Posts Tagged ‘Productivity Skills’

R3H1: Could This Be the Answer to ALL Your Problems?

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2016

18123690_sWhat is your problem? It may not matter. R3H1 may be the one answer that directly solves about 98% of what is bugging you, getting in your way, and keeping you stressed.

R3H1 is my code for Rules, Routines, Rituals and Habits.

Arising from the science of project management, R3H1 gets you focused on working out the ideal process to overcome or complete something – anything. Then you simply follow through on the process steps you set out, rather than stressing about reaching the ideal goal.

Anytime you can substitute work for worry: you know you have a winning strategy.

Worrying is “illegitimate suffering,” per psychologist CG Jung and many others since Jung first studied neurosis.

Worrying keeps you circling a problem, but weirdly it also stops you from solving it. You simply cannot worry your way out of bad circumstances, unless you want to fall into victimhood and expect the charity of others – emotional or otherwise – to bail you out.

We all have the friend or co-worker who seems overwhelmed almost all the time. Each OMG episode somehow comes to a bumpy end and delivers relief, if not the ideal result. This is the person without a process who hosts a dinner party but doesn’t remember to get enough chairs to seat everyone. This is the friend who enrolled in a college course but can’t write or edit a term paper.

It’s you when you think you are crushing on someone and then you realize you hardly know the person. So you and all your friends must be consumed with worry about what your prospective romantic partner means by not texting, texting daily, or texting on a weekend but not asking you out.

Imagine if you had a process to follow that cut through all this suffering. Imagine how much you would enjoy a sense of accomplishment, plus the freedom and creativity you yearn to enjoy. Imagine if all the rules, routines, rituals and habits were ones you choose consciously, experiment with, and settle on.

Work, love, relationships, dinner parties, deadlines, big projects, and new job searches: anything becomes easier when you set up a process and follow it.

That is the greatest value of R3H1 to me. It is the source of confidence I have. Living with the rules, routines, rituals and habits I created for myself, leaves me with time to think, reflect, have fun, develop new ideas and love.

Love? Why would a personal brand need R3H1 to get the time and space to love? Isn’t it a basic human emotion? Yes. It’s just that getting time to act with love, engage with love and revel in love only occurs when there is time available to do it. I have to put a lot of my life into R3H1, so I can save my brain for big things and that includes relationships.

Do this. Whatever your problem is, document your current process in dealing with it. Consciously follow your process steps for a week. At the end of each day rate the results. How do you feel? What do you do right? What could you refine? What needs to change completely? Is there something that could give you a better arc toward your end goal?

Much like a food diary, a process diary gives you an objective look at your life. It’s private unless you are open to dialogue about it. You can select someone you trust – a partner, great friend or coach to help you talk through what steps you are taking – and which ones might bear changing.

For example, a client of mine made these three rules for leaving the house. “I make the bed, defrost the dog food, and get to work a half hour before I’m due for a meeting.” Her meetings became hugely successful because she felt confident. She felt mastery over her mornings, often the most chaotic part of our day.

So, if you are seeking a promotion, battling with a co-worker, going after a new career or building a business: consider each goal as an opportunity to document your process, review it, change it and get a bigger, better result in your life and work.

 

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Are You the Office Trick or Treat?

Wednesday, October 28th, 2015

36096388_mOrganizational leadership guru Adam Grant recently commented on what spoils a workplace culture. It’s surprisingly simple. It takes just one person to obliterate a collaborative, supportive and positive environment. It doesn’t have to be a person at the top. One mean-spirited, conniving, credit-hogging, work-shirking colleague will ruin your day, your week, or however long you can stand being employed in the same organization.

One rotten apple spoils the barrel.

But one good egg does not make a dozen.

It’s unfortunate to learn that one super-generous, caring and helpful colleague does not cancel out the dirty trickster.

In other words, an organization can’t neutralize a bad apple with a good egg.

That frustrates a lot of workers who enjoy their work and each other. No matter how large the group that gets along and happily produces great work, the impact of a negative, slacking, tattletale telling lout is an unstoppable, sickening virus.

