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The Results Curve: How to Manage Focused and Collaborative Time

Less-Is-More Blog by Pierre Khawand

Do your tasks with an attitude! 6 ways to develop an "attitude"

Posted by Pierre Khawand on Sun, Nov 29, 2009 @ 10:56 AM

time managment tipsOur tasks can take much more time than necessary. This tends to happen more so when we are dreading the task for one reason or another, our motivation is low, and we would rather be doing something else or not doing anything at all. We try to keep at it, and hope that miraculously we will get it done, and it keeps expanding and spiraling into this never-ending thing as our resistance grows and grows.

Now consider this. It is a similar task but on a different day or time. But this time, we happen to be in a good "mood". Life is good for whatever reason. We are motivated. We are moving faster (mentally and physically). We seem to stumble upon creative ways to address issues that once before were challenging or even overwhelming.

Wouldn't be nice to be able to somehow inject a doze of the latter "attitude" in the former situation and turn things around.

Here are some "attitude" changers to consider and act upon

1. Stop! There is no point in going when our wheels are spinning in place. We are not getting anywhere anyway. We are hitting the diminished return area on the Results CurveTM. Stopping may involve resetting expectations, but whatever it takes, we need to stop!

2. Play! Go as far away from the task as you can, mentally and physically. Whether a 5 minute meditational exercise, a 10 minute walk, or a dance class, or whatever it takes to dissolve whatever it is that is getting a hold of our motivation. The Now Habit goes as far as suggesting scheduling play time first before getting to the task time.

3. Better Manage Stress! It is possible that there are some underlying issues that are causing us more stress and worry than usual and that are confiscating our energy and our motivation. No matter how hard we try to solve the surface issues, if not addressed, these underlying issues will continue to slow us down. The thing to do is to address them one way or another. Refer to chapter 10 in The Accomplishing More With Less Workbook for some practical techniques.

4. Divide & Conquer! Divide the task into smaller components. Make each component no longer than 30 or even better 40 minutes worth of effort. Reset your own expectation about how long this task will take based on your new plan.

5. Acknowledge "effort"! Instead of being only end-results driven in this case, it would help us to shift our mind to "effort" instead of "results." Maybe counter-intuitive, but this may be exactly what we need to get over the hump and get to the end results. Don't forget to reward yourself along the way as you make progress.

6. Reach out! Reach out and get support in whatever way, form, or shape is applicable. Never Eat Alone emphasizes that more often than not, people are willing to help and we just need to ask, and we need to help them help us.

Happy new "attitude"!


Topics: time management tips, getting organized

Our mind is amazing at coming up with excuses! I urge you to stop and do the "right" thing!

Posted by Pierre Khawand on Thu, Nov 19, 2009 @ 11:20 AM

time management tipsI needed to dive into this task that I reserved time for on my calendar which was to prepare for a Lotus Notes training session. I scheduled this on my calendar because it is important and I would like to get it done soon. To tell you the truth, lotus notes is not my favorite. I know my IBM friends may be a bit disappointed, but I think deep down, they know that too. So my mind came up with several interesting excuses, giving me great reasons and alibis for not doing what I know is the "right" thing for now.

Excuse #1 (my mind talking to me): "You need to post the blog entry that you promised your SharePoint participants earlier this week."

Excuse #2: "How about catching up on e-mail, making sure you're up-to-date, and no important issues outstanding before you dive into your focused Lotus Notes session."

Excuse #3: "And there is this preparation for this other presentation tomorrow, don't you want to at least capture your initial ideas in a rough draft?"

Well, I decided to fall for Excuse #4 (i.e. my mind came up with a new one that was very plausible and very difficult for me to resist) and that is to share these thoughts with you as they are happening. And then no more excuses after that. There is one and only one thing to do after this blog entry is posted. This would be facing the task. Facing Lotus Notes head to head!

Your to-do?

getting organizedCheck-in with yourself right now, as you read this blog entry, what is it that you are avoiding or postponing? What is your "Lotus Notes". Finish what you're doing, and tackle this important task head it to head.  Dedicate the next 40 minutes (not 30, but 40) to be fully focused on this task!

Write to me afterwards any reflections you might have had and the results were.


Topics: time management tips, getting organized

Are you spending too much time getting organized? Or no time at all? Here is how to optimize!

