I summarised my 11 Jedi Productivity Posts series in a short visual presentation:

The presentation was awarded Slideshare “Top Presentation of the Day”. ¬†Thanks to all the “like”s ūüėČ

The full Jedi Productivity Series:

  1. Jedi Productivity Presentation
  2. Jedi Productivity 11 of 11: We need you. The Jedi must Prevail over the Evil Empire and why you matter
  3. Jedi Productivity 10 of 11: ‚ÄĚLuke! you switched off your targeting computer!‚ÄĚ making time for yourself
  4. Jedi Productivity 9 of 11: Yoda‚Äôs first rule: Do or do not, there is no try
  5. Jedi Productivity 8 of 11: How the Death Star commander runs his Hyper-effective Meetings
  6. Jedi Productivity 7 of 11: R2D2, C3PO and the Power of Delegation
  7. Jedi Productivity 6 of 11: ‚ÄúUse the phone Luke‚Ķ‚ÄĚ Master the telephone
  8. Jedi Productivity 5 of 11: Han Solo‚Äôs guide to Getting on top of the Email Inbox (a.k.a. Jabba the Hutt)
  9. Jedi Productivity 4 of 11: Obi-Wan‚Äôs guide to say ‚ÄúNo‚ÄĚ, (these are not the droids you are looking for‚Ķ)
  10. Jedi Productivity 3 of 11: Deal with Darth Vader‚Äôs Evil ‚ÄúUrgent‚ÄĚ Interruptions
  11. Jedi Productivity 2 of 11: The Emperor‚Äôs guide to Goal Setting and the 20 Mile March (LT, ST, habits)

This post is¬†part of the Star Wars Jedi Productivity blog post series. ¬†There will be 11 posts coming weekly every Tuesday for… yes… just counted it… the next 11 weeks. ¬†These posts will guide your journey from a wilful, novice young pretender who is controlled by time… ¬†into a magnificent Jedi who uses time as her own power. ¬†The full set of posts are available from¬†here.

We need you. The Jedi must Prevail over the Evil Empire and why you matter

“Carpe Diem; Memento Mori” the salute to the victorious roman generals (“Seize this day; for tomorrow you may die”)

This is the last post in the series of 11 posts about Jedi Productivity. ¬†We have looked at setting goals, reducing distractions like email, being effective with other people and the use of time slicing to make small, steady steps of progress. ¬†Today, I want to talk about what happens if you don’t make the choice of the path of Jedi Productivity.

We face a stark choice Рdiscipline myself or be a slave to others who have discipline.

“Emancipate yourself from mental slavery, none but ourselves can set us free” Bob Marley

In the very act of reading this: you are making a choice.  You are searching.  You are seeking to improve yourself, to stay relevant.  You are on the good path.

I spoke last week about cynical apathy being cool as a teenager.  The path of the critic.  It is not cool as a grown adult.  Excuses are a way of not facing up to reality, for pulling out when things get a bit difficult.

Accept Consequences

I take decisions every day, every hour. The decision to play it safe. The decision to be like all the others. The decision to copy how someone else would do it. The decision to work hard at being the same.  These are perfectly fine decisions, but they have consequences.

My grandfather’s competition were the other males living in his town. My competition is every Irish, Indian, Chinese, Brazilian, Spaniard in the world. There will always be somebody able and willing to do the simple, commodity tasks for less pay. This is inevitable. There is no escape. A sinking ship will eventually sink. I can bail a little. I can pray. I can put up bigger borders. But I cannot stop that the boat will eventually sink. The effort that I put into delaying the sinking is effort that could have gone into making myself not a commodity, into being valuable for me.

I used to feel that I was more intelligent than the other kids at school. I felt special.  However, there is no value in my purely being intelligent. Raw, unused talent is a sad waste. Only action matters. It is nothing to be intelligent, it is everything when I act intelligent. A decision without action is a wasted decision.  Only action changes the future. Only action creates something new. Over time, habitual, disciplined action completes the miracle.

Honestly expressing yourself.

“You can’t free anybody else and you can’t serve anybody else unless you free yourself” Nelson Mandela

You are not an accident. ¬†You are a singular¬†piece in the giant jigsaw puzzle that is this world. ¬†This jigsaw puzzle is not a 50 piece puzzle, nor a 250 piece puzzle… ¬†it is a 7 billion piece puzzle. ¬†I find it frustrating when my daughter and I put together a 50 piece puzzle and find that there are only 49 pieces. ¬†We can’t finish the game. ¬†The great puzzle needs your piece. ¬†Whatever you are given, you need to pass it on with integrity, humility and generosity.

You are not a Cog in a Machine.  Photo: iansand
You are not a Cog in a Machine. Photo: iansand

The greatest anger is the anger at ourselves for not living up to what we know we are capable of.  Hell is not after death, hell is the moment before death when a human being looks back on all the wasted potential.

The greatest gift you can give to those around you is your own shining self belief and glorious sense of meaning in what you do. ¬†If you don’t have it, only you can do the work to get it. ¬†If you have it, only you can keep doing what it takes to keep it.

The opposite of love is not hate, it is apathy.  Love is not easy.  Love is hard.  Doing the work that needs to get done, overcoming the devil in me that avoids the work is the course of love.  Allowing the resistance, the procrastination to win is the course of apathy.  Apathy leads to self-hate, which builds to resentment and then is shared with others in bitterness and cruelty.

This self-hate, this resentment is the true Evil Empire.  This is the Death Star.  This is the deadly destructive machine that can kill your soul.  Not just kill the beating heart life of you, but kill the soul of you.

Natural Un-Naturalness

“The natural instinct and control need to be combined in harmony – one to¬†the extreme you become very unscientific, the other you become a mechanical man… no longer a human being – the ideal is unnatural naturalness, or natural unnaturalness… yin yang” Bruce Lee

A beautiful garden looks natural, but is un-natural.  It looks easy, but it is hard.  Bruce Lee speaks of mastery of martial art as something that looks very easy, but is very hard.  Mastery of teaching looks easy, but it is very hard.  Mastery of writing makes the words look like they come easily, but it is hard.

Jedi Productivity is the path of Natural Un-Naturalness.  It is the path of the duck swimming on the pond.  Above water, It looks to the human observer that this is a peaceful duck moving gracefully on the surface of the pond.  Below the water, it looks to the fish like a pair of flippered feet flapping away like crazy.

‚ÄúGive up on yourself. Begin taking action now while being neurotic,¬†imperfect, procrastinator. Go ahead and be the best imperfect person you can¬†be. Get started on those things that you want to accomplish before you die.‚Ä̬†Shoma Morita

This is our time.

 

Jedi Productivity is Natural Un-Naturalness.  Photo: JD Hancock
Jedi Productivity is Natural Un-Naturalness. Photo: JD Hancock

 

Goodbye

That’s it. ¬†This series is done. ¬†It has been an interesting process for me. ¬†I thought it would be simple to bash out 11 simple posts on productivity… ¬†but it ended up being harder than I had first imagined to put into words what I intuitively felt that I know about getting important things done.

