Quote of the Week

"One cool judgment is worth a thousand hasty councils."
- Woodrow Wilson

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Don’t Time Block Too Far Ahead

When I started getting into time blocking, I had to fight back the urge to sit down at the beginning of the week and block off time days in advance. Of us who start off each morning with a game plan, know that plan can be thrown out the window within hours. Not to mention what was the top priority at hour one, may not be the top priority by hour two.

What I’ve found that works for me is following the below steps:
  1. Block off the time on my weekly calendar for the important meetings already scheduled.
  2. If any of the meetings require prep work, block off the appropriate amount of time before the meeting.
  3. Make a list of my priorities for the week.
  4. Block off time Monday morning to work on the top item(s) on my list.

I usually leave the first half hour of the morning open to allow time for the miscellaneous tasks waiting for me when I get to work. Process email, etc. I will also leave a half hour or an hour free space between and time I block off for meetings or focused work to allow time for everything and anything else that might need my attention.

Leaving gaps between my blocked time allow me to handle the small fires that might pop up before they turn into raging infernos. The gaps also allow flexibility with my blocked timed as well. If I'm making great headway on a task, I can keep the momentum going for another half hour. Or if I've made enough progress on the task, I can still keep that momentum going by pulling in the next task that I have time blocked off for later in the day.

I try to limit the time block scheduling to only the next work day when planning ahead. As I mentioned above, I'll save time to prepare for meetings, or if I have a specific due date for a project. But over all I follow the same routine.
  1. Plan out a day that morning or the night before.
  2. At the end of the day, start planning the next day base on what I got done and what new priorities emerged.
  3. Next morning, fine tune the night before's plan if required.

As tempting as it can be, try not to plan too far ahead of yourself. It will lead to frustration. Time management has to be a bit fluid in order for it to work. 

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Time Blocking At Home

Turning off all distractions for a half hour or hour of uninterrupted work does not have to only happen at your work. This can be a powerful tool for home too.

At a scheduled time on your calendar turn off the phone, TV, and email; then spend a half hour tidying the bedroom. Or schedule an hour to give your undivided attention to a loved one.

I know of people who make a calendar appointment to play with their kids. This seems very cold and mechanical. But is it cold to make a conscious effort to focus all your attention to your child, or is it cold to pay half attention to your child and half to responding to a text message from your boss?

Monday, December 16, 2019

Time Blocking Works and I Can Prove It to You in Half an Hour

No matter what your profession or your personal life is like, we all have tasks or projects we've been falling behind. Something always comes up to get in the way.

Time blocking, as in making an appointment for yourself on your calendar can help. If you doubt me, I challenge you to prove me wrong with just a half hour of your time.

Either professionally or at home; think of a project or task that you've been meaning to complete and need to complete, but haven't yet. Now find an open half hour on your calendar and block it off to focus solely on that task.

When the time comes, turn off your smartphone, turn off your email, mute your desk phone, and focus all of your attention for that half hour on the task at hand. If you work in an office environment, reserve an open conference room for yourself if one's available.

You will be amazed at the amount of work you can get done in that mere half hour.

Now just think what you can do if you can block off a half hour or an hour every day.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

The People You Surround Yourself With

The saying goes that you're a combination of the five people you spend your time with the most.

George Washington said: "Associate with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation; for it is better to be alone than in bad company."

There is also a saying about avoiding negative people, for they will bring you down to that level.

But what if that negative person is trying to "associate with men of good quality" and you're one of them?

Make sure you don't hold someone back who is looking for your help. Just make sure your help is what they're after.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

If You Want the Truth, Just Wait a Minute

"We should always allow some time to elapse, for time discloses the truth." ~ Seneca

Seneca, the great stoic philosopher, as some great quotes if you do a quick Google search. The above is one of my favorites. We all need to slow down at times.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Five Years, Five Minutes. Keep the Big Picture in Mind

We have all let something minor ruin our whole day, or week, or even longer.

Someone cutting you off in traffic. A snide remark from your egotistical department manager. A team member who missed a dead line due to lack of effort. There are countless examples.

Some small thing that shouldn't matter, and in the end doesn't matter, drills into our brain and we can't let it go. I am guilty of allowing this to happen to me. Stress allow.

"No one's happiness but my own is in my power to achieve or to destroy"

The above powerful mantra from the classic Ayn Rand novel Atlas Shrugged ring true for all of us. Don't allow the actions of others to destroy your happiness.

Recently I was introduced to the Five By Five Rule. If it will not impact your life five years from know, don't spend more than five minutes being upset by it.

Easier sad than done. Trust me. But give it a try. When you catch yourself stewing over a snarky comment, step back for a moment and ask yourself how will that impact me five years from now?

Chance are it has zero impact. That should give you some motivation to be the better persona and take full control of your own happiness.

Monday, December 9, 2019

Thank God its Monday

Thank God its Monday. Now that's something you never here, but you should.

