Archives For Personal_Productivity

Following is an excerpt from an excellent article on what is really happening when we think we’re multi-tasking. Check it out – it is worth your time to read in my opinion.

Our brains are busier than ever before. We’re assaulted with facts, pseudo facts, jibber-jabber, and rumour, all posing as information. Trying to figure out what you need to know and what you can ignore is exhausting. At the same time, we are all doing more. . . . Now we do most of those things ourselves. We are doing the jobs of 10 different people while still trying to keep up with our lives, our children and parents, our friends, our careers, our hobbies, and our favourite TV shows.”

“But there’s a fly in the ointment. Although we think we’re doing several things at once, multitasking, this is a powerful and diabolical illusion. Earl Miller, a neuroscientist at MIT and one of the world experts on divided attention, says that our brains are ‘not wired to multitask well… When people think they’re multitasking, they’re actually just switching from one task to another very rapidly. And every time they do, there’s a cognitive cost in doing so.”’So we’re not actually keeping a lot of balls in the air like an expert juggler; we’re more like a bad amateur plate spinner, frantically switching from one task to another, ignoring the one that is not right in front of us but worried it will come crashing down any minute. Even though we think we’re getting a lot done, ironically, multitasking makes us demonstrably less efficient.” (emphasis added)

Check out the rest of this excellent article Why the modern world is bad for your brain by  to better understand what is happening when we are trying to do what is called “multi-tasking”. It’s not good.

What Did You Say?

February 10, 2012

Good morning!  Still no snow up here in SW Michigan and in fact we have even had a few sunny days which is a great blessing.

Blah-Blah-Blah!  How many presentations have you heard, meetings you have attended, or memos (emails) you have read where at the end you go “What?”.  In this highly verbal world we live in it seems we believe the more words we use and the “fancier” the words the better.  However, we often leave our listeners (readers) saying “What?”

We seem to forget that the goal was communication which demands clarity – instead we often cause confusion.  So what do we do?

Drive towards clarity!  Learn to speak, write, draw, and so on in ways that engage your audience, not what makes you feel good or smart.

Dan Roam has several books out that are a great help – his latest one is Blah Blah Blah in which he introduces his Blah Blahometer – a great way to evaluate the clarity of your message.  I would recommend checking out his site as well as his book.

Remember – the goal is to communicate with great clarity and it is not to try to impress them with your vocabulary or extensive knowledge of corporate-speak / ministry-speak.

Hope you have a great weekend!
BG

For the GTD (Getting Things Done) adherents, the title of this post might be akin to heresy!

But that is essentially what Michael Schrage is saying is true based upon research conducted by IBM (click here to read his post).  They found that people using the email search features usually found what they were looking for faster and with fewer errors than people using complex email file folder systems (like me).

At first, I rebelled slightly at the thought of not precisely filing my emails, but then I began to reflect on how I am using my email folders and realized that while my folders helped to a certain extent, I was actually relying more now on my search function in Outlook to find what I wanted more than the folders and that the folders were actually hindering the use of the search function.

I don’t think I am quite ready to get away from my email folders yet, but I am about to simplify them greatly – today!

One question Michael asks that bears repeating is are you spending more time thinking and reflecting on how to get better organized than you are on accomplishing desired outcomes?

Blessings on your day!
BG

Good morning from a snowy southwest Michigan!  Our family had a fun time this weekend at the Ice Festival in our little town.  Did not have many of those down South!!

An Ice Elephant

Question for you – how are you spending the first part of the day at work?  What is your focus?  For most of us, the first part of the day is typically the most important as we are freshest, we are more creative, we have more energy, more focus and so on.  So do you use that time to plan, to begin work on an important project that requires sustained thought, to create?  Or do you spend your morning checking out the news, responding to e-mail, checking your social media for posts and so on.  Essentially, you are squandering your most valuable and creative time simply responding to others and allowing the “news” to set your attitude for the day.

Try something different – protect the first part of your day.  Block off the time and don’t allow meetings during that time.  Don’t automatically go first to your email, don’t surf the news site on the web (it’s depressing anyway), don’t go to Facebook or Twitter.  Instead, create something outstanding – use your best time for your most important work!

Blessings on your week!
BG

More Effective Emails

December 6, 2011

I don’t know about you, but emails are now my primary form of communication and I have found plenty of opportunities to improve.  I still remember a simple (at least I thought it was simple) two line email caused a two and a half hour lunch meeting to clear up.  Probably has something to do with my low EQ!

The site MindTools has a good article with a few suggestions:

The subject line is a HEADLINE – it should tell the reader at a glance what the email is about and often determines how quickly they will read it.

