Merge's Blog

Tag Archives: getting things done

What bungee cords are preventing you from moving forward?

moving forwardLast April, here on the blog I asked the question: What’s stopping you from moving forward?  And to answer it, I used the metaphor of paddling a kayak.  Today, I have another metaphor to address the same question.

Imagine a bungee cord

Imagine a bungee cord.  One end is attached to a fixed object and the other is hooked to the back of your belt.  As long as you stay close to the stationary end, the cord remains loose and there is no tension.  But as you walk away, the slack in the cord will begin to tighten and you’ll feel a pull on your back.  Continue to step away and you’ll find that eventually it will be a struggle to keep going. In fact, not only will the bungee cord hold you back from moving forward, but you will also be at serious risk of either losing your pants or getting smacked by a broken bungee.

All of us have bungee cords attached to us, links to the past that hold us back from moving forward.  And the more we try to get ahead, the more the stress and tension grows forcing us to stay where we are.  And often the fear of losing our pants or getting smacked by the broken bungee keeps us from continuing to try. Continue reading

Boost productivity at the office by using music

jenniferbuchanan2Jennifer Buchanan is not only my professional colleague and friend, but also the only music therapist I know!  If you’re wondering what a “music therapist” is, then I’m so glad you asked!!  Music therapists use music to curb stress, boost morale, and restore health, and Jennifer is a recognized leading expert on bridging the gap between academic research in the area of music medicine and the public, speaking internationally to a wide variety of education, healthcare, government, and corporate audiences.  Because this is an area that not many people are knowledgeable about yet, I was delighted when Jennifer agreed to guest on the blog.  I asked her to share some insights that would be useful to leaders everywhere, and I was thrilled when she decided to write about how to use music to boost productivity.

5 Steps to Boosting Productivity at the Office using Music

Do you feel you need a boost at work? Music may be the solution.  The music industry has proof that you should listen to music while you work. In a survey commissioned by the UK licensing organizations PPL and PRS for Music, 77 percent of surveyed businesses say playing music in the workplace increases staff morale and improves the atmosphere.  The results were greater productivity.

So how do we make music at work?

There is no easy solution to developing a productive playlist for two or more people. Like all good work procedures and strategies, it takes time and it starts with being proactive instead of re-active. Take the time to identify the diverse needs and cultures of the group you belong to. Here are five suggested guidelines or steps for helping your organization use and select music at work: Continue reading

A lesson from a 10-speed bicycle on how to achieve goals

I often explore what it takes to achieve goals, to get beyond the “hope” stage and actually create concrete results.  In fact, earlier this year, I blogged about the importance of a “structured” vessel when one seeks to achieve goals.  Today’s blog post explores another aspect of setting and achieving goals – this time the importance of action.

Multi-speed bikes are an asset

10-speed-bikeWhen I was a child, I rode a single speed bicycle.  It didn’t matter whether I was biking up a hill or racing down a gravel road, my bike had just one gear, and I had to adjust my effort and speed in order to compensate for the riding conditions.  As I grew older though, I realized that one could actually make the bicycle-riding experience easier and more enjoyable by getting a 3-speed, a 10-speed or even a 21-speed bike.  The greatest benefit of a multiple-speed bicycle was that I could adjust the pedaling resistance to ride more easily over a greater variety of terrains.  Brilliant!

Shortly after I got my first 10-speed bike, I quickly realized one additional and extremely vital fact – in order to switch gears, you had to be moving.  Continue reading

What’s stopping you from moving forward?

As a leader, you no doubt have a multitude of issues to deal with – and what usually happens is that the crises get dealt with, but often everything else seems to drag on.  Thus, it’s useful to periodically ask yourself the question – what’s stopping you from moving forward?  Whether it’s streamlining an outdated work process, dealing with an ongoing interpersonal conflict, or getting that big project on your to-do list started, what is preventing you from moving forward?  I have a metaphoric perspective to offer.

Is your kayak moving forward?

moving forwardHere in the northern hemisphere, as the days get longer and the mercury begins to claw its way up out of the negative digits, collective minds turn to spring and upcoming warm-weather leisure activities.  I am no exception as I think longingly of my favourite watersport – kayaking.

Sitting low to the water at dawn, legs outstretched, the blades of my paddle slicing through the water like a knife through butter, moving almost silently across the vast expanse of the calm harbour, the stillness broken only by the rhythmic