Here’s what we covered…

  1. Jedi Productivity Presentation
  2. Jedi Productivity 11 of 11: We need you. The Jedi must Prevail over the Evil Empire and why you matter
  3. Jedi Productivity 10 of 11: ‚ÄĚLuke! you switched off your targeting computer!‚ÄĚ making time for yourself
  4. Jedi Productivity 9 of 11: Yoda‚Äôs first rule: Do or do not, there is no try
  5. Jedi Productivity 8 of 11: How the Death Star commander runs his Hyper-effective Meetings
  6. Jedi Productivity 7 of 11: R2D2, C3PO and the Power of Delegation
  7. Jedi Productivity 6 of 11: ‚ÄúUse the phone Luke‚Ķ‚ÄĚ Master the telephone
  8. Jedi Productivity 5 of 11: Han Solo‚Äôs guide to Getting on top of the Email Inbox (a.k.a. Jabba the Hutt)
  9. Jedi Productivity 4 of 11: Obi-Wan‚Äôs guide to say ‚ÄúNo‚ÄĚ, (these are not the droids you are looking for‚Ķ)
  10. Jedi Productivity 3 of 11: Deal with Darth Vader‚Äôs Evil ‚ÄúUrgent‚ÄĚ Interruptions
  11. Jedi Productivity 2 of 11: The Emperor‚Äôs guide to Goal Setting and the 20 Mile March (LT, ST, habits)

Are you a Jedi guided missile?  Are you systematic in how you set goals and make daily progress on what is important?  Or, are you more of an ad-hoc novice? 

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

https://www.facebook.com/rhetorical/posts/10152173276945196?stream_ref=10

This post is¬†part of the Star Wars Jedi Productivity blog post series. ¬†There will be 11 posts coming weekly every Tuesday for… yes… just counted it… the next 11 weeks. ¬†These posts will guide your journey from a wilful, novice young pretender who is controlled by time… ¬†into a magnificent Jedi who uses time as her own power. ¬†The full set of posts are available from¬†here.

‚ÄĚLuke! you switched off your targeting computer!‚ÄĚ making time for yourself

“I am so busy”¬†everybody’s excuse

This week I am going to take a step back from Jedi Productivity disciplines and look at our lives from a higher viewpoint than hour-by-hour. ¬†Today we’ll take a week or year-long perspective.

Many people who struggle with procrastination find that the source of their procrastination is not a lack of Jedi Productivity discipline.  It is not from a lack of willpower.  It is not from a lack of clear work goals.  It comes from a different source.

It comes from something important missing in your life.

Can you Play like a Child?

It comes from not loving your free time.  It comes from having forgotten how to play.

Kids are great at play.  Some adults are great at play.  Many adults are not.  They lost it somewhere along the way.

The source of the loss is largely due to the way that older people ask us questions: “why are you doing this? ¬†why are you studying that?” ¬†We are asked to justify ourselves. ¬†We begin to feel the need to justify all activity in terms of some wider goal.

The danger?  The danger comes when I start to use this question on all aspects of life.

My daughter, now age 7, often responds to the question “why are you doing that?” with the wonderfully profound answer “because I want to.” ¬†She hasn’t lost the ability to play. ¬†She has a full, wonderful capacity to play. ¬†(sometimes so wonderful that it causes me, her father, to make her sit down and eat, tidy her toys, do her homework, read a few lines of a book…)

My most common justification is “I am doing it to earn money.” ¬†(A more pervasively dangerous answer is “because I have to”)

I recently asked myself how well I use my free or “spare” time. ¬†I didn’t like the answer. ¬†I tend to be planned and intentional about how I use “work” hours, and unintentional and unprepared around “free” hours. ¬†I think the quality of my “free” hours (do I use them to take a real break, do I get recharged with energy, do I enjoy life?) has a direct impact on the productivity of my “work” hours.

What do you love to do in your free time? What do you do on the weekends where you have no commitments?

How well do you use your “free” hours?

There are two types of activity: “do-to-get” activity and “do-to-do” activity. ¬†Let me share a little bit about what I mean by these two types of activity.

  • do-to-get“: I spend 15 minutes this morning creating client invoices and emailing them as pdf files. ¬†If you ask me what I am doing, I say I am doing my accounting. ¬†If you ask me why, I will say “I am doing this in order to get money.”
  • do-to-do“: I spend 1 hour yesterday reading a book called The Master and The Emissary. ¬†If you ask me what I am doing, I say I am reading. ¬†If you ask me why, I will say that I am doing this because I am interested in the ideas in the book. ¬†In reality I enjoy reading. ¬†I am not doing it to get anything.

All “do-to-get” activities are not purposeful (to me) in themselves – they are so that I have more time, resources, capabilities for my “do-to-do” activities. ¬†Jedi Productivity is very important in “do-to-get” activities, because the aim is to have the biggest impact for the least use of resources (time, money, network).

Work is a “do-to-get” activity for most people. ¬†They don’t love the activity of their job. ¬†They do their job so that they have resources for something else. ¬†It might be to save money to buy a kitesurf holiday. ¬†It might be to pay for the roof over their heads and the food on the table. ¬†The meaning (to me) of this “do-to-get” activity is not sourced intrinsically from the actual activity itself; it is derived from the future application of the resources that the activity will deliver to you.

100% Busy and Entirely Meaningless

Many lives are so entirely filled up with “do-to-get” activity and a “do-to-get” mindset that there is no “do-to-do” activity at all in the life. ¬†This is a life gathering resources without purpose. ¬†This is a life of busy-ness.

We live one glorious opportunity of life and will pass away. ¬†The playful exploration of life of “do-to-do” activity is what makes a life feel meaningful. ¬†If you have no playful exploration in your life, there is little point in being Jedi Productive. ¬†Your mind will ask you “what is the point?” ¬†If I have zero wonderful “do-to-do” activities for my free time, there is no value in being Jedi Productive in my “work” time.

If you find that you procrastinate often it might not have anything to do with your Jedi Productivity disciplines, it might have everything to do with your life having a sense of meaninglessness – in particular in your “free” time.

What are your “do-to-do” activities? ¬†What are the activities that you do and have a guilty feeling of not being able to explain to someone why it is important to you?

Finding your “do-to-do” activities

Carl Jung had an intense fascination with his own first memory.  It was building a house out of wooden blocks.  He made sure that he was always involved in a hands-on building project throughout his life.  He pushed all those around him to explore their own first memories of play. He believed there is something important for us in the activity that makes up our earliest childhood memory.  What is yours?  What is your earliest memory of playing?  What were you doing? 

My first memory of play is of sitting on a red toy tractor. ¬†I remember being pushed off the tractor by my friend who lived next door. ¬†I remember lying on the floor feeling confused… ¬†“why did he do that?” ¬†I have always been interested in psychology, in stories about people, in finding ways to understand what drives people to do the things that they do.

What are your “do-to-do” activities?

