Aug 17 2009

Making life difficult for yourself?

Where does time go?

Knowing that everyone has the same 24 hours in each day doesn’t comfort when you’re still trying to do more than a day’s work. The thing is, do you then make life more difficult for yourself?

While I’ve documented some of my struggles with time management recently I’d now like to share that it is getting sorted!

I even took time out to play golf this week.

Well, not “proper golf”. There’s a “pitch and putt” course close to home, set up right on the coast so you get a great combination of 18 holes (perhaps par 3) through countryside and woodland while looking out on beautiful seascapes. Fantastic.

Now my golfing skills are minimal but it’s really relaxing walking round this course, it takes a couple of hours, you chat with the other players as you cris-cross the holes and it’s all very leisurely… for most people.

We did come across two guys who were rather more serious about the whole affair. They were carrying numerous clubs with them (not the regulation number 7 club and putter issued by the man in the hut) and were obviously more experienced.

They stood 50 yards behind the tee for each hole in order to tee-off. They could obviously hit the ball further than most of us outright amateurs on the course and wanted to show it. However, while they displayed power in abundance, they lacked skill in direction and without fail spent the next 10 minutes looking for their lost balls.

The power of this metaphor for poor life management was not lost on me. Strong and focussed but without direction – hmm not a good recipe for success.

So how have I been doing?

This week I’ve been more focussed – serial-single-tasking my way through a focussed to do list of action points. Excellent news.

Mind you, I’ve also outsourced two pieces of work – Luisa in Germany is re-writing a leaflet for me and Abhishek in India is creating a website…

Nicola in the Money Gym is a great fan of this. Tim Ferris in the 4 hour Work Week shows you how.

I’m finally getting the message – when you’ve got too much for one person to do, get help.

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Aug 06 2009

Life in the Slow Lane.

Have you ever had one of those “light-bulb” moments?

I’ve recently had my first full week away from delivering workshops. I know I will use my summer to re-write and update my workshop materials, to progress some internet projects that I’ve been tweaking for some time, but there’s also some rest and relaxation scheduled in there too.

However, the weather hasn’t been briliant of late so I found myself in my living room and had a “fly-on-the-wall” experience of looking at myself…

I was reading a recipe book, while watching the Ladies Golf Open on TV, with my computer on my lap downloading files.

And this was my day off… Great, I certainly can choose to do whatever I wish but, was I really enjoying any of the activities I was engaged in?

Einstein said: “Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute. THAT’S relativity.”

In my life, running on a treadmill for 20 minutes seems like an eternity, while 20 minutes walking in the park, something that I love, goes by in a blink of the eye.

Why is it that the older you get, the faster that time goes by?

Why are we so obsessed with saving time or time management?

We have time-saving appliances and even time-saving recipes. We have fast food restaurants and even drive-thru restaurants. We take short cuts down streets, back roads or rat runs to get home quickly.

I have my pda and phone so that I can keep in touch and have my diary instantly at my fingertips.

So I’m pretty good at saving time…

At the same time I know there is and always will be, 24 hours in every day, 7 days in a week, and 52 weeks in a year.

What am I saving all my time for?! Surely it’s for the pleasure of really enjoying something!

Guess it’s time to apply the lessons of serial-single-tasking to my personal life too… Nothing wrong with multi-tasking but there’s more to savour if you give something your full attention, and that’s true at work and at play.

I guess, taken to it’s extreme we can say that it’s like watching life through the lens of your video camera or mobile phone…

Are you really living your life as an intentional being, part of the action, co-creating the future… or are you an observer, moving quickly and efficiently from one scene to the next, recording all but missing the point?

Hmmm. Here’s to a little life in the slow lane!

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Aug 04 2009

A Simple Approach to Decisions

Published by under Personal Development

Everybody makes decisions.

Even the decision not to decide is itself a decision!

It can be a tough place sometimes, particularly when we cannot forsee the consequences of our decisions in the longer term.

Suzy Welch has recently written a book: “10-10-10 a Life Transforming Idea” that helps us to see more clearly the impact of any decisions we make. It’s not so much a book on time management as deciding how to use your life.

10-10-10 is a particular way of approaching decisions that don’t have a simple yes/no answer and asking about the possible consequences of your decision in the next 10 minutes, 10 months or even 10 years. At the heart of your decision are your authentic values — how you want to live, who you want to be, and who you want to spend time with. Putting together your options and your values like this, allows you to make decisions that put you at cause, in control of your life rather than a victim of circumstance.

