Posts Tagged ‘productivity’

Management Tips

Intentional Planning Is Part of the Work

by Susan Fennema

One of the biggest complaints we hear from clients is that they don’t have time for planning. These clients have tools and a process in place, but they are not using them. Why? They have “too much work to do.” But their workload would actually decrease through pre-planning. Intentional planning is part of work. Making time for planning upfront will prevent spending more time later to sort out the results of no planning.

Planning is part of the project work and you should consider it as such.

In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.
– Dwight D. Eisenhower

Eisenhower planned the biggest project known to man! Remember that D-Day was not originally scheduled for June 6, 1944, but had to be moved because of weather. Because of planning, the Allies were able to adjust their plan to accommodate it.

The Act of Planning

You learn things through the act of planning. Think of it as a rehearsal to play out and better understand:

  • what can go wrong
  • the resources required to accomplish your goal
  • the tasks you might have originally overlooked
  • contingencies that become apparent

The planning process prevents you from running around like a chicken with its head cut off. It’s not a pretty picture, but it applies. If you are frenzied, frantic, and chaotic, then you are much less effective and efficient.

Here’s an example. A junior project manager was assigned to a new client. One of the tasks was to “build reports”. The tasks were supposedly mostly done, and due very soon. The developer and the client had been discussing the project for weeks. The project manager barely had the opportunity to ask for a list of what reports were due before the due date.

She should have itemized each report, and had a discussion with the client and developer about each report, and required them to stop and have a clarifying discussion. Instead, she allowed them to keep working. (rookie move)

A week after they were due, lack of completion frustrated the client. Comparatively, the developer didn’t know what remained to finish because they had a running commentary on the reports as a whole.

If the project manager had just taken the literal 3-minutes required to list out each deliverable separately, that whole mess could have been avoided. Doing it after the fact did not have good results!

Intentional Planning

To be more intentional with your planning, schedule a 1/2 hour every Friday afternoon to prep for the following week and align your to-do list with reality.

  • Look at your meetings.
  • Look at your workload and at your commitments outside of work.
  • Look at your to-do list.

What can you REALISTICALLY accomplish? And don’t forget that something will come up and throw you off track. Adjust your schedule and list accordingly, rather than allowing the chaos to get a hold of you.

If you just can’t make yourself do it… or if you hate doing it… then it is probably time to get some “help”. The help comes in the form of another person taking a look at the tools you have in place and reminding you of the plan on a regular basis. If you find the right person, then he can help you rearrange and reprioritize. Depending on your workload, the person doesn’t have to be full-time. Here are some places to find help:

Being intentional about your planning will change your world. It will enhance your client relationships. Your team members will work more efficiently. Your projects are not as likely to go over budget or get out of scope as often. It will also help the main goal: completing projects!

Learn more about our operations consulting and done-for-you project management provided on a scalable, fractional basis.

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Management Tips

Are you working way too hard? Part two

The secret to making YOUR life work (like other people’s!) is easier than you think.

by Carol Williams

In part one of this blog, we discussed the hamster wheel of life and how to get off. We talked about what’s working for you and what’s not (which you can assess here: Productivity Success Cake.) And we covered committing to taking control with a calm mind.

So now let’s dig a little deeper into how you can design and create the life you want to live, purpose-led and heart-centered, and balanced throughout.

Why would you bother designing your life?

The answer is plain and simple, if YOU don’t take charge and design your life how you want it, you’ll be permanently stuck on that hamster wheel, just trying to keep up. Life will be what goes on around you while you’re battling to stay afloat. It doesn’t have to be like this.

You have a chance to live your IKIGAI.

What is IKIGAI? It’s a fun AND effective way to uncover what you really want. Ikigai requires introspection, and a true commitment to changing your life – out with the old, in with the new.

It’s an exciting prospect, right?

Ikigai helps you identify your purpose in life. With that newfound sense of purpose, you will begin to live each day with meaning and motivation. You’ll be focused and clear on what you want, and you’ll feel rejuvenated.

Key elements to Ikigai

When you’re working on your Ikigai, you should focus on your values, your morals, your ethics, and your truth. In order to live in a truly authentic way, in alignment with self, pay close attention to this area. These elements will influence all the others.

