How to get back on track at work

“If you don't like how things are, change it! You're not a tree.” - Jim Rohn

You’re slaving away at work so why do you feel as if you’re constantly taking 1 step forward yet 2 steps backwards? Intuitively you know you should be spending 80% of your time on the key aspects of your role, but you’re so busy you can only find time for 15 – 20%. Surely there’s got to be a better way?

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The most powerful way to breakthrough productivity

“Knowledge isn’t power, applied knowledge is power” — Eric Thomas

Nike’s Just Do It slogan coined in 1988 is the company’s most successful campaign. So successful it helped catapult Nike to the next level as market share soared from 18% to 43% between 1988 – 1998.  What critical aspects of our lives should we apply a Just do It mindset to?

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Is the way you work how you want to be known?

“I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions.” ― Stephen Covey

In Stephen Covey’s classic productivity books (First Things First and The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People), Covey expressed the virtues of focusing on the most important work before the lesser important work and to prioritise based on importance instead of just urgency. While that might be the intent and preference for many workers, it’s not necessarily what they do. Is there a disconnect between how you work and what you want to be known for?

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The work 4 days a week get paid for 5 productivity experiment

“What we’ve done is offer our employees a more flexible arrangement whereby they can have an extra day off if they can demonstrate the same level of productivity in that time, without any change to their wages” – Andrew Barnes

Imagine working 4 days a week but getting paid for 5. It’d be a dream job, wouldn’t it? Well, that’s what Perpetual Guardian (a New Zealand company) just successfully trialled. Could this possible at your workplace?

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An empty inbox shouldn’t be aspirational for everyone!

“A rigid, one-size-fits-all approach usually ends up fitting no one” – Patrick Lencioni

Every time management course I ever attended expounded the virtues of an empty inbox. I must admit that’s how I operate my work email account. However, just because I manage my email that way doesn’t mean everyone who I consult to should do the same. In fact, maintaining an empty inbox should not be aspirational for everyone.

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The simplest way to make progress and reduce overwhelm

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small, manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one” - Mark Twain

We’re usually distracted by what’s not done. Have you noticed a sense of relief when you clear the backlog of outstanding work? An efficient workflow is such an important part of being able to consistently work effectively. Does the way you work enable you to make progress? Or are your work methods increasing the level of overwhelm?

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Get rid of the irrelevant time wasters

“Wasting time is robbing oneself” – Estonian proverb

If you’re like me then you have so many opportunities with what you do with the available hours each day and week. When I reflect on how the days roll into weeks and the weeks into months, I find it’s important not to waste time because there is so much to do and so much I want to do. Well, I have a confession to make. I don’t have much patience for people who unnecessarily waste my time. What or who are wasting your time?

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Does the way you work enable your best work?

“When I perform, I'm just very much just being myself” – India Arie

We have our likes, dislikes, preferences, even obsessions. Well, I’m obsessed with helping people work effectively. My passion comes from experiencing what was essentially a breakdown in 2006 caused by working relentless long hours but ineffectively. My whole world changed when I learnt that by working smarter I could be more effective in less time. I’m in a position where every week I meet workers who limit their success and job satisfaction due to the way they work. Does the way you work enable you to consistently produce your best work?

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Do you plan and schedule for success or failure?

“Plan your work and work your plan” - Napoleon Hill

I knew planning and scheduling were issues faced by many workers, but never in my wildest dreams did I realise it was to this magnitude. After recently writing Your schedule doesn’t replace the need to plan so many people have bravely contacted me to share their challenges. Do you plan and schedule for success or failure?

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A 12-year study found CEO’s need to make meetings shorter and more effective

“When leaders know how to lead great meetings, there's less time wasted and less frustration. We have more energy to do the work that matters, realize our full potential, and do great things” - Justin Rosenstein

​​​​​​​An organisations culture is heavily influenced by those in leadership roles. How CEO’s run meetings permeate throughout the layers of the organisation. A 12-year study revealed that meetings are an even bigger issue than the business community realises. In short, CEO’s need to make meetings shorter and more effective.

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Your schedule doesn’t replace the need to plan

“A plan is what, a schedule is when. It takes both a plan and a schedule to get things done” – Peter Turla

There’s a big difference between planning and scheduling. It’s not effective to do one without the other. A plan without a schedule isn’t specific enough. Whereas, a schedule without a plan is too detailed and short-term focused. Scheduling when you intend to take action doesn’t replace the need for planning. Instead, it increases it.

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Are you resisting the opportunity to work smarter?

“What got you here won’t get you there” — Marshall Goldsmith

How we work is engrained. We default to what seems natural each day but especially so during busy periods or when pressure is at its highest. It sounds good in theory but it's not for the workers who have ineffective work methods. Are you resisting the opportunity to work smarter?

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How to stop wasting time at work

“You either waste, spend or invest time. Make your choice wisely” - Sunday Adelaja

How much time do you waste at work? Come on be honest, whether it’s on purpose or by accident, you’ll be wasting some time each week. If you’re not, then you’re in the minority because according to a Forbes study, 89% of people waste time at work. What can be done to limit the amount of time wasted?

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Meeting actions – do you negotiate or blindly accept?

“You can do anything, but not everything” – David Allen

I didn’t realise what a can of worms I was opening when I decided to write some blogs on meetings!!! (See Elon Musk’s 3 rules on meetings, Do this after every meeting and How to make status meetings more effective). Feedback has ranged from being thanked for providing pragmatic tips through to detailed questions on how to run better meetings. There’s one theme though that’s stirred the emotions more than anything else and that’s: “How do I to stop overcommitting during meetings when my manager is allocating tasks I don’t think I can achieve in the expected timeframe, but before you know it I've said yes.”

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How to make status meetings more effective

“Actions speak louder than meetings” - Lee Clow

Ineffective meetings that don’t drive decisions are a waste of time. This is especially true with status meetings. Sure, the team needs awareness of the issues and progress of key initiatives but having key resources just talk about what they’ve been up to is inefficient when it doesn’t lead discussion on the most important points. Is there another way to hold meetings more effectively?

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Do this after every meeting

"If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself" - Henry Ford

How often have you attended a meeting and the energy is sucked out of the room when it’s discovered that agreed actions from the previous meeting weren’t done? It happens a lot, doesn’t it? Whoever missed the deadline apologies, explains how busy they were and then commits they’ll get it done by the next meeting. This has a big bearing on the success, tone and culture of meetings.

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When you don't have enough time to do it all

“Unnatural work produces too much stress” – Bhagavad Gita

A familiar theme for middle and senior managers is a feeling of not having enough hours in the day to get everything done. The sentiment is exasperated even more when their manager above or direct reports aren’t helping much or supportive. The result is stress, poor sleep and a lack of enjoyment in the job. What do you do when you don’t have enough time to do it all?

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Elon Musk’s 3 rules on meetings

“The least productive people are usually the ones who are most in favor of holding meetings” - Thomas Sowell

The #1 complaint busy workers tell me a major impediment is to getting their work done is due to the amount of time consumed attending meetings. That shouldn’t surprise as it’s widely reported how white-collar workers typically attend an average of 61.8 meetings per month with at least 50% of meeting time is wasted. How do the best deal with so many meetings?

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