February 4, 2021 8:06 pm

Brian woke when it was dark. Kissing the cheek of his still resting wife, he grabbed his favourite jeans, shirt and boots, and headed to the kitchen for coffee.

Catching sight of himself in the glass splashback he noticed the once slim figure was showing signs of neglect. The early morning gym sessions had given way to before-dawn office starts. He promised himself he’d go after work; but this gave way to long days, working weekends and too much travel, not to mention the management team’s constant demands on him (and his demands of them). There were only rare moments dedicated to catching up, and never enough of these to make a genuine dent in the unrelenting stream of work.

Early on, he’d told himself the busyness would abate. He knew that building a business from scratch would take everything, in the short term. It wasn’t going to just build itself, was it? That was over a decade ago. Always feeling behind he managed his daily anxiety on five double espressos, a six-pack of beer and often finishing with a late-night double whisky and potato-chips before returning home.

Leaving just before 4.30 a.m in his Mercedes, one of the first business-related rewards he’d allowed himself, he had determined that today would be different. Things were out of control. Conquering the desk-mess was first on the agenda and then bringing order to his diary; check-in with the team, respond to the mounting piles of overdue calls and emails. Maybe he’d even make it home to share dinner with the family tonight.

Unlocking the building’s front door, he walked down the dimly lit hallway to his office, feeling lighter already. It was quiet – just as he had hoped. He knew he could get through almost a day’s work before everyone arrived. Sliding into his chair, he took in the scene—numerous unread emails populated the screen, paper stacks and miscellaneous items lay about on the desk and floor. Notebooks, the whiteboard…

Overwhelmed, he went to the kitchen.

“You’re here early,” a bright voice broke the silence from behind. It was Sheree, his general manager.  “I thought I’d be the first one here but you beat me to it. Don’t you ever sleep?” she asked. “I thought I’d try and get some shit cleaned up before the interruptions started” he replied. Walking to the door, Sheree turned and said, “Do you have a minute to discuss last month’s reports? I’ve found some significant performance issues that may impact the next quarter’s results….”

Two hours later, he emerged from Sheree’s office, exhausted. Heading for another coffee, Steve, his operations manager stopped him. “Could I see you for a moment?” he asked. “Sure,” Brian said, “take all the time you need.”

Arriving home well after dark, Brian hauled himself into bed, kissed his resting wife, and hoped tomorrow would be different.

Personal Note. 
Our main character Brian is fictional. However, parts of his experience were evident in the early days of starting my own business, many years ago. Thankfully, I got help and found a way through and out. It has been a great pleasure to have coached others over the past decade to find their way forward – to keep pace with business growth whilst simultaneously expanding their capacity to create and enjoy personal ease and a more balanced lifestyle. Touch base with me if you’d like to discuss your situation further. 


*Photo by Wonderlane

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Are you delegating or abdicating?

July 24, 2020 1:23 pm

Delegation is an effective leadership and time management tool. It allows us to hand over individual tasks and greater areas of responsibility to capable others enabling us to focus on higher-level work. However, while many think they are delegating they are actually abdicating.

The word delegate means the assigning of powers or functions to another, whereas abdicate means the giving up or relinquishment of power or responsibility. In delegation, we are assigning a person to act on our behalf but in abdication, we are renouncing our right, handing completely over to another.

In recent discussions with a managing director, we were discussing the differences between the two words and the importance of accountabilities. While many in leadership value giving capable others autonomous authority in their roles, sometimes it is more abdication in nature rather than delegation, as per the graphic below.

Delegation Abdication


You will notice that control is central to the management process. On one end it represents intensive control, where managers fail to let go and micromanage their people. This drives skilled people crazy and on the other end is no control—where leaders completely let go, fully trusting another with no oversight nor accountability.

While abdication has its place and is relevant in some situations it can’t be confused with delegation.

One of the most memorable examples of abdication was a business owner who had “delegated” the role of operational management. The manager was left to their own devices, was fully trusted, never actively managed, not accountable, ran his own show and caused great chaos over time. He was never reined in for his sloppy work nor poor leadership of his team. The business owner feared exercising any control at all. What he thought was delegation was pure abdication.

