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Fresh Start On Your 2018: 9 Time Management Tips

2018 is knocking at our doors and as we review the hits and misses of 2017, we should also make better commitments rather than new years resolutions for the coming year. Time management can make or break your success in 2018. Start 2018 off with a fresh start. Imagine being focused more on how to utilize your time and resources to the fullest, without overwhelming yourself.

Here are 9 time management tips to make you more productive in 2018.

1. Less News, More Motivation

Einstein said that Everything is Energy and I say Energy is everything. We need to fill ourselves up with positive energy and create more positive energy and motivation to inspire ourselves and others. In order to do that, we have to reduce the amount of unproductive energy we surround ourselves with. So stop watching the news. If you are filling yourself up with news when you wake up and when you go-to bed, there is so much unproductive energy filtering through your system at the key times of the day that you need just the opposite energy.

Take your morning time and focus more on motivating yourself to achieve the goals you have set. Review your goals, meditate, workout, practice gratitude and journal. The news is fine in the right quantity and at the right time of day.

I challenge you to change your habits around watching the news for 2 weeks and just recognize how much better you feel.

2. Stop Over-Committing And Start Saying No

I know you care deeply about others and about the world around you. You also cant be everything to everyone. Over-committing is only reducing your energy, your joy and your compassion. It is time to say no. No doesn’t have to be no, not ever. Maybe it is a no for now. The sooner you start saying no, the better.

Saying No to things that are not in line with your goals and vision, gives you more time and energy to YES to the things that matter most. Being honest with yourself and others about your priorities will set you free.

3. Stop Wasting Time On Social Media

Is social media an important part of your life? Its great to catch up with people and post a few things but set a timer and be very clear how much time you want to dedicate to it because it can be a rabbit hole that sucks you into hours of unproductive time.

There is a time for work and a time for play. Use social media when taking a break from work or at the end of the day. Don’t use it to distract yourself during work. This only leaves you frustrated at the end of the day, not because you didn’t get the things on your to-do list done but you know the reason why was avoidable.

Set a timer and keep yourself focused.

4. Stop Impulsively Checking Your Phone And Start Focusing

Addiction to one’s phone is a great challenge for us all. I know addiction is a strong word but it is. People texting and driving coming from an addiction to connect and not being able to wait until we get to the destination to respond. Complete impulsive behavior. We know it is dangerous yet we do it anyway. Impulsive.

You can control the impulse by putting your phone out of reach and turning it off. Every time you have the desire to reach for it, laugh and say no. This will break the pattern of the impulse and reduce the number of impulses until you can be free from it.

This is definitely a decision you need to make in advance and set yourself up in your environment for success. Be focused on what you want which is to be free of this impulsive behavior versus your primal impulse.

5. Stop Complaining And Start Doing Something About It

It is far to easy to complain, criticize and blame others for things that don’t go right in our lives. The fact is that doesn’t help you get what you want and will actually keep you from getting what you want. Reaching your goals for 2018 has to start with personal responsibility and accountability.

If you are not happy with your life, then change it. If you aren’t happy with your results, change your approach. Be proactive in planning for how you can best support yourself when the going gets rough, because as the expression goes- the tough get going. It has to be something you are 100% committed to and focus on the behavior and next steps to focus n to get you there.

6. Plan Your Days Carefully

Planning is the key to prioritization. Just because you say something is important and SHOULD be a priority – it isn’t actually a priority until you treated it as one and it is reflected in your actions. When you schedule your priority and plan your day around it, you create progress over time.

You need a little order in your life to get the most out of it. Chaotic schedules aren’t good for anyone. It doesn’t make you a free spirit to fly by the seat of your pants. It actually creates more stress and less progress. That doesn’t sound so free to me. Plan and renegotiate when necessary but don’t change the plan.

7. Stop Beating Yourself Up Over What Hasn’t Been Done And Celebrate What Has Been Done

Are you an overachiever and feel bad at the end of every day because you are focused on what you didn’t yet get to. That is depressing isn’t it.

One day I decided that wasn’t serving me. I was ending the day feeling down, overthinking and overworking as a result. When I did stop my day, I wasn’t present because I was still thinking about all that had to be done.

I now celebrate the wins of the day, create my new list for tomorrow and transition into my time with family with no regrets and free to hit the reset button forth following day.

