When I was approached to prepare and
deliver a day course on Increasing your productivity, prioritization and time
I immediately took on the challenge. However, I initially thought
about all the people I have known –coupled with my own experience in the past-,
who were pushed to do more with less and given extremely tight stretch goals. This
situation was often accompanied by the loss of workmates –who had been dismissed
as a consequence of market crises and subsequent downsizing- or owing to high
turnover, which led to increased workload falling on the remaining employees’
shoulders. I therefore intuitively knew that if I were to facilitate a course
on productivity, I would also need to give attendants tools to develop their
In fact, the request for this course reminded me of the all so common rat race, which commonly does not contemplate breaks, and sometimes leads to our breakdown –or burnout. I have even known of people going through death by overwork in the past, personally and through others’ accounts. For instance, when I was young and after only recently entering the workforce, I met a team leader in his early 40s who huffed and puffed every day at work until his life was sadly cut short by a heart attack. He had no reported health issues before, but his overzealousness to get more and more work done, staying late hours at work and smoking a lot, tipped the balance over to his own and his family and friends’ detriment. It is no wonder that initially this course seemed, deep down, counter to my deepest held values of caring for the happiness and wellbeing of all.
Fortunately, as soon as I suggested including personal resilience as part of the course content, it was keenly accepted. Interestingly, as I developed the programme, I also became more productive myself, which was an added bonus! I know from prior teaching and facilitating experience that the best way to communicate knowledge and transfer your skills to others is by perspiring the very things you want to convey. People do not want to follow what you say but also what you do. You need to walk the talk.
This challenge was accepted because I realized that people were quite evidently struggling with workload and it gives me great motivation to help ease people’s pain. I knew that as participants learned tools to improve their work capacity while also being happy with their selves , they could potentially be less stressed and more productive. If this was achieved, my mission would be accomplished.
From my deep study of ancient philosophical teachings, my knowledge of positive psychology and my daily meditation practice, I know that it is our state of mind –our thoughts and emotions- that make the biggest impact on our behaviours, relationships and overall results. This course on productivity was, as I soon realized, a blessing in disguise.
As I researched the topic, I immediately thought about Stephen Covey’s The 7 habits of Highly Effective People , which I had read a long time ago, but it seemed still very current. I took the dust off the book and re-read most of it, which then turned out to be the solid base for the day course. With a few more readings, I was ready to produce the material and prepare to deliver the course less than a month after the initial request.
Do you find yourself being pulled between competing priorities? You cannot seem to focus enough on one project when time is up - and you have to run off to get onto the next project. You are not alone. This is a reality for many people. There are great benefits in working in several projects at the same time across an organization, as Mark Mortensen* and Heidi K. Gardner** write in their Sep/Oct 2017 HBR article, ' The overcommitted organization' . Organizations benefit from having the smartest and brightest heads working on projects where their expertise is needed, and time can also be used more effectively as there is no time for idling when there is always much more than one project on.
However, when there is too much "pull" between projects, there is greater risk of losing sight of what really matters to the greater strategic goals. Prioritizing when there are so many competing tasks and goals becomes an unwanted guess game. Moreover, employees who are torn between projects might feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume of work and become less productive as they struggle to keep their focus on the right things.
As a solopreneur, I do not have the same but a similar problem. I run several projects at a time and sometimes it becomes difficult to focus on a project as other demanding projects must also keep running. There is less human capacity to delegate as well. Other smaller businesses find it challenging to keep up with the demands of new customers, projects and new launches. It is easy to feel overwhelmed and then productivity suffers.
The risks must not overweigh the benefits. We need to find the right balance before overcommitting. That is easier said than done. In fact, we may already be in a situation in which we have overcommitted. The question then is what can we do to work more productively within the circumstances? How can we become more resilient?
As I teach/facilitate in the course 'Increase your productivity and resilience', we need to find balance in our lives. When we are always on a 'high', using up all of our energy continually without ourselves a break, and especially when that energy is also used to deal with emotionally taxing situations, we risk burnout.
In an ideal world, we can jump in at any stage of a process and hit the road running. However, it is a human thing to want to connect with each other and build trust before we can commit to each other. For most mortals, getting to know a little more about the people we are around before we feel we can trust them is a must. Not allowing for this to happen makes it more taxing. So spending time getting to know each other at the beginning of any project is of paramount important. However, this step seems to get easily neglected, which is one of the reasons why there is so much resistance to work collaboratively.
People do want to succeed, and if to succeed more heads need to work on a project, then why not collaborate? Remember when you were young and you entered a room full of strange kids? You got shy, right? As adults, we are not much different. Introducing each other, giving ourselves a little time, a smile, and being open to each other's contributions helps to establish that sense of trust which is so necessary for moving forward.
