how well do you juggle?

Does it seem that in your personal and vocational life that it is a juggling act? We all fill so many different roles that sometimes it is hard to remember “which way is up”!

This article on the Harvard Business Review site has some good recommendations to help you “juggle”.

One of my favorite quotes is also in this article:

“The trick to juggling is determining which balls are made of rubber and which ones are made of glass.”

The bottom line is, do you know what your real priorities are in life and are you living and working in accordance with those priorities?

do we have a wrong definition of productivity?

summer sunlight June 2014Good Friday morning to you! A rainy and cool day here in the Midwest.

An issue that is important to me and that has been rekindled in me by Greg McKeown’s book Essentialism is how we equate busyness and the accomplishment of our to-do list as productivity. As I have noted before, our US culture rewards and values the busy person who is skilled at multitasking (which is a lie as well) and whose calendar is filled with one meeting after another with no room to even breathe much less think. For some reason, we define this as being “productive”.

As I noted in an earlier blog, this could be one form of laziness, for some people it is all they know, and for many of us, it is the behavior that is functionally valued and rewarded in our organizations. However, often the greatest value to the organization are the people who take time to think deeply and to wrestle with the core issues or challenges facing the organization. Those people who are digging to find the root cause(s) and to develop long-term solutions to those problems. People who are concerned  that they are working on the “one thing” that will tip the scales in whatever endeavor they are working on. These people are the ones that often bring the most value to an organization, but unfortunately, in most of our organizations they are seen as “unproductive” as they are not rushing around and attending many meetings. They are often just thinking. Yet, given the chance, they are the ones that solve the biggest problems or develop game-changing innovations.

So, maybe, just maybe, we have a wrong definition of productivity. And just maybe it’s time to change the definition,

Have a great weekend!


mission/priorities vs. busyness

Good morning!

Last week we talked about how busyness is often a form of laziness. What I didn’t mention is that as leaders we are often subtly (sometimes not so subtly) encouraging busyness at the expense of mission accomplishment or allowing people to work on projects that are longer term and actually have greater mission impact.

We, as leaders, also suffer from that notion that someone who is “busy” and is engaged in a flurry of activities is the productive one and not the one who is quietly in the background working away on something that will really move the organization  forward towards mission accomplishment.

How many times have you looked at the calendars of your team and were more impressed with the person whose calendar was filled up with meeting and such and wondered what the person with the empty calendar was doing? How many times have you praised your “busy” workers in public who get a lot of tasks done, but fail to acknowledge the ones who are working behind the scenes on the long-term impact projects?

What do you really want – a lot of tasks done or people focused on the “main thing” and working towards impact and mission accomplishment?

Yes, we need to be busy, but busy doing the right things and realizing that sometimes the right kind of busy does not look “busy”.

Focus on mission, impact, and priorities – not a to-do list full of tasks that detract you from the main thing.

Have a great week!!


are you productive or just busy?

Good morning to you!

Have you ever found that one sign of laziness is busyness? I have found myself being lazy by being busy again and again.

Now most of us don’t equate busyness with laziness, in fact, we take a bit of pride in rushing around doing a lot of stuff. It seems we equate frenetic activity with productivity or value. Our society says “get busy!”.

However, it can actually be a form of busyness. What would you rather do some days – clean out your ever full inbox,knock off those 15 – 20 small talks on your To-Do list, go to some meetings, or tackle that complex issue that requires deep thought and is not easily resolvable? Often times, I would rather take care of a bunch of small tasks and get my inbox down to a small number rather than tackle the really big issues.

I remember when I was working in the Defense Systems and Electronics Group of Texas Instruments. We were moving at a fast pace then and some of us were rushing around – all of us that is except one of the design engineers. He would sit at his desk, which often had nothing on it at all, just thinking. In fact, sometimes he would even have his head laying on his desk with his eyes closed! Some of us were wondering how and why did his supervisor tolerate this behavior. Then, this so called “lazy” engineer designed a product for the company that brought far more value to the company than all the rest of us combined. Instead of being caught up in busyness and trying to impress others with his “value”, he was mentally wrestling with a very complex problem – and he solved the problem with an incredible return for the company.

We were busy – he was productive. We took care of many tasks – he solved a major problem.

So, are you being lazy by being “busy” or are you willing to do the hard work of taking the time to focus on the big problems that will truly make a difference?

Have a great weekend!


a disturbing lack of reflection

Louisana Flower 2014Good Monday morning to you! Hope you had a great weekend.

