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Archive for the ‘Productivity’ Category

Energy Audit: How Do You Manage Under Pressure?

In this article Tony Schwartz shares some alarming numbers he sees when conducting his 'energy audit' with groups of senior managers and leaders: 77% said they had trouble focusing on one thing at a time. 80% said they take too little time to think strategically and creatively, and spend too much of their time reacting to immediate demands rather than focusing on activities with long-term value and higher leverage. 54% said they often feel impatient, frustrated or irritable at work, especially when demand gets high, How effective can people possibly be when our energy is so compromised? Which is to say nothing of the distraction, impatience and irritability that we can end up taking home with us to the ones we love the most! Maintaining energy is not something that only senior mangers need to focus on, it's relevant for all of us. This article reminded me of an energy exercise I did too. "Energy is like a bank account" said Nikki Fogden-Moore, "think of the things that you do and the people that you’re with as either making deposits or withdrawals in that account." I am writing down, in two columns as instructed, the things that renew my energy in column one and the things that deplete it in the other column. As I’m finishing this exercise I can almost feel the light bulb go off over my head. I can choose to manage some of the additional pressures when I’m under work pressure to keep the pressure cooker from exploding and leaving a mess on the walls by just making some small adjustments that will keep my energy levels in a better place. It was a great exercise and I highly recommend that you give it a go, it's really a head space that you need to get into to really think about what renews and what depletes.  Here are some simple guides that I’ve developed over years of project delivery to keep myself nice(ish) when the delivery tunnel hits. Reduce the stress by reducing contact (where possible) with people and situations that are a stretch. This doesn’t mean I get to opt-out of project delivery or stop working with people who I find difficult, dysfunctional or not as diligent and competent as hoped. That must continue to get the project finalised and over the line with everyone in the best possible state. It means that channelling what I have into the project delivery and family is all there is. Almost everything else must pause; therefore reducing pressure in areas of my life I can control. Opting out of some of the more discretionary social engagements, and opting in to things that create good sleep and help me to maintain my health (both mental and physical). I will catch up with those people after the project pressure has passed. Getting each day off to a good start has been a continuous improvement project for years! I’ve varied my morning routines over the years and often get fed up with it and change it about. The fact that the guy who owns the café where I’m sitting just greeted me with ‘it’s like groundhog day’ means that others note there’s a routine. Habits and routines reduce decision making, which means some tasks like exercise and what to eat for breakfast go onto auto-pilot. If I don’t have to decide it makes it easier. We’ve been talking about good habits this quarter (internally) and the 6R team are all committed to morning exercise and getting moving. Some of us are more committed to caffeination than others though, but we all try to... Find ways to create little mental breaks in the day. Building in small sanity breaks also makes the day easier and keeps us as a team, in better mental health (even just a walk to move the car). It gets the body moving and gets us out from behind the screens to just take a little break. I’ve also, this year, adopted a small break approach to holidays. This was not the exact plan, but when I  found that a ten-day break was just not workable, we made the best of five days and found that it was more than enough! Doing something different from the regular routine meant I returned feeling refreshed with new energy. Not to say that there isn't more to go on the development side - no one is ever done on the improvements but these small and practical things have helped me get through energy slumps.

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Small Actions that Reduce ‘Organisational Drag’

I hate waiting. I’m bad at queues, being on hold, traffic that’s not moving, and anything else that feels like a waste of time.  Being ready to go for a meeting with only a few of the meeting participants in the room is frustrating, and something I put effort into avoiding. The average company loses more than 20 per cent of its productive power to organisational drag — all the practices, procedures, and structures that waste time and limit output. 20 per cent, that's one fifth of the working week! Or another way to think about it is that one day a week is dedicated to all sorts of over communication, meetings that are unnecessary and complex bureaucratic processes that stifle peoples capacity to get stuff done. It's something that we often observe ourselves in delivery of projects. The symptoms of the 'drag' are everywhere; calendars that are back to back, meetings that lack purpose and focus (and go for too long), emails that pile up and the complexity of so many people involved in every decision.  This article talks about organisational drag is like it's a chronic disease, it needs constant management, or it completely overtakes your organisation. Anything that takes constant management requires discipline and consistency, and taking back control of the meeting process is one small step we can take to reduce the 'drag.' Meetings are seen often as a necessary evil, something that many people ‘love to hate’ they complain about them running over time or being disjointed, and off topic but then contribute to this problem by running late themselves and introducing items that are not relevant to the discussion. I read a lot of advice that emphasises the importance of forming good habits. Some good habits are considered ‘cornerstone behaviours’ and in life, cornerstones that are advocated for are: exercise, eating well, and getting enough sleep. If these are the cornerstone habits of making stuff work in life and health, then when it comes to organisations you can gauge a lot from behaviours like meeting culture and the state of common areas. Consider ‘meeting approach’ one of the cornerstone habits of an organisation. In projects, it’s important to establish good meeting habits early in the engagement with clients. I consider it one of the small things that we do that builds trust and consistency. Being on time and ready for meetings is something that contributes to the time we spend together being productive and useful for everyone. If I start on time and finish on time (or early) and participants come prepared with what they’re supposed to do and make themselves ready for the conversation, we get a lot done. To me, this is about creating a good working relationship. And if I stuff up, I own it and make every effort not to do that again. Small behaviours have a ripple effect. A project participant recently told me “I’ve have been more prompt generally since you’ve been here!” She was talking about more than work. She has taken me seriously on starting meetings on time and meeting deadlines and it has spread to other aspects of her / and life too. Small habits make a difference. Showing up on time and being prepared for the conversation is a good cornerstone habit to put effort into in your projects and business. What other good habits make a difference for you?

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