Focusing on what I did do, reminds me that I did do more than I gave myself credit for and can get some perspective on my focus for the following day.

8. Stop Procrastinating And Do The Big Things First

Stop putting off the most important things and doing what is easy. Challenge yourself to do what’s important first; make it a game, be inspired by the momentum it will create.

Procrastination is natural because our brain is wired to take the path of least resistant. You have to override that program and create what you want rather than create self-sabotage.

Stop procrastination and start getting the important things done. David Allen tells you to “Eat that Frog”. That means do the hardest thing first and everything else is easy and the momentum you create is powerful.

So if you want to avoid it, that is the very thing you want do first. 

9. Stop Ending Your Day With TV And Start Ending It With Purpose

Coming home after work to only watch television makes you stop thinking about things. It doesn’t create more purpose, just more wasted time.

Imagine the possibilities of using that time for a more purposeful outcome. Write that book you have always wanted to, pick up a hobby that is fun and makes you feel happy, connect with friends and family, or pick up your gratitude journal and recount all the things you are grateful for in your life. Just this little change can boost your motivation and purpose in life and make you feel more alive.


Challenge yourself this new year to focus on what to stop and re-commit to your success with the time management and productivity tips I have shared here.

Featured image

Drive by Daniel Pink

Daniel Pink tells us that most of what we think about motivation is wrong.

Researchers show that the carrot and stick method so often used in the corporate setting is not motivating your staff like you think it is. Maybe that’s what is reflected in the Gallup study with 70% of the workforce disengaged. We are trying to engage them in the wrong way.


Drive by Daniel Pink

Courtesy: Nathalie Magniez/Flickr


There are instances he points out where the carrot and stick method of extrinsic motivators, such as money, works effectively. These situations are when the tasks are mundane and it is just the execution of a simple step by step process. These situations require little creativity and therefore see success with external motivators.

In his book, Daniel Pink points out that financial rewards can create bad behavior: reaching the goal at all costs, causing shortcuts and unethical short-term thinking and behavior. Other challenges are that the financial reward becomes expected and addictive.

When you want to access the creativity, conceptual thinking and problem solving of people and activate their level of engagement, the best motivators are the internal motivators.

Daniel Pink challenges the goal setting process of an organization that provides fixed goals for people. He says they are not always in alignment with our deep-seated desire to direct our own lives, to extend and expand our abilities, and to live a life of purpose. Daniel Pink points these three areas as the drivers of human motivation:

Autonomy—the desire to direct our own lives

Mastery—to advance our skills and knowledge in something that matters to us

Purpose—The need to serve others

Here are some interesting statements around each area:


‘If-then’ rewards require people to forfeit some of their autonomy. Goals set by others diminish autonomy and intrinsic motivation. The less say people have, the less autonomy they feel. It can often create a sense of apathy around the goals themselves.


Rewards, by their very nature, narrow our focus. Rewards take away the desire to master the topic, do their best or rise to the occasion. Rewards create competition and put limitations on people’s effort and motivation to succeed.


Interestingly enough, in a study done around blood donors, when financial incentives were provided people were less interested to serve others as it wasn’t genuine. Instead of increasing the number of blood donors, offering to pay people decreased the number by nearly half.

This goes against what most people think but studies have proven this to be true. Extrinsic motivators are not the best way to engage people and bring out their best.

The premise of the book is to take employees from compliance to engagement. It’s important to understand what intrinsically motivated people and how to connect them to these intrinsic motivators.

When leaders try to use control, it may create some compliance but removes the engagement, accountability, and creativity that comes from employees owning their work. People need to be seen as partners not resources.

In the traditional workforce motivation model, companies use reward and punishment. These external factors also usually come at the end of the process. Accountability and ownership need to be fostered at the beginning of the process.

Read the book and stop using financial rewards and start sparking intrinsic motivators. Share some ways you engage your staff to spark the three intrinsic motivators.

Image Source: Flickr

4 Ways To Get Unstuck and Prioritize

Prioritization is a skill.

how to get unstuck and prioritizeThe challenge is that everything seems to be a high priority and it’s difficult to decide what is more important than the next. Everything is important and urgent. Urgency is one of those things that can be a gift because it creates drive to get more done but when not balanced creates overwhelm and overload. Entrepreneur or not you have pressure coming from all directions: your boss, your client, your family and your personal needs.

