Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Magic of Doing One Thing at a Time

This article was published on LinkedinHR Blog

Why is it that between 25% and 50% of people report feeling overwhelmed or burned out at work?
It's not just the number of hours we're working, but also the fact that we spend too many continuous hours juggling too many things at the same time.
What we've lost, above all, are stopping points, finish lines and boundaries. Technology has blurred them beyond recognition. Wherever we go, our work follows us, on our digital devices, ever insistent and intrusive. It's like an itch we can't resist scratching, even though scratching invariably makes it worse.
Tell the truth: Do you answer email during conference calls (and sometimes even during calls with one other person)? Do you bring your laptop to meetings and then pretend you're taking notes while you surf the net? Do you eat lunch at your desk? Do you make calls while you're driving, and even send the occasional text, even though you know you shouldn't?
The biggest cost — assuming you don't crash — is to your productivity. In part, that's a simple consequence of splitting your attention, so that you're partially engaged in multiple activities but rarely fully engaged in any one. In part, it's because when you switch away from a primary task to do something else, you're increasing the time it takes to finish that task by an average of 25 per cent.
But most insidiously, it's because if you're always doing something, you're relentlessly burning down your available reservoir of energy over the course of every day, so you have less available with every passing hour.
I know this from my own experience. I get two to three times as much writing accomplished when I focus without interruption for a designated period of time and then take a real break, away from my desk. The best way for an organization to fuel higher productivity and more innovative thinking is to strongly encourage finite periods of absorbed focus, as well as shorter periods of real renewal.
If you're a manager, here are three policies worth promoting:
1. Maintain meeting discipline. Schedule meetings for 45 minutes, rather than an hour or longer, so participants can stay focused, take time afterward to reflect on what's been discussed, and recover before the next obligation. Start all meetings at a precise time, end at a precise time, and insist that all digital devices be turned off throughout the meeting.
2. Stop demanding or expecting instant responsiveness at every moment of the day. It forces your people into reactive mode, fractures their attention, and makes it difficult for them to sustain attention on their priorities. Let them turn off their email at certain times. If it's urgent, you can call them — but that won't happen very often.
3. Encourage renewal. Create at least one time during the day when you encourage your people to stop working and take a break. Offer a midafternoon class in yoga, or meditation, organize a group walk or workout, or consider creating a renewal room where people can relax, or take a nap.

It's also up to individuals to set their own boundaries. Consider these three behaviors for yourself:
1. Do the most important thing first in the morning, preferably without interruption, for 60 to 90 minutes, with a clear start and stop time. If possible, work in a private space during this period, or with sound-reducing earphones. Finally, resist every impulse to distraction, knowing that you have a designated stopping point. The more absorbed you can get, the more productive you'll be. When you're done, take at least a few minutes to renew.
2. Establish regular, scheduled times to think more long term, creatively, or strategically. If you don't, you'll constantly succumb to the tyranny of the urgent. Also, find a different environment in which to do this activity — preferably one that's relaxed and conducive to open-ended thinking.
3. Take real and regular vacations. Real means that when you're off, you're truly disconnecting from work. Regular means several times a year if possible, even if some are only two or three days added to a weekend. The research strongly suggests that you'll be far healthier if you take all of your vacation time, and more productive overall.
A single principle lies at the heart of all these suggestions. When you're engaged at work, fully engage, for defined periods of time. When you're renewing, truly renew. Make waves. Stop living your life in the gray zone.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Bosses: Stop Doing These 10 Things

This is from an article on Information Management and SourceMedia

Here’s a few more “fresh” suggestions provided by clients for publication purposes since I wrote the original post. (Note to readers, this and the predecessor post with comments are ideal for printing and quietly leaving behind on the boss’s chair.)
At Least 10 More Things to Stop Doing if You’re the Boss
  1. Cut what? Don’t expect us to heed your words on austerity/change/doing more with less if you’re not changing and you’re not cutting back. And thanks for telling me all about your new boat two weeks after we took a pay cut.  That was special.
  2. Accountability is for Everyone. Stop avoiding THE performance problem on the team. We’re watching your own performance on this one, and you’re credibility clock is just about out of time.
  3. If I Need a Friend, I’ll Get a Dog. Stop trying to be my friend and focus on being my boss. I need a boss who tells me what I’m doing right and importantly, what I’m doing wrong and holds me accountable to improving on all fronts. I don’t need someone who uses a faux friendship to avoid helping me grow.
  4. Fewer Clown Rodeos, Please. Quit descending upon our facility like a conquering general expecting a parade. If you have to show up, why not show up unannounced and see what happens on a day when we’re all focused on working instead of worrying about entertaining the clown from corporate.
  5. They Can’t All Be Strategic! Stop saying “yes” to every project that comes along. You’ve more than succeeded at ensuring that we have too few resources chasing too many projects. It’s time to learn that powerful word, “No.”
  6. How Old Are You? Quit yelling at us in public. Come to think of it, quit yelling at us. Grow up.
  7. Everyone on the Planet Except You Knows This! Stop shooting down our ideas in brainstorming meetings. You must have missed the day in life when they taught ALL OF US the rules of effective brainstorming.
  8. Quit Hiding Under Your Desk. Stop dodging the angry customer calls and dumping them back on us. You might learn something.
  9. Everyone on the Planet Except You Knows This, part 2. Quit trying to pass off your growth targets as strategies. Growth is an outcome, not a strategy!
  10. Stop. Reverse That. Quit taking credit for everything that goes right and passing off blame for everything that goes wrong. You’ve got that backwards.

