Archive for the 'Hills-Valleys-Exocets' Category

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.

No responses yet

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!

No responses yet

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?!

No responses yet

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!


No responses yet

Jul 15 2009

Taking My Own Time Management Advice

OK, I came to my computer this morning, slightly less “bright-eyed and bushy-tailed” than normal.

As I waited for the machine to spring to life I unfolded a piece of paper on my desk – it contained notes to include in a teaching session on writing a research paper. I flattened out the creases in the paper and spread it out before me.

When technology had caught up with me/my laptop, I set it off to check my emails…

Noticing a half finished blog entry, I then logged on to WordPress to complete the task I’d started yesterday.

It was only a matter of minutes before my email alert pinged and had me checking out my Inbox and my eyes glanced back to that sheet of paper I’d put on my desk.

It was only as I recognised the urge to finish off that email for a new autoresponder sequence that was also in an open file on my laptop that I realised the seriousness of this situation.

Within five minutes of starting work I had flitted between three or four tasks…Multitasking gone mad!

Now I can’t believe you’ve never experienced something like this.

As someone who teaches time management sessions this is time to take my own medicine.

Faced with numerous tasks, none too complicated, none are incredibly urgent, none will take a very long time to complete, I’m going to recommend a dose of serial single-tasking.

This is when I choose a task, set my timer for 15 minutes and go for it!

Get as much done on the chosen task as possible before the bell rings. If I complete the task, great!

If I don’t complete the task, I lay down my tools, set my timer once more and move onto the second task for the next 15 minutes.

It works brilliantly. I don’t get bored, I know I’m moving many different things forward and for the slightly more complex tasks, I have the added oomph of the deadline effect… when I can see I have only a few minutes left before the bell, it’s amazing how much more focussed I can be in working towards a convenient pausing point.

OK, job done. Blog entry completed – and this one written as a bonus. Notes for workshop captured in a scratch file and my autoresponder message sorted.

(Also installed X-Site Pro and rearranged my office! What a profitable morning?)

Hope serial single-tasking works well for you too.

No responses yet

Jun 18 2009

Strange Events…

Published by under Hills-Valleys-Exocets

Destination: Bournemouth. Intention: Academic coaching programme.
And strange things happen…

Within a short time of leaving Cardiff I was approaching Newport, sat nav guiding me along the M4, a tunnel ahead.

I know tunnels can distort signals but I was a little surprised to see that, on entering the tunnel my sat nav was telling me I was in Poole (Dorset). As I watched from the corner of my eye, my car (on the sat nav) approached the coast and drove slowly and deliberately into the sea. After a period when the sat nav screen was blue… the red spot representing my car emerged onto the coast of France.

Bizarre! It needed a reset at the services before normal service was resumed!

On arriving in Bournmeouth I settled into my room at a very nice hotel, all was well, the sun was shining and normal service was the order of the day. Next morning I left for work – Bournemouth University has made great progress recently and has invested heavily in academic support and development – an ongoing coaching programme being one element of this.

After a fruitful day’s work I returned to the hotel “Could I have the key to room 121 please?”. I made the short journey up the stairs, around the corner, down the corridor and entered my room.

One of thoese double-take moments ensued.

My room. The curtains drawn (surely I opened them before I left?).

A man’s watch on the table (definitely not mine).

My radio missing, a black belt on the back of the chair… what was happening? Who was in my room?

It took me less than 30 seconds to understand that this was not my room…. so I left, checked on my room key, checked the note I’d made in my pda – yes, room 121… what was going on?!!

Returning to Reception, many apologies, I had been moved…. hadn’t anyone warned me????

No harm done, all was safe and well but it was a weird experience… a clash between what I saw and what I knew to be true.

I wouldn’t recommend it but it was interesting…. but Bournemouth is not the new Roswell!

No responses yet

Jun 11 2009

Limiting executive reward or tall poppy syndrome?

Banker’s bonuses, MPs expenses claims, executive reward…

Hot topics generally at the moment and there’s no doubt that something needed to be done to stop widespread abuses of these reward and compensation systems.

There is public uproar as people in the street see those who lead their biggest and most powerful organisations caught with their noses in the trough.

I don’t want to get drawn into specific cases or defend the system but I am intrigued by the splashback, our response and plans for amending them.

I wonder if we are reacting too severely. Calls to strictly regulate or even limit executive reward, prevent  bonuses for any top managers of banks that the government has bailed out with taxpayers money – will this be the best way of getting our banks back to profitability and our economy back on its feet?

I don’t have the answer. However, if we make these jobs so unappealing with limited prospects for reward or remuneration, we will not have a queue of talented people lining up to to take on these undoubtedly great challenges. It seems more likely that we could end up with the young, or inexperienced or even the less competent people who wouldn’t be appointed by more robust organisations.