In over 30 years of leadership and management coaching, my experience suggests that effective delegation sits somewhere in the middle of the control continuum. While someone acts on my behalf in the fulfilment of tasks and roles, as the leader I still need to maintain some level of control in that, I guide, support and hold them answerable for their role performance and accountabilities. If I don’t do this, I have set them free to the winds of whim never really knowing that they are doing, how they are performing and hoping things will be okay. Not a great way to manage. 

The other item of note is the extent to which management control is required. Someone early in their career or those with shortfalls in certain areas obviously require higher degrees of training and management to those who have shown themselves to be fully capable. However, even those who are deemed to be fully competent in their roles, still require our oversight, support and the knowledge that they are responsible for certain outcomes and are accountable for such.

Effective delegation is about a personal connection with the delegatee and maintaining ones authority to govern and to lead. Abdication is fully letting go and hoping for the best. 

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When Not To Do The Hardest Things First

July 9, 2020 10:56 am

While the adage do the hardest things first has merit and is useful to counter procrastination, it doesn’t make sense to do high concentration/hard things, first up in the day if our energy is low. The adage should be re-written: do the hardest things when your energy is in its peak zone.

The set hours for one of my client’s employees was 8 am – 4 pm but the person struggled to get going until around 10 am. I suggested that if the person wasn’t required first thing in the day their hours could be changed from 10 am – 6 pm. The employee was extremely happy with the suggestion with both they, and the business, winning from the time shift. 

Aligning our tasks—according to the degree of difficulty and demand on us—to the rise and fall of our energies creates higher productivity than if we treat all hours the same. Seek to do your easier mundane tasks in the troughs and your most demanding work in the peaks. 

Photo by Vivek Sharma

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Planning and Writing it Down

February 28, 2020 6:14 am

I have completed many executive coaching assignments with business owners, managers and supervisors and one of the predominant challenges they have is balancing reactive and demanding workloads with being planned and forward-thinking.

The observed behaviour follows similar patterns:

  • Not responding to calls and emails in a timely manner;
  • Forgetting critical tasks that delay projects, cause cost blow-outs and create dissatisfied clients;
  • Neglecting their team members;
  • Not delegating effectively;
  • Internally rushed and bouncing from one urgent item to another.

I could go on…

Two foundational habits that require changing are those of taking time to plan and writing stuff down.

I have found, (and what I coach others in) is that the time invested in planning my day and week comes back at least fourfold, i.e., if I invest 15 minutes at the start of the day to plan it I generally get at least an hour back. Then, if I write everything down and don’t rely on my memory, I avoid all manner of negative outcomes—also saving time in the process.

Remember: whatever time you invest in being better organised always comes back in a manner greater than the initial investment.

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That Round and Round, Busy-But-Getting-Nowhere Kind of Work

February 14, 2020 7:41 am

It’s already February (Happy Valentines Day by the way) and I’m writing on this topic. It doesn’t seem to matter what time of year it is for those who are involved in a leadership capacity in busy work environments but too many tasks with a finite amount of time can take the joy out of work and make us feel weary at days end.

Many struggle with overloaded schedules and the corresponding coordination of tasks: to get done what needs to be done in a timely manner. Our automatic response is often reacting to the next thing on our plate and before we know it, the week has passed and we feel like we have achieved nothing apart from having exhausted ourselves.

I would like to propose a counter-intuitive solution:

The busier you are, allocate more frequent, smaller amounts of time, for thinking, task prioritisation and scheduling. 

Yes, it’s counter-intuitive but do it we must if we are to avoid the running on the circular, busy-but-getting-nowhere path that many of us unwittingly run on.

Thinking, prioritisation and scheduling helps us to:

  • create an inner equilibrium where we are clearer about what should take priority, what should be secondary and so forth;
  • gain a sense of progress as we move through our tasks in a more orderly fashion;
  • move to more of a methodical planned approach to our days rather than living in constant response and reactivity;
  • strangely…achieve more of what’s important.