The Bottom-Line for Now

If you’re the boss and you’re doing any of the above, cut it out. Seriously.
If you’ve got some more polite or not so polite suggestions for the boss, feel free to pass them along.
This blog originally appeared at

Enhanced by Zemanta

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Unleash Your Inner Entrepreneur

Another set of super tips from Robin Sharma

This month I invite you to focus on unleashing your inner entrepreneur so you innovate, execute and deliver results at a level called wow.

First, here are 5 Brain Tattoos to play with:

1) To have the results that ultra-successful performers have, you need to be willing to do the things that only ultra-successful people are willing to do.

2) The discomfort of change is always better than the heartbreak of complacency.

3) What the victim calls Genius, the true entrepreneur knows as practice.

4) Education is inoculation against disruption.

5) There's zero point in masterfully doing the wrong things.

Second, I've recorded this quick learning video from my hotel room on a recent tour to help you win in your work.

In Leadership, 


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Chronic pain can hurt your mind and mood

Chronic pain doesn't just hurt your body; it hurts your emotions, too. It can impact your mood, your memory, your relationships, and your overall quality of life -- if you let it. Don'tlet it. Negative emotions will only worsen your pain and, in turn, mess more with your mind and mood. To avoid this vicious cycle, tailor a comprehensive pain-management plan that minimizes both the physical and emotional impacts of chronic pain.

Pain-Proof Your Mood

A continually sore, achy body can understandably cause frustration, anger, anxiety, and depression. Occasional bouts of such emotions may not be a big deal, but if they persist, it's important to take action. Distract yourself from pain and brighten your mood by engaging in activities you love. Explore new stress-reduction techniques, work with a cognitive behavioral therapist, or join a pain support group

Pain Can Hurt Your Self-Esteem

Pain can diminish job performance, dampen your motivation to exercise, and prevent you from completing daily tasks. Such limitations cause some pain sufferers to get down on themselves or to view their condition as a sign of weakness or a personal defect. Don't go down that road. Seek the aid of a therapist or support group if pain is eroding your self-esteem.

Don't Let Pain Isolate You

When you hurt all the time, the last thing you want to do is attend the company party, the neighbor's backyard barbecue, or even small gatherings with your closest friends and family. Don't let pain drive you into social isolation. To stay connected, focus on the quality, not quantity, of friendships. Nurture ties with a handful of close, supportive friends versus a vast network of more superficial acquaintances. 

Pain Can Hurt Your Marriage

When you hurt all the time, it's tough to complete household chores, take care of the kids, contribute financially, or fully participate in normal family activities. Sexuality and intimacy can also take a hit. Frustration, resentment, and communication breakdowns can occur -- especially when a spouse doesn't understand or sympathize with the sufferer's condition. Solution: Seek guidance from a marriage counselor to help rebuild your relationship. 

Fight Pain-Induced Fatigue

Pain is exhausting. A sore back, hip, or knee can steal your sleep, send your stress levels skyrocketing, and drain your motivation to exercise. Reduce fatigue by integrating the right self-care measures into your pain management plan. Eat a healthy diet, kick your bad habits, get more sleep, and exercise every day. You'll feel more energized and cope better with your pain.

Pain Can Hurt Job Performance

It's hard to stay on your game at work when you hurt all the time. Pain can diminish concentration, memory, critical thinking abilities, and productivity. Solution: Talk to your doctor about daytime pain medications that won't sedate you, and get the sleep and exercise you need to keep your brain humming. Short, daytime naps may also help. Don't overcompensate by becoming a workaholic.

Take It Easy at Home

It's hard to manage a household when you constantly hurt. Running errands, managing finances, and taking care of the kids, the pets, and a spouse can feel overwhelming. Remember to pace yourself, simplify, and let go of perfection. It's also okay to ask family members for help. Your home should be your sanctuary from pain, not something that aggravates it.

Pain and Your Doctor

Does your doctor take your pain seriously or do you get the impression he or she thinks it's "all in your head?" Chronic pain, especially without a clear underlying cause, can be tricky to treat, and some doctors are better-equipped than others to do so. Bottom line: Pain is a real condition that can be effectively treated. If you're not getting relief from your doctor, it's time to find a new one.