So before overcommitting ourself or our employees, remember to give ourselves time to get to know each other, the knowledge and skills we each bring to the table, and only then start collaborating! And then watch out for each others' levels of energy. When we feel cared for, we also can reach greater achievements because we feel supported. And that makes us more resilient.
Harvard Business Review article:' The overcommitted organization'
* Mark Mortensen is an associate professor and the chair of the Organizational Behaviour Area at INSEAD. He researches, teaches, and consults on issues of collaboration, organizational design and new ways of working, and leadership.
** Heidi K. Gardner is a distinguished fellow at the Center on the Legal Profession and faculty chair of the Accelerated Leadership Program at Harvard Law School. This article draws on research in her book Smart Collaboration: How Professionals and Their Firms Succeed by Breaking Down Silos (Harvard Business Review Press, 2017).
How many times do we chase after things that seem almost impossible to achieve, but they attract us so much that we would give anything to get it?! We look at commercials and see beautiful bodies, a happy family and an amazing experience at this great travel destination. We think, “I have to have that!” Have you experienced this before? If you are a regular mortal like me, your answer is probably “yes”. There is nothing to be ashamed of because this is a natural human thing.
Let’s see what might be the cause of such seemingly childish behaviour, which we still pursue unconsciously. Why do we chase after things that are outside our control? I mean, if you have the money to get onto that plane that will take us to our dream destination, go for it! I am not talking about holding back from the things that give us pleasure when we have the chance. A little pleasure here and there may be the motivation to keep us going until the next holiday.
In fact, when I lived in Germany as an adolescent, I remember most of my classmates –when asked what they wanted to do in the future- said they just wanted to have money to travel. That gave them the motivation to study hard during the year and get the deserved holiday at the end of the school year.
However, pursuing happiness outside our control is a recipe for disaster. My friends and school mates knew that they could achieve their goals and they did, year after year. Likewise, you do things you know will give you the income to sustain the lifestyle you have and maintain the relationships that make your life worth living. That is wonderful. You see that you have (at least certain) control over those things? Take a moment to think about it.
When we do not have control over things and yet continue to bang our heads against the wall, wishing over and over again that something would happen, then we got what we wanted, and avoided the pain of not getting what we desire, we get frustrated, angry, and in more severe cases, depressed. No wonder there is so much depression and severe illness in the world! The number one reason we get depressed or develop more delusions is because we do not get what we want or because we get what we do not want, as Geshe Kelsang Gyatso teaches us in his books (download his free book How to Transform your Life: A Blissful Journey ).
So what is the trick? What is the secret? How can we have everything we want and stay happy? Wealth is not about material things, that is only a small part of it. As Tony Robbins, in his Financial Freedom: 3 Steps to Creating & Enjoying the Wealth you deserve , he talks about 7 types of wealth. Money comes only in 6th place! Physical, emotional wealth and relationships come before that, according to this successful multi-millionaire.
The secret is having a happy mind. We cannot control our outer circumstances, but we CAN control our emotions. It sounds counterintuitive, but it is true. What do highly successful people have in common? They are happy with themselves. Whether you have lots of money, great friends, you are a great parent, a responsible and caring business leader, or a good son, daughter, student or other, it does not really matter as long as you are happy to be who you are. Then you will be the wealthiest person in the world!
BNZ has opened a co-working space for small to medium-sized businesses called community101 at its new BNZ Centre outlet on Cashel St, central Christchurch.
Among the first to adopt the space were Dani Rius, a life coach, and Hannah McKnight, a communications consultant and founder of The Word Lab
"This allows me to be closer to clients and have a more official space," Rius said.
Take the survey NOW by clicking HERE
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This survey should also provide a good sneak-peak of the Increase your Productivity and Resilience day course because it relates directly to its content, thus it may help you decide whether this course is really for you.
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We have all experienced learning since our very birth. So we are well acquainted with it. Yet when asked, many of us may immediately think of learning as in a formal context in which teachers or mentors help individuals learn. This is not entirely wrong, but there is much more to learning. We are often unaware of our own learning process. How can we actually know when we are learning if we are unaware of it? In order to answer that question, we first need to explore what exactly IS learning.
Learning is a process, a never-ending process. As long as we are alive, we are continuously learning. You might think you are the kind of person who has learned everything there is to learn, or that nothing can surprise you anymore? Or you might know someone like that. Yet learning does not stop for as long as we live, not even in those people who seem to know it all. For things around us are always changing and we need to adjust our lives to the new things that happen to us, for instance, as we grow up, graduate from school, find a new job, we get married, have children, find another job, make new friends, loose old friends, get sick... and the list goes on.