Actions you can take to get off that circular, busy-but-getting-nowhere path are:

  • Have your day planned before you start it;
  • If you lead a team of people, always be asking, “who else could do this?”
  • Take frequent 1-2 minute planning breaks to look ahead at the next few hours;
  • Batch similar tasks into blocks of time so that you maintain clarity of mind and focus;
  • Ensure that all activities are aligned with your goals and required metrics. Don’t do something just because…;
  • Seek to ensure that you are regularly on top of email, phone calls etc. There is nothing like a hundred undealt emails in your inbox when you leave work to make you feel swamped and it is this sense of overwhelm that slows our pace.
  • Ease up. Instead of leaning forward and attempting to run at 110%, try easing back to 95%. The 5% energy/pace margin—again counter-intuitive—helps us work more effectively.
  • If you, like me, get to the end of a day or a week and wonder what you’ve actually done, start keeping a what I did well today list. This only needs to take a couple of minutes and can include the major tasks you’ve completed, the people you were kind to, the fact you took time for lunch and so forth. This list also provides feedback. Often, we don’t receive external reinforcement for a job well done. The what I did well today list sets up an inner feedback loop that can provide great encouragement that we are doing well and moving forward.

I would suggest that if you are on this circular path where you are busy but not getting very far, take one of the action points above and once it becomes more habitual, enact a second and so on.

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Efficiency. Converting Wasted Labor into Surplus Time

January 30, 2020 2:51 pm


I recently reviewed my efficiency and labour intensity across my business and identified one primary area of waste related to marketing. One activity I do weekly takes around five hours to complete and was tedious, to say the least.

Upon identification, I set the goal of reducing my labour in the most tedious part of it by fifty percent. I realised, that if I could outsource this part of the work I could achieve my goal.

The result: an estimated saving of two hours per week (not quite 50%) or when annualised – one hundred and four hours or two and a half workweeks.

In consulting to organisations, I have come to see that efficiency gains are to be found everywhere. The issue is, we are so busy doing the work that we’ve forgotten to step back from our work in order to look at what we are doing, why we are doing it and how it’s being completed.

What took me four hours in reflection, waste identification, creating a plan and initial implementation, provides a beautiful ongoing ROT (Return on Time) and a possible holiday in Tuscany with my surplus weeks:-))

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A Spinning Wheel Kind of Life

November 14, 2019 9:45 am

Spinning Wheel

Ever felt like this fella in the photo? Most of us, from time to time, experience the feeling of being a mouse on a spinning wheel: running hard but going nowhere. And perhaps, this is the way life has always been.

A frantic pace with fragmented peace.

Sometimes this wheel spinning kind of life:

  1. Is a result of being successful. We’ve worked hard and the resultant incoming work and promotions have created that “keep up, frantic, do what it takes momentum.”
  2. Is due to having grown up on the tools, taken orders and got used to a reactive schedule. Then, when we’ve gone into some form of leadership we still operate in those same kinds of “wheel spinning ways.”
  3. Happens because we want to do our very best and don’t want to disappoint others.
  4. Is related to an inner sense of, “if I am busy then people will deem me to be successful.”
  5. Is driven out of an inner disquiet. “If I keep myself active I won’t have time to think about all the shit in my life” or, “I’ve got too much on to deal with this now.” (Ten years later we are still saying the same thing).
  6. Results from the all roads syndrome. Many, if not all roads within our organisations lead to us and through us and because we keep spinning, we can’t get off long enough to plan a road re-route to utilise technology and effectively delegate to others.
Jumping off the Spinning Wheel

The above are but a few of the inherent reasons for wheel spinning but there is a way out, and this is what one person I am coaching is doing.

These are the recommendations I gave him and which, in a short period of time, he has successfully adopted.

