43 Folders: W. H. Murray on the power of starting

Happy New Year!  I read this quote posted on the 43 Folders blog from the Scottish mountain climber W. H. Murray: Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way. I believe this is, indeed, a truth.  Take vacation planning, for example.  Countless business people in my seminars have told me their schedules are so hectic, they can never fit in a vacation.  That's the wrong approach.  You should first schedule the vacation, … [Read more...]

Time management during the holidays: purposeful non-productive time or productive non-purposeful time

Not that you're keeping track, but I haven't posted this week.  With the blizzard that hit Denver a few days before Christmas, and the one we're in the midst of right now, the city has been a forced to slow down.  It's been a blissful few days of purposeful non-productivity.  Most people (who weren't stuck in the airport) unexpectedly spent several days holed up with their families, which can be great for life balance. I built every Bionicle, Lego, and Exoforce kit my sons got for Christmas---real quality time doing activities they love.  Hmmm...I also spent time purging my files and pulling out tax documents for 2006...so I guess it wasn't all non-productive. Some businesses, not blizzards, also purposefully cause a slowdown during the holidyas.  This article "We're not as productive … [Read more...]

Are you spending too much time surfing eBay?

A reporter asked an interesting question today: How do you know if you're spending too much time surfing eBay?  While I'm all for saving time on Internet shopping and having things delivered, instead of driving around town to ten places trying to find the same item, you don't want to cross the line into an addiction.  An addiction?  That's right.  How many hours a day would you have to devote to something before it would be labeled an addiction?  Television watching?  Gambling?  Drinking?  eBay surfing?  As with anything, it can get out of hand.  So I told the reporter I'd have her readers ask themselves these questions: ·        Do you spend more time on the computer surfing eBay listings than you do with your … [Read more...]

Spam, spam, go away, don’t come back another day!

I am rid of spam!  YES, it's true!  Just in the last few months, as many of you have experienced, the volume of spam I was receiving was increasing drastically.  I was getting 200+ spam email messages a day, and it was killing my productivity and frustrating me to no end.  Just scanning the subject lines and deleting was costing me precious time, and some spam messages were causing my Treo handheld to reset upon email retrieval.  I've tried several end-user anti-spam filters, and nothing was doing the trick.  Add to that multiple domains, email addresses, and aliases, and the problem was compounding daily.  ENTER Mail Foundry.  My webmaster, Lance Gibb, installed the appliance on his server, routed my mail (all addresses, domains, aliases) through … [Read more...]

The 3/2 Rule of Employee Productivity

A reader just turned me on to Allan Engelhardt's October post called "The 3/2 Rule of Productivity."   Wonderful.  Fascinating research with data showing the more employees your company has, the less productive each person is.  Basically, in terms of profit per employee, when you triple the number of employees, you halve their productivity (the 3/2 Rule).  Allan supposes the causes could include self-selection, relationship friction, a shared vision, and the ability (or lack thereof) to collaborate.  If I could toss in my two cents, from what I hear employees of large corporations complaining to me about, it's: * a huge volume of email to deal with and some moron replying to all with a 50-person distribution list and 100 spams each day * meetings that run on and on with no purpose … [Read more...]

Why are women great time managers?

In the December edition of my monthly newsletter, I posed the question "I’d love to hear from the men on this one, but at least in my circle, why does it seem that the woman is the social, family, and child coordinator in the family?"  I heard back from three men, who basically agreed with me.  Are there any men out there who arrange the kids' playdates, handle school arrangements, schedule with couple friends, or otherwise act as the family coordinator?  Women, does your husband help you with these tasks? When I introduced my fiancée to my Aunt (34 years ago, we've married a long time ago) I mentioned that she was "quiet". My Aunt said, "There is only room for one mouth in a couple, and you are the one that talks, so it's alright." In your … [Read more...]

Workaholism: a well-defined addiction

I wrote recently about an article from the Christian Science Monitor, in which a reporter interviewed me about "Extreme Jobs," people who work 80+ hour workweeks. I received an email from someone who read my post, miffed that I could judge someone, as "I did not know her." Of course I don't know her and can't judge her personally...I'm sure she's a very nice person, gives to the poor, and rescues puppies...and the only thing I (and anyone else for that matter) can observe is behavior. Working seven days a week, 11 hours a day (not including time at home working) is workaholism, pure and simple (heck, even God rested on the seventh day). It's been studied, researched, and rehashed, and just because it’s been re-titled an “extreme job” doesn’t mean it’s anything new. It's … [Read more...]

‘Extreme’ jobs on the rise: poor time management skills and workaholism to blame

So I'm quoted in an article today by the Christian Science Monitor called "'Extreme' jobs on the rise," which cites a study by the Harvard Business Review called "Extreme Jobs: The Dangerous Allure of the 70-Hour Workweek" (there is no free version of this article; they make you purchase a copy for $7.00).  Read the fascinating quotes from the CEO of a gift basket company who works 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. every day, including weekends.  She essentially says she works those long hours because she has passion for her work.  So what?  I have passion for my work, too, and you don't find me working that long.  This is workaholism, pure and simple.  I feel sorry for her husband.  She doesn't go outside the house, gave up golf, and installed a home theater in her house to make up for the lack of … [Read more...]

Setting Up Your Office for Maximum Productivity

You work hard and want to be as productive as possible.  If you knew you were inadvertently creating office systems that slowed you down, you would of course be interested in correcting them.  In my fifteen years of teaching people to be more productive, I’ve observed many bad habits and behaviors that are easily corrected.  To get you started, here are four office faux pas you can fix and instantly become more efficient: 1.      Piling instead filing. If you have a cluttered office, you will spend more time trying to find information; you will have a harder time focusing on the task before you; other people won’t be able to find anything; your system is in your head, which taxes your memory; you will have higher anxiety levels; and it could impede … [Read more...]

Email etiquette

I love this post: Hacking Email: 99 Email Security and Productivity Tips, especially the section on email etiquette.  Many of the tips provided by the IT Security Staff point to one common theme: DON'T WASTE PEOPLE'S TIME with your email.  The objective is to get your message read, not to slow down your reader.  Sending an email with a blank subject or a subject like "Hi" is sure to get it deleted.  Be detailed in the subject line, so they don't have to read three paragraphs to understand what you want.  Don't send chain letters.  Don't forward your motivational saying of the day.  Don't "Reply to All" on a CC with 43 people.  Take the time to cut the most relevant sentence from the message to which you are responding and answer … [Read more...]