I love running. ¬†I know it is good for my health, I know it gets me out into nature, I know I feel better afterwards… but none of those are the real reasons why I run. ¬†I run because I enjoy running. ¬†It is a “do-to-do” activity for me. ¬†Running becomes meaningful to me because I seek no justification for doing it.

I love public speaking. ¬†I get paid for it. ¬†I know I can explain it as good business marketing… ¬†but none of those are the real reasons why I take opportunities to speak to large groups of people. ¬†It is a “do-to-do” activity for me. ¬†Its meaning to my life comes from it being an endpoint of sorts – it is not the means to any other end, it is an end in and of itself. ¬†It is a form of play.

What about you?

What are your “do-to-do” activities? ¬†What are the activities that you feel the need to justify, but at core you do because you get something meaningful from the activity in and of itself. ¬†In simple terms: What is your play?

Goodbye Ad-Hoc, Hello Systematic

In order to be a full Jedi time manager, the novice must learn to use proven tools such as:

  • Prioritising
  • Goal Setting
  • Deadlines
  • Delegation
  • Planning

That’s what this post series is all about. ¬†You will become a master of the force and a power user of the tools of systematic, habitual action. Are you a Jedi guided missile? ¬†Are you systematic in how you set goals and make daily progress on what is important? ¬†Or, are you more of an ad-hoc novice?

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

https://www.facebook.com/rhetorical/posts/10152173276945196?stream_ref=10

This post is¬†part of the Star Wars Jedi Productivity blog post series. ¬†There will be 11 posts coming weekly every Tuesday for… yes… just counted it… the next 11 weeks. ¬†These posts will guide your journey from a wilful, novice young pretender who is controlled by time… ¬†into a magnificent Jedi who uses time as her own power. ¬†The full set of posts are available from¬†here.

Yoda’s first rule: Do or do not, there is no try

“Do, or do not. There is no try” Jedi Master Yoda

Do or do not, there is no try

“We must all suffer from one of two pains: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret” Jim Rohn

The greatest enemy to your own success is not outside of you, it is you. ¬†It is you in the habits you have that you did not choose to have, it is you in the little voice inside your mind that judges and compares and criticizes and proves and searches for “rightness”. ¬†The sadest use of a good goal is to take it to the graveyard with you. ¬†The sadest use of this unique opportunity of a lifetime is to live in abject comfort.

It is easy to be a loser. ¬†It doesn’t take any effort. ¬†Lying on the floor and looking up is available to anyone. ¬†The mountain climber does not reach the summit by accident. ¬†He doesn’t wake one day and exclaim “oh my, I have reached the top! ¬†Lovely.” ¬†No, he knows where he is headed and he takes step after step after step after step. ¬†Those steps were not easy. ¬†Each individual step is something achievable by anyone, but only a few put 40,000 steps together into climbing a mountain.

Legendary boxing trainer Cus D’Amato said to Mike Tyson: ‚ÄúYou think you know the difference between a hero and a coward, Mike? Well, there is no difference between a hero and a coward in what they feel. It‚Äôs what they do that makes them different. The hero and the coward feel exactly the same, but you have to have the discipline to do what a hero does and to keep yourself from doing what the coward does.‚ÄĚ

The sad fact of our schools and adolescence is that critical apathy is the ultimate in cool. ¬†As a 17 year-old I was brilliant at the apathetic, critical put down of those who tried. ¬†A “try-hard” was the ultimate un-cool character in our pantheon of school yard heroes.

I meet 17 year olds who have mastered criticism. ¬†They have mastered nothing else, but they have mastered criticism. ¬†And what is so sad is that they don’t use it on their enemies… they use it on their friends. ¬†They use to keep their friends from trying, from aiming, from challenging themselves. ¬†I was this 17-year-old.

Photo Credit: Thomas Hawk via Compfight cc
“Do or Do Not, There is No Try” Yoda; Photo Credit: Thomas Hawk

Somewhere along the way I stopped criticising others, seeing their flaws and focussing on my life. ¬†“Men in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones” says the old phrase. ¬†It is easy to break the sandcastles of other kids, it takes work to build my own sandcastle.

Do, or do not.  Get off the Path to Master Critic.  Get on the Path to Master Jedi of Productivity.

Do Not Wait for Permission

You have to start from where you are. ¬†It doesn’t matter where you start from, what matters is the movement. ¬†No guru ever received “permission” to be a guru. ¬†They decide. ¬†There is no diploma that you need to get to be the best version of yourself – you just decide to do it, and then you start taking action.

At the core of my discipline is the Pomodoro technique. ¬†Here’s a simple version: (you can google the full version!) ¬†Get a timer that clearly counts down 15 minute intervals. Take your to-do list. Prioritise number 1 important item. Estimate number of 15 minute intervals. Set the timer and work on the first timer. Any interruption, reset the timer to 15. At the end of a pomodoro take a proper 7 minute break. After 4 take a 25 minute break. How many pomodoros can you achieve in a day?

Don’t tell me your values, show me your life

Plenty of people are willing to talk about what is important to them. ¬†Plenty of job interviews are full of wonderful descriptions of what the potential employee would do in a hypothetical business situation. ¬†Words are easy. ¬†Action counts. ¬†Don’t listen. ¬†Look. ¬†If someone says “punctuality is important” and has just arrived 6 minutes late, and has taken 4 minutes after saying “let me give you the one minute version…” – ignore the words, look at the actions.

The question is: what are you going to do with your time?

You will never ever be successful, until you turn your time into action… ¬†until you allow your pain, frustration, anger, joy, hope, sweat and tears to push you from where you are towards where you need to be. ¬†Discipline is not easy. It is painful. ¬†Running a marathon? ¬†Pain is guaranteed. ¬†Your pain is going to be a part of your prize, a part of your product. ¬†The pain, in the end, is necessary for the glory to count. ¬†The achievements that are worthwhile are put out of the reach of the lazy ones.

What you did last week doesn‚Äôt count. ¬†What you did yesterday doesn’t count. ¬†Today counts. ¬†Today is the only important day. ¬†Right now is the only moment you control. ¬†I choose now, to write or to wait… to write or to wait… ¬†to write or to wait.

Only Action Changes the Future

There is no future, better self without facing the need for disciplined action now.  Only action now changes the future.  Only action now allows for learning and growth.  Only action now counts.

I am writing this now and there is a lot of inner chatter saying “its sunny outside, write later”, “you still have time, you can do this tomorrow”, “go have a coffee” (I think I might actually follow that idea… ¬†ok coffee here… ¬†back).

There are eighty-six thousand, four hundred seconds in a day.  How will you use those seconds?

Top 9 ways to achieve nothing in this moment

  1. Open Facebook
  2. Turn on TV
  3. Churn between 3-5 different projects
  4. Engage in a logical debate with the little voice in your head
  5. Criticise someone for something they could do better
  6. Think of other people who might be able to do it “better” than me
  7. Think of how little chance there is that this will affect the world
  8. Think of how I have no credibility to do this work
  9. Seek permission to do something great

Top 1 way to achieve something in this moment

  1. Start

Further Resources

Goodbye Ad-Hoc, Hello Systematic

In order to be a full Jedi time manager, the novice must learn to use proven tools such as:

  • Prioritising
  • Goal Setting
  • Deadlines
  • Delegation
  • Planning

That’s what this post series is all about. ¬†You will become a master of the force and a power user of the tools of systematic, habitual action.

