Time

You Can’t Buy Time, But You Can Borrow It!

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I have followed a 2 part Calendar Review process for many years now. In a recent blog I shared the first part of this process: my Calendar Gut-Checklist. The Calendar Gut-Checklist is a great way to review and reflect on how I spend my time.

Part 2 of the process is Calendar Re-Visioning. Here is the process I follow when I re-vision my calendar:

Calendar Revisioning

1.      I take the insights gained when I Gut-Checked my calendar, and brainstorm changes I could make to better align my calendar with my Desired Outcomes.

2.      The changes I can implement easily I make immediately.

3.      I look ahead for 6 weeks and determine the other changes I could implement with some planning. I outline the steps I need to take to implement these changes and begin the process of making these larger changes.

4.      I commit to reviewing my progress in 30 days.

 

Why do I look ahead? Because when my calendar is overloaded it takes a while to bring it back into alignment. When I work with executives who are bringing alignment back into their calendars I set the expectation that, with 6 months of intentional effort, they can be delivered to a life and workflow they love. It takes time and consistent effort, but it can be done. Progress is even faster when I work with the entire team to bring the team into Time Alignment. (Check out my upcoming article for more on the Team Time Alignment Process.)

 

To help you get started with your Calendar Revisioning process, here are some key questions you can ask as you brainstorm how to revise your own calendar. With these questions you will have better alignment between your Desired Outcomes and your calendar.

 

 Get Analytical: Calendar Brainstorming Questions

·        Calendar:

o   Do you have adequate time to effectively execute your scope of work?

o   What changes can you make to spend your time more effectively?

o   Do you have time protected in your calendar for focused work each week?

 

·        Priorities:

o   What are your top 3 priorities right now? Does your calendar reflect this?

o   Based on your priorities, what do you need to start doing and stop doing?

 

·        Commitments:

o   Do you have more commitments than your calendar will allow?

o   Which commitments do you need to end in order to effectively execute your top priorities?

**Note: If you are double scheduled you have more commitments than you can handle.

You can never be in two places at once.**

The goal is to do more of the “right” things.

With this goal in mind, here are some Calendar Hacks to get you going.

Get Going: Calendar Hacks

·        When are you most focused? Look ahead in your calendar for a 2-3 hour block of focused time each week. This will be the time slot you assign your complex tasks and projects to in the future.

·        Make a recurring appointment twice daily for processing email and checking phone messages.

·        Make a decision about when you will check and return your text messages.

·        At the end of the week look ahead to the coming week and assign your upcoming tasks a time. 

Everything gets done at a particular moment in time. I hope these tips and tricks help you develop the habit of regularly refining and redesigning your calendar so that your time is well spent, and your life and work are satisfying.

What step will you take today to ensure your time is well spent?

A Coach Looks at 50

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January 31st, 2018 was a significant day in my house.

I turned 50 that day and I thought I would share a few reflections from hitting this monumental age. What did I do that day…I helped get our 3 kids that live at home to school. Checked in with our daughter in college. I went to an 8am coaching session with a client. I then traveled about 1 hour to lead an offsite with a new CEO and his executive team. My wife met me at the site and we had a nice dinner and evening of real, adult conversations. We did not celebrate with the kids until a few days later but that was by choice since they had basketball practice, church activities, etc.

What struck me was that this was a pretty normal day (except for the special dinner.) I woke up the next day, got a run in, did normal work and led another offsite that evening. Sounds almost boring, right? Except I loved it. I got to work with clients who I respect and admire what they are trying to do. I got to spend time with my fantastic family and I found time to get a run in. This led me to some interesting insights. This milestone birthday has touched more deeply than any other milestones. 18 and 21 seemed normal. 30—happily married; expecting a child; good job; 40-happily married; 4 children; busy lives but in the right place; 50-happily married; 1 kid in college; life moving fast; first time realizing that I may have lived more life than I have left to live…hmmm?!!

Other insights:

·       I do not think I will ever own a briefcase again

·       I am pretty sure I am done playing racquetball

·       I do not think I will ever own a 3 piece suit

·       I wonder how long I will continue to run 4-5 miles a day. If you had asked at 18 if I would still be running at 50, I would have thought you lost your mind!

·       How have I not gone to Ireland yet? (lots of Irish ancestors!)

·       I do not spend much time caring what others think of me

·       I feel pretty confident in almost all situations

·       I am so blessed to have my parent’s and my wife’s parents alive and in good health. I know this will probably not be the case at 60.

·       I love the work I get to do and will always do some form of this work

·       I spend more time on things I love to do vs. spending times on things I think should or ought to do (coaching sports with kids is great; serving on another volunteer board feels like a should right now.)

·       I am blessed with many friends and I wish I had time to see them more. I will work on seeing them more in my 50’s.

 

So what does this mean for you? I have found it helpful to sit on the back porch and reflect on my life. It has made me intentional in what I say yes to and what I should stop doing. I encourage you to take some time this year to pause and reflect on your life.

·       What activities are serving you best?

·       Who helps you be your best?

·       What blocks you from being your best?

·       Who is an energy vampire for you that you need to distance yourself from?

·       What are some things you would like to do in the next 2-3 years?

