The majority of meetings should be discussions

“The majority of meetings should be discussions that lead to decisions.”

—Patrick Lencioni, Founder of The Table Group

Image of a team in a meeting

Image from Unsplash by Content Creators

Death by Meeting is one of Patrick Lencioni’s numerous books. He first made his mark with his classic, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, from which his business fable format gained considerable popularity.

How do you feel about the meetings you attend? How many, how long, and perhaps most importantly, how productive are these often stolen parts of your day?

EXERCISE:

Given the concept that people participate more fully in that which they help create, try using the More, Less, Start, Stop Exercise to upgrade the engagement and value of your meetings.

Please also check out Death by Meetings for additional ideas that can benefit you and your organization.

The Best Cure for a Sluggish Mind

“The best cure for a sluggish mind is to disturb its routine.”

—William H. Danforth, 20th Century Founder of The American Youth Foundation

Image of Book Cover

Are you a Lark or an Owl?

Said another way: Are you a morning person or a night person?

Larks are at their best in the morning and usually hit their low energy walls at mid-afternoon.

Owls start their days a bit more slowly, hit their peak at mid-morning, and work productively much later into the day.

In his book, WHEN, Daniel Pink points out that both Larks and Owls need to insert breaks and even an occasional nap into their days. We need this to break up the marathon lives we live and cure our sluggish minds.

EXERCISE:

Where in your day would you most benefit from a change or break, in order to renew or recharge?

Consider blocking out 15-30 minutes each day over the next week, and see what you notice about your effectiveness and productivity.

Too Few Accomplish Twice as Much as Too Many

“Too few accomplish twice as much as too many.”

—Malcolm Forbes, Publisher of Forbes Magazine

“The more the merrier” may be a great strategy for a party or special occasion, however this approach can have considerable drawbacks.

Consider the times you had to make an important decision by committee. How did it go? How long did it take? What were the results?

I am all for the idea of people participating in that which they create. My experience in coaching executive leadership groups and project teams leads me to believe that keeping the group to only those essential participants, the better.

EXERCISE:

Choose a high-priority personal project. Then, limit the group working on it to the vital few.

Feel free to reply to this post and let me know what happens to your level of productivity and effectiveness.

If you seek ideas go walking

“If you are seeking creative ideas, go out walking. Angels whisper to a man when he goes for a walk.”

-Raymond Inmon

Image of a man at a wlaking desk

Image from dlvr.it.blog

Has anyone ever told you they get some of their best ideas while taking a shower? It turns out that a change of scenery or venue is often just the ticket to get your creative juices flowing. Even the relatively new phenomenon of using a standing desk versus sitting all day has been touted to produce significant boosts of focus and productivity.

EXERCISE:

What changes can you introduce into your day to shift your perspective and open up new levels of innovation and creativity? Consider taking a walk and letting your angels whisper a few suggestions.

The faintest pencil is better than the strongest memory

“The faintest pencil is better than the strongest memory.”

⏤Greg McKeown, author of Essentialism

Image of a pencil on a table

Image from Flickr by Chris

Sam Horn was one of the speakers/conversation starters at a coaching conference I attended last year. One of her favorite sayings is “Ink it when you think it.” She always has a notebook in her hand.

Productivity guru David Allen, who wrote Getting Things Done often advises his readers that brains were meant for thinking, not as a storage device for information of limited value.

EXERCISE:

How would an “Ink it when you think it” strategy foster less stress and far more productivity in your life?

Productive, not Busy

“Focus on being productive instead of busy.”

-Tim Ferris, author & Entrepreneur

QC #994

Over the past few weeks I learned about a new book by Cal Newport titled Deep Work—Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World.

In this timely book, Cal shares his formula for high productivity:

High quality work produced = (time spent X intensity of focus)

Take a moment to examine your typical work day with regard to this equation.

Where does your time go?

How much intensity do you focus on each of your important and unimportant tasks?

EXERCISE:

How and in what ways would blocking out larger chunks of quality time when you are operating at optimal intensity increase your productivity today?

“Your mind is for having…”

“Your mind is for having ideas, not holding them.”

—David Allen, American productivity consultant & author

QC #756Among the books I recommend most often to clients who are challenged with managing their professional and personal time is Getting Things Done by David Allen.

One of the critical insights I derived from his work was the idea that too many people use their minds and memories to hold too much information. It turns out that doing so makes most of us far less productive and also causes overwhelming feelings and considerable stress. Perhaps that is why the subtitle of this valuable book is “the art of stress-free productivity.”

EXERCISE:

Please pick up and study Getting Things Done, and do whatever you can to “have” ideas, but “hold” them in memory-keeping or commitment-keeping technologies, where they will be available to you in the moments you plan to work on them.

“It wasn’t raining when…”

“It wasn’t raining when Noah built the ark.”

—Howard Ruff, financial adviser and writer

Photo from Boy Scouts of America

Photo from Boy Scouts of America

We tend to live our lives at a mad pace, with only a few moments each day to catch our breath.

When we do this consistently, our level of stress goes up, and our effectiveness and productivity go down. Another consequence of this rush-around world is that we rarely get to the big and important projects that we most desire.

Taking time to plan and build our own “ark of life” prepares us for the critical life events that come our way and make life worthwhile.

EXERCISE:

Examine some of the most important and urgent life issues that are just around the corner or over the horizon. How can you work backwards from these events, to be as prepared as possible and get ahead of the rainstorms of life that are coming?

“If you chase two rabbits, both will escape.”

“If you chase two rabbits, both will escape.”

– Author Unknown

These days, high value is placed on one’s ability to multitask to enhance productivity.

The evidence regarding the productivity gains is controversial at best, with many examples of serious downsides – just look at texting while driving a car.

There’s no question that focusing on one high-priority task at a time pays huge dividends. There’s considerable evidence that most productive people do just that, then move on the next high-priority task, thus giving the appearance of multitasking.

Exercise:

Use your calendar to break up your day into highly focused priority items, and take them on one at a time.

If another rabbit comes in sight, make sure you choose only one to chase. After all, one is far better than none.