Alarm clock goes off, hit the snooze button, alarm clock goes off, snooze button again.

Rush to get dressed and then, maybe, grab a quick high carb (and sugar) breakfast as you head into the office.

As soon as arrive, you power up your computer and immediately begin checking your email and reacting to them. (OK, you also might have checked Facebook as well).

Then you check your calendar and look at when you will be hopping onto the meeting carousel. In between the meetings are rechecking email, sending email, scheduling more meetings, and making a stab at your to-do list.

In fact, you may even look at your calendar with some pride! Look at how it is full of meetings! My input is needed (and is vital!) to so many people. Why, look at my overflowing inbox, surely that is an indicator of my value to the organization.  In fact, I am so busy and vital to the organization that I need to do some (actually a lot) of this at home at night and on the weekend. My family understands because they know how important I am to the organization.

My busyness is surely a testimony to my importance. Right?

One thing seems to be missing – reflection. When did you take time to reflect on what you are doing and why you are doing it? When did you take the time to reflect on your priorities (in all areas of your life) and consider ordering your life around those priorities?

If you don’t take time to truly reflect on what is most important in your life and in your vocation, who is? Are you spending your life merely reacting to the various stimuli in the world around you?

Do you realize that most people spend more time planning their vacation than they do their own lives?

Why not stop long enough to spend some time reflecting on what is most important (at home and at work) and then start acting in a proactive manner that is consistent with well thought out priorities?

It is your choice as to whether you live in a state of reaction to the world around you running frantically to catch up or if you live a life of intentionality based upon well thought out priorities.

Have a blessed week!




Reading is one of the most pleasurable activities out there. On a scale of human enjoyment I once found in a reference book, where respondents ranked activities from getting their car repaired (4.6) to sex (9.3), reading books scored an 8.3. That’s better than TV. We just assume we don’t have time for this indulgence in our busy lives.

Yet many successful people turn out to be voracious readers, too. They don’t have more hours per day than the rest of us, but they have figured out a two-part process of managing “supply” (hours available to read) and “demand” (desire to use that time reading) to turn themselves into bookworms. Here’s how to get a handle on both.

“Why being too busy makes us feel so good”

“Why being too busy makes us feel so good”

are you crazy busy?

are you crazy busy?

I am tied up much of this week, so instead of blogging, I want to point you to a good blog about busyness and some ideas of how to do something about it.

Regarding Busyness

Good morning,

Are you responsible for keeping other people busy? Then this article on the Harvard Business Review website might interest you:

Is Busyness Bad for Business? by Susan David

Following are some “bottom lines” from the article:

If you are responsible for keeping others “busy”, consider the following:

  1. People have a fundamental need to feel competent. It’s your job to give them stimulating, meaningful work.
  2. Rather than waiting out a lull, encourage employees to be creative and proactive.
  3. Give them the time they need to complete key assignments. Don’t let meetings or inefficient work practices hijack their workdays.
  4. Help employees stay connected to the meaning in the work they do. Tie tasks to how they benefit the person, the team, the client, the organization.
  5. Consider what makes life, and not just work, meaningful. Make sure your team members have time for it.

Have a good day!

Busy? A Little Overwhelmed?

Good morning – I hope you had a great weekend. It was a quiet for us as we had a couple of sick family members – thankfully they are better!

Are you a little overwhelmed with your schedule?  A little frustrated?  Why are you so busy?  When I was working in industry, we used a tremendously powerful analytical tool to get to the root of an issue – and it didn’t cost a thing.  So let’s try this in analyzing why you have an overwhelming schedule and hectic life.

First simply ask yourself Why?

Second step – ask Why is that?

Third step – and then ask why is that?

Fourth step – ask why is that?

Fifth step – ask why is that?

By the time you get to the fourth or fifth why you are beginning to get to the root of the issue.  So – what did you learn?

Bobb Biehl is an experienced consultant that has been a blessing to so many for many years.  He has this to say in one of his Quick Wisdom posts:

Life is a constant struggle for balance. 
Balance is a result of one word…schedule. 
Typically you determine your own schedule. 
Therefore, you schedule your own balance/imbalance. 

Plan basic balance into your life by scheduling many of the really important things into your life a year in advance (Family vacations, personal retreats, time with parents, etc.)

At this point in your life…it may be the only way to achieve any semblance of balance!

So – examine your life and take responsibility for your schedule.  Determine if your schedule reflects your priorities – if not, change it!