Suzy explains that she came up with this idea after a particularly bad time management decision “I was on assignment to speak to some insurance executives in Hawaii. I was living in Boston, it was a big long trip, and in a lame attempt to crack the code of work-life balance I brought two of my children. It was an unmitigated disaster. It came to a climax when I warehoused my kids at a hula dance class during my speech and they charged in wearing their hula skirts. I thought to myself, Something has to change. About 24 hours later, this came to me.

If you want to have a look at the book or the audio version:

Maybe you’ve read this already – what do you think? Do let me know!

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Aug 02 2009

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2009-08-02

Published by under Tweets

  • RT @OrganisedPA about 1 hour ago from TweetDeck #
  • RT @OrganisedPA "I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is to try to please everyone." ~ Bill Cosby. So right!!! #

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Jul 29 2009

Confessions of a Time Management Teacher

OK, I know I should know better…

I’ve gone from knowing exactly where I should be and what I should be doing almost every minute of my day for the last 6 months into a state of “anything goes” as my regime of university training workshops comes to an end. I did a session on Presenting Your Research at Conference at UCL last week – and since then, my time has been my own.

This is a great opportunity and one I welcome as I have so many projects I want to really focus on – and yet focus is the one thing I’m struggling with.

Because I’m so excited about the many opportunites available to me, so keen to get them flying, I’m struggling to focus and make significant progress in any one area. (Judith Morgan, I think I’m experiencing entrepreneur-itis!!)

I talked in a recent blog about the benefits of serial single-tasking – and they are real and effective.

Staying with a single task for a defined length of time (anything from 20 to 50 minutes) is really helpful and gets things done. What I’m struggling with right now is falling off the wagon as something bigger and more shiney crosses my path.

So, add into the serial single-tasking mixture: the big goal of the day!

As most of my distractions seem to srise from “one big desire”, I’ve decided to focus on this one task first. Each day start with a 50 minute session dedicated to “the big one” before coming in with some serial single-tasking to take care of the other important tasks that are also necessary.

Oh yes, and having time to play and a snooze after lunch are definitely included in my daily schedule.

What’s the point of work if you don’t enjoy it?!

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Jul 27 2009

What is a customer?

Following on my post about customer service last week I reflected upon the importance of the customer service experience over the weekend. Businesses need to hear and to learn these lessons!

In my hometown of Cardiff, we are getting very excited by the imminent arrival of a John Lewis store in the new shopping centre.

Now Cardiff is a great city, it has a perfectly good shopping centre but – John Lewis!!! They have a reputation for unparalleled customer service.

I can remember living in Reading where there was a branch of John Lewis. Even the spotty 17 year-old shop assistants had their hair combed and their trousers fastened tightly around their waists so that you couldn’t see acres of adolescent underwear!

As a customer, I knew that John Lewis would rarely give me a bargain price although they would price match other stores in the town centre so I wasn’t being overcharged. Their standard of customer service would make them the first port of call on my visits to town.

One of my business colleagues shared this with me:

What is a Customer?

A customer is the most important person in this firm,
in person, by mail or by telephone.

A customer is not dependent on us ‑ we are dependent on them
A customer is not an interruption of our work‑ they are the purpose of it.

We are not doing them a favour by serving them ‑ they are doing us a favour by
giving us the opportunity to do so.

A customer is not someone to argue with or match wits with,
nobody ever won an argument with a customer.

A customer is a person who brings us their wants; it is our job to handle
them profitably to them and to ourselves.

That is what a customer is ‑ in our business or in any business.

Attributed to Peterborough, Daily Telegraph

What can I say? If you have a business, print this out, put it somewhere that you and your staff will see. Make it a mainstay of your business, not just something to pay lip-service to… Do this and your customers will keep you in business!

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Jul 26 2009

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2009-07-26

Published by under Tweets

  • I just took "Who's Your Fantasy Boyfriend?" and got: Jacob from Twilight! Try it: #

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Jul 23 2009

United Breaks Guitars

Let me begin by saying that I don’t know if they do – break guitars that is.

I do know that Dave Caroll thinks they do.

On Radio4 this morning they interviewed this musician about an incident where, travelling with United Airlines, his guitar had been broken and he had not been happily compensated.

Now I don’t know the details of the strory but, according to Dave, 9 months of negotiations about compensation were fruitless so, being a musician, he wrote a song: United Breaks Guitars.

This song has had over 3 million viewings on YouTube, is 20 in the iTunes charts… you can bet your bottom dollar that United are offering compensation and posting their side of the story…

The point of my writing here is the power of social media.