Sit Down & Prioritize in 4 Steps

There are four steps to consider when you’re sitting down to prioritize so that you can balance urgency and importance in a rational way. The key that these methods bring is to get you out of an emotional state and practically work through what you have to get done.

1 – Make a List

One of the first and most important thing is to make a list of all of the things that you need to do in each category. Putting them into categories is the first step in being able to get specific as to what needs to get done. Dumping everything out of your mind and seeing it on paper helps.

Formats for creating this list can be a table, Eisenhower matrix, as seen below, or simply deciding one by one which one is more important from a gut and group feel. Mind mapping is also a valuable tool for this overview.

2 – Prioritization Criteria

Create a system or method to determine the criteria by which you’re going to prioritize. If you’re working in an organization, that might be something that you work out together with your boss, or that you look to use the support with your team. Items to consider as part of the criteria would be the value of the result (Money to be made for example), the time it takes to complete the task when it’s due, the level of intensity of the work, if it can be delegated, consequences for delays and so on.

3 – Decide

Then when you have all this information laid out you can decide which things are going to be most important and the highest priority. Each criteria area can be weighted to show its impact on the end prioritization. Now you have a system that helps you decide. Rate each task according to the criteria.

4 – Schedule your priorities

Now that you have identified what your priorities are, it is important that you schedule a time in your calendar to work on those priorities. This helps you assess the time each item will take as well. If you don’t schedule you may find that you are getting caught up in urgencies, distractions and unnecessary interruptions that keep you from focusing on your priorities. Scheduling is a MUST!

By actually taking time out to evaluate the tasks at hand and prioritizing them, it in itself reduces stress and overwhelm because you have committed to a plan. Of course, now you will be able to communicate that to your team or boss so you have a basis for discussion in the event that someone wishes to shift those priorities. If you are managing yourself, you have a basis to turn to when situations change.

Managing Stress

When ever you have a structure to fall back on, it reduces the stress of figuring out what is next. Can you imagine what chaos and stress emergency rooms would be in if they didn’t have rules to prioritize who was next. These rules help people focus on the task at hand.

Delegate, Automate or Eliminate

During this process, it is important to make sure that you are evaluating each task: Can it be delegated to someone else? Is it something repetitive, and could it be automated? Is it really necessary or could it be eliminated?

Thinking time

It is also important to look at the time it takes to do this task and challenge yourself to find new ways to do it that are more effective and efficient. Giving yourself some time to think makes all the difference to create greater flexibility and creativity in finding an even better solution.

  • What would you prioritize if you simply had half the time that you do today?
  • What items are not getting done now and what is the consequence?
  • How much energy is lost in the stress over what you’re not able to accomplish?
  • Who suffers short and long from this stress?

Letting go

The biggest and most important part of the prioritization process, is to manage your emotional intelligence in how you handle things that are not getting done.

Are you beating yourself up? Are you allowing others to beat you up? How does that affect the efficiency and effectiveness of the work that you are able to do?

I was working with a man in the technology field. He worked for a small company with 15 people on staff. His job was to wear the hat of the consultant, the Chief Technology Officer and the right-hand man to the CEO. He had so many responsibilities and was split across three very important areas that were all urgent and important in nature. He accepted all new projects from the CEO, he was driving the internal ISO project and had a demanding consulting client. Did I mention, he also had 5 children? Needless to say, he didn’t manage things well. He ended up putting himself in the hospital for all he tried to pile on to himself.

Why did I say all he put on himself? I said that because at the end of the day he created the result of the situation. There were 4 simple things he implemented from our work together that made all the difference in him managing the responsibilities that he had.

Those 4 actions were the following:

1. Ask more questions:

Instead of accepting the deadlines asked of him in each area, he spent time clarifying specifics of the deliverables and negotiating options.

2. Challenged Urgency:

He challenged himself with the question – Does this need to be done today? To ensure he didn’t get caught up in his own sense of urgency that was a big part of his problem.

3. Schedule Priorities

He created a schedule of time spent in each area to ensure he was planning his activities.