  1. When you are working on something, keep a writing pad beside you to write down all the other items that come to mind. This way it keeps you focused on the major item in front of you. (I recall one client saying she received a Telco bill while working on a major task, got sidetracked and two hours later arrived back to what she was originally doing). Sound familiar?
  2. Give your phone to administration, hit Do Not Disturb or let it go through to voicemail when working on significant tasks. Take only urgent calls but leave the rest till later.
  3. Schedule your days. In my client’s case it was primarily:
    a. Quotes in the morning,
    b. Meetings and callbacks in the afternoon.
  4. Plan tomorrow, today.

Simple but effective.

These are but four disciplines that are taking him from the manic pace of the spinning wheel to the planned, disciplined and productive pathway on the ground.

If you feel like you are on the spinning wheel, the only way out is by getting off, even for short periods of time: to think, to plan, to utilise technology and others and to outsource wherever you can.

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Where Did The Day Go?

July 30, 2019 3:57 pm

where did the day go

My phone, for the first time, alerted me to the Screen Time analysis for the past week. I was astounded as I reviewed the data. Fortunately, most of the time was spent in productive activity however, it also helped me identify time waste, especially in how often I pick up the phone.  From this data, I now have the opportunity to make corrections to assist in concentrated focus and converting pick up time to more productive time.

Where Did The Day Go?

How often have we arrived home after a long, busy day and asked ourselves, “Where did the day go?” We were busy but achieved little.

Just as my phone gave me the Screen Time analysis, we can conduct our own Work Time analysis. From this, we can see both where our time went and then where we need to make corrections to increase concentration focus and productivity levels.

I conducted this analysis with a business leader, having him document, in 15-minute time increments, how he spent his time over the course of the week. One of the many insights was that his quoting preparation was happening all over the place due to incoming phone calls. From the data, we were able to ascertain when the peak levels for these calls were, allow for this in his schedule and then block a solid time for quoting on a daily basis. This enabled him to work with a singular focus, reduce the likelihood of errors on his quotes and overall increase his output. If we hadn’t completed the data analysis we could never have made such corrections.

Being busy is one thing. Being productive is quite another.

Analyse where the day went and then use the review-reflect-correct method to increase your outputs.

If you would like to look at where your day went, you can access a free Time Analysis template by clicking here.



PS. If you do this exercise, I’d love to know what your findings are from the analysis and the subsequent changes you are going to make. Feel free to email me at


*Photo by Michelle Sexton

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Reflections on Goals and Time

January 8, 2019 10:57 am


This time of year seems to contain a natural rhythm within it related to reflecting on the year past along with focusing on the year to come.

Here are some of my thoughts on goals and time that I have been entertaining these past weeks.


Goals set solely from the mind can indeed be achieved, but their longevity and the resulting satisfaction may be temporary—I have learned this point the hard way. However, goals that are aligned with our highest values—or those things that reflect our interests, passions and purpose—contain within them a power: both for accomplishment and maintaining of such. We are likely to achieve them faster and be more content upon their arrival.

The values-goal alignment is a powerful force that most don’t recognise in the goal-setting process but is well worth paying attention to. This applies to both the personal and corporate goal-setting process.

To read more on this topic see:
3 Reasons Why Goals Are Not Achieved – A Personal Perspective – BLOG
The Substance of Desire – Goal Achievement – BLOG


The Catholic scholar G.K. Chesterton states that “When you choose anything, you reject everything else…Every act is an irrevocable selection and exclusion.” *

When we choose to work on a quotation, for example, we are excluding everything else in the moment. Given this selection and exclusion process, it pays to be mindful of the extreme importance to be working on the highest priority task at any given time.

This is why re-active work is so detrimental to progress. When our days are those of putting out fires and bouncing from the urgent to the urgent, advancement is stymied.

As you plan the year and establish goals for yourself and your organisation— and even if you have already completed the exercise—I would suggest the following:

  • Ensure highest priority tasks relate directly to goal fulfilment and are scheduled into your diary.
  • Create a stop doing list and beside each item, list how you are going to cease from this activity.
  • Plan tomorrow today; next week this week. This method creates a higher success/fulfilment rate of top priority tasks.

