Personal Productivity Feed

We Can't Get Back Time: Thoughtful Thursday

Time is the one thing we have that once its gone, we can't get back.  In today's Thoughtful Thursday post, consider how your life might be diffferent if you made the best use of your time. Here's the quote:

Those who make the worst use of their time are the first to complain of its shortness. - Jean de La Brusre, 17th Century French Essayist


  • How often do you complain about how little time you have?
  • What is the biggest consumer of time and energy in your life?
  • How would you live your life today if you knew you only had six months to live?


Disorganized? Collect Your Stuff

Effective leadership in our fast paced culture requires reliable organizational systems to maintain productivity. However, most people aren't as organized or systemized as they would like to be.  Take one close look inside any office or home and you'll see what I'm talking about.

How organized are you...really?

Hope is available for the disorganized. Last week I gave an overview of what I believe is one of the best systems around for mastering workflow, David Allen's "Getting Things Done". Today, I will continue the theme with the first step in the GTD process: Collect!

Ready...Set...COLLECT! The first step to productivity is collecting all of our "stuff" into one place.

stuff: physical or mental representations of incomplete tasks or objects that don't belong permanently where they are.

Corralling all of our "stuff" into one place at one time can be a daunting task. However, this task can also be freeing once we let go of our horror that our real "In" box is larger than a small filing cabinet. Seeing the mound of our real "In" box can be overwhelming, but relief will follow because at last we know the extent of what we need to get done.  This is good news.  From personal experience, I have found this to be true.
The process of collecting consists of two steps:

  1. Physical gathering: Collecting everything in your environment that doesn't belong where it is permanently and placing it into "In".
  2. Mental gathering: Writing down all of the ideas lurking around our heads that represent projects or tasks, each on a separate piece of paper, and placing those into "In".

Once you've gathered all of your stuff" (don't forget your electronic media items such as email), you are ready for the next step: Process.  Hang in there.  This kind of overhaul takes time but it is well worth the effort.

Connect learning to leading: Take a look around at your current work or living space.  What is on your desk surface? Peak in the drawers, cabinets and closets.  How many items are not in their permanent places & need to be resolved?  What thoughts were triggered?  Put these items in "In" for processing.  Then stay "tuned" until next time.


NOTE: "Getting Things Done" is just one of many tools for managing workflow. If you want an expert on GTD, be sure to visit their website. If you want leadership coaching from a self-proclaimed GTD groupee, call me today for a complimentary consultation at 913-219-7844.

Unproductive Thoughts: Thoughtful Thursday

We lose productivity in a lot of ways, but have you ever thought about how your thoughts consume time and energy? Today's Thoughtful Thursday post continues with our last post's theme of productivity:

This constant, unproductive preoccupation with all the things we have to do is the single largest consumer of time and energy. - Kerry Gleeson

  • How do you track the things you have to do?
  • What do you think is the biggest consumer of time and energy in your life?
  • What could you do today to eliminate this energy drain?

For more thoughts on productivity, check out my previous post entitled "The Art of Efficiency".

The Art of Efficiency

Even the most outwardly neat individuals may still have cluttered minds. That's because most people haven't mastered how to consistently capture all of the incomplete items in their lives and plan how to handle them. How consistently organized are your thoughts?  What system do you have for managing all you do?
One of the best books I've found on developing a complete system for personal productivity is "Getting Things Done" (aka GTD) by David Allen. In fact, I would probably say that I'm an informal GTD groupee. I love his process and like my coach did with me, I often suggest to my clients with time management or organizational woes to check out GTD.
In his book, "Getting Things Done", personal productivity guru David Allen stresses that "only when our minds are clear and our thoughts are organized can we achieve effective results and unleash our creative potential." Stress-free productivity is indeed an art.
Clear minds allow our ideas to bounce around freely without getting squelched by the clutter of the undone items we are trying not to forget. Additionally clear minds help us efficiently focus on the task at hand.

David Allen teaches the following core process for mastering workflow in any context, home or office:
  1. Collect the "stuff" representing your "to do's"
  2. Process what you collect
  3. Organize results of processing
  4. Review results as options "to do"
  5. Do

When completely integrated, this process will alleviate stress because everything will be in its place, even our thoughts.  Are you ready to learn the art of efficiency? I can give you an appetizer and whet your appetite for more while you learn some practical tips. If you want the main course, check out all David Allen has to offer.

What do you do for an organizational system? Share your thoughts in a comment!
Connecting learning to living and leading

Throughout your day, be aware of how many times you think of something you need to do but still haven't done.  How many times did you have that same thought in your day?  How much energy is this costing you?  What can you do about it?
NEXT POST... Collecting the "stuff".