4. Set Rules

Lastly, he set some rules and boundaries to live by that looked like this:

  • No work is brought home
  • Fixed work end time
  • Do not accept deadlines without clarification and review.
  • Communicate early and often around problems or set backs
  • Take 5 minutes to take notes on what was completed and what was next before starting a new task
  • Take short breaks for transition
  • Get to bed by 11 PM

What do your rules look like and where can you ask more questions? Managing your sense of urgency is just as important as managing the expectations of others. You are on your way to a more productive version of yourself.

The 5 Secrets of Productive Efficiency No One Tells You But Should

Most of my articles are about human productivity which varies from how we produce products with machinery due to the many soft factors. In this case I would like to look at productive efficiency from a nonhuman perspective but from a capital perspective.

Definition productive efficiency

According to Wikipedia, Productive efficiency is when the economy can not produce any more of one good without sacrificing production of another good. Here is a visual representation.

Productive Efficiency

So what is productive efficiency in other words? Prоduсtivе еffiсiеnсу is whеn thе highеѕt роѕѕiblе output оf оnе gооd iѕ produced, given the рrоduсtiоn lеvеl оf the оthеr gооd(ѕ). Prоduсtivе еffiсiеnсу occurs at the base оf thе аvеrаgе tоtаl соѕt сurvе, or whеrе mаrginаl соѕt equals аvеrаgе total соѕt. Productive efficiency refers to when whеn production оf оnе gооd iѕ асhiеvеd at the lowest rеѕоurсе (input) соѕt роѕѕiblе, given the level of рrоduсtiоn оf the оthеr gооd(ѕ). Prоduсtiоn efficiency iѕ асhiеvеd when a рrоduсt iѕ сrеаtеd аt itѕ lowest аvеrаgе tоtаl cost. An еԛuilibrium mау bе considered рrоduсtivе еffiсiеncy but not аllосаtivе еffiсiеncy. Additional good should only be produced when the marginal benefit exceeds marginal cost.

Here are some of the secrets behind productive efficiency;

  • Build Yоur Sаlеѕ аnd Yоur Prоfitѕ

 If ѕаlеѕ аrе through the rооf but it costs more tо develop and ѕеll the product thаn iѕ bеing ѕоld, or thе ореrаtiоnаl cost iѕ more thаn thе ѕаlеѕ bеing gеnеrаtеd, it iѕ virtually guаrаntееd that thе business will, аt ѕоmе роint, become finаnсiаllу unviаblе. A lоt of еntrерrеnеurѕ mаkе the miѕtаkе оf mаking Sаlеѕ Turnоvеr thеir numbеr one kеу performance indicator. Rерlасе this with thе Profit kеу реrfоrmаnсе indiсаtоr аnd wаtсh how each еlеmеnt оf thе ѕесrеt formula fоr buѕinеѕѕ ѕuссеѕѕ imрасtѕ thе bоttоm line.


  • Continually Aсԛuirе Nеw Cuѕtоmеrѕ

Aѕ thе buѕinеѕѕ becomes mоrе ѕuссеѕѕful, there iѕ a tendency to rеlу on key customers tо maintain their ѕаlеѕ turnоvеr. Thiѕ will kеер уоur business gоing but it iѕ nоt gоing to help it tо ‘growing’. If a buѕinеѕѕ rеliеѕ оn a fеw kеу сuѕtоmеrѕ, it рutѕ itѕеlf аt riѕk, ѕhоuld аnу оf thоѕе customers сhооѕе to uѕе one оf your competitors or thеу ѕimрlу go оut of business. Yоu muѕt continually acquire nеw customers in оrdеr tо grоw. Tо inсrеаѕе уоur customer numbеrѕ уоu nееd tо inсrеаѕе thе number оf likеlу or ԛuаlifiеd рrоѕресtѕ аnd thеn fосuѕ оn imрrоving thе rаtе аt whiсh you convert уоur рrоѕресtѕ intо рrоduсt-рurсhаѕing сuѕtоmеrѕ. Thе more еffiсiеnt уоur business is аt identifying, lосаting and qualifying рrоѕресtѕ аnd then translating them intо рауing рunditѕ, thе fаѕtеr уоur ѕmаll buѕinеѕѕ will еvоlvе intо a profitable, рluѕ-ѕizеd buѕinеѕѕ. Mаthеmаtiсаllу it wоuld lооk likе this:

Prоѕресtѕ x Cоnvеrѕiоn Rаtе = Nеw Cuѕtоmеrѕ

  • Retain Yоur Existing Cuѕtоmеrѕ

Evеrу buѕinеѕѕ lоѕеѕ сuѕtоmеrѕ. Some аrе through nаturаl аttritiоn, some bесаuѕе thеу hаvе mоvеd оr relocated, ѕоmе bесаuѕе they hаvе a fаmilу or friеnd who are аblе to ѕuррlу them with whаt thеу need. But thеѕе represent a ѕmаll percentage of the tоtаl. Rеѕеаrсh hаѕ shown that mаѕѕivе 68 percent оf сuѕtоmеrѕ dеfесt because оf ‘perceived indiffеrеnсе’ i.е. that уоur buѕinеѕѕ didn’t show any rеаl intеrеѕt in thеm so they аrе indiffеrеnt tо your business. This iѕ fаntаѕtiс news. Now dоn’t fall оff уоur chair ѕсrеаming “а lost сuѕtоmеrѕ is nеvеr good”. It iѕ fаntаѕtiс bесаuѕе thеrе iѕ еvеrу possibility you саn retain thеѕе сuѕtоmеrѕ. Aѕ in the case of customer асԛuiѕitiоn, thе more quickly you can idеntifу thе роtеntiаl loss аnd turn thеm bасk intо рауing сuѕtоmеrѕ the fаѕtеr thе rаtе of grоwth уоur ѕmаll business will experience. Tо еxсеl in сuѕtоmеr rеtеntiоn it рауѕ to аgаin hеаr thе ‘vоiсе оf the сuѕtоmеr’ tо dеvеlор аррrорriаtе рrосеѕѕеѕ tо imрrоvе thе rate оf rеtеntiоn.

  • Inсrеаѕе thе Size аnd Quаlitу оf Yоur Customer Base

In terms of product ѕаlеѕ, it is imроrtаnt to rеmеmbеr thаt it iѕ a numbers gаmе. Tурiсаllу, thе mоrе реорlе tо whоm you саn expose уоur рrоduсt, thе highеr your ѕаlеѕ аrе likеlу tо be. Alоng with dеvеlорing аn еxtrеmеlу еffiсiеnt ѕаlеѕ соnvеrѕiоn process, it iѕ important tо rеmеmbеr thаt whеn it соmеѕ to your сuѕtоmеr base – ѕizе dеfinitеlу mаttеrѕ.

  • Utilizе thе роwеr оf ѕосiаl mеdiа

Nowadays, thе entire world rеvоlvеѕ аrоund social media аnd if уоu аrе able to uѕе itѕ full роtеntiаl, it саn immеdiаtеlу hеlр уоu increase your sales аnd brаnd rерutаtiоn with vеrу minimum rеѕоurсе аnd еffоrt. It is whеrе уоu can dirесtlу interact with thеm, thеrеbу аllоwing you tо соnvеrt thеm intо your роtеntiаl clients. It fоrmѕ a two-way сhаnnеl thаt nоt only аllоwѕ уоu tо put уоur mеѕѕаgе асrоѕѕ but аlѕо, listen tо what your tаrgеtеd audience wаnt, whiсh eventually gоеѕ a lоng way in imрrоving аnd grоwing уоur buѕinеѕѕ.

Note ; Prоduсtiоn еffiсiеnсу iѕ bаѕеd оn a business’ аbilitу tо рrоduсе thе highеѕt numbеr оf units оf a gооd whilе using thе lеаѕt аmоunt of rеѕоurсеѕ роѕѕiblе. Thе аim is to find a bаlаnсе between thе use of rеѕоurсеѕ, rаtе of рrоduсtiоn аnd ԛuаlitу of thе gооdѕ being рrоduсеd. Whеn production еffiсiеnсу hаѕ bееn rеасhеd, it is nоt possible tо рrоduсе more gооdѕ withоut uѕing еxсеѕѕ resources or ѕасrifiсing рrоduсt quality.

Manage Your Time Like a Project Manager

Project Management concept image

If you’re a project manager you know time blocking is a process of scheduling. It functions more like a project management schedule because you are blocking and scheduling for multiple projects. When you get started, don’t expect perfection, perfection is in the process and the resulting progress.

