meetings

Productive living is about project management not time management

The thing about time is it will pass you by, whether you are busy, idle, wholly aware of it, or completely oblivious to the seconds ticking on.

Ultimately, we all suffer from time poverty because the number of hours in the day are fixed. Like the law of conservation of energy – energy cannot be created or destroyed, it can only change form, we can’t create more time we can only make it useful by what we do with the time we have.

Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that is the stuff life is made of.”  Benjamin Franklin

We care about time management because we are trying to cram more things done into the little time we all have.

The key to getting more stuff done is to have the right mental models, tools, and processes in place. Highly productive people aren’t necessarily lucky or smarter than you, they simply have built better habits. You’ll need better habits, no matter which system you adopt or invent.

Most people don’t manage complex projects with huge risks that need to be mitigated, involve many stakeholders, or have project life cycles that span years and geographies. Luckily, for most of us life isn’t that complicated. Most of us have to simply juggle between our various personal and professional actions, deliverables, to-dos, and calendar events. The trouble is it isn’t that simple and one tool probably won’t do the trick.

“It’s not enough to be busy, so are the ants. The question is, what are we busy about?”  Henry David Thoreau

Here is an assortment of tools and principles that I find useful and how I use them.

Image of Calendars, Planning, and Electronic Organization Tools put in perspective - Delightability LLC

The Distracting Idea

First Principle – Ideas often come at inconvenient times.
Tool I use – I separate ideas from execution using the PlayGround to capture ideas and the PlayBook to document what I’ve committed to. Periodically I review all ideas and then decide if I’ll add them to my PlayBook. I don’t let the “idea du jour” distract me from what I’ve already committed to.

Sight-line to the Future

The PlayBook is where I track the next 90 days or so by week. I show all of my major events, milestones, and the deliverables that I need to create or big actions I’ll need to track. It is fast and uses sticky notes so I can reconfigure it if I change priorities. I have a more granular view on my paper calendar but the PlayBook keeps me tracking to my overall plan and most importantly, makes work visible.

Good old Fashioned Calendar with a Twist

In addition to the PlayBook calendar, I also use an electronic calendar. In my case I use Google calendar on the computer and my phone. Because the electronic calendar is poorly configured, not instantly glance-able and lacks the “doodle” factor I also carry a printed calendar that I can capture notes on or affix a sticky note to. I have a paper calendar for each week and also note the week number. This is a feature you can turn on in Google calendar by the way.

Making Communications Visible is Key

I configure SMS alerts for reminders tied to my electronic calendar. I also use Highrise as a CRM tool to track prospects and assign future f/u tasks which are emailed to me as a reminder. But, for the week I’m in I print a communication/follow-up sheet. This sheet shows the person I need to follow up with, what I need to provide them, and whether the communications will be phone, face-to-face, email, or direct mail. If you meet many people you are likely creating a card graveyard on your desk. I was too, before I adopted this system.

Print or Electronic?

Second Principle – the best answer is usually “It Depends.”
If you use your phone as your calendar and you are talking on your phone then you are blind to your calendar. If you need to add a note, do it directly in your printed calendar, so you don’t have to write it down twice. Also, in the event your phone is in need of a charge, you’ll still have your weekly plan, right there in plain sight.

Spatial Adjacency is Good for your Brain

If you keep your old calendars and communication/follow-up sheets you’ll be able to review them at a glance while eating breakfast or celebrating a job well done. Your brain will likely recognize patterns and see new connections. These insights will spawn additional ideas and you’ll know what to do with them because you read this post and followed the First Principle above.

This may seem like a lot of items but if you build a success system and good habits to reinforce your system, then it will be more natural to use it than to operate randomly, poorly execute, suffer from time poverty, and ultimately didn’t-get-it-done-itis.

Learn more at the Big Idea Toolkit website and blog.

Category : Blog

So… what did you learn?