I was watching the ocean waves last week and realised that each wave as it broke, would never happen again. The moment was gone. And so it is with each tick of the clock.

For more on this topic see:
Not Another Bloody Phone Call. BLOG
I’m Too Busy – BLOG
Lifestyle. Getting Your Life Back. BLOG

*G.K. Chesterton, “Orthodoxy” in The Collected Works of G.K. Chesterton Vol:1, San Francisco: Ignatius, 1986

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July 24, 2018 6:29 pm


The English word margin comes from the Latin word margo which means edge.  Its current usage is also used in the context of the provision of space or room. If there is no margin for error, we are on the edge.

Margin provides us with:
  • breathing room
  • allowances for error
  • calmness
  • greater levels of creative thinking
  • contentment
  • energy
  • physical refreshment
  • the personal effectiveness with others
  • increased work quality

When writing the couple of books that I have I have completed, one of the tasks at the outset was to establish the margins according to the publishers preferred parameters.

I think we were designed in a way as to have preferred margins,  breathing room that is according to who we are and our individual capacities.

And just as I had to manually make the margin adjustments in my writing, so it is in our lives. If we don’t set the limits, the default is often that the words will run to the sides of the page.

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Not Another Bloody Phone Call

April 26, 2018 11:51 am

Value Of The Next Call

How many times have you been meeting with someone, their phone rings, they grumble or swear, then answer it?

Customers detect overload.

All of us want to feel like we are the most important person at that time, particularly when we are buying a product or service. When we are treated in a rushed and gruff manner, we think twice about doing business with that person or company again.

If you find yourself on overload, overwhelmed and wishing you could throw your phone against a brick wall, try the following.

  • Give your phone to your receptionist or another relevant staff person for 30-60 minutes at a time so you can concentrate on important work. THEN, return any calls that require you to do so. If the calls that come through are urgent they can always advise you to call them immediately.
  • If you work on your own you can always employ the services of a Virtual Assistant to re-route your calls to.
  • Analyse your calls. I recall working with a General Manager who averaged 80-100 calls per day. A large percentage of those were able to be re-routed to others who were the more appropriate personnel to deal with such.
  • Train your clients. When I was working in finance many years ago, I created a business card for one of my key staff members and introduced her to all my clients as the best person to call, given that she knew what was happening with their files. I also said they I was always available to my key clients. Over a period of time, my calls reduced significantly.
  • Batch your calls. Most calls are not urgent and can be batch to be completed in scheduled blocks of time.

Treating people like they are the most important person in the world at the time of engagement goes a long way to fostering employee buy-in and increased customer sales and repeat business.

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Lifestyle. Getting Your Life Back

April 9, 2018 4:47 pm

Get Your Life Back
Lifestyle. Getting Your Life Back

Many of the business owners I work with struggle to have a life outside of work. They mostly enjoy what they do, but often long for a bit more freedom from the office.

If you find yourself longing for the outside here are ten points that I often use with business owners when helping them get their life back.

  1. Ask: What are the ingredients that (for you) contribute to living full of vitality? e.g. diet, fitness, rest, play, type of work etc.
  2. Understand what your limits are. What agendas and schedules have you living out on the edge?
  3. Clarify the outcomes you want along with some goals you know would breathe life into you. e.g. visit our beach house monthly; a fully systemised business; go to the gym 3 days per week; be home at 5 pm daily to see my children; complete a wine appreciation course.
  4. What are the key changes I need to make that will contribute to obtaining these outcomes/goals?
  5. Take time to design work pathways away from yourself. You don’t have to do it all. This often means a position description review of other employees and/or the recruitment of other key personnel in order to redistribute your tasks to them.
  6. Over time, incorporate into your schedule ONLY that which contributes to your desired outcomes.
  7. Always ask, “who else can do this?” Delegate and then follow up.
  8. Learn to say no to others agendas and yes to your own.
  9. Plan next week this week; tomorrow, today.
  10. When you leave the office, intentionally close your door as a way of mentally shifting gears to the life you are stepping into outside of the office walls.