The main areas of focus are:

  • What you love
  • What you are good at
  • What the world needs
  • What you can get paid for

Then you drill deeper into the overlapping areas of:

  • Your passion
  • Your mission
  • Your profession
  • Your vocation

It’s worth spending some real time with your Ikigai. It’s likely some things will come to you easily and quickly, but other areas may take some time and reflection to truly get to the core.

How does your Ikigai reflect your current circumstances?

If you’re living a life that is so far removed from your Ikigai, it’s no wonder you feel trapped on that hamster wheel. If your profession jars with your core values, for example, you’ll likely feel lost and overwhelmed, and unhappy.

The more we use our Ikigai to influence our decision making, the more aligned we become with our truth. And this helps us to design the life we were meant to live.

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Company Culture and the Employee Experience

Company culture has a lot to do with employee experience, and vice versa. In fact, they are essential to each other’s success: a great company culture fosters a great employee experience, and a great employee experience both reflects and fuels a great company culture. Together, they can lead to valuable business benefits like increased productivity, reduced turnover, and greater employee satisfaction.

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Management Tips

Are you working way too hard? Part 1

The secret to making YOUR life work (like other people’s!) is easier than you think.

by Carol Williams


Why other people’s lives seem to “just work”

Have you ever wondered to yourself why other people’s lives just seem to work? They appear carefree, everything is in alignment, they’re getting on with their day-to-day stuff without any stress. They manage to have busy and meaningful lives minus any signs of overwhelm, and opportunities seem to land in their lap. They just have all the luck, right?

What is their secret? There must be some magic at play, something the rest of us mere mortals aren’t privy to.

The Hamster Wheel of Life

While we’re stuck on the hamster wheel, they just seem to have it all together. The hamster wheel of life is a cycle. We go round and round, caught up in our to-do lists, our own busyness and the hectic nature of the world. Before long, we’re just exhausted trying to keep up – the wheel is relentless, and it keeps on turning whether we’re keeping up with it or not. Fortunately, we have one very simple option. Get off.

The hamster wheel is propelled by you, and when it takes over, it’s still you causing it to turn faster and faster until it feels out of control. The choice to get off the wheel and take a step back will put you in control. Stop. Take stock. Simplify. Take control.

And this is where the magic starts to happen.

  • What do you wish were different about your life in this moment and in future?
  • What would you love to have more time for?
  • Visualize – What does your life look and feel like now that it’s easier to manage, calmer, and brimming with all the things you love to do?

The people whose lives just seem to work are simply in control. They understand what works for them and what doesn’t, and they make sure they stick to their own rules. They have clarity and are focused on making sure they’re working towards their goals and ambitions. They are in charge of their own lives, rather than trying to keep up with them. They set the pace.

How to assess what is working and what is not

By now, you should be familiar with the Productivity Success Cake.If not, stop reading and go take the quiz, now, then come back to me. For those of you who are familiar with the quiz but you’re still struggling to get off the hamster wheel – go do the quiz again. It’ll either reinforce what you know to be true, or you’ll be surprised at what’s changed for you. Either way – take the quiz here.

Commit to taking charge

And now it’s time to take charge.

The only way to implement effective change is to make that commitment to yourself. Sign an agreement with yourself. You WILL commit to simplifying your life and creating calm, peace, fluidity and balance. You’ve got this.

A calm mind

This process can feel daunting, but the results are truly incredible for those who make the commitment to taking charge and seeing it through. To make it feel easier for you, here are some tips to get you started.

  • Start slowly and build up over time. Make the commitment first and do small things each day to reinforce that commitment. You don’t have to do it all at once. It’s your process so go at your own pace, one that feels right for you.
  • Don’t judge yourself. If you’re critical towards yourself, you’ll self-sabotage. Approach what you want to achieve with an open mind, kindness, compassion, belief and trust.
  • Breathe. Silence is golden, as the saying goes, so be sure to incorporate some time to just sit peacefully and reflect each day, even if it’s just for a couple of minutes. Focus on your breath and reflect on your goals and desires. Visualize the future in all its glory.
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Management Tips

What To Do When an Employee Always Shows Up Late

One day, it’s 10 minutes. The next, it’s 30—or 50.  Whether it’s bad traffic, oversleeping or caring for a sick pet, employees offer up lots of different excuses when they show up late for work. As the manager, you may overlook it the first time. But what if it becomes a pattern?

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