Start Stop Continue Review - Delightability LLC

Here is the situation.  You’ve just completed that latest software build or that big fundraising event.  You’re going full steam ahead to the next opportunity.  You’re at capacity so you don’t really want to spend time talking about the past, especially those things that didn’t go well.  And you certainly wouldn’t want to have difficult conversations with colleagues. We’ve heard the cautionary tales about Look Back – Fall Back, Negative Target Fixation, or Don’t Trample my Elephant.

Sometimes you have to slow down, in order to speed up.

 

Project Meeting Event Debrief from Delightability LLC

But, the other side of this is your next project will only be as good as your last project, plus “what you do different.”  If you don’t learn anything  then you’re not likely to do anything different. You wouldn’t intentionally enter your next assignment with your biases, blind-spots, and developmental needs all exactly where you left them at your last project, would you?

There are 3 tools that are easy to use that can speed your individual and group learning so that you can be a higher performing team even if that team is only “me, myself, and I.”

Visit the Feedback and Learning page to see how to use these tools and download the full size PDFs for free.

 

 

 

 

Category : Blog

Does Your High Performing Team Have a Different Mental Space for Ideas and Execution?

The highest performing teams don’t need “team building” events because they are already a higher performing team doing the many little things that make the team flow and work well together. Like a good Jazz trio they have a rough plan but can improvise and work off of each other as necessary. Resorting to trust falls and wailing on each other with padded sticks won’t make a low performing team soar.

We’ve found that high performing teams are fully engaged and have a different mental space for dealing with ideas versus working the execution of the plan. We’ve incorporated these realities into the Big Idea Toolkit by including a PlayGround and PlayBooks.

the PlayGround from the Big Idea Toolkit - Delightability, LLC.The PlayGround is where high performing teams capture and share ideas. Embrace the notion that ideas can come from anywhere and will often come at times inconvenient. If you still boast an annual planning cycle then you’re probably blind to the best idea which may come the days following the completion of your annual planning. Being blind to ideas that could move your company forward can be detrimental and may serve to disengage the employee or partner whose ideas are ignored. Funny psychological thing is, it is more important to have your idea captured and heard than actually implemented. People like to be heard, respected, and valued. Ignore this reality and you are a dead brand walking.

You know the old adage, ideas are a dime a dozen. Well, in the internet age, they’re actually even cheaper, they’re free. Ideas are great but unless acted on they’ll make no impact in the real world. That is what the PlayBook is for.

Publishing a shared PlayBook reminds a high performing team what they have committed to.

Publishing a shared PlayBook reminds a high performing team what they have committed to. Shared commitment and visibility are prerequisites for excellence in execution. Actions, deliverables, owners, and dates provide the team with clarity on the who, what, and when of execution. Using a weekly 4-Square Personal Action plan further individualizes the PlayBook deliverables so each team member knows what they are doing each step along the way.the PlayBook with a High Performing Team - from the Big Idea Toolkit - Delightability, LLC

Using the PlayGround and PlayBooks helps a team to form productive habits that will help them to make a bigger impact in the world. Use them alone or as part of the complete Big Idea Toolkit and pretty soon, your higher performing team will be celebrating yet another win. And… when you do if you want to celebrate with some trust falls or a stick fight, more power to you.

Category : Blog

If you want Better Results, then have Better Conversations

Most of the problems that small teams and organizations have can be attributed to the conversations that don’t take place.  Ever have an unproductive meeting?  Sure, who hasn’t.  Well, with the Big Idea Toolkit you can change the conversation.   Used in its entirety or as components focused on “where you’re at”, it will surely help to quell any biases and wandering and enable you to have a productive conversation.

Category : Blog

About Us

Like you we get ideas. We are all idea people. The Big Idea Toolkit was born out of our recognition that people have ideas but get stuck at all stages of bringing those ideas to life. We hope you find this toolkit and site gives you a nudge, a process to follow, and inspiration to make your ideas a reality. Thank you to our clients who told us - "You guys should make this a product available to others." We are Delightability, LLC and we believe if you Delight Customers - Success will Follow. more..

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