Take Back Your Power

Pain can bring loss -- loss of your physical function, your athletic abilities, a favorite hobby, a career, and even close relationships. While it's healthy to grieve, don't let pain make you a victim. Take back your power. To start, try to accept that pain is a part of your life, but does not control who you are or your ability to improve, cope, and thrive. 

Enhanced by Zemanta

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Beans: The High-Protein Food That's Healthy and Cheap

Another fine article from Real age

Here's why beans always make our best-foods list: They're a healthy, cheap source of protein that'll reduce your risk of heart disease and cancer, lower your blood sugar, and flatten your belly. (Protect your heart with a batch of EatingWell's Smoky Black Bean Soup tonight.)
Yep, beans do all that and more. Here are 5 ways beans help your waistline, heart, and blood sugar:
  1. Reduce belly fatA recent study found that beans' soluble fiber chases away deep-down, visceral belly fat -- the toxin-filled kind that threatens your vital organs.
  2. Lower blood sugar. Beans are low on the glycemic index, which means they're digested slowly, so they stabilize your blood sugar. Translation: Beans reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes. Stabilize blood sugar deliciously with this Very Green Lentil Soup recipe from EatingWell.
  3. Reduce blood pressureBeans are rich in artery-friendly minerals and healthy plant protein -- the kind that's better for blood pressure than protein from animals. Substitute the deli meat on your next sandwich with EatingWell's Braised Greens & Cannellini Bean Panini recipe.
  4. Protect heart health. The soluble fiber in beans also helps reduce blood levels of C-reactive protein, which lowers your risk for heart disease and heart attacks. Try this pasta dish fromEatingWell to help lower your heart disease risk: Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe & Chickpeas.
  5. Reduce cancer risk. Simply eating beans three times a week helps prevent colon cancer. (You're 33% less likely to develop colon polyps.) Cutting back on red meat can reduce cancer risk, too.
So, what's not to like about beans? Oh, those gas attacks? Ease into eating beans, and take the supplement Beano (available at grocery stores) until your body is used to them. Beano's natural enzymes deflate gas attacks. The elevator crowd will thank you.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Project Management - Key Activities When Starting a Project

Got this article at LinkedIn.. Very good.. !!!

Monitoring and Control project activities
Image via Wikipedia
During the initiation and planning phases of a project, there are a number of key activities to be performed. I am going to cover 3 of the most important activities in this article:

1. Scope Definition
2. Planning
3. Communications


I cannot stress enough the importance of locking down the scope at the beginning of project.

Using a scope document, it is critical to define exactly what is in scope and what is not. Of course, you will need to work with the project sponsors and, at times, the project team to do this. Once the scope is defined, it is crucial to have formal sign-off.

Remember, if the scope is not locked down and agreed to, small changes at the beginning of a project will potentially have huge ramifications later on - potentially to resources, costs, ability to meet business objectives, etc.

For example, if a ship leaves San Francisco bound for Hawaii and is 2 degrees off course, the ship will miss Hawaii altogether. A minor course correction in this area at the beginning of a project will ensure your project does not stray drastically off course.


Developing a good plan is also critical. When done right, good planning will typically ensure the execution phase of a project runs very smoothly - barring any unforeseen issues.

Developing a sequential plan (step 1, step 2, etc.) and understanding what can be run in parallel are also important. Clearly defining the work and breaking it into small work units is a key step. Once these work units are defined, resources can easily be assigned based on availability and skill sets.

It's important not to rush project planning. It's better to spend a little extra time developing a good plan than it is to try to course correct during the execution phase when more resources are typically engaged and the impacts are greater.


This is one of my hot buttons. Good, frequent and consistent communications are key!

What do I mean by this? Well, communications should be planned in advance and well thought out with the possible exception of emergencies. Here's a simple example of an ongoing communications plan:

1. Weekly Status Report - sent only to project team every Friday
2. Weekly Project Meeting Notes - sent only to project team every Wednesday
3. Monthly Project Report - sent to all stakeholders and sponsors last Thursday of every month

This is a simplified example but, as you can see, there is a definitive plan for communicating. By communicating in an organized manner, your project team and sponsors will know exactly what to expect and, as a side effect, this will help build their confidence in your work.

Tip 1: good or bad, always communicate the true status. This will protect you as well as help sponsors know when to engage and assist.

Tip 2: by consistently showing progress with resource names attached (e.g. task 1 due on this date - assigned to John Smith), more often than not this visibility will serve as a natural self-motivator for the assigned person to complete his or her work on time. Often, no additional follow up or prodding is needed. Offers a Complete Set of 184 Project Management Templates, Tools, Forms, Guides and Everything Which Can Increase the Efficiency of Project Managers to Meet Any Business Project or IT Project.

Enhanced by Zemanta