Keep each email to one point.  Personally, I have found it best to make sure that the entire email fits into the reading frame.  I have found several people I work with tend not to scroll down on emails and often miss points deeper in the email.

Response – be specific on the action you want taken by the reader(s).

Don’t be too informal with internal emails.  You need to assume others beyond the recipient will read your email.

Some good points. One I would add is never deal with emotionally charged issues via email.  Face-to-face is the only way to deal rightly with those type issues.

Have a great day communicating!

BG

In an article, Jim Collins the author of Good to Great and other books, relates how he had to unplug his TV in order to meet his reading goal.  As long as he had availability to his TV, it kept him from his more important goal of reading.  So he unplugged his TV and his reading got back on track.

As leaders and as organizations, we often have things that are a distraction to our core mission or purpose. What is hard is that often these are good things – just not best things.

So Jim Collins recommends creating a “Stop-Doing List“.  In fact, he argues that it is more important than your to-do list.  So take some time and ask yourself – what are the things that I do (and often enjoy) that are robbing me and my organization of the focus, time and energy that could and should be applied to more important activities?

Do you spend too much time surfing the Internet, maybe telling yourself that you are doing research?  Do you spend too much time in front of the TV telling yourself that your are just “chilling out”? Do you spend too much time in unproductive meetings? Do you allow yourself to be constantly interrupted by e-mail?

What s keeping you and your organization from being what God called you to be? What do you need to “stop-doing”?

BG

Good Monday morning to you!

For many of us, this is the morning when we are laying out our week and determining where we need to focus our attention this week.  One of the most powerful tools that we use to steward our time is the To Do list.

You can use paper or software, but you need some way of ordering and guiding your efforts for maximum impact. MindTools has a great article on To Do lists as well as a free downloadable templateclick here to read the article.

Your time is one of the most precious resources that is a gift from the Lord and we are all to be good stewards of that resource.  To Do lists are one of the tools that will enable you to better steward your time.

So check out the article and see if it might help you.

Have a great week!
BG

Too Much Going On?

August 1, 2011

Good Monday Morning!

Question – did you wake up with a slight feeling of dread possibly thinking of your “To Do” list?  Do you feel like it is “one step forward, two steps back”?

Try these questions to see if they provide you any clarity as to what you should be working on – and what you shouldn’t be doing:

 – What are the things only I can do?

 – What are things I can delegate that will help someone else grow (even if they don’t do it like you – be ready for a surprise when they do it better!)

 – What are things that seem urgent due to the “noise” being generated, but really don’t matter?

 – What can (should) I simply stop doing as they are non-productive activities? What are my “time-wasters”?

Hope you have a highly productive week serving our Lord!

BG

Highly effective or “successful” people tend to do some things differently.

Heidi Halverson has documented nine things that these people do differently in an article and makes the statement that successful people reach their goals not simply because of who they are, but more often because of what they do.”

Get specific.  “Lose 5 pounds” is a better than “lose some weight,” “. . . saying I will be in bed by 10:00 pm every weeknight is better than saying I will get more sleep.”

Seize the moment to act on your goals. “. . . we routinely miss opportunities to act on a goal because we simply fail to notice them.”

Know exactly how far you have left to go. Achieving any goal also requires honest and regular monitoring of your progress

Be a realistic optimist. “. . . whatever you do, don’t underestimate how difficult it will be to reach your goal.”

Focus on getting better, rather than being good.  Embrace the fact that you can change.

Have grit. Grit is a willingness to commit to long-term goals, and to persist in the face of difficulty.

Build your willpower muscle.

Don’t tempt fate. Remember that willpower is a limited resource.

Focus on what you will do, not what you won’t do

It’s a good article and worth reading in its entirety.

Peace & Grace to you,
BG

Staying on track – hard to do for leaders, especially when you are moving fast.  And, as you know, just being a little bit off course can have major consequences down the road.  The problem is, as a leader, getting off track impacts others – not just ourselves.

Robert Kaplan, in the article “What to Ask the Person in the Mirror” suggests asking yourself the following questions:

Vision & Priorities

How often do I communicate a vision for my business [ministry]?

Have I identified three to five key priorities to achieve that vision? If asked, would my employees be able to articulate the vision and priorities?

Managing Time

How am I spending my time? Does it match my key priorities?

How are my subordinates spending their time? Does that match the key priorities for  the business [ministry]?

Feedback

Do I give people timely and direct feedback that they can act on?

Do I have five or six junior subordinates who will tell me things I may not want to hear but need to hear?

Some good questions – what things do you use to keep yourself and your team on track?

Blessings on your week,

BG