In a client company that I consult with now, there is a really bad apple. In fact, he is a poison apple. He fakes illness. He doesn’t return emails. He verbally attacks junior staff. He demands help when he simply doesn’t want to do his own work.

This was an open secret before I arrived. Now it’s exploded – because he has finally lost the few allies who personally liked him despite his behavior at work.

There is only one answer. It’s a choice, really. He either gets fired or the company will devolve: making less profit, generating less revenue, getting less worker productivity and lots more errors because caring is wearing thin among the minions.

Company layoffs, financial belt-tightening and vulnerability to competitive threats are often laid at the feet of various departments. What went wrong? Did finance manage cash poorly or fail to secure the right financing? Did marketing make bad decisions about buyer behavior and preferences? Were sales reps not filling their prospecting funnels or selling upgrades and add-ons? Has R&D missed the category roadmap, or built when it should have acquired?

“WHAT went wrong?” is commonly asked; however, “what” is the beginning of the wrong question.

WHO went wrong? That’s the question few companies ask or address. Why?

It’s nearly impossible for top management to imagine that ONE person – something so granular in an organization – could be responsible for organizational dystopia or even its demise.

It’s difficult to imagine one person can infect an entire organization.

But, come off an airplane where one person coughed and sneezed throughout a five hour flight, and within the week you have a former planeload of passengers who are now just a bunch of sick people unable to work.

As Adam Grant advises: fire the taker, the faker, the bad seed and the trickster.

Like pruning my beloved rose trees so they can flourish again, I made that recommendation this week.

Watch this space. More will be revealed.

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Eliminate Excruciating Problems Fast With 1 Simple Rhyme

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2015

39788261_sYou know how badly you need some go-to life hacks that really work.

We all do. We need super effective strategies that don’t involve buying one more app, signing up for a new dashboard or watching instructions on YouTube.

You certainly don’t need to be touted about TaskRabbit or Fiverr or any of these so-called insta-help services, because they actually involve a ton of communication and constant checking up. You can quit pretending that a stranger is somehow committed to your success for the princely sum of 5 bucks.

I have coached people through a tidal wave of their worst problems. Some of them were involved in hundreds of micro-projects because big success is often a process of taking countless small steps.

What’s worse at this time in your life? You don’t have an abundance of anything. You don’t have a lot of space, money, time or support.

You are beginning to feel a weird kinship with whomever said, “If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself.”

You ARE doing most everything yourself. It’s the way work is set up now. You and everyone else are supposed to do more with less. That means less of you to do more of anything.

It’s like you are no longer a person, but more like a self-cleaning oven. You’re pressured to make it, bake it and clean it up fast. Then: next!

So I assembled one simple set of 11 rhyming words that can instantly cue an abundance of solutions.

These words stand in for heavy lifting like: project management, increased productivity, people skills, and perfected processes.

Whatever is stopping you cold or making you pull out your hair, see if any of these words lead you to a fast way past a problem you’re stuck on.

1. Mending (making a quick fix)

2. Sending (getting it off your desk)

3. Depending (on someone else to handle)

4. Lending (or borrowing)

5. Bending (think rules or “normal” ways of doing things)

6. Fending (off and avoiding certain people entirely)

7. Pending (leaving open to see if it’s really worth tackling)

8. Rendering (doing a quick draft and letting it go)

9. Tending (improving rather than wasting)

10. Vending (sell, sell, sell)

11. Wending (finding a way out, to do what you REALLY want to do)

That’s my 11 word rhyming solution set for life hacking some of the projects, processes and people who are driving you nuts, and weighing you down.

Love to hear if you have other action words that get you over the humps (rhyming or not). Email: Nance@NanceRosen.com. Subject line: Problems

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The #1 Relationship Problem That Stalls Your Career

Wednesday, January 21st, 2015

 

nance rosen, Productivity Skills, relationships, successAll of us have experienced “relationship” problems. You might have a problem with your girlfriend or boyfriend, life partner, parent, sibling, business partner, best friend, roommate, boss, coworker or even a neighbor. Really, given the number of people in your life, especially when you add your FB fame or any other cyber group you’re in: it’s amazing you have any ability to focus on anything in your career or business.

