Success by routines

August 30, 2017

Are you feeling rested, refreshed and energised to launch full-steam ahead into the Autumn? Perhaps for you or some colleagues, “exhausted and glad the kids are going back to school is more like it”?!

However you’re feeling as August comes to a close, the Autumn does tend to be a really productive – dare we say, ‘busy’ – few months where the natural lull in routine created by the summer gives way to full-scale activity.

Here’s a warning right away. As you well know, activity doesn’t equal productivity. Being busy and working hard doesn’t guarantee results.

With this in mind, my ‘one-percent’ recommendation is that you take some time to review and re-establish your routines – the regular habits that keep you on track. After a break in the norm, it can take more effort than we think to get back into good work habits rather than starting with email and seeing where the day takes us!

There are key activities that if practised routinely, make a huge difference to your productivity. Here are just a few examples:

– 10 magic minutes daily planning
– week review & planning meetings
– regular team meetings and one-to-one’s
– booked out periods of uninterrupted time
– finishing work at a set time to do other stuff!

I’m sure you could add to the list. Give it some thought and make a conscious effort (& book it it the diary!) to re-establish those routines that will help you stay a little bit more in control, focused on your high-payoff activities and working towards important goals over the next few months.

Here’s to a fantastic September!

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Eight stops to Swiss Cottage

December 8, 2014

The scene was one I’m sure you’re familiar with. Hundreds of people swarming off the train having just arrived at a London Mainline station and rushing on to their familiar short hop on the tube, or outside to jump in a taxi, or perhaps preferring to walk across the City whilst taking in some snapshots of architectural genius…breathtaking creations that are so often missed in the hurly-burly of another ordinary, busy, so-much-to-get-done day in Metropolis.

For me this particular Tuesday it was a little bit different. I’m not incredibly familiar with Central London but I can find my way around OK on my usual routes. Today I was heading somewhere I’d never been before. As I came out onto the main station concourse, I flipped out my phone and opened the Tube Map app to sort out where I needed to be going.

No direct line. Damn. Need to engage brain.

IMG_2080

I stared at the tiny map for an age and was getting nowhere. Way too many options, massive indecision leading to temporary mental paralysis!

Plan B – head down the steps and find one of those large spaghetti maps just before you go through the barriers. That’s better. Make the map larger and it’s much easier to get perspective. Select my line – the first one at least. Choose a destination. Find the platform, board the train and then watch, eagle-eyed, as we pass each station on the way to where i get off.

Time to re-calibrate. Next line. Where am I now? Where do I get off?The big picture map is great but when it comes to making specific progress I need to simplify it right down to a one-line process where I can easily mark my progress.

I’m heading for Swiss Cottage. I’m at London Bridge. That’s eight stops away. In the middle of a million people and ten million thoughts, I need a really simple way of knowing where I am, where I’m going and how many stops to get there.

IMG_2079That’s why I love it when I get to the platform and see one of these maps (eyes right)! Us human beings function much better in the middle of a busy day with the second kind of map rather than the first. Sure we need the big picture and the strategic plan about how it all connects together. All of that should be put together away from the front line where our thinking is clearer and our focus undiluted. Stepping out into the hubbub of the day I need a simple, crystal-clear one page plan that plots my route from A to B and tells me exactly which line I’m on (I don’t want choices now) and how many stops to Swiss Cottage!

Translating all of this into the reality of our lives, our businesses, and all the stuff we have to get done, the obvious lesson is that we need both kind of maps. So many individual leaders and management teams I’ve worked with have struggled to create the proper ‘big map’ or, having done that well, have then failed to translate that on a daily and weekly basis into the single line map that plots the fastest and most effective path from where we are now to the next identified milestone.

One of the most valuable habits to develop in this respect is the ‘Ten Magic Minutes’ – ten minutes spent planning before setting off on the journey of any day to establish what must be done, in what order, in which time slots and exactly what ‘finished’ looks like, or in other words, translating the ‘big map’ into today’s single line. The same thing when you get there – ‘Ten Magic Minutes’ to review, note the escalator repairs at Green Park for the next six weeks and alter the route for next time!  Obvious really, but it’s amazing what comes into focus during an ordinary Tuesday on the London Underground!


A simple lesson from school we stupidly forgot!

July 25, 2013

Do you remember being at school and worrying about how you were going to fit everything in? I mean, it was crazy – so many different things going on, way too much to remember!

How on earth did we manage to fit in Maths, English, French, History, Geography, General Studies (!), Chemistry, Biology, P.E., R.E., Physics….the list goes on.

And yet, as I recall it, I never once fretted about how I was going to manage to squeeze in enough lessons of each subject to get through the curriculum and be ready for exams at the end of it.

Why not?

Simple. We had a timetable.

This is very profound. We had a schedule to follow that allocated blocks of time for each subject that would allow us sufficient number of hours working on the material that would prepare us for the end goal – passing exams.

Why is it then that having left school, and with just as many different things coming our way in life and in work, that we tend to wing it…hoping we’ll manage to fit it all in, responding to the things that shout loudest, often leaving insufficient time for seriously important things.

Solution? Simple. Timetable it.

The creation of a weekly timetable, or Time Picture, as we call is, is often one of those massive ‘light bulb moments’ for our clients as the realisation dawns…

“You don’t find time; you schedule it.”

We used to know that in school. We forgot.


Getting started

January 26, 2013

If you are anything at all like me, you’ll be sat reading this with a
head full of 1001 things you’d like to do, want to do, need to do or
generally feel that you probably should get round to do.

I am continually amazed with these kind of things how often (not
always, but pretty often) once I get going on something, having put
aside some time to do it  (or it just became really desperate and I
just HAD to do it), it takes a less effort and is more enjoyable than
it felt like it would be before I got started.

So here’s a simple idea that I’ve started using myself. If you got
something that seems pretty big and daunting that you need to get
done, just block an hour to get started on it. Having done that,
continuing with it might just be a lot simpler than you thought!


Nick’s Nuggets (getting stuff done) episode 2

November 21, 2012

Book appointments with yourself for getting your most important pieces of work done today.


non comprendez

July 5, 2012

One of the key elements for organisations to perform to their potential is effective communication amongst its team members, as well as with clients, suppliers, associates etc, and yet its so often done poorly…with damaging results.

“They just don’t seem to get it!”

“Why don’t they do what I’ve asked them to?”

“Its like we’re talking a different language!”

We regularly find that investing in the establishment of a ‘common language’ when it comes to communication is a really simple and effective way to an easy win. Tools such as the Communication Styles profile, simple meeting planner and delegation planner documents, as well as a using the same system and terminology for the handling of calender commitments and task prioritisation can have a massive impact.

The result? Less misunderstanding and stress; improved productivity; enhanced relationships and team morale; improved company reputation; more profit!

Sound like this would help you? I’d wholeheartedly recommend the LMI ‘Success Workshop’, and if you quote ‘non comprendez’ when you book for the next July 27th date, you’ll get £50 discount…and this also comes with a 100% money back guarantee!