By starting the practice of time blocking or project management you will add the structure that you need to ensure that you are capturing all the important areas that move you forward in these projects. In project management, they call it the critical path.

I recognize you might not be a big fan of project planning and might find that it reduces your flexibility and creativity. I had the same situation with a magazine owner who didn’t like to plan but she constantly felt overwhelmed at the various different hats that she wore in the business and all the projects she had to manage. She was typically stressed out in getting the magazine ready for publication every month.

She used non-technical project management scheduling tools and structures to start the process of evaluating her capacity and the capacity of her team by breaking down the projects into time blocks ensuring that she had time allocated for each of the important areas of her business. When using project management scheduling software such as Zoho projects, Asana or more sophisticated tools such as Microsoft project or Primavera P6 , these tools help you with visual Gant and Pert charts as well as other visuals to see where capacity is at its max and other resources need to be allocated to get the work completed. By breaking the work down into groups of tasks, you are able to set priorities and work streams and allocate different resources to run parallel work streams.

One of the work streams that we added was 30 minutes three times a week was for customer loyalty. She had overlooked this very important category entirely and found herself struggling to get new advertisers for the magazine on a regular basis. She didn’t spend enough time working with the customers that she already had. By allocating this time and putting together a plan of touch points with her existing customers, she was able to go from over 50% attrition to less than 10%. That gave her a lot more time to focus on other areas of the business, any time spent on finding new advertisers only added to the profit of the bottom-line.

Time blocking or project management schedule will ensure that you are spending time specifically allocated to the project areas that make your business grow and make you feel in control and productive.   If you don’t put some planning into it, it won’t happen at the rate you want or expect if it happens at all. Work your business like a project manager and get results.

7 Step Process For Time Blocking

Use this 7 Step process to effectively block and align your tasks and goals. It forces you to connect your goals and planned actions to your project management schedule. It forces you to evaluate what is possible before you start versus taking on too much and then getting stuck in overwhelm or overload.

You can continue doing it your way, but you are here for a reason, You are looking for a better way. If I could show you a way to reduce stress, frustration and feel in control of your time resulting in more profits in every area of your life, would you listen? Would you do what I am telling you?

Gantt chart and penAs you get started in the acclimation period, your time blocking worksheet is a starting point of the implementation. If you are not a trained project manager, building these skills and habits will take time. We, humans are notorious for poorly estimating how long things take. I had a developer who wired for me and I thought it was great how quickly and clear he was about providing me with a 300-hour estimate. Little did I know the next project presented to him also had a 300-hour estimate and the project thereafter. I came to realize that was a safe number of him so he just used it every time. Not a great method for me when I am making fixed price bids and need a more accurate estimate of how long the project would take. When we break it down into the larger deliverables, we are able to get a more accurate forecast and schedule the project.

Using this method of time blocking you will start to recognize how much time your activities really take and enable you to accurately break down bigger projects and block those activities accurately in your project management schedule for the future. It may take a month or even two to get adjusted to the best and most efficient project management schedule, but what you will learn along the way will be invaluable.

This structure of managing your projects and your schedule will reduce overwhelmed, stressed, and wasted time.

Make a commitment this year end to block your time and manage your project management schedule.


Interview With Keith Cunningham Pt. 2 | Greatest Impact On Productivity

Welcome Back.  I am joined today with Keith Cunningham.

Penny:  What are the factors and elements that you think have the greatest impact on productivity?