Focus is the greatest predictor of progress. Relationship problems get in the way of your ability to focus.

The worst relationship problem you have is with yourself.

It seems odd to think of yourself being in a relationship with yourself. But, you are. You reject yourself. Criticize yourself. Feel guilty about abusing your body. Feel out-of-control about your impulsive behavior. And, occasionally you feel good about yourself, even great – often because you’ve kept a resolution or promise you made to yourself.

Did you make resolutions this year? Like:

1. I will go to bed before midnight because experts say it’s good for my liver. FYI, depression experts say that staying up all night is an immediate and wildly effective intervention if you are suffering. Keep in mind, all-nighters are not part of a long term strategy because sleep deprivation is used for torture, as we found out in the last peek into CIA documents. But being depressed might be more important than your liver on any given day. And one night does not approach the torture threshold.

2. I will drop or add 10 pounds so I can look a lot more like Bradley Cooper, or like Bradley Cooper’s girlfriend. BGF: Thank you for posting those selfie bikini photos because apparently Bradley is incapable of giving you enough attention, so why not get more from random strangers? It’s clear your being photographed by the paparazzi when you’re with Bradley really isn’t as fulfilling as being photographed by yourself, by yourself.

3. I will stop smoking, biting my nails, yelling at my kids, drinking Diet Coke, texting while driving, using my finger nails as tools to scrape stuff off my desk, eating gluten, being a glutton or doing anything that in any way reduces my anxiety in ways that work in the moment, but make me feel bad later in the day, week, year or any period of time that I feel anxious. That time period would be called my life.

In other words: you make promises to yourself and break them all the time. Then you feel remorse, guilt, misery, and out-of-control.

Given that you probably don’t give yourself a time-out and sit in the corner, you probably push the self-recrimination under the proverbial rug and keep living your life. In other words: you don’t actually figure out the root of the problem or goal. You declare tomorrow is the day when you will really make progress on this goal.

That promise is a trance you put yourself in. It’s what I call a “stalling trance.” You delay your progress by a) making the promise and breaking it, and then b) making the promise again.

Because you don’t figure out what’s wrong with the promise or how to set up your environment so you will succeed: you are actually giving yourself the “silent treatment.”

Now, most people in relationships with others use the “silent treatment” to punish the offender. If you tell your romantic partner to bring home some milk, be nice to your parents, stop telling jokes in public or never again sing Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head at karaoke: and that demand is denied: what is the number one most common response?

The silent treatment. You simply stop talking to the offender, maybe for a day. More if it’s not the first offense, or whatever you decide as prosecutor, judge, jury and probation officer.

In psychology the silent treatment is called: the Demand/Withdraw dance. Actually, they don’t call it a dance, I do. It’s an awkward dance because you’re with this person, often sharing the same space, and you have to weirdly move around them, not talking. You withdraw from engaging in the relationship, by withholding communication. At least about the gross violation of your direct order.

You do the same thing with yourself. You demand certain behaviors of yourself that are not natural – at least not at first. You demanded that you stop over-eating. Or my favorite: stop procrastinating.

When you fail to follow your demands, a bunch of feelings roll in like a thick pea soup fog. No words. Just a sickening stomach churning, cheek burning embarrassment that you failed yourself. Again.

Disappointment and a sense of powerlessness over not just this failure, but all your past failures leave you speechless at how little self-control you have. Hence, the silent treatment. After all, what could you say?

How about speaking up with the best new resolutions you could have. “I will stop ordering myself around. I will catch myself doing things right. I will make a huge deal about anything that could be considered even the tiniest triumph.”

Or more simply: “I will like myself today.”

Repeat each day until it sticks.

That’s progress.

 

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A Surprising Physical Secret Behind Intelligent Thinking

Thursday, September 25th, 2014

indexTapping, typing and swiping give you instant access to all kinds of things you want. For example today on Buzzfeed, I tapped open a list of 37 ways to hack IKEA furniture so it looks a little less like IKEA furniture. I typed up a list on Workflowy, to organize the assets of a new learning program I’m about to launch. And, I swiped my credit card to pay for 1,000 monk grass seedlings to surround the treehouse I just built in my backyard.