Are you overwhelmed with all you have to do? Contact me for a complimentary consultation today to get started on the path to stress-free productivity!

Time Management 101: Start with Reality

No one has enough time to do all the things they want to do. No one. Don't believe me? Take a few minutes to list all the things on your mind you want to do or have to do. Think about your list and consider the fact that your list will grow today and tomorrow and the next day. Your list is a snapshot, not a movie.

Great leaders know the importance of time, that every moment in time is unrepeatable.

Time doesn't stop for us to complete our lists and once it is gone we can never get it back. Yet, time is fair. Each of us get the same amount of time to work with - 24 hours a day, 168 hours a week. Do you know where your time goes? Are you investing or spending it?  

Today I'd like to challenge you to participate in an exercise I propose to nearly all of my clients interested in better time management.  Excellent time management starts with a harsh examination of reality.

Step #1. Monitor your time in 10 minute increments for a two week period.

Step #2. Summarize your findings. Create a list of categories that describe your daily activities.

Step #3. Assess your results. What did you discover about yourself? What would you like to change? How does the way you spend your time align with your core values or top priorities?

Once you honestly complete this exercise you will know your current reality. It is what it is. Then you can diagnose inefficiencies in your schedule and make changes to open up space for what really matters most to you. This could be the start of something amazing in your life. Are you ready for it?

If you try the exercise, come back and share your findings with us. If you've done this before, feel free to share your experiences in a comment. We love to hear from you!


Practical Personal Evaluations

When was the last time you took a few minutes to evaluate how you are doing in your life or work? Every week I ask my clients to do this by way of a Session Preparation Form. I participate in the same process with my own coach.
I love the Session Preparation Form! The process of answering the questions forces me to acknowledge what I've accomplished rather than what didn't get done. It also helps me to objectively and proactively address my challenges and provides me with the focus I need to move forward efficiently. 
Wouldn't you like to experience the same? You can!
I'm inviting you to share in the process I use with my clients each week to encourage forward movement in achieving their goals. If you fully participate, I know you will not be disappointed.  Are you ready to join us? 

If you are, pick a time and day of the week on which for the next four weeks you can allow 30 minutes to write out the answers to the following questions:

  • What went well last week ... forward motion, victories, learning?
  • What was challenging?
  • How could you best use your time this week?
  • What will you commit to doing this week to progress in your life or career?

Date each week's evaluation and at the end of the four weeks look back at the progress you've made. Then, come back to this post at Purposeful Leadership and comment with your success stories.  I'd love to hear them!

NOTE: If you would like to use the actual Session Preparation Form I use with my clients, download it from here. The questions are slightly different, but you can easily change them to match the above questions.

The Productivity Paradox: Slow Down to Speed Up

There is a paradox to productivity in that slowing down helps us to speed up. Do you find yourself constantly playing "catch up" or trying to stay on top of a constant swirl of activity? Are you so busy working on the day-to-day that you don't stop to look at the bigger picture?
If you answered yes to either of the above, you are not alone. Most of us don't take time to slow down to celebrate our accomplishments, evaluate the past and plan for the future. Consequently, we cheat ourselves out of our best work.
Picture yourself as a sprinter. Sprinters run full speed ahead - arms pumping, feet pounding, lungs gasping - with no thought of anything but making it to the finish line. Sprinters run on the verge of being out of control. They can't run that way forever.
Neither. Can. We.
When we sprint through life, we cheat ourselves of our best because we focus so much on the "race" that we miss opportunities, stifle creativity, and eventually crash and burn. We need to regularly get off the track to get back on track.
Here's how you can step off the track and get back to your best:
 1) Stop. Stop doing and schedule an hour each week to reflect, review and refocus your priorities.
 2) Look. List the things you've learned in the past week and reflect on them. Take one action step or make one change based on what you've learned.
 3) Listen. Look at your life from a 30,000 foot view. In this quiet place above the clutter of life, consider steps #1 and #2, all of your "to do's" and "want to's", and ask yourself "What will I do with what I know?"  Listen to your heart and your intuition for the answer.
Slowing down helps us chart a proper course so we can run in the right direction. Knowing where to run eliminates the confusion that slows us down. Stop, look, and listen today. Then, hang on for the ride!

How do you slow down? Share your thoughts, tips and tricks in a comment below!

Need help with being more productive? I love helping people with their personal productivity! Call me for a complimentary consultation today at 913-219-7844! You'll be glad you did!

Meetings: Energizing or Excruciating?