Rightly or wrongly, a musician I’d never heard of, has brought a big corporation into the eyes of a very large public over an incident that would have cost them a very small sum to resolve properly very much earlier in the deal.

Customer Service counts.

Whether your business is small or global, it matters how your customers perceive you, especially if they are less than happy with your products or services. That’s one reason why 100% guarantees on information products sold on the internet are so powerful – they build customer trust.

So, if you want to see how one customer has “hit back”, click and watch United Breaks Guitars – it is very funny – if you’re not United!


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Jul 22 2009

Boost Your Creativity

No matter what your goal in life, work or pleasure, building a business or baking a cake, you probably need to include these two ingredients in some proportion or other:
a) focus on and pay attention to the detail
b) increase your creativity and expand your ideas.

Now much as we often feel that our performance depends upon our mood, how we feel, whether we got out of bed on the right side today… our performance is also influenced by our environment.

Two recently published research papers have shed important light on the matter.

Apparently whether we think big or focus is directly influenced by the height of our ceiling and by the colour of visual clues in our environment.

As you might guess, higher ceilings, more space, encourages us to think big, outside the box, be creative.

Also intuitively, the colour blue will stimulate our creative juices, blue sky thinking and all of that.

In contrast, being in a small space will cramp our creative style and limit our access to a free-thinking state while environemental flashes of the colour red will, with it’s subliminal danger signals, cause us to pay attention, take care and focus on the detail.

On the one hand this seems to be a case of publishing the blindingly obvious.

On the other hand, these people now have measurable evidence to support what we might have guessed.

What it does mean is that we now have a number of tools we can use to modify our environment depending upon whether we need to be detail or big picture focussed.

Even something as small as changing the colour scheme on your computer desktop, choosing a different wallpaper or turning your chair to look at a different coloured poster on the wall could have significant effects on your performance.

If you’re not lucky enough to have a home or work environment where the ceilings are more than 3m high, maybe it is worth spending an hour in a lofty-ceilinged coffee shop to give your thoughts the encouragement to expand.

Blue notebook But don’t forget to take a blue notebook with you!

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Jul 21 2009

Wealth will just happen…

… if you put in the work beforehand!

I was working with a client recently who is in the middle of a 90-day coaching programme.

Six weeks in, that’s half way through the challenge, this client, let’s call her Claire, had reached her goals, and some. These goals concerned making a defined monthly income from passive sources and working towards a defined annual income. The figures – I don’t want to disclose personal details here – but the figures were more than equivalent to the monthly and yearly salaries of a large number of the UK working population.

As we approached our call I imagined Claire being very pleased with herself – and yet, within minutes of our starting to chat it was evident that she was not a happy bunny.

The problem? Well if SHE could reach her goals so quickly they obviously weren’t very good goals, not high enough, not hard enough. After all, this had been so easy!

We discussed this idea… and apparently, in Claire’s world:

We discussed a series of events where, by knowing the right information, being in the right place at the tight time, having the contacts and then the courage to follow up, Claire had pulled off a profitable property deal where all interested parties came out feeling happy and Claire made 20K towards her annual income targets. And in Claire’s world, this was just down to luck, not something she had planned for, not something she had worked at, it was just lucky so it didn’t really count.

We had a long conversation about the role of beliefs in our journey through life and these principles also apply to our wealth creation journey.

“If you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re probably right.” is the well known quotation but the wider application looks like: if you believe life is hard, it will be. If you believe that you can’t be successful without working a 60-hour week, then you won’t be – and you’ll get your 60-hour week and all that comes with that!

I introduced Claire to some new ideas on the Law of Attraction, setting an intention and taking the necessary actions to support it whilst letting go of needing the goal. This is far more than just wishful thinking. I call it committing to the process while letting go of the outcome.

In her work over the last weeks, months and even years, Claire has been putting in the work, learning about proprty, committing to the process. When the opportunity arose she was in a perfect place to respond.

And this is the key.

She needed to take action. In fact, she needed to make a quick decision and was very fearful at the time BUT, her previous work educating herself about property investment had convinced her that this was a sound deal, the sums added up, the risk was entirely appropriate.

She commited to the action and won her prize.

I recommended that for the next stage of her journey Claire might want to learn how to feel comfortable with working towards success without the hard work, without a 60-hour week…. sound good?

Now if Claire was a member of The Money Gym, she would certainly get a good education in this concept. We need to be both working towards our goal and letting it happen effortlessly. Many Money Gym clients can tell you how this has worked for them…

But for Claire, I also recommended some new reading – best authors I could think of were Michael Neill, Tim Ferris and Joe Vitale: what do you think?

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