Although learning often happens almost effortlessly as we adjust our minds to new realities, such as when we have a new baby in the family or when you are introduced to a new colleague, the most profound learning experiences often come from being exposed to harsher realities, such as temporary droughts or financial hardship. That is because we have to make conscious efforts to adapt to them. Of course not all learning experiences expose individuals to those harsh conditions, but if you just think back to school years, there was definitely some difficulty to it. If it was that easy, then we would probably all go to university and get a PhD! But you certainly do Not need a PhD to learn.
Getting more practical, let's look at the work environment. At your workplace, a new challenge may come in the form of a new software system being adopted or an important drop in sales needing to be addressed to keep the business running. When confronted with a challenging situation that is new to us, instead of shying away from it, it may help to know that we are simply being dealt with a new learning opportunity. Instead of denying it, it is often better to tackle the new event, for the sooner we deal with it, the faster we will adapt to the new situation and find new ways to live with the new 'reality'. For instance, if we have a new software application we need to learn to use at work, we might as well get on with it sooner than later. As we try it out, we gradually learn to use it better.So learning could be understood as,
How we learn to adapt to those new realities will certainly depend on the need or urgency to adopt e.g., new processes at work. We can choose to ignore new information, or embrace them as new opportunities for learning. If we decide to take on the challenge, then we are consciously deciding to take action, either physically or mentally, or both. As we try to make sense of new information and take appropriate action, we are demonstrating the ability to learn.
There are several benefits to successfully managing the balance between competition and collaboration. Although some competition is useful, it is collaboration that can lead organizations to grow or thrive. There are several benefits to successfully managing the balance between competition and collaboration. Although some competition is useful, it is collaboration that can lead organizations to grow or thrive.Let's first look at how competition may help:
Collaboration among team members has even more benefits:
When competition gets in the way of collaboration
When collaboration is insufficient
That depends on the industry. Each company knows, after some reflection, how much collaboration is needed to produce something. For instance, in a car manufacturing firm, where quality control checks are done at different parts of the production line, it may make more sense to coordinate efforts for the end product to be of high quality and ensure the vehicle is safe. Not sharing key information would be suicidal. Competition would seem less appropriate. After all, why would the body of the car be perfect and the painting less than perfect? That does not mean that quality control managers should not want to encourage their employees to excel so as to produce highly competitive results. However, within their teams, they will find the best results if they work together to make good products even better. Collaborative teams have the potential to take their companies into soaring heights.
Recently I coached a newly appointed manager who –as could be expected, struggled with the transition. Although very well qualified, the process of adapting to the demands of the new job was no easier. What I share with you here is not a reflection of a sole case but a series of issues commonly found in less experienced managers as they fill managerial positions for the first time or as a result of a career change, and I offer a few solutions to common problems.
Being a new manager can be daunting. It is even harder today because of continuously changing markets, global financial crises, and starker competition. Yet quite often managers are expected to perform almost immediately. In a rush to prove their worth, rookie managers and supervisors try to make an impression by making changes in the hope they will make the business improve. They were –after all, hired to make changes.
What is often underestimated is the time it takes to gain people's trust before these are able to follow the leader and make any proposed change possible. Unfortunately, we are so used to being in a hurry, trying to beat the competition, improve sales, etc., that we often forget what is most important: our people.
When we do not have the right people focused on the right goals, chances are your business will be negatively affected. So it is well worth taking some time to get familiar with the people in your team before attempting any change. Not only do they have the key to the functioning of their business until present, but they also can make a difference in whether your change proposals see the light.
Tip # 1 - Listen to your team
A good way to start is by listening to your employees
Becoming the boss for the first time is very challenging. Even people who have been managers for long enough will still remember how they struggled at first. The job seemed bigger than they could handle. And yet with sufficient support from their peers as well as family and friends, they learned to become a better manager with time.
Tip # 2 - Find the right peer support
As in any other place, you will find peers who genuinely want you to succeed, others who might want you to fail, and others who don't care either way.
Tip # 3 - Be ready to be overwhelmed
Feelings of disorientation and overwhelm are common, so it should not come as a surprise. Even if in past a star performer, that does not mean that the new manager will immediately fit the shoes of a manager. Even star performers need to grow and learn.
Tip # 4 - Be patient. Give yourself time.
As mentioned at the top, you need time to build trusting relationships. Not only with your peers and staff, but also with your clients.
Do not rush it!
For both tips #1 and #2, the manager needs to adopt humility as a policy. If you enter the field with a battling attitude that is what you will get back. Enter with humility and you will find friends.
Tip # 5 - Win your manager (or executive) over
Just because managers are expected to know how to lead doesn't make them good leaders. It takes time and effort to become good at it, as with any other profession. Ten thousand hours of practice. This is no exception. Career transitions are never easy, but when passionate about what we aspire to become, it makes it a lot easier.