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Monthly Archives: July 2020

Having trouble getting things done? Kick the telephone and email auto-reaction

In my last strategy earlier this month in our series on getting things done, I told you about the importance of taking control of interruptions, specifically by other people.  But studies show that 44% of interruptions are actually self-induced.  In other words, people interrupt themselves almost as much as they are interrupted by external sources. So today’s tip for getting things done specifically addresses two self-induced interruptions – namely the telephone and email.

Kick the telephone and email auto-reaction

What do I mean by auto-reaction?  The innate response we have to the ringing of the phone, or the ding (or other sound) that heralds the arrival of an email.  Be honest, what happens when the phone rings?  Sure … we answer, or at least we lean over to check to see who is calling.  Even if you don’t answer, you’ve just interrupted yourself.  And what happens when you get that sound that tells you an email has just arrived?  Yes, you roll your chair over to see who it’s from. Self-induced interruption. Continue reading

Workplace lessons from the COVID contagion of kindness

As devastating and difficult as the COVID-19 world has been, the one seemingly silver lining to emerge from this pandemic is the contagion of kindness. Countless acts of generosity and thoughtfulness abound, and it has become increasingly evident that being kind is synonymous with strength and courage. Which is ironic. The world of work has usually viewed kindness differently, through the lens of weakness and naivety. Workplace norms often translate friendly, generous and considerate behaviour to mean one is indecisive or a pushover. While blunt, arrogant and curt often unfortunately implies results and profitability. This, of course, is unequivocally false.

Genuine kindness can often do more to further your career than your exceptional work ethic, or your results-focused determination, or your dogged persistence. Doing good work will always be a necessary baseline for your success, but it is your kindness – your empathy, your open-mindedness, and your treating others with respect – that will carry you further, faster. When you are kind, you build strong relationships that will stand firm in the years to come. So what are the workplace lessons that we can extract from the kindness pandemic that is currently afoot? I answer that question in my latest column in The Globe and Mail, published online yesterday, and due to go to print tomorrow.

Five ways being a kind person can help your career
kindness Continue reading

Respond calmly by “putting a stone in your mouth”

Being able to respond calmly in the face of anger can be difficult.  A client (who is from the Nisga’a nation) recently shared with me this powerful advice from a Nisga’a elder –

“Put a stone in your mouth”. 

It was in the context of being thoughtful about when to speak and what to say in potentially challenging situations.

If only you could turn back time …

Consider for a moment, all the times in the past when you have said something, only to wish afterwards that you could turn back time and do it differently.  All too often, emotionally-charged circumstances cause us say things we invariably regret later.  When you “put a stone in your mouth”, it is a powerful metaphoric reminder to pause; to feel the contours and ragged edges of the rock; to shift it around in your mouth as you consider what you should or ought to say or not say.  When you pause before you speak, the silence can seem interminable to you, but at the end, it can in fact become your best friend.  Words that are spoken thoughtfully, rather than in haste, are much more likely to give you the outcomes that you desire. Continue reading

Want to amp up your productivity? Control interruptions

Since the start of this year, the topic of our video series has been Productivity Tools for Leaders.  Today we’re up to strategy #12 and I’d like to talk about what you can do to control interruptions.

It’s imperative that you control interruptions

If you want to control interruptions in your workday, it is very important to take ownership of it.  Because if you sit around waiting for others to stop interrupting you, you’re going to be waiting a very long time!

A ground-breaking study conducted by Gloria Mark in 2005 showed that the average office worker spends only 11 minutes on any given task before s/he is interrupted.  If you think that’s bad, wait, it gets worse!  After someone is interrupted, it takes on average, 25 minutes to return to the initial task.  Do you see the mathematical problem here?  At this rate, you’ll never get anything done.  So it’s up to you to deliberately, thoughtfully, firmly, and respectfully control interruptions.  Now there are lots of things you can do to manage interruptions but in today’s post, I’d like to share two specific ideas. Continue reading