Keith:  Clarity on the outcome.  Nothing is more important than having a goal line. To know when points go on the board.  To measure the progress or milestones that are being achieved.  Football is a great analogy.  There are first downs, guard lines and much as people cheer for first downs, there are no points until they hit the goal line.  Everybody knows where that goal line is.  These are the jobs we need to do in order to produce that outcome.  Owners typically make it far too easy on their employees.  This is a shift in topic a bit.  I happen to think that most people would like to have in a job is a high performance challenge.  To me it’s unlikely that we’re going to get the Navy Seals to sit around and play Yahtzee all day.  They are going to want a high performance challenge.  We want those kind of individuals on our team.  It’s impossible to keep and attract those individuals without those challenges.  Some kind of outcome that will cause people to stretch.  The keys to productivity are things like, a focus on outcomes, deliverables, high performance challenge, planning your day before it starts, as simple as an idea as that is.  I think it’s one of the key drivers to productivity.  Most people have a to do list.  And the reason they are not productive, they are very active, but the reason they are not productive is because that to do list is not being converted into a project.  A project gets calendar time.  That is the only difference between a to do and a project.  Planning your day, scheduling time every day to work on something that is productively going to move you towards the outcome that you want.  Finally, I will say that the key to productivity, the mother of them all is accountability.  In my world, accountability is fundamental to productivity.  Accountability simply means that there is someone else that I am accountable to for not only my results but also for the activities of today that will produce those results.  I will say it differently, anybody who doesn’t want to measure doesn’t want to be held accountable.  To me, this idea of surrounding yourself with people who you will report into and who will tell you whether you are or are not moving towards the thing you said you wanted.  Then having someone to coach you and correct you and call it tight.  Say what needs to be said.  I think it’s critical, the higher we go or the higher we want to go the greater the requirement to have someone around us to coach us and tell us the truth.

ProductivityPenny:  I agree.  There are so few people that will give us that unbiased truth.  Michael Jordan, he has five coaches.  Five people who are giving him insight because he realizes that there is not just one blind spot.  There are a couple.  Also people see things in different perspectives.  He is going to get different perspectives with every person he talks to.  He will get the truth, but everyone’s truth is a bit different.  Make sure who you select as your truth tellers that they have the experience that you are looking for.

Keith:  All of us have blind spots and none of us have the ability to see what we can’t see.  That is why we have people around us to give us coaching and optics to improve our game and produce the results we want.

Penny:  One of the things that I find to be the x factor for productivity is energy.  I don’t believe all forms of times are equal.  It’s also how much of ourselves we bring to that time.  I know you have a newsletter about thinking time.  Around this thinking and measuring time, can you expand that concept?

Keith:  Energy is paramount.  Two people can go through the same motions, one improves and the other one maintains the status quo.  I like to play golf.  When i play golf, I go to the practice tee beforehand.  I hit a few balls to warm up.  I try to find my swing, adjust my grip.  Figure out which part of me is hurting that day and adjust accordingly.  So, I use practice time as a way to warm up.  Tiger Woods on the other hand goes out to the practice tee and that is where he works.  He plays the game of golf but works and improves on his practice tee time.  When you watch a pro practice, what you will see it that the level of intensity that they bring to that practice, the level of energy and focus, that is what you are talking about, when you describe energy, its focus, commitment, the level of focus for Tiger is vastly different from what I bring to the practice tee.  The energy that goes into it or the competitiveness that goes into it, I think is paramount.  There is nothing more common than average.  Average is usually produced by people practicing but they are not practicing to improve.  When I look at Masters, at anything, like art, business, training and coaching, over and over again, what I see is a commitment to how can I improve.  What can I do better?  Am I bringing a level of intensity and focus to it that will cause that improvement?  Measuring is a critical component.  Most amateurs don’t measures.  All pros measure.  The reason they measure is because they are committed to getting better.  Most amateurs are committed to getting the job done.  Those are two entirely different ways to focus.  If we begin to focus with your concept of energy, focus on how do I get better/improve/create mastery around this particular skillset or outcome, now all of a sudden, the level of energy is different.  Another way to say it is, that most people get the results they got is the result of doing the best they can.  Any time I talk to an employees or audiences, I ask, how did you get here?  They all say, I did the best I could.  My response is I know, that is the problem.  The problem is we are all doing the best we can and the people who are at the top of the line, the front of the line, are people who gave up doing the best they can and began doing whatever it takes.  That level of energy is an entirely different level of focus and commitment.  I think your concept of energy is critically important because I think the outcome is vastly different if I go into a project or a process in which I am trying to get the job done vs. I am trying to create mastery.

Penny:  Yes, I give it another name.  I call it Championship Psychology.  Those people who do what it takes as opposed to the best that they can.  They have a championship psychology.  They bring that level of intensity and focus.  I have four elements in my program that make up those:  Purpose, Language, Physiology and Focus.  That intensity they bring, that is what creates those types of results for them.  When people are able to find the keys to get clarity on how they can achieve that for themselves, they are going to catapult their results as well in a mastery level.

Keith:  I love those four things.  Thank you.