Lifestyle is all about the style of life we are living. Managing our lives according to the outcomes we desire is a powerful way to live a fulfilled life.

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It’s Monday!!! How to achieve more this week.

July 24, 2017 3:48 am

Arriving at work on Monday can find us immediately immersed in a mountain load of to – do’s, meetings and demands that we are not quite prepared for and for many, Friday appears and we think “I feel like I’ve achieved nothing all week.”

If you find yourself facing a lot on your plate I would suggest that you take 10-15 minutes today, to list 3 – 7 major things that you would like to achieve this week and then block time into your diary for their accomplishment.

Focused managed task completion is much more effective than bouncing from item to item in a reactive style with your to-do list more likely to become the have-done list by weeks end.

You might also like…
Time Analysis Planner – Free Template
Priority Identification – Article

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Closing The Door On The Day

April 25, 2016 8:13 pm

Those of us who care about our work with the added fortune of an active mind find it difficult to not have the brain whirring of an evening or a weekend on work matters. Here is one suggestion with two physical variants that might be useful.

15-30 minute prior to leaving work, jot down your key tasks for tomorrow and enter them onto your calendar. Once complete, slowly review the list, your day tomorrow – signing off on the day just done. Then (and here is the key) physically close the door to your office and mentally leave your work there as you head home.

The variant to this if you are in an open plan office and don’t have a door is the physical closing or shutting down of your computer or the cover on your day pad.

Closing the door on work enables us to not only be more effective when we show up at the office next day but also when we show up at home that night.



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The Town Called Confusion

February 15, 2016 12:32 am

Given the busy lives many of us lead, there invariably arrives frequent states of confusion. Some live in its constant state, others daily, others less frequently. At least once a week (and sometimes more) I arrive at such a place.

The Latin root for confusion is confundere meaning to mingle together. It later developed to mean rout or bring to ruin.

The Latin root for fusion means to pour or melt – the process or result of joining two or more things together to form a single entity.

Confusion often results from intermingled thoughts and feelings, overloaded schedules and demands.  The fight we had with our partner before work; the ten calls and two quotes needed to be actioned this morning; the urgent travel arrangements; the seven messages and fifteen emails to be responded to. Once this intermingling occurs productivity goes down, blood pressure goes up, our fuse gets shorter and the to do list seems longer.

Fusion on the other hand is the ability of melting all of these conflicting tasks and thoughts into one streamlined process.

Stepping back is the key. My practice for many years, when I arrive at the town called confusion is to cease driving and take a break. It may only be for fifteen minutes but I stop, jump out of the car, have a coffee and review my tasks. I then batch these into blocks of time on the calendar while striking off non essential items and delegating some to others. It is the taking of single items and streamlining them into my day that brings the fusion. Where emotional angst is at play, I will allocate time in the diary to deal with it (yes, cold hearted scheduling) or, if I have the time, I will jot some notes in my journal about how I am feeling and attempt to get some perspective on it.

Creating fusion doesn’t just happen. It’s all about getting out from underneath the crushing weight of confusion in order to gain perspective, control and taking our power back.

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I’m Too Busy

July 2, 2015 8:40 pm

At various times in our work we find ourselves running at or close to personal capacity. Things are going well but we start to get the speed wobbles. We can either back off or push forward. Pushing forward is counter-intuitive. Our natural reaction is to say NO to more work in the guise of looking after our health, maintaining quality and so forth.

If you’re given to growth and development here are a few things you can implement:

  • Planning and Scheduling. Take time at the start of every day and every week to plan your time and schedule priority items accordingly.
  • Delegate. Whether you’re a manager or business owner, have 1000 staff or it’s just yourself ask the question “who else can do this?” (Sole traders can effectively outsource numbers of tasks that aren’t required to be completed by them).
  • Work with a sense of urgency. Increase your speed of completion.
  • Let go of perfection. Some things demand 100% e.g. workplace safety, but some things can be completed to 80%+. They might not be perfect but close enough. Know what they are and work accordingly.
  • Ascertain what is contributing to your goals and what activities need to go by the wayside. We often do things that account for very little.
  • Conduct stand up meetings instead of sit ins where there is a light agenda
  • Plan in me time. Set a time in the diary of when you will leave the office daily. Schedule at least a 24 hour block of weekly R&R time and then work all else around it.