Are you a Jedi guided missile?  Are you systematic in how you set goals and make daily progress on what is important?  Or, are you more of an ad-hoc novice?

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

This post is¬†part of the Star Wars Jedi Productivity blog post series. ¬†There will be 11 posts coming weekly every Tuesday for… yes… just counted it… the next 11 weeks. ¬†These posts will guide your journey from a wilful, novice young pretender who is controlled by time… ¬†into a magnificent Jedi who uses time as her own power. ¬†The full set of posts are available from¬†here.

How the Death Star commander runs his Hyper-effective Meetings

“I am so busy”¬†everybody’s excuse

The average man spends 4.34 hours each week in meetings, the average woman 2.28.  75% say that these meetings were ineffective (NY Times research).

“You have failed me for the last time” Darth Vader to the imperial battlecruiser commander who allowed the rebels to escape. ¬†Darth Vader proceeds to use the force to kill the commander in front of everyone, and then turns to the next in command and says “commander, what is your plan?”.

This level of consequence for failure certainly creates a heightened level of activity. ¬†However, ¬†in my own meetings I often don’t have the possibility of saying “Meeting attendee number 2, you have arrived late and unprepared for the last time!” and then use my light-saber on their head. ¬†How do we run effective meetings without the power of the dark side of the force?

Here‚Äôs a Jedi Productivity rule for people who wish to create a meeting: ¬†‚ÄúWhat difference could you make that requires no one‚Äôs permission other than your own?‚ÄĚ ¬†Do that first. ¬†Don‚Äôt call the meeting until you have done that. ¬†(from¬†Al Pittampalli)

4 Reasons to Meet

There are 4 types of business meetings –

  1. “hello, nice to meet you” meetings
  2. status updates (management reporting)
  3. idea generation, and
  4. decision making.

“hello, nice to meet you” meetings are about building relationship, so we’re not going to touch on them here in the Jedi Productivity series.

Status updates: ¬†My good friend Verne Harnish is a massive proponent of the 10 minute daily huddle to replace all status update meetings. ¬†He has a wonderful description of how to run your daily huddle here. ¬†(There’s tons of free tools and resources for business execution from Verne here.) ¬†Verne is a true Jedi Knight of business productivity!

I’ll leave the “all ideas are good ideas” style meetings for the creative gurus over at IDEO or¬†Claro Partners.

This post focuses on the productive decision making meetings.

How to Run Decision Making Meetings

Decision making meetings are for exactly that: taking decisions that lead to productive action.  You want people coming to these meetings with analysis and conclusions, but ready to show their working process, the criteria they have used, the assumptions they believe are right.  You want to cut out early any people bringing raw data and zero analysis to your meetings.

Bring Me Solutions not Raw Data

There are 6 steps to take effective business decisions. ¬†People should follow these 6 steps in their preparation to explain their thinking to the rest of the group. ¬†Amazon require that the person writes out a 6 page written memo walking through the recommendation. ¬†Jeff Bezos requires 30 minutes of silent reading at the beginning of the meetings before questions and discussion. ¬†Read more about Amazon’s “No Powerpoint” rule.

Problem solving in business should be systematic.  Intuition has a role, but only within a systematic framework that ensures you are looking at the whole picture before jumping to an overly simplistic solution.  Here are 6 Steps for Business Problem Solving.  Work through these 6 steps before asking others for input.

Now that we have the 6 steps to turn raw data into thoughtful business decisions, lets look at a set of Jedi Productivity rules to hold people accountable and to not waste the meeting.

The Jedi Productivity Rules for Decision Making Meetings…

  • There Must be an Agenda¬†‚Äď No plan, no meet;¬†How? and What? are both important;¬†Plan together, agree agenda;
  • Hard edges¬†‚Äď start and end on time.¬†The end time is as important as the start time; don‚Äôt accept drift ‚Äď leave.¬†Don‚Äôt waste people‚Äôs time, finish when done.
  • Provide work for meeting –¬†Don‚Äôt let people just wander into the meeting and say ‚ÄúHey, so what is this all about then?‚ÄĚ ¬†Give pre-reading. ¬†Give questions to consider before people attend the meeting.
  • Chair the Meeting¬†‚Äď Participate, get focus, maintain momentum and reach closure;
  • Bring Tools¬†‚Äď Each person must have pencil, paper, agenda; ¬†Meetings are REAL WORK. ¬†Require preparation. Give people things to read or do before the meeting, and if they don‚Äôt, kick them out.
  • Parking Lot¬†‚Äď Send off-topic ideas to the Parking lot. ¬†Do not allow drift. ¬†It is not just your time that you are abusing.
  • Demand Presence¬†‚Äď Mobiles off?
  • Include Everyone¬†‚Äď End asking ‚ÄúDid we miss anything?‚ÄĚ to every participant
  • End with Actions –¬†¬†Distribute minutes (who was there, key items discussed, actions agreed with completion date);¬†The organizer of the meeting is required to send a short email summary, with action items, to every attendee within ten minutes of the end of the meeting.
  • Seth Godin‚Äôs Rule¬†‚Äď If someone is more than two minutes later than the last person to the meeting, they have to pay a fine of ‚ā¨10 to the coffee fund.

Use the Force, Luke

There are times when I am running a meeting and people show up late and unprepared and then derail the meeting into their own agenda. ¬†I would love to have the Darth Vader dark force power to shut them up and stop this happening, but this is the nature of human beings and the place we call “work”. ¬†These rules work where there is a willingness to make them work. ¬†Where there is a will, there is a way.

Where there is no will, we might just need Darth Vader to inspire action through his imposition of fearsome consequences.

Further Resources

Goodbye Ad-Hoc, Hello Systematic

In order to be a full Jedi time manager, the novice must learn to use proven tools such as:

  • Prioritising
  • Goal Setting
  • Deadlines
  • Delegation
  • Planning

That’s what this post series is all about. ¬†You will become a master of the force and a power user of the tools of systematic, habitual action.

Are you a Jedi guided missile?  Are you systematic in how you set goals and make daily progress on what is important?  Or, are you more of an ad-hoc novice?

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

This post is¬†part of the Star Wars Jedi Productivity blog post series. ¬†There will be 11 posts coming weekly every Tuesday for… yes… just counted it… the next 11 weeks. ¬†These posts will guide your journey from a wilful, novice young pretender who is controlled by time… ¬†into a magnificent Jedi who uses time as her own power. ¬†The full set of posts are available from¬†here.

R2D2, C3PO and the Power of Delegation

“I am so busy”¬†everybody’s excuse

You Don’t Delegate Tasks, You Delegate Responsibility

If you are just asking someone to do something for you, you are not delegating.  Delegation requires that you transfer the full emotional responsibility to get something done.