Posted by Pierre Khawand on Mon, Nov 16, 2009 @ 10:51 AM

It seems that many of the people we talk to fall in one of these two categories. Either they spend too much time on organizing (these are the persistent few) or they have largely given up on organization (the more common scenario) and they feel out of control most of the time. Is there however an optimum amount of organization that would be feasible for most of us and yet give us the best return?

This graph, which resembles to some degree the Results Curve(tm) graph that I have been teaching in our Accomplishing More With Less workshop and workbook, describes the returns that we get from the time spent on organization, and below are some related note:

Getting Organized 

  • There is a minimum amount of organization that we all need, and without it, our lives are likely to be chaotic, stressful, and unfulfilled. 
  • The minimum amount of organization is a lot less than what you might think, and if done strategically, it is likely to bring big returns. 
  • There is an optimum amount of organization that if we go beyond it, we would be doing so at the expense of more important activities and therefore incur a very high opportunity cost.
  • Both lack of organization as well as organizing beyond the optimum point are equally disadvantageous. While Eric Abrahamson and David H. Freedman, authors of A Perfect Mess, suggest that disorder is far more advantageous than order (and that most organizational systems are a waste of time), I wouldn't go that far. I promote an optimum level or organization which I also believe is different for each person.

Your to-do's

  1. Reflect on where you are on the organizational curve above and find out where you are on this scale. 
  2. If you think you are under-organized, identify an area where some additional organization would give you high returns and act on it. 
  3. If you think you are over-organized at the expense of more important initiative and activities, identify an area where you can reduce your effort and make room for more strategic things. 
  4. Keep an eye on organizational tips and see what might work for you. Subscribe to this blog and to similar ones and contribute your comments and get engaged!

Topics: time management tips, getting organized

Taking the 3Rs of environmental awareness to your productivity practices

Posted by Pierre Khawand on Tue, Oct 20, 2009 @ 06:23 AM

Environmentally aware consumers are producing less waste by practicing the "3 Rs": Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. When it comes to productivity and accomplishments, we can use these same guidelines and reap some enormous benefits:

Reduce = Reduce the scope

Follow the 80/20 rule which says "80% of our results come from 20% of our effort". Reduce the scope of most tasks by focusing on the core parts that produce the highest returns, and reduce or even eliminate the parts that are less impactful.

Reuse = Reuse what you do

Work on items that have multiple "applications" and that can be leveraged in many ways. If you are creating a marketing collateral for instance, could it be used on the website and on the blog. But don't stop here! Why not include an excerpt and a link to the blog entry in your newsletter. 

Recycle = Recycle the useful parts

Reflect on the projects and activities that you do, and see if you can identify components that can be repurposed. It maybe the actual content, the logic, or the process that can be adapted or re-engineered and then redeployed.

Try them out and report back

With applying the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle principles to managing your priorities and tasks, you are likely to discover valuable time management tips, streamline your getting organized effort, and even succeed at better managing stress!

Topics: time management tips, getting organized, managing stress

"To do or not to do, that is the question!" 3 ways that can help you get more accomplished

Posted by Pierre Khawand on Wed, Aug 29, 2007 @ 07:22 AM

to-do listYou have this long to-do list, and items keep getting added to it, and the list gets longer and longer. So what do you do? Here are three suggestions that can help.

First: Acknowledge and accept the fact that this "overgrown to-do list" phenomena is a "reality" that is associated with today's information overload. It is a "reality" and we can choose to surrender to, instead of defying it. Paradoxically, if we surrender to it, and give up the idea and wishful thinking that we will do it all, we are likely to free up more of our energy and get more accomplished.

Second: Another way to look at it is to redefine your to-do list from being the traditional "rigid" to-do list that needs to get done, to being a "choice" list from which you choose what you will do. The key to success is choosing strategically what to do, and negotiating strategically what not to do.

Third: Create a new kind of list. The "not-to-do" list. These are items that you intentionally decide not to do.  Instead of dragging them along on your to-do list, and dragging along the guilt and negative energy associated with it, make that conscious decision of not doing them. Once more, choosing and negotiating strategically are key.

So "to-do or not-to-do" is the new question that you want to consider when faced with to-do items, and maybe some of these items that come your way, can immediately make it to the not-to-do list.


Topics: time management tips, getting organized