Tag Archives: productivity

Last week I asked you to buy post-its and start to plan Week 48 to Week 52. Did you write down 15 priorities for the countdown to the holidays? Did you split a whiteboard into five weeks? Did you do really do this?

I bet you didn’t do this even if you thought it was a great idea.

Why is that?

I have a contract with the NSA and installed a small camera in your i-phone and can watch you all day long.

I know how we all function and you and I have a lot in common. Sometimes we are making ourselves too busy to do what helps us to be less busy and more organized.

Last week I gave you the example of the laptop that I had not cleaned up in years so I could hardly work on it anymore. This week I have a new example: The lights in my bathroom. They need fixing. I think they have been broken for about two years. You might wonder, why I have not been able to call a handyperson or go to COOP Bau&Hobby and get this done.

Well, there is a simple explanation: I tried once or twice to find the lights and then I was discouraged and gave up. Next, I tried to delegate the responsibility for the task to my partner, which did not trigger any action either (just a few discussions).

And about two weeks ago, I finally emailed the rental agency. And you know what? A handyperson called me and will come by shortly. Well, I’m telling you this little example because we often do this in our professional lives as well. We accept a mediocre solution or we try to put a plaster on a process instead of analyzing the root cause of the issue.

We hire more consultants to help us administer a workflow tool that does not deliver the data we need instead of training the data entry specialist in the Philippines or in India so that the data is entered correctly. We implement three levels of controls instead of helping the first handler of the data to deliver a zero error quality report.

Have we lost all of our ideals of Total Quality Management from the good old nineties? What about Kanban and visualizing process flows? What about getting it right for the first time and being highly effective?

What I have noticed is, that I can live with certain flaws in my personal space. I can accept a less than perfect light in the bathroom but I cannot accept it in my work. One of the reasons why my apartment almost looks the same as five years ago is that my energy goes more into my profession. You could say that this is fundamentally wrong or you could say that maybe one needs to balance both areas.

My main message for today is that inaction and delegating responsibility won’t get the job done. If you wish to push your fifteen priority projects until the year-end you need to visualize them and then tick them off or decide which ones you can push to 2018.

Ok, have you started finally?

Then, I would like to encourage you to chose now another color of a post-it note, e.g. green and write down five projects you wish to complete at home. Then take another color such as yellow and write down five contacts you wish to connect with before the year-end.  Finally, take another color such as orange and note down five requests of your partner or children that you would like to fulfill until the year-end.

Once again, I invite you to send me a photo of your project wall, ideally with your name on it. If I receive ten or more by 1 December, I promise to share mine with all of you. ☺

Kind regards
Angie Weinberger

PS: Sign up for our mailing list, if you wish to receive information about the RockMe! Retreat 2018

I just looked at my diary in shock. Lucy, our holiday lights will be lit in Bahnhofstrasse on Thursday. My agenda is full of evening events and the dentist popped the question first for 2017 “Do you already have all your Christmas presents?”. I think, he was kidding. Mid-November, who has Christmas presents already? Is that a thing?

 

It’s high time you and I discuss the secret to managing the year-end.

Maybe it is obvious to you but the secret to managing the year-end and every other transition phase is to take small steps, baby steps actually.

 

Most bigger projects in life such as an international assignment with a move to another country or a move to a new company seem stressful because we are trying to tackle everything at once.

 

Transitions force us to change and do stuff in a different way, which our whole body resists too. (I’ll spare you the long explanation but you can read about cultural transition phases if you like.)

I used to feel overwhelmed when trying to create more space on my laptop BUT two weeks ago, I had been to a coaching retreat where I reprogrammed my brain. Then I approached the laptop issue step-by-step. (@TK, no, I still don’t read instructions…I still go intuitively).

 

I updated my dropbox, so I can move the photo library to my bigger Mac. Then I cleared space for old files. Then I finally updated the laptop. Then I used a program called Gemini to find duplicates and now I have 19 GB free space and can work on the road again. (Not literally the road but when I am traveling.)

