January 20, 2011

Make Your Ideas Sticky

Click here to download this quick reference sheet by Chip and Dan Heath, authors of Made to Stick. It'll help you make your ideas and communication 'sticky'.

It's a New Year... and New Copyright Date

Make sure your website and other online places are showing current copyright dates. Old dates can have people questioning if you're still around and how current your information is.

If you have print or electronic material with copyright dates, also remember to update those!

The End Result

We all have the same 24 hours daily to accomplish our tasks. They come in a myriad of forms: phone calls, emails, projects, operational and administrative work, appointments, meetings and more. Priorities conflict, distractions tempt us and it’s hard to keep our eyes on the ball. It takes a lot of effort. Sound familiar?

We can improve our chances of success by adopting more of a ‘big picture’ perspective and focusing on the end result.

Focus on the Right Goals.
What to do: Identify what is important to you and define the intended goal. Why is this important to you? Keep asking why (5 times) to drill down to the root issues.

Manage Priorities. Most of us will admit to having 8 to 10 priorities. With that many, it requires super-human effort to do a good job of handling all of them well.
What to do: Narrow down your priority list to 3 or 4 goals and focus on those. By limiting your list, you will be able to put your best efforts to your BIG GOALS. If reducing your list seems impossible, give yourself a temporary reprieve. Your abbreviated priority list can be short-term and you determine when it expires.

Plan and Plan Again. Planning saves time, money and effort. It rewards us with reduced stress, increased productivity and more free time.
What to do: Start small. Focus intently for a short time. You can accomplish a lot of planning in 5 or 10 minutes. On the other hand, don’t get so carried away with planning that you aren’t taking action!

Share and Improve the Work. There's no reason why you need to do it all yourself.
What to do: Outsource projects, trade off with colleagues and implement best practices. Applying slick processes will increase your capacity.

Practice. It takes roughly 21 days for a new behaviour to stick.
What to do: More of all of the above.

Believe it or not, you could find these tactics make your workday more enjoyable. (I do!) At the very least you’ll have a greater feeling of control.

Originally published in Work Better, Not Harder on January 20, 2011

January 4, 2011

Change is Good

I make a lot less money now than I did ten years ago. Back then I was single, living in Toronto and climbing the corporate ladder. The lifestyle I enjoy now is much slower paced and I certainly wouldn't have considered it successful or goal-worthy then. It’s too bad our younger selves aren’t better at predicting what our older selves will want!

Our personal success factors will change over time. Last year in January I had an epiphany. I was attending Debi Hartlen MacDonald’s Bootcamp for the 2nd year in a row. We were all busy planning our strategies for 2010. It was my fifth year creating the same plan. The strategies and plans got better year after year. Did I get better at executing them? No.

I was tired of doing only ‘OK’ at the same thing 5 years in a row. I had an emotional reaction to something I knew intellectually all along: in order to be successful at training and development consulting, I needed to be selling 80-90% of the time. And selling is not something I want to spend my time doing. Talk about being disconnected from your personal values and preferences!

I realized my personal success factors had changed. I was evaluating my own success (or lack of) against things that are no longer important to me.

Once I got past that, it was easy to focus on things that I like doing and that help me achieve my new version of success. As a result, I took my business in a new direction last year… and love it.

Now my perception of SUCCESS is more closely tied to my perception of HAPPY. Being able to drop a thousand dollars on a whim no longer holds the same appeal it once did. I get to skip the 6am flights from Toronto to Newark and can do email in my PJs instead.