry or doing yard work, but not for work that requires analysis, processing, or integration of complex information. Here’s why:
- As clock ticks closer to minute #8 there’s the tendency to start looking forward to the break or rushing the work to beat the clock, again wasting time.
- If most of your work involves the computer, your 2 minute break will likely be spent on the Internet or on your phone (Good luck keeping those breaks to 2 minutes!).
The (10+2) x5 rule also assumes that you will make nice, clean transitions from the break to the task. Unfortunately, research shows that your brain will continue to reflect on the entertainment from break time for at least a few minutes before you can steer your concentration to the task. Therefore, if you factor in transition time, time needed to re-engage in the task, and time anticipating your break you may end up flipping those numbers – it’s more like 2 minutes of work and 10 minutes or more of break time!
A better system is to keep your phone and any other controllable distraction in another room. Allocate 30 minutes of work and 5-10 minutes of a break. Do that interval 5x and you’ll get close to a good 2 hours of work. Make your breaks screen-less – a brisk walk or some stairs will make the mental transition time shorter. Physical exercise will help you process the portion of the task you just completed, improve your focus and your attitude about the task you’re trying to complete. This (30+10)x5 is much more productive way to get things done.
Just as there are different brains, there are different ways to avoid procrastination. To learn more and to come up with a system that works for you, contact me at [email protected]