I wonder whether we are now seeing the public expression of tall poppy syndrome…

We look around and see standing in our midst one who has reached higher and blooms for all to see… it might be that they are not spectacularly more beautiful, brighter or more coloured, but they have reached further… and instead of asking “How” or “Can we grow taller too” our first response is to reach for the scissors and cut them down to size.

Not a pretty sight.

And I’m not certain that this is true, but I know I need to look at myself and my reactions to events and ask, am I cutting down tall poppies or striving to grow taller?

No responses yet

Jun 09 2009

How long does it take to check-in?

Published by under Hills-Valleys-Exocets

As I approached the Travelodge my phone rang – it was 18.19 as the call came through. I turned off the road and into the Travelodge car park…

Well strictly speaking it isn’t the Travelodge car park, it’s the car park that they rent and have access to along with that American-Italian restaurant and the gym. I could tell there’d be trouble. Cars were slowly rolling to the exit. The car park was full, every vaguely safe but illegal space had also been filled, the rest of us were like vultures waiting for our opportunity – we were hungry to park and followed the sight of anyone looking as if they were returning to a vehicle to liberate that most valued prize, a parking space. The question is always “What’s the best strategy?”. Do you park and wait or slowly circle? Well four laps later I claimed my prize and graduated to the next level of this challenge, the check-in queue.

As I arrived at the check-in desk the man ahead of me was having problems – “Are you sure you booked under your own name? … Can you just confirm how you spell that? … Let me just check on this terminal… The system is really slow today. Do you have your confirmation number?” Eventually the struggle to find his booking passed a certain threshold and another member of staff arrived from the back room to begin to process me… and it sounded so familiar… “Are you sure you booked under your own name? … Can you just confirm how you spell that? … The system is really slow today… Do you have your confirmation number?”

Eventually I was issued with a keycard… only to discover that the room had already been issued to another guest so I returned to Reception, a second keycard… that didn’t open the door… a third key card…

It was 18.58 when I walked into my room.

That is 39 minutes between entering the car park and getting into my room.

Is that a record to be proud of?

No responses yet

Jun 01 2009

Great business, great holiday!

Published by under Hills-Valleys-Exocets

Hello again!

As you might guess, I’ve been on holiday. As is usually the way – go on, don’t tell me you’re not the same! – the two weeks before and after the holiday are busy, getting packed and ready, tying up all the loose ends so that things go smoothly while we’re away and then going through the reverse process on our return.

This year things really were easier. For the first time I’d chosen to fly from a local regional airport – Cardiff – and the assistance was pretty exceptional. Normally, as we require some assistance for my Dad who has an electric mobility scooter, there are glitches: what to do, where to go, who will look after the scooter???? This time we pretty much had an escort for every stage of the process, someone to make sure that we got through all the checks, barriers and queues without fuss or stress. I have to say it was a very “personal” experience and much less stressful than a similar journey through Gatwick.

The holiday was excellent, good weather, fair wind and great sailing to be had…

The whole experience was great bar one small but significant blemish – I lost my pen.

I have – or had – a lovely Cross Ion gel pen. It was small, shiney, sleek, sexy chrome and it fit neatly inside my pocket on a keyring clip – but I lost it, probably on the airplane.

Then I decided to search online to see if I could buy a replacement only to discover that Cross don’t produce these pens any more.

Enter the knight in shining armour – Roger Knight to be exact.

Roger has a store on eBay and had a small stock of Cross Ion gel pens… I submitted my order around 4.30pm. I received an email acknowledgement within 6 hours, the pens were posted within 18 hours and with me within 40 hours… Now do you think that brought the smile back to my face? You bet it did.

So Roger Knight, thank you!!

It’s great to be able to share examples of great service – I’d certainly give my business to Cardiff Airport or to Roger Knight.

Who would you do business with?

No responses yet

Apr 10 2009

Harry Stonebraker Voted Mayor Again

Mr Harry Stonebraker has just been voted as Mayor of Winfield, Missouri for the fourth time. Apparently he won a landslide victory with over 90% of all votes cast.

This one fact might mark out the occasion as being a special event.

A slightly more unusal reason to celebrate his achievement might be that, at the time of the vote, Mr Stonebreaker had been dead for several weeks!

I do wish his family and community every blessing in the times that come, but it did make me wonder how a dead man is voted into office?

Apparently this is not without precedent – both Patsy Mink and Mel Carnahan were also on the ballot papaers for election after their death.

The reasons given are varied – that the official deadline for replacing a candidate has passed – but surely such dealdines can be renegotiated in the exceptional event of a candidates death? Maybe the candidate is kept there as a sign of respect to their memory or because the party to which they belong can’t actually nominate a replacement before the election is held…

And what do you do when the dead candidate actually wins?

Well, in Winsfield, they’ve scheduled another election – next year.

What do you think would happen here in the UK?

No responses yet

Next »

The Money Gym Book - doorway to a community. Take a look!