My brain did almost nothing the entire day.

Turns out when we tap, type and swipe, we fail to engage our brains in a deep and meaningful way. With this device at our fingertips mentality, we are reduced down to poorly operating robots, because we’re simply following prompts, and even worse: we’re easily distracted.

As someone who spends the better part of 18 hours hooked up to a device of some kind almost every day, the new neuroscience on device dependency alarmed me. We are short-circuiting the thought process that comes from writing. The teacher who demanded you learn cursive or at least print out letters and numbers with a pen, pencil, crayon or piece of chalk actually knew best.

Apparently, the physical motion of writing with your hand and fingers while your eyes watch the characters emerge engages your brain in a powerful and positive way. One that cannot be mimicked by any other means, even that cool new feature where you can talk your texts and emails, and the device does the tapping, typing and swiping for you.

If you are in a position – or would like to be in a position where you are trusted to make decisions or advocate for your organization:

  • Push away from your device.
  • Remove your hands from your screen or keyboard.
  • Pick up a pen and get old school – literally.
  • It’s always a surprise when something simple is the fix for what ails you.

If you have been struggling with creativity, motivation, focus, assertiveness, or communication: consider getting out a pen and paper and simply writing down the problems you’d like to solve. Then write down what comes to mind, maybe some key words, a list or even just doodles.

Turns out going device free for a few moments every day might be the key to getting ahead in your career and business.

Uplugging? It’s not just for balance. It’s for business.

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Why the Good Survive and the Best Enjoy Success

Wednesday, August 13th, 2014

I believe there’s a list in the universe like the one we believe Santa keeps all year. At his annual retreat with senior elves, Santa wrestles with finite resources he allocates at the end of Q4, among all the good boys and girls. At work, the good get to come back next year, and keep doing what they’ve done. In a metaphysical context, the list of deeds you’ve been racking up becomes a karmic accounting of your character. As such, you’d be worried not about this year or even next, but rather how you’ll fare in the coming lifetimes. If you own a business you’re often basing what you can do in the afternoon, on what you’ve netted in the morning.

So whether your perspective is today, this year, next year or a lifetime from now, it’s a good moment to take stock of yourself. We’re more than half past 2014. We’re just in time to ask whether you see evidence that your stock is worth investing in, or would an objective analyst recommend a sell order.

I am mixing as many metaphors as I can, to help you consider two things.

Thing One: Are you the person you wished you would be, when you made resolutions?

Maybe those resolutions came at the beginning of this year, and maybe they are as old as a decade or more, when you thought a certain career or business would the highest and best use of you. Maybe you never got to do that thing you thought would be amazing, or maybe you did – and now feel like it’s a failure, you’re a failure or the company you keep is failing you.

The only three questions that matter right now are gross measures of success.

  • Are you doing as good as you thought you would?
  • Are you doing something better?
  • Are you the best you can be?

Thing Two: How are you going to approach the balance of this year?

Take advantage of summer doldrums, before the bite of a crisp autumn apple seduces you into believing you’ll get moving after the holidays.

Success never takes a holiday.

It’s never too late or too early to take one hour to review your goals, revise your course and even plan for your next big move. You might do this each week – I do my own “Is this success?” assessment, each Friday at 3 PM PT. This meeting appears on my iCal calendar, permanently. If I have to move it, I get an automated prompt with one of the scariest messages I’ve ever received:

Do you want to change all events in the future?

Sometimes I do. Not just the weekly calendared hour with myself to ask “Is this success?”

Sometimes I want to redefine success entirely. So I do.

Perhaps you need to ask, with a blank paper in front of you:

  • What is the best use of me?
  • What is the depth of misery?
  • What is the height of awesomeness?

You and I grow up a little every day. It pays off to take stock of whether this is the best we can be, or is this just good enough – even when it’s a bit better than the last time we checked.