Penny:  We are coming to a close here on this session.  Listeners, you have so many resources out there.  I give your books to my coaching clients as a congratulations.  Because of the power you bring into the measuring.  If you could share a bit where people can find more information about your programs, book and you.

Keith:  Thank you.  The best thing to do is to go to keystothevault.com and there you will find very extensive summary and compendium of not only the books but also the tools and the resources and the library you can begin to build around the business tools I teach.  We hold business classes on things like the four day MBA or we have a course coming up called Plan or Get Slaughtered.  We have a board of directors program.  There are many ways somebody could study with me.  Or to access the information and tools we have.  I have another website called CFOscoreboard.com .  It is a business tool that I have developed that allows business owners to translate the accounting mumbo jumbo that they get from their accountants in the form of financial statements.  Translate that accounting stuff into business optics.  In other words, we will translate accounting statements and balance sheets into optics that will allow you to make better decisions.  My thesis is if we can see better, if we have better optics, we can make better decisions, and if you make better decisions, you will make more money.  Most people wind up making bad decisions because they have bad optics.  They can’t see what is going on underneath the hood.  It’s a little bit like flying an airplane by the seat of your pants.  Can you do it?  Yeah, you could get lucky.  The problem is you can’t get lucky forever.  Eventually you are going to crash.  You are going to run out of fuel.  The impact of running out of fuel is devastating.  Businesses report cards need to be translated into a score board.  Warren Buffet said it well.  If you can’t read the scoreboard you don’t know the score.   If you don’t know score, you can’t tell the winners from the losers.  I think the problem most business owners have when it comes to this issue of telling winners from losers, is they don’t have a scoreboard that they can understand.  That is what CFO Scoreboard is designed to do.  To give you better optics to make better decisions and make more money.  Either one of those websites will give more information about who we are and what we do and what they can learn.

Penny:  Whether it’s a book or your program, they will learn.  I love the fact that you are also offering something that is immediately implementable.  This is powerful.  That is really taking charge of your productivity.  Keith thank you so much for being here.  It’s been a pleasure and an honor.  I took many notes.  It was fantastic to have you here.

Keith:  Thank you very much Penny.

Penny:  In summary, if you are serious about your business then you need to get serious about the art of measurement.  I call it an art because it requires the business owner to be able to grasp the fine details and trends and more abstract elements that contribute to the key drivers.  You need to understand and implement the data that is derived from key performance indicators that tell you about the trends after the fact.  And the key drivers that contribute and shape those results.  By monitoring these on a regular basis you can assess the health and wellness of your company and address the issues that might impact the bottom line long before they are at crisis point.  You want to use these drivers to set thresholds and anticipate the challenges so you can take corrective action before the final results are available.  This gives you a health check at any point in time and in any condition.  We talked earlier about the types of professionals who know exactly what they are measuring.  Chances are you would be upset with them if they didn’t.  Imagine doctors going into surgery and they operated on the wrong limb or gave you the wrong medicine.  Can you imagine if he knew something was wrong but didn’t bother reviewing your chart?  I know it sounds extreme but this what you are doing with your business if you are not measuring.  Do you know exactly what you need to measure and test?  Or do you waste time and resources on the wrong measures that add no true value to the process.  An example of how that can happen:  I often find within insurance sales teams that they are still focused on the old fashioned method of measuring the amount of calls the agents do and consider that their key measurement.  No wonder there is such a large dropout rate.  They are still being taught to focus on the wrong things.  Instead of focusing on using strategy to target customers to make the right calls to the right people and tracking those numbers, they are tracking the number of random calls and counting on an ineffective spray and pray approach.  Very tactical and not as effective.  Measurement is meant to be a part of the overall strategy and a way to ensure that progress and growth is made.  If you have poor strategy, chances are you are measuring the wrong things.  So before you define your dashboards and your means of measurement, make sure your strategies are specifically targeted.  If you like what you heard here today, please send us a message on Facebook or Twitter.  www.facebook.com/pennyzperspective. www.twitter.com/pennyzenker.

Join us next week as we talk about another one of the ten essential elements in time and energy management.  Learn the key language that you need to know to understand how to get results out of productivity.  Until next week, this is Penny Zenker reminding you to take charge of your time and energy.  It’s a choice you can feel good about.


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