Meetings are a necessary part of organizational culture and can either be energizing or excruciating, depending on the strength of the meeting's organizer. What comes to your mind when you think of the word "meeting"?

Coming to my mind as I type this are flashbacks of the most boring and unproductive times of my career. Yikes! Most of the time when I think of my past experiences with meetings, I think of some of the things Mike Rogers wrote in his post last week entitled "8 Important tips to help you waste time in meetings". I highly recommend reading through his list.

Leaders who know how to effectively run meetings set themselves apart from the rest. They are few and far between. In addition to doing the opposite of what you might find in Mike's list, here are some tips to make the most use of your time and your attendees' time during your meetings:

  1. Clearly identify your desired outcome. Why are you having this meeting?
  2. Choose your meeting length and structure based upon your desired outcome. (e.g tactical  meetings differ from strategic planning)
  3. Create a parking lot to capture ideas that require a separate meeting so you can keep focused.
  4. Coordinate and collaborate during your meeting time. Avoid reading committee or departmental "reports" that can be communicated via written format.

What do you need to change about your current meeting structure? Changing the way you run meetings might just be the most productive thing you do this year! If you've got a story about how changing your meeting structure impacted your organization, we'd love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below.

Need help with your meetings? I love helping people make these changes! Call me for a complimentary consultation today at 913-219-7844! You'll be glad you did!

Fueling the Responsibility of Leadership

Leadership is not to be taken lightly. The greater our influence over others, the greater responsibility we have. Because of our influence as leaders, society holds leaders of all levels to higher standards.

We must give them what they want.

The people we serve deserve our best efforts and our best selves. Unfortunately, most leaders are tired, frazzled, and running on empty. We rarely see their best because they are too drained to give it. Following are three tips to help fuel your leadership tank. 

1) Remember who you serve. 

Thoughtful leaders know who and what they serve. Why do you do what you do? Why does your organization do what it does? Find a way to connect your passions to your leadership responsibilities and lead from that place. Follow your heart, serve those around you and lead with the highest goal in mind. This will help you do the right thing, even though it may not be popular. 

2) Keep your "cup" filled to overflowing. 

The more you give to other people and the more responsibility you have on and off the job, the more time you need to refuel. I heard a speaker say: “If your intake is less than your outflow then your upkeep will be your downfall.” How do you relieve stress? What fills your energy tank? What are you trying to give that you do not have?

3) Get a coach or mentor.  

Never stop learning or trying to improve. When we think we’ve “arrived”, we are ripe for a fall. Leaders should never cease to ask for wisdom, feedback and accountability in their endeavors. A learning spirit keeps us humble because it acknowledges we don’t know it all. Additionally, a coach can help you connect your with your passions and get your self care routine on track.

One final thought. My fellow leaders, we all know how tough the road of leadership can be, rewarding as it is. The next time you find yourself criticizing someone in a position of authority, give them a little grace, and remember that people are looking at you too.

Now its your turn. I’ve asked a lot of questions in this post. If you care to share any of your answers, we’d love to hear from you in a comment!

Connecting Learning with Leading
1.  What one thing can you do for yourself this week to fill your "cup"?
2.  Do you have a "safe place" in which to discuss your fears, frustrations or goals? If not, what baby step will you take this week to fill that void?

Need help in becoming a better leader? Contact me at 913-219-7844 for a complimentary consultation to learn more about how you can lead to your full potential.

Time Saving Leadership: Teach for Time

Leaders must make time to teach so they can save time they do not have. 

Today skilled minds are worth more than skilled hands. Because everyone is caught up in the race of playing catch-up with too much to do with too little time, leaders must teach people how to think to save time in the long run.
Leaders who can't teach people how to think will be forever challenged with how long to "hand hold" their staffs or volunteers.
How effective are you at teaching people how to think for themselves?
Try this process the next time someone comes to you for answers. Ask them:

1. What do you want to accomplish?
2. What do you need to know, do, or have to accomplish it?
3. What will you do to move forward once you have what you need?

Facilitate the discussion, ask questions to dig deeper into their initial responses and watch those mind wheels turn!  Remember, teaching takes time, but saves time in the long run. Your time is worth the time!

What is your experience with teaching people how to think for themselves?  I'd love to hear of some tricks that have worked for you in the comments below. Also, if you try the above exercise, come back and let us know how it turned out. I love hearing from you!

Related Posts:

The Leader's Role As Teacher
Coaching: How the Best Leaders Teach   

As a professional coach I can help you or your organization develop a coaching culture where people set goals and think for themselves. Contact me for details.