Becoming more efficient ourselves always should be completed prior to hiring more staff or outsourcing to others. We can be quite amazing if we allow ourselves to use the push of busyness to pull us into efficiency.




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The Soft Sands of Procrastination

April 1, 2015 2:51 am

Procrastination means simply to defer action. Some actions are good to defer, some are not.  The actions that are not good to defer are those that have a potential negative impact and which continually resurface in our minds, gradually affecting our emotional state. Having that hard conversation with your significant other, completing the tax returns, returning a call from an unsatisfied customer, conducting a much needed performance review of a senior manager who has screwed up and so forth.

The interesting thing about deferring these kind of actions is the weight they generate in our psyche. “I’ll do it later” then causes the action to frequently resurface in our minds. Not dealt with we continue to use the words, “should,” “one day,” “I’ll get to it.” These words and phrases begin to create an emotional drag, a success drag as I like to call it. The drag prevents us from hundred percent focus on the truly important things and while ever we continue to procrastinate our journey is akin to walking in soft sand. It’s hard work, saps our energy and stops us moving at a fast rate of knots. Here is a sequence for countering procrastination:

Step 1. Do it early and do it now
Step 2. Refer to point 1

I like to do the challenging actions first thing in the day. If that’s not possible for some reason I schedule it in my diary. I will also have someone hold me accountable for that action if I think I am going to defer it.

Do it early, do it now. That way, you won’t be walking in the soft sands of procrastination but running on the solid sands of success  whilst enjoying the ocean lapping at your feet.

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Monday Morning Fog

February 1, 2015 1:45 am

Arriving at your desk on Monday morning you check your calendar for the weeks agenda. You look at the accruing paperwork spread across your desk and decide very quickly its coffee time. A few ‘quick chats’ to work colleagues (who are very happy to chat by the way), a wander through the days paper, you then attempt to settle in at your desk. Emails to respond to, a back up of phone messages to return, the customer complaint you procrastinated on last week and so it goes. A foggy Monday morning. Little clarity, a slow start, pessimistic gloominess.

The owner and managers of the business next door, arrived fifteen minutes earlier. Each had a brief weekend catch up as they got coffee and headed straight to their desks. All that was waiting for them was the first action item on their days agenda – the first of many purely focused on making this months performance goals. For this company it is mandatory that everyone spend the last couple of hours on Friday planning the week ahead, returning all calls and emails and clearing their desks. For them, Monday morning is all about activity that counts, optimistic clarity, jumping quickly onto last weeks momentum and starting the week fast.

Welcome to Monday. Foggy or clear skies? The forecast was written on Friday afternoon.

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Guilty Afternoons

January 28, 2015 11:03 pm

Many business owners struggle with the guilt associated with finishing their work by early afternoon and feel they have to plough on till sundown to massage away their shame. Those whose energy is at its peak in the morning often run flat after lunch. Or those who fire up in the afternoon feel guilty in the morning.

Two things that may help…

1. Manage your energy not your time.
Living in a strong 9-5 employee dominated culture we have grown up with the expectation that these should be the hours of business owners. We run to the minutes of time rather than the rhythm of our energy. Focus on energy management not time management. If you hit your peak in the afternoon then start the day a little later. The inverse also applies.

2. Become outcomes oriented rather than time oriented.
Instead of scheduling the day in its entirety, list the outcomes you want to achieve for that day. If you finish at 2pm, create another list of things that are more in the fun and energy giving category. This might be going to the gym, working on your hobby, meeting with friends. It could also be a piece of business development that you are tinkering with.