If I am thirsty and I say “Can you get me a coke?”, I am not delegating. ¬†If I say “I am thirsty. ¬†What options do we have?” I am giving a little bit more context and engaging the other person’s problem solving capability.

When Princess Leia programs R2D2 with the short video “Obi-Wan, you are my only hope”, she achieves very effective delegation. ¬†She lets him know the danger of the empire completing construction of the death star and she offers him the resource of the architectural map of the enormous weapon. ¬†She has a strong past relationship and knows that Obi-wan will take responsibility to mobilise a rebel response.

Ken Blanchard told me that if a company is in difficulty and the entrepreneur is the only one having sleepless nights, then the entrepreneur has a delegation problem. ¬†Each employee should feel a level of responsibility for the company’s performance. ¬†It is the leader’s job to foster this feeling of responsibility through the means with which they engage those around them to perform the work.

Photo Credit: interestedbystandr via Compfight cc
Princess Leia Delegates the Mission to Obi-Wan; Photo Credit: interestedbystandr

Princess Leia did not give Obi-wan a task.  Princess Leia gave Obi-wan a mission.  He took on this mission as his purpose until his death.  Not all delegation will be of such serious and life threatening levels!

Get the Right People on The Bus

If you say “I have a problem delegating”: ¬†I often say “No, you don’t. ¬†You have a¬†problem attracting “A” players”.

Delegation is not just moving the task to someone else, it is moving the emotional effort and the responsibility to that person. ¬†If you don’t feel the shift of both task, responsibility and emotional pain to the other person – you are managing this person.

Management is not delegation.  Management is a useful thing, but it is not scalable in the way that delegation is.  A manager keeps a list of things to follow up on from other people Рthey have passed the task, but they remain emotionally responsible for the work getting done.  This is management and we do need managers Рbut it is not to be confused with delegation.  A leader cannot be a great leader if they are not delegating.  A leader can delegate to people who are good managers Рand they can manage others to get work done Рbut the leader needs the manager in the middle.

A leader can only lead other responsible people.

Managers can create a system in which people without discipline, without personal responsibility can get work done in a regular manner.  However, the manager remains fully emotionally liable for the work.

The bottleneck of leadership is emotional responsibility. ¬†If you can’t move the emotional responsibility for something to another person, you have it. ¬†It doesn’t matter who does the work, it matters who owns the emotional liability for the work.

Problems are Like Monkeys

Photo Credit: rogersmithpix via Compfight cc
Problems are Like this Monkey; Photo Credit: rogersmithpix

My friend and entrepreneur Jonathan Davis says that “Problems in a company are like monkeys in a forrest. ¬†They will climb to the highest point that they can reach.” ¬†If you solve all the problems that come to you, all the problems will come to you.

If an employee comes to you and says “I have a problem”, say “Excellent. ¬†That’s why I hired you. ¬†What options do you see?”

If you see a blank face, send them away and ask them to come back in an hour with at least 3 good options.

If they have 3 or more options, ask “what criteria are important in deciding? ¬†What risks do you see? ¬†What else?”

Don’t allow them to push the selection of the option back to you. ¬†Use questions to help them think through the process. ¬†Use questions to help them decide on a winning option. ¬†Use questions to help them develop an action plan. ¬†Use questions to help them identify resources they will need but are currently lacking.

Delegation of Quality Control

One of the areas that I have often been challenged with is team members using me as the quality control for documents.  They bring a document that is pretty complete and assume that I will do the final round of edits.

If someone brings me a document to review, I put my hand on top of the document and look the person in the eyes. ¬†I ask “On a scale of zero to ten, what is the quality of this document?” ¬†They sometimes might say “what do mean?”. ¬†I say “imagine that ten is perfect quality, the best our company could produce; ¬†zero is terrible quality… ¬†where on your scale of zero to ten does this document live?”

This is a wonderful question as a delegator – If the person says “seven”, then I will pass the document back to them and say “what will it take to make it an eight? ¬†a nine? ¬†Ok. ¬†Bring it back when you’ve got it to nine.”

If the person says “five”, then I will say “don’t ever bring me a 5 quality document. ¬†What will it take to make it better?”

If the person says “ten”, and I find that the document is not up to my idea of a “ten” quality, then I know that I need to help the person develop their own quality scale. ¬†If they still say “ten” – I realise they lack objective criteria and it will be very difficult to ever delegate this type of work to this individual.

Don’t Delegate…

don’t delegate to people who don’t take notes

If you delegate to someone and write down a note in your diary to follow up next week, you haven’t really delegated. ¬†Delegation can only be done to people who you know will get it done. ¬†If not, you still have anxiety and the whole point of delegation is to get the mental and emotional effort off of your own plate.

don’t delegate to people without personal discipline and order

If someone is regularly late to meetings, don’t delegate to them. ¬†If someone is often forgetful of their own deadlines, don’t delegate to them. ¬†If someone cannot stick to their own goals and their own deadlines, they will not stick to goals and deadlines that I give to them – no matter how good my delegation ability might become. ¬†They can’t stick to any goals until they develop self-discipline.

Goodbye Ad-Hoc, Hello Systematic

In order to be a full Jedi time manager, the novice must learn to use proven tools such as:

  • Prioritising
  • Goal Setting
  • Deadlines
  • Delegation
  • Planning

That’s what this post series is all about. ¬†You will become a master of the force and a power user of the tools of systematic, habitual action.

Are you a Jedi guided missile?  Are you systematic in how you set goals and make daily progress on what is important?  Or, are you more of an ad-hoc novice?

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

This post is¬†part of the Star Wars Jedi Productivity blog post series. ¬†There will be 11 posts coming weekly every Tuesday for… yes… just counted it… the next 11 weeks. ¬†These posts will guide your journey from a wilful, novice young pretender who is controlled by time… ¬†into a magnificent Jedi who uses time as her own power. ¬†The full set of posts are available from here.

‚ÄúUse the phone Luke‚Ķ‚ÄĚ Master the telephone

“I am so busy” everybody’s excuse

We are now over half-way through this series of blog posts about being a Productivity Jedi.  I think the simple summary really is about 2 things: 1) picking times where you shut out everybody else and focus on what is important to you, and 2) using discipline tools such as goals and pomodoro technique to make steady progress on your projects.

Last week we looked at how to manage email.  This week I am reflecting on another ubiquitous office tool: the telephone.

Photo Credit: Kenny Jeffery (KLJ3) via Compfight cc
Galactic Communication: “Luke? Is that you?” Photo Credit: Kenny Jeffery (KLJ3)

Rule #4:  Remember, your phone is there for your convenience.