What we are trying before the Christmas holidays looks a bit like my laptop pre-retreat. We are trying to stuff more activities in the same amount of time and then our system blocks and goes into overdrive- We either explode or despair.

One of the qualities of Switzerland is planning. Here, we schedule in advance so that all processes can run smoothly and without clogging. Sometimes this feels very slow. When you come from an action-packed, high activity country, you might get impatient.

 

I had a hard time adjusting to planning for at least two years. Then I finally accepted that this is the way it is and since then I plan my lunches four weeks ahead. I take the next appointment for the hairdresser while I’m still sitting there.

Yes, this is the way the rabbit runs in Switzerland (literally translated from a German proverb).

You probably wonder how to take those baby steps. I recommend first of all that you start planning 2018 by buying a physical calendar that shows the whole year. You can already enter your industry events, vacation, seminars, and other long projects. Anything you already know you committed to. Also special days such as anniversaries, birthdays, children’s vacation where you probably won’t work a lot.

Then buy a pack of colorful post-it notes. Split your whiteboard into five sections for the time until the year-end. Write down headers as Week 47 to Week 51.

Now, add three post-its of the same color of the most important projects you have to complete in each week. You should come up with your 15 main professional priorities. I would suggest you use pink for those but it’s up to you. Then take a picture and send it to me. I will continue to explain next steps next week.

Have a productive week ahead (and start buying those Christmas presents).

 

Kind regards

Angie Weinberger

PS: Sign up on our mailing list, if you wish to receive information about the RockMe! Retreat 2018

Do you remember the last time you actually closed down your computer only to realize how many open documents and unfinished business you have? Or do you remember the five new business books you ordered from Amazon and when you wanted to dive into them after the first few pages you got a call and then, did you follow up on that?

I laugh at myself when I look through old diaries or notes that I have taken 10 years ago or even longer. I see that my essential challenges are still the same. They boil down to finances, back pain and imposture syndrome. On a bad day, I will probably fall into the trap of telling myself the same story all over again. I also notice that nowadays when I maintain my weekly “sanity rituals” I get out of that self-talk with my inner monster Gollum a lot faster. (I decided to call my inner critic “Gollum” because deep down inside I believe that I am Bilbo Baggins’ granddaughter.)

Do you still believe that it is the agenda and influence of your manager, the loud colleague from the other end of the open plan office or your wife that stop you from completing projects?

On the surface, it is easy to blame others for what we don’t do or don’t achieve. I find it wonderful to use the “I cannot afford it” excuse in order not to invest in my education or in new clothes for example.

When you say “I do”, how can you keep yourself on track?

Here are four approaches to improve your commitment to projects that are important to you.

1) The Engineering Approach

  • Prioritize your projects with an easy classifier such as ABC.
  • Set a deadline for the overall completion.
  • Break down the projects into milestones.
  • Write a project plan that breaks down every milestone into a task and plan time for completion.
  • Do it and tick off every achievement on a daily basis.

 

2) The People Approach

  • Visualize the end result and paint a detailed picture of it.
  • Add post-it notes of people you see connected to this end vision.
  • Consider which role they will play in your end vision.
  • Reach out to them and let them know that you need their help.
  • Find two commitment buddies who will check in with you on your success and report to them on a weekly basis.

 

3) The Agile Approach

  • Focus on one project at the time
  • Pick the one that has the highest lever for you.
  • Work from the bottom up by defining what you would like to achieve in the next three weeks (“sprint”).
  • Spend 80% of your work time on this sprint.
  • Then take a week of reflection, check what worked and what didn’t and take a long weekend off.

 

4) The No-Pain, No-Gain Approach

  • Pick a skill that you would like to have and that you always avoid.
  • Invest an incredible amount of money in order to force yourself to commit (an example could be a personal trainer to follow your fitness routine, or an MBA or a course in Excel).
  • Tell your mother about it and see what happens.

 

I would suggest that you try to work with the approach that speaks to you most. Whichever approach you take you will probably notice that you are committing yourself to DOING rather than just THINKING ABOUT DOING.