Kick this day, this week, this year and your career into high gear. Set the best expectations for yourself. Revisit and repeat. Each week let your brain route the shortest, most joyful course to what you want. What you really, really want.

When you take time to see yourself at your best, you’re it.

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The One Word that Truly Predicts Success

Wednesday, May 7th, 2014

4367573_sAll successful people in business do some of the same things really well. They have mastery over 1) productivity, 2) connectivity, and 3) clarity about priorities. When you look at these three characteristics, they all boil down to one word. That one word is FOCUS.

Focus and Productivity

One of the most awesome characteristics of successful people is their productivity. They get a lot done in a minimum amount of time. They make stuff happen fast, not because they are working machines. Often they have tricks or shortcuts that simply double or triple their output.

TIP #1: Batch your work to become a master of productivity.

For every thing you must do more than once: do a bunch in one session. For example, if you use social media regularly: write up several educational or “evergreen” posts or tweets. “Evergreen” includes material that your community would benefit from, no matter what else is going on in the news. Then schedule them to post automatically.

Focus and Connectivity

Another remarkable aspect of successful people is their connectivity. When you look at who’s invited to TED, Aspen Institute, and other gatherings: you see a mix of movers and shakers in technology, media, healthcare, non-profit, government, and other fields. Successful people know a whole spectrum of other important people from different industries.

TIP #2: Scout your locations to become a master of connectivity

Think of yourself as a talent scout. The biggest mistake I see at Starbucks is the “ear buds in, eyes down” posture. That is a sure fire way to never meet anyone. Whether you go into a classroom, webinar, coffee shop or store: situate yourself so that you can greet other people and ask a question about what they do.

Focus and Priorities

Successful people are 100% clear about what matters, and needs to get done, in what order. Simply put: they do the next thing next.

Tip #3 Deny the distractors to become a master of priorities.

Give yourself a big pat on the back each time you prevent something from pulling you off track. Set your phone alarm every two hours, so you know when you can take a break and check your texts, emails and calls. Eat breakfast so you don’t meander away from your work to find a snack. Book your work in advance onto your calendar, just like you would a meeting or date.

Can you tell me what’s been stopping you from being productive, connected or staying with your priorities? Email me at Nance@NanceRosen.com. Subject line: Focus.

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The Great Big Secret About Getting Organized

Thursday, May 1st, 2014

Out-of-OfficeGo on vacation.

Then go on another vacation.

These don’t have to be long holidays. Just long enough so someone has to take over your desk, your projects, water your plants, feed your cat or otherwise substitute for your being absent. That is a great way to rush yourself into putting things in order.

If you take two vacations in close succession – even for two days at a time each – you will have not only organized things once, but then you’ll take second pass at putting away all your odds and end. You will come home to organization nirvana.

Leaving is the greatest motivation for putting things in order.

I had heard this advice a few years ago from my productivity guru David Allen. His book Getting Things Done, along with his workshops; have formed the basis of my organization code. His system is complicated, especially the organization of folders and worksheets to keep yourself on track and almost ceaselessly productive.

It is worth the pain of sifting through your stuff to get the gains from knowing where everything is, and throwing away anything that isn’t relevant to your work now or in the future. To anyone with common sense, getting organized seems like a fundamental tool of success.

The problem I have is a common one. My big time investments are typically for other people: clients, co-workers, getting stuff to vendors, helping out friends and family. I always thought that spending time going through my old emails, putting all my website codes in a list, much less sorting through documents in my files and white shirts in my closet was kind of selfish.

I have always been reluctant, nearly unable, to make myself a priority.

Then, I accidentally scheduled two short holidays very close together. In both cases, my work had to be accessible to a colleague in case something went wrong while I was away. Aha! David Allen is right. Preparing to go away, and “helping” someone take over for me, was the answer to nearly microscopic cleansing of my computer and workspace.  Here’s what I have found.

Being organized allows you to be free. Free to holiday. Free to nap. Free to be creative, enthusiastic, clear-headed and successful.

I will be out the next four days, and everyone is better for it. So, go away!

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