Your Phone is for Your Convenience

There are two types of phone call:  Outbound and Inbound

Inbound calls: ¬†You do not have to answer. ¬†I have my telephone on silent most of the time. ¬†I don’t think that just because somebody has my telephone number, that they get permission to interrupt me. ¬†People like ex-President Clinton, Lady Gaga, Bono, Richard Branson have staffs of up to 30 people whose sole job is to restrict access to their boss. ¬†These artists and leaders can only be good artists and leaders because they say “No” to the demands of others and say “Yes” to their own ability to create, to think or to imagine.

3 options:

  • don’t answer,
  • answer and say “I have 2 minutes before my meeting starts” or
  • answer and say “Hey, so great to talk! ¬†How are things? ¬†What can I do to help you?”. ¬† Your voice tone matters: Start with enthusiasm. ¬†If you are answering, take a breath before picking up the phone and put aside any frustrations, angers, annoyances you have with something else – you cannot infect this call with negative energy right from the start if you want the call to be of value to you.

Outbound calls: Before you even touch the phone, write down your Point X. ¬†Point X is the statement: “When I have finished speaking with this person, they will __[Action]__”. ¬†Make sure you are clear on what action the person on the other side of call will do. ¬†Is it tangible, is it specific, is it concrete, is it realistic? ¬†If yes, yes, yes, yes… Make the call. ¬†If not, change your Point X. ¬†(Short video on developing your Point X)

7 Powerful Phone Habits

  1. Use pauses.  When the other finishes speaking, pause 3 seconds to see that they have finished.
  2. Practice empathic listening – rephrase what you are hearing. ¬†In the absence of body language, you need to double up your audible checking that you and the other person are following each other’s lines of thought.
  3. Offer 2 choices: If a face-to-face meeting is the most appropriate next step, use the 2-choice strategy. Offer two times, “Mr. Davis, I can be at your office at 2:15 p.m. today to discuss this further. Or would 9:45 a.m. tomorrow better suit your schedule?” You don’t say: “When can we meet?” ¬†Offer 2 options. ¬†(The use of :15 or :45 shows that you take time seriously… be on time.)
  4. Use the person’s name 2-3 times
  5. Avoid negotiating anything over the telephone. ¬†If you must negotiate, use long pauses and don’t rush or allow the other to rush you. ¬†Repeat any agreement at the end of the call and follow up with the same agreement in writing (I use email).
  6. Stand up while you talk on the phone – you breath better, you feel stronger, you stretch your body at the same time
  7. Visual clues: If you have a mirror or can see your reflection in the glass, it gives you energy. ¬†I hate speaking into space. ¬†I need to see something. ¬†Mirror is good. ¬†Photos of the other’s face is good. ¬†The mirror can help you to project a more powerful spoken image over the phone.

Voicemail bonus tips

Leave enough information so that they can contact you, but not enough so that they can take a clear decision whether to say yes or no.

Leave your name, your company name, and one question designed to elicit either pain or interest.  Mention your phone number (slowly) two times: once at the beginning of your message and then again at the end.

Say it in 8-15 seconds, or reduce what you intend to say. ¬†I hate long, drawn out elaborate discussions – and it tells me that the person doesn’t care about me and about my time. ¬†Voicemail is not for thinking out loud.

Cold calling

I hate people who cold-call me.  I have never bought anything because a company has asked their sales team to interrupt me.  If you are in sales, do research.  Make the calls warm.  Find something in common, some interest.

In a world of LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+ there should be less and less need to do outright cold calls.

Goodbye Ad-Hoc, Hello Systematic

In order to be a full Jedi time manager, the novice must learn to use proven tools such as:

  • Prioritising
  • Goal Setting
  • Deadlines
  • Delegation
  • Planning

That’s what this post series is all about. ¬†You will become a master of the force and a power user of the tools of systematic, habitual action.

Are you a Jedi guided missile?  Are you systematic in how you set goals and make daily progress on what is important?  Or, are you more of an ad-hoc novice?

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

This post is¬†part of the Star Wars Jedi Productivity blog post series. ¬†There will be 11 posts coming weekly every Tuesday for… yes… just counted it… the next 11 weeks. ¬†These posts will guide your journey from a wilful, novice young pretender who is controlled by time… ¬†into a magnificent Jedi who uses time as her own power. ¬†The full set of posts are available from here.

The average corporate worker receives 110 emails per day. ¬†I cite the study in an old post called¬†6 Ways to Ensure Your Email Gets Ignored. ¬†Between meetings (here’s¬†rules for running effective meetings) and exchanging emails you could easily spend your whole working day in complete responsive mode: the world running your life, not you running your life.

Han Solo’s guide to Getting on top of the Email Inbox (a.k.a. Jabba the Hutt)

“I am so busy” everybody’s excuse

Rule #1: Email is all about other people’s priorities.

Rule #2: You cannot change people’s minds via email.

Rule #3: Email is NOT Leadership Activity.

If you are trying to sell something Рto your boss, to your colleagues, to your clients, to a supplier Рemail is a very poor medium.  You must get face to face or, failing that, get on the phone.  You need synchronous communication to be able to influence effectively.

Email’s power is its asynchronous nature – we both send and receive whenever we want. ¬†I can work late and send you my answer at 1:30am – you don’t have to be awake at 1:30am to read it, you will get it as soon as you are ready.

Email is wonderful for transaction.  Arranging a date for a meeting.  Sending the invoice once an operation is completed.

Do not confuse yourself into thinking that you can achieve influence via email… and all ¬†leadership activity requires some aspect of influence. ¬†So… ¬†Rule #3: EMAIL IS NOT LEADERSHIP ACTIVITY.

Photo Credit: Kalexanderson via Compfight cc
Does your Email Inbox hold you hostage?  Photo Credit: Kalexanderson

Let me repeat that very clearly:

Rule #3: EMAIL IS NOT LEADERSHIP ACTIVITY

“The inbox is nothing but a¬†convenient¬†organising system of other people’s¬†priorities” Brendon Burchard

It is a wonderful tool for transaction, maintenance of the status quo, the to-and-fro of information within and around companies.

Now that we have that concept in mind, any leaders will have quickly realised that all time spent on email is commodity Рit is non-differential.  Anybody can do it.  (In fact, most management gurus outsource the management of their email to a secretary or to a virtual assistant).  The objective is to effectively manage your email inbox in the shortest time possible.

I have never sold a jet via email

I am founder of Taxijet. ¬†I sell private jets. ¬†I spent 4 years busily responding to all emails on my blackberry as soon as I could. ¬†I felt a stress if I didn’t immediately get back to a potential client. ¬†Almost all of my work stress was related to speedily getting back to emails. ¬†After 4 years of this style of daily activity, I had an epiphany: “I have never sold a jet via email”.

Never.  It never made a difference.

I might have had some flight reservations via email, but that was because I had established a relationship face-to-face.  This was a natural transaction, but not an email that created value.

So, as a leader, your mission is to delegate, delete and rapidly deal with transactional email.

My grandfather had no email Рhis work was listening to people.  I have email, and a lot of my job can easily turn into moving emails back and forwards.  It can eat my day if I let it.

Many people let this happen.  Email eats their day.  Email eats their creativity, their passion, their genius.  They think email is their work.

Email is not your work*.