What I’ve thought about before writing this was that I would like to share a secret with you. I took an important decision for next year. I’ve applied to a Masters programme in “International Human Resource Management and Global Mobility”. While the thought of spending two intensive weeks with GM Professionals from around Europe totally excites me, I also feel anxiety creeping in as I have graduated back in 97 and universities have changed a fair bit since then. It’s one thing to teach in a program and another to actually go through it yourself. I’m also considering an additional coaching education that will require funding and time. Imagine me running my business and doing a double degree in one year. I’m taking a mix of a no-pain, no-gain approach and a people approach here. Step 1 completed.

Have an inspired week!

Angie

It’s 6.05 AM and you are just getting out of the shower… Your hair is toweled up and you light two candles. You get into your meditation pose and close your eyes. Then you realize that you have not set your alarm. So you get up and get your phone from the bathroom where you were reading an interesting article about the entrepreneur scene and crowdfunding in Europe. Then you see that you have three new messages on WhatsApp…

At 8 AM you realize that your freakin’ late and you hardly remember to take the train ticket, your badge, your purse and sunglasses and whoosh – you’re out of the door. You remember the candles, open the door again, blow them out and while you run to catch the train you think: “Didn’t I plan to meditate?”

Sounds familiar?

We have too many distractions nowadays (oh no…I overcooked the pasta while writing this) that I often wonder how people get any work done at all. Have you ever caught yourself in the last 24 hours thinking “What am I actually doing right now?”. We have programs and routines and they do not seem to require the same brain activity as real challenges and often we are just keeping busy but our output is not really that relevant.

I saw several people walking on their Sunday stroll the other day and they all talked to someone on the phone via a headset. They did not just get a call. They planned to use their walking hour to speak to someone. I sometimes combine routine activities with other activities too. For example, I would watch a video or even better was to listen to a podcast while ironing. It works really well to combine such activities. However, it does not help me in order to create. I prefer to mono-task and give my full attention to the task even if it seems mundane. I want to give my brain time to reflect and digest the input it receives during the week (and believe me there’s a lot of input).

If you are a freelance consultant, coach or business owner or if you constantly feel that you are not getting enough important stuff done, here’s a tip.

1) Write down how you spend your time by using a “Have-Done-List”

I find the easiest way to do this is by having a notebook (old-school) next to my laptop or computer which just serves for this purpose (and other crazy ideas running through my head). You can add anything on this list that you have done during that day even this: “Sat down on a bench and enjoyed the sunshine in my face.”

2) Go through RockMe! to reflect your success on a weekly basis

In our coaching programs, we make weekly reflections a mandatory process. 15 minutes per week and you will be amazed how much more you achieved than you thought. The thing is that if I don’t gently encourage you to do this you’d rather spend those fifteen minutes watching cat videos (or in my case silly movies).

Let me know what you experienced once you maintained a Have-Done-List for five days. Have a great Monday!

Kind regards,

Angie Weinberger

PS. In other news here are five job apps worth checking out.

PPS. More ideas how you can reclaim your diary are here.


This article sums up our discussion over the last weeks:

Forget Robots! The Attention-Robbers Are Hurting Your Job Prospects More  – J.T. O’Donnell

An exciting year comes to the end and despite the turmoil in the world, despite the political agendas and against the current “polaristic worldview“* I am proud to say that our global team has further expanded. We work with freelancers in Pakistan, Finland, the US and Switzerland and some of our clients join us via Skype from New York City, Pune and the UK. Living diversity and being with clients and people from all over the world is the best gift for me. So, I don’t really have any further wishes for the holidays.

I wish that you find time to relax and spend quality time with your loved ones. Also, that all your career aims and life aspirations will materialize in 2017.

Happy Holidays!

Angie and the Global People Transitions Team

PS: We still have space in our HireMe! Groups! If you are looking for a career change or want to find that job in Switzerland come to see me.

 

*”Polaristic worldview”: According to Milton Bennett this happens in the second phase of intercultural sensitivity development (called defense) where we fight the existence of intercultural differences and argue in a them versus us narrative. Read more.

 

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/forget-robots-attention-robbers-hurting-your-job-more-j-t-o-donnell?trk=prof-post