Everyone looks forward to the weekend, two days. But few look forward to the work week, five days. Can't we all get more enjoyment out of five days than two?

They say if you do what you love for work, you'll never have to work a day in your life. But is it really all or nothing? Do you have either love your job or hate it and be cursed to spend your time only looking forward to the weekend?

I consider myself fortunate. It's Monday and I get to go back to work. Do I love my job? No, I do not. I also don't hate it. There are many things about what I do that make me excited to go back to it every Monday.

If you can't be excited about returning to work today, do something about it. Everyone's first thought is that in order to truly enjoy their work, they would need to change jobs. I don't think that is really require.

Maybe all you need to do, is change your view of your current job. Look for one thing that you truly enjoy about your work. Then build from there.

Friday, December 6, 2019

Next on the Reading List: Indistractable

Next on the Reading List: Indistractable. The book just arrived from Amazon the other day and I can not wait to start this one. Click the above Amazon link to learn more.

The author, Nir Eyal,was recently interviewed on the Art of Manliness podcast on my way home, and order the book as soon as I got home.

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Be Cautious of the Self Proclaimed Leader

Unfortunately, "leader" has become a workplace buzzword.

We have all seen the infographics comparing the characteristics of a boss to a leader, or management to leadership. They are meant to show there is a distinct difference between someone in a managerial role that has true leadership traits, and some who is simply in a position of power based solely on education, experience, and/or seniority.

However instead of inspiring people in positions of authority with marginal leadership capabilities to strive for self improvement. This trend of rebranding managers as leaders is simply that too often. Just rebranding. The same poor management, just call leadership by the poor managers.

Seems many think if they simply call themselves leaders enough it will be true. It won't. Bad bosses will remain bad bosses, regardless to what they decide to call themselves.

Be cautious of the self-described leader. Too often they are a mediocre manager at best that has a shelve full of business books they've only skimmed through enough to pick up that "leader" is what the successful people call themselves. Only they are not actually doing what makes a true leader a leader. Once again there are no shortcuts on the path.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Learn to say no, so you can do more by doing less

It's a problem I have. I have a difficult time telling people "no" when they asked me to participate in a project, or for my help. Part of the reason is I don't want to seem uninterested in their project or selfish with my time. Also, chances are if they're asking to participate, it's something I'm good at, familiar with, and or enjoy.

I know I am far from the only one with this problem. It is at least partially why so many of us struggle to find the time to get all things we want to do, done. We are simply over loaded.

We need to remember that it's okay to say no, and we all need to say it more often.

It's can be hard to not offer others your help. But when your help takes away from the tasks and projects you are responsible for completing, you suffer.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Start a Morning Routine

For a long time I've been reading and hearing how a solid morning routine can have a positive impact on your productivity. It always made sense to me, but I never took the time to implement one.

I was always the type of person to lay in bed until the last possible minute and end up rushing out the door with my hair still wet from the shower and the last bite of my breakfast still in my mouth.

Over the years I have became more of a morning person. But I still did not embrace a deliberate morning routine.

About a year ago that changed. On a whim, I decided to give it try.

  • Rise out of bed at or before a set time.
  • Stretch and exercise for a few minutes.
  • Read.
  • Plan my day.
Right away I saw results. I was more organized and focused. I got more done in the morning, whether at work on the weekends. I noticed I was getting more out of my most precious and nonrenewable resource: my time.

Over the last year or so, my morning routine has been refined and improved to better meet my needs. My only regret is that I didn't start focusing on this years ago. 

But I guess self improvement is like planting trees. The best time to start is twenty years ago, the next best time is right now.

Monday, December 2, 2019

Take Control of the Work Week Before It Starts

One of my Sunday routines is to create the new weekly spread for my bullet journal to plan out my work week. I list out my scheduled meetings that I know of at this time. I list out my goals for the week and tasks that need to be completed, and I tentatively block off time for those tasks.

Of course I need to make updates throughout the week. Sometime within the first hour or two of Monday morning. But I still have a plan. I still have control.

I have been starting out the same basic weekly spread on Sundays for over a year and a half now. I can say beyond a shadow of a doubt that this practice has been a major boost to my productivity and has helped me manage my time much more efficiently than in the past. Having my goals, tasks, and priorities laid out in an organized manner makes all the difference in the world.

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Professional Lessons From History

Currently I am reading a well written and researched biography of man who played an important role in our Nation's war for independence. A man I never heard of until recently.

Fortunately I have some free time over this Thanksgiving holiday, for I have found this book difficult to put down. Baron de Steuben was a very interesting man who had a major impact on our newly formed army.

Besides being an entertaining biography piece, this book highlights some good examples of leadership skills (and things not to do) from the key subjects of this book; Baron de Steuben, General Washington, General Charles Lee, and others.

Click the below Amazon link for more info on this book. If you like American history, this may be a must read for you.