These can serve also as rewards. Often I will stop around 2pm when my energy is dwindling or I’ve met my goals for the day. My life giver is heading to a favourite cafe to read the financial papers and have coffee. This simple activity recharges me.

Manage your energy around the daily outcomes you want to achieve. Replace the guilty afternoons with a rewarded afternoon. After all, who says that 9-5 should be adhered to by everyone. Maybe its just those who feel guilty!!!

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Categorising Work For Efficient Time Use

November 20, 2014 2:13 am

To effectively manage workload, one method of streamlining tasks is to categorise the type of work we do on a daily basis and then batch these similar tasks into blocks of time in our schedule. A mortgage broker for example would have the following categories:

  • Marketing
  • Prospective client meetings/sales
  • Loan research
  • Loan writing and submission
  • Follow up administration
  • General Phone Calls and Email responses

After categorising the different work areas,  create a default diary batching related tasks into the time blocks you have created. The time spent planning and executing this  will significantly increase your efficiency.

A planned day as opposed to a re-active day always wins hands down

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Efficiency Tip #10 – Interruptions

November 10, 2014 1:22 pm

Schedule your interruptions. It may not always go to plan but you are more likely to keep singular focus for longer amounts of time thus increasing productivity. Interruption scheduling may look like this:

8am – 10am –  Finalise quote

10am – 10.30am – Call back all phone messages and respond to email (interruptive potential)

10.30 – 12pm – Management meeting

12pm – 1pm – Emails, calls and misc (interruptive potential)

1.30pm – meeting with Bob

Having others take your calls, turning email alerts off and then scheduling when you will deal with them assist in getting the most important items achieved. Most calls and emails are not urgent and if they are, then at least the interruption is minimal

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Efficiency tip #4

April 22, 2014 12:28 am

Work on responding to all email within 24 hours.
Return phone calls within 3 hours where possible.
When providing a quote, advise when they will receive it.
Our current culture expects speed efficiency, undertakings to be kept with constant communication. Rapid turnaround times create increased business.

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Scheduling Worry

July 17, 2013 1:48 am

Worry and the daily concerns of life can render us powerless if we’re not careful. Conflicting thoughts from multiple directions can impede progress on the most basic of tasks.

Try scheduling time to worry.

My time is late Friday afternoons. As concerns start to build during the week and I find myself beginning the slide down the slippery slope of worry and fear, I tell these well meaning but misguided passengers that they will have their moment, but just not right now. Interestingly, by the appointed time on Friday, they have both disappeared, things are sorted and I get to enjoy my late afternoon  beer with a mind at rest.

Counter-intuitive yes, but it works. Happy days!

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Ray’s 17 Rules for Effective Self/Time Management

October 16, 2012 3:52 pm

Time management books and articles abound. What is tail about (to put it nicely) in the modern age of rush and overburdened schedules is that we talk about managing time not self. Here are fourteen keys to increase your daily performance while maintaining a healthy self.

  1. Understand what your limits are. What agendas and schedules have you living out on the edge?
  2. Know the amount of sleep you need and make sure you get it
  3. Get to know yourself. What are the ingredients that make up living at full capacity and energy?
  4. Maintain both intellectual and physical fitness
  5. Clarify the outcomes you want
  6. What are the few things that contribute to these outcomes?
  7. Incorporate into your schedule ONLY that which contributes to these
  8. Plan next week this week; tomorrow, today
  9. Reposition success based on the space in your day, the ease at which you pace yourself (this is very much tail about in current business life)
  10. Always ask, ‘who else can do this’?. Delegate and then follow up
  11. Learn to say no to others agendas, yes to yourself
  12. Do things quickly and intensely 
  13. Schedule the hardest things that match your highest energy 
  14. Procrastinate on the non critical, act now on the vital
  15. Ease the pedal  back to 90% capacity. Studies have shown athletes break records by adhering to this
  16. Reward yourself
  17. And finally – cut out the crap. You are much too valuable to fill your life with stuff that doesn’t count. One life one chance
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