Get off of the drip, drip of other people’s priorities. When you wake up each day, stay away from the computer. ¬†Exercise, think, write, walk around the neighbourhood.

Start the day: Hydrate, Eat, Stretch & Plan.

How to Plan a Day

First, ask yourself: “What do I want to be happy for at the end of the day today?”

Once you’ve got that answer, ask yourself “What am I grateful for today?” and then¬†“What am I committed to making happen today (no matter what)?”

Plan your day before you touch the computer.

Productivity is only productivity if it is aligned in a consistent direction.  20 miles a day is good if it all to the east.  It is total waste if it is 5 miles north, 5 miles south, 5 miles west and 5 miles east.

Leaders Write Stuff Down

If you are writing something important, post it as a blog post.  Start a wordpress or tumblr blog now.  Make it yourname.tumblr.com and start for free.

If you are an expert, publish in magazines or on industry blogs.  Then you can point people to your articles when they ask questions via email.

Email does not scale.  You cannot grow significantly as a leader if your main work tool is email.

If you use email as your to-do list, then it is at least structuring your day… but why would you use a poorly designed to-do list when so many powerful to-do list applications already exist (check out Redbooth from my friend Pablo)

There are others who manage to contain email, but the rest of their day is sucked up in meetings… ¬†that is a future post in this series – taming the meeting beast.

Advantages of Email

  • You can use it 24/7
  • You control when, where and how you respond to messages
  • You have a recorded history of your messages
  • You can draft, edit, re-edit and really craft an email message until you are happy with it

Disadvantages of Email

  • You can use it 24/7
  • There is an implicit expectation that you should respond to all emails
  • The other person has a permanent recording of your words
  • Words in email can be misunderstood – as they often lack some wider context that would be obviously necessary if this was a face-to-face conversation, or a phone call.

Some starter email tactics:

  • Apply the “Three Sentences Email Policy”. ¬†Check out¬†http://three.sentenc.es¬†–
  • Establish a set time when you read and send emails, rather than doing it throughout the day. ¬†One manager I know reads and responds at 4pm and the rest of the office knows that if they send an email before then, it will be dealt with at 4pm… not before. ¬†Switch off “push” email on iphone, blackberry or android smart phones.

*Except if you are a customer service staff working in an entirely email transactional driven organisation… but then you are not a leader and are probably not reading this post… ¬†so…

Goodbye Ad-Hoc, Hello Systematic

In order to be a full Jedi time manager, the novice must learn to use proven tools such as:

  • Prioritising
  • Goal Setting
  • Deadlines
  • Delegation
  • Planning

That’s what this post series is all about. ¬†You will become a master of the force and a power user of the tools of systematic, habitual action.

Are you a Jedi guided missile?  Are you systematic in how you set goals and make daily progress on what is important?  Or, are you more of an ad-hoc novice?

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

This post is¬†part of the Star Wars Jedi Productivity blog post series. ¬†There will be 11 posts coming weekly every Tuesday for… yes… just counted it… the next 11 weeks. ¬†These posts will guide your journey from a wilful, novice young pretender who is controlled by time… ¬†into a magnificent Jedi who uses time as her own power. ¬†The full set of posts are available from¬†here.

Previous Post:¬†JEDI PRODUCTIVITY 3 OF 11: DEAL WITH DARTH VADER‚ÄôS EVIL ‚ÄúURGENT‚ÄĚ INTERRUPTIONS

Obi-Wan‚Äôs guide to say ‚ÄúNo‚ÄĚ, (these are not the droids you are looking for‚Ķ)

I’ve seen people lose their jobs because they took on too many projects and failed to deliver. ¬†It is not so much a risk at the lower levels of corporate life, but as you move up it is “the” risk. ¬†In this post I ask that you begin to practice the fine art of saying “No”.

If you say “No”, and then make a readjustment and say “Yes” – the other party realises the value of your contribution, realises that you take the work seriously, realises that this is something that is over and above your basic job description.

If you say “No” and keep to it, you have time, energy and resources to go towards what is important to you.

Photo Credit: gordontarpley
No, these are not the droids you are looking for; Photo Credit: gordontarpley

Senior people who fail to achieve their objectives get sacked. ¬†It doesn’t matter if you said “yes” lots and people think you are lovely.

“You can’t manage time. You manage yourself”¬†Joseph Ferrari

How I deliver my basic “No” to a meeting request

This is the first time that I share this secret…

I teach at a business school.  Here.  I teach over 1,500 participants each year.  I love the participants in my courses, I love their energy, I love their ideas and I love spending time with them.  I get asked to meet for coffee a lot.

The problem? ¬†Where’s the problem you might ask? ¬†The problem is that I can’t write, teach or spend time with my daughter if I say “yes” to 100% of these requests.

It is not that they are poor requests. ¬†It is not that I wouldn’t enjoy spending time with the people. ¬†It is that I have to prioritise. ¬†Writing is good because I can write this once and keep referring people to it. ¬†Meeting is bad because I can’t scale myself.

Now, some of the requests are easy to say “No” to. ¬†Some emails demonstrate that the person asking for my time has taken exactly zero minutes to think about who I am, what I am interested in, read 2-3 relevant posts on my blog (most questions are answered there!).

A Hungarian psychology professor once wrote to 275 creative people asking them for an interview for a book he was writing. ¬†Read some of the responses at Creative People Say No. ¬†Over 60% said “No”. ¬†The ability to say “No” is a prerequisite for a productive life.

Obi-Wan’s Jedi “No”: ¬†How to effectively say “No”

First, I’ll let you in on my secret. ¬†I don’t say “No”.

Yes, when I am asked for a meeting: I don’t say “No”.

I say “Yes, I would love to meet with you. ¬†I am free this Friday at 7:30am in my office in Sabadell (30 miles from the centre of Barcelona).”

Sabadell is a 1 hour journey from Barcelona.  Train and taxi, or a car journey.  The cost of the other person is now 2-3 hours in addition to the 30-40 minutes for coffee with me.

Most people say “well, maybe not this Friday…” ¬†and I know that they don’t value meeting with me enough to make it worth my while.

Some people say “ok, its a tough time, but I’ll be there”. ¬†I now say “Hey, next Wednesday I’ll be in Barcelona, lets do 11:00”. ¬†I know that is important enough to them to pay 3 extra hours of their time to have the meeting.

This way I get to know whether the person requesting my time is just looking to meet with anybody, or they have a valid, real, important reason to want to speak to me.  If its worth 3 hours of their time, it is probably worth a coffee for me.

Raise the Cost of your “Yes”

All of the effective people who say “No” well, don’t use the word “No”.

  • To their boss: “That sounds important. ¬†Thank you for thinking of me. I need you to help decide which of my current projects you would like me to stop working on so that I can dedicate enough time to this request.”
  • To their colleague: “I would love to, but I am overcommitted right now. ¬†Would you get back to me in [1 day, 1 week, 1 month…]?”
  • To the charity/non-profit/industry association: “I love your organisation. Thanks for thinking of me. I’m unable to accept your kind offer right now.”
  • To others: “Thanks for reaching out to me. ¬†Have you tried _____?”