I love books and it is hard for me to let them go. However, the clutter was also making it hard for me to concentrate at times. I donated over 75 books and passed on another 50 to colleagues. It was really hard but I love having a clean bookshelf to fill up with new treasures. Another thought is, can you combine 2 things to help gain more efficiency? I love to run and I do not get to see my friends enough. I go on runs now with friends. I release the speed we are going and just enjoy the time to connect. They normally make me talk during the run, talk during lunch or with a beer afterwards. It works out well for us. How about you…what are finding in your life? Let me know and have an awesome 2018!

INNOVATION INC: 2 KEY INGREDIENTS FOR CREATING INNOVATION ENVIRONMENTS THAT WORK

What does it take to get people to bring their best new ideas to the table? How can leaders foster creativity and innovation in ways that deliver results? We hear all the catch phrases and buzz words, but the question I hear from leaders most often is simply, “How can I get started?”

There is a simple two word answer to that question, and it doesn’t require big capital investments and lots of infrastructure. It does take intentional effort.

Those two words are:  Time and Trust.

Time and trust: these two ingredients create climates within organizations, teams and individuals that allow them to engage in several practices critical to the creative process.

When time and trust are present, people can:

1.       think strategically, as opposed to reacting with fear or out of habit

2.       freely ask questions, give feedback and offer insights and ideas with a sense of open curiosity

3.       work on their ideas independently, without cumbersome restrictions or lengthy evaluative processes.

These creative environments tend to work with significant speed, and productivity is high because people love what they are doing. They work hard because they want to, and can think clearly more quickly because they are not feeling threatened by their colleagues or their leadership. Everyone is focused on the real external threats, not the unnecessary internal threats.

When time and trust are not present, people act out of fear, make reactive decisions, and self-protect instead of collaborate. Scared people might get up the motivation to work on a new idea, but the idea has been motivated externally by a threat-reward system. It’s an idea drenched in fear. Ultimately the organization loses.

In the fear-based organizations I encounter, I find creative people working at a fraction of their potential. Significant energy is spent developing political strategies to navigate the organization’s culture of intimidation, distrust, and infighting. These people work more and more in silos because it is safe, robbing themselves and their colleagues of the collective creativity, learning, knowledge and resources of the whole group. I come away thinking, “The brilliance of this team is being wasted.”

The dollar value of that lost intellectual power is staggering: all that time and energy misspent.

It isn’t only fear-based organizations that create underperformance. Underperformance is created simply be the absence of trust. High-trust teams tend to produce great quality work. But a climate of trust takes intentional effort to create. It does not happen by accident. Steps must be taken to actively build trust, collaboration and a strong sense of inter-dependence. When these steps are taken, people’s capacity to bring their best ideas forward and function at their full power and potential is released. Great things begin to happen in the presence of trust that were not possible in its absence.  

How do you build trust on teams?

It takes time and intentional effort. I’ll offer some further steps in my next blog posts, but here are a couple of things you can do today to begin to cultivate trust on your team:

1.       Begin with curiosity. When someone brings an idea, pause, reflect, then ask questions. Thank them for the idea. Wait a moment before you evaluate their idea. Your questions will give your team members time to think, question and learn for themselves, and your appreciation will ensure they keep thinking creatively.

2.       Give people permission to fail. Mistakes are proof that people are doing something: they are trying. When we experience errors as opportunities to learn, grow and change, people become more resilient, smarter about their choices and plans, and performance increases more quickly.

The most valuable asset you have is the imagination of your workforce. They won’t offer it to you unless they trust you, so be curious, ask questions, and give your people permission to try new things.

With these tools in your tool belt, you can begin building your very own Creativity INC.

CHECK YOUR ALIGNMENT

As the New Year begins, it is natural to have an eye on the future:  what will it take to get to the next level?  Did I accomplish what I intended in the year that has passed?  Were the last 365 days well spent?  What do I intend to do with the next 366 days (yes, 2016 is a leap year)?

As you launch into 2016, start with some routine maintenance:  take some time to Check Your Alignment.

The turning of a new year is a natural time to stop and reflect on the direction of your life.  What are your Desired Outcomes:  those things that are most significant to you, those aims that you truly long to accomplish?

The Check Your Alignment premise is simple:  we need to check and see if where we are headed is where we want to go!  If our current actions are out of alignment with our Desired Outcomes, we are missing a key ingredient for our success: enthusiasm.

When we can see that our current activity is in alignment with our ultimate Desired Outcomes, it is easier to retain and renew our enthusiasm for our work.  Our enthusiasm is essential for our success because it is our enthusiasm that primes our perseverance and fuels our discipline.

People often seek the support of an executive coach as a way to maintain accountability.  I always begin by asking people what they really want because, more often than not, the person sitting across from me is focused on the next project or the “biggest problem”.  This is natural, but it is not helpful.  Focusing on the problems we see on the horizon or the next goal we want to achieve robs us of the wellspring of our success:  our enthusiasm.  When we focus on what we ultimately want, on what we most deeply desire, and move forward from that perspective toward the next task, we are in full possession of our greatest assets: our energy and our enthusiasm.

Here are 4 key questions to consider to Check Your Alignment and to keep your enthusiasm on track in 2016:

·       What accomplishment from last year are you most proud of?

·       What work do you find most rewarding?

·       What aspects of your work bring you the most excitement?

·       What are the one or two things in your week you relish doing?

Armed with the answers to these questions, you have a roadmap to replenish and renew your enthusiasm for the work you do.  May your 2016 be the brightest year yet!