That’s it. That’s the rule: Raise the Cost of your “Yes”.

Raise the cost of your “Yes”

Raise the cost of your “Yes”. ¬†Don’t allow it to be free for the requestor. ¬†It takes a bit of practice to get it to come out authentically, but it is worth the effort. ¬†Practice now on the small things – because the higher your profile, the greater your resources, the more you know – the more requests you are going to receive.

The Science of Reasons for No

It matters how you frame your No. ¬†The words “No, I don’t eat ice-cream” is much more powerful than “No, I can’t eat ice-cream”. ¬†Read more at The Scientific Guide to Saying No¬†over at Lifehacker. ¬†Don’t make your “No” a self-limiting “I can’t”-No, make it a positive decision. ¬†It matters (to yourself more than to the other).

Here’s a request for you to practice with: ¬†Would you leave a comment below? ¬†Please?

Goodbye Ad-Hoc, Hello Systematic

In order to be a full Jedi time manager, the novice must learn to use proven tools such as:

  • Prioritising
  • Goal Setting
  • Deadlines
  • Delegation
  • Planning

That’s what this post series is all about. ¬†You will become a master of the force and a power user of the tools of systematic, habitual action.

Are you a Jedi guided missile?  Are you systematic in how you set goals and make daily progress on what is important?  Or, are you more of an ad-hoc novice?

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

This post is¬†part of the Star Wars Jedi Productivity blog post series. ¬†There will be 11 posts coming weekly every Tuesday for… yes… just counted it… the next 11 weeks. ¬†These posts will guide your journey from a wilful, novice young pretender who is controlled by time… ¬†into a magnificent Jedi who uses time as her own power. ¬†The full set of posts are available from¬†here.

Previous Post: JEDI PRODUCTIVITY 2 OF 11: THE EMPEROR’S GUIDE TO GOAL SETTING AND THE 20 MILE MARCH (LT, ST, HABITS)

Deal with Darth Vader‚Äôs Evil ‚ÄúUrgent‚ÄĚ Interruptions

“You can’t manage time. You manage yourself” Joseph Ferrari

Ok, so you’ve got some initial goals written down. ¬†They might cover areas such as Health, Peace of Mind, Relationships, Money, Contribution and Spirituality. ¬†Or they might not. ¬†Those categories serve me… no guarantee that they serve you.

Ding. ¬†Ding. ¬†Your email inbox is letting you know that it has something. ¬†First email is from twitter with an update of some “interesting” messages you “might have missed”.

You know that this is distraction, and you delete.

Next email is from you boss. ¬†He says “please meet me at 12:00”. ¬†No agenda, no questions, no homework. ¬†What do you do?

We are interrupted nearly every three minutes, according to Gloria Mark, professor at University of California. The scary thing is that about 50% of those interruptions are self-imposed.

Photo Credit: JD Hancock via Compfight cc
Luke takes on an Evil Interruption. Photo Credit: JD Hancock cc

Everybody has a plan until they are hit in the face

Mike Tyson, the world champion heavyweight boxer, in an interview was told that a future contender “had a plan to fight him.” ¬†Mike replied to the interviewer: “Everybody has a plan until they are punched in the mouth.”

A diet is an easy concept to understand. ¬†The challenge is not in knowing that you want to diet, or knowing that you will not eat carbohydrates… the challenge comes when the waiter walks over and says “dessert? ¬†we have chocolate cake…”

Tony Blair said that leadership is about saying “No”. ¬†Anybody can say “yes”, it takes real leadership to say “No”. ¬†This doesn’t mean that you say “No” to everything and everybody – but it does mean that you raise the cost to yourself of saying “yes” to another person’s request. ¬†(Each yes is a donation of your time and energy to somebody else’s goals).

3 Small Changes to Deal with Evil Interuptions

  1. Take control of the first 10 minutes of your days. ¬†Do something important that is written down on your goals list. ¬†Do not open email. ¬†Do not open facebook. ¬†Do not check twitter. ¬†Do not go straight out for coffee. ¬†Do not pass go. ¬†Do 10 minutes of real, important, on-my-written-list-of-goals work. ¬†Use the Pomodoro technique, especially the first 15 minutes of your day. ¬†(I am writing this post first in my day, not planning to write it mid-afternoon). ¬†How many pomodoro’s do you think you could do in a day?
  2. Make it harder to contact you. ¬†My mobile phone is on silent. ¬†I have no voicemail enabled. ¬†I switch off all “push” settings on my phone (don’t buzz and tell me that something has happened). ¬†There is a software that allows you to send mails that wait 2 hours before really sending – breaking the ping-pong email chain habit. ¬†I go out to coffee shops with my laptop to write. ¬†I stay at home to write. ¬†I know that I am bad at saying “No” directly, so I need to reduce the opportunities that people have to be able to ask me for things directly. ¬†I know that you will be wise and know how to apply this rule in your own specific setting. ¬†(My friends were the first to notice my change from always-on email to delayed response… ¬†“hey don’t you love me anymore?”). ¬†Could you try waiting til 9:30am to open email? ¬†
  3. Accept that Interruptions happen.¬† Interruptions are inevitable. ¬†Some are wonderful opportunities, many are there to disrupt you. ¬†Some are unforeseeable, others are systematic. ¬†There are systematic interrupters – people at your office who always come by and say “lets grab a coffee” just as you are about to do important work. ¬†There are systematic interrupters that you must make a steady effort to remove from your surroundings. ¬†Accept that interruptions happen, and get back to what’s important as soon as you can. ¬†Frustration does not make me more effective. ¬†What is one systematic interruption that you could start removing from your day?

How to respond to the email from your boss?

One option is wait til 12 and see what it is all about. ¬†Is that a good option? ¬†Another option is to reply with a “No. ¬†I am busy”. ¬†Is that a good option?

A third option is see that you have 3 hours until 12:00 and right at the top of your goals list is your number 1 most important goal. ¬†You pull out a sheet of paper and begin to plan what you will need to achieve this goal. ¬†You make a list of the steps, end-to-end from here until you have reasonably completed the goal. ¬†You make a list of the questions you need to answer, the decisions that you will need to make, the resources that you don’t know how to get. ¬†When you have this list complete, you take the top item and begin working on it. ¬†3 hours later you have a full plan, and have already nailed the first 4 items. ¬†You have a feeling of accomplishment and progress. ¬†You head over to the meeting with your boss.

Goodbye Ad-Hoc, Hello Systematic

In order to be a full Jedi time manager, the novice must learn to use proven tools such as:

  • Prioritising
  • Goal Setting
  • Deadlines
  • Delegation
  • Planning

That’s what this post series is all about. ¬†You will become a master of the force and a power user of the tools of systematic, habitual action.

Are you a Jedi guided missile?  Are you systematic in how you set goals and make daily progress on what is important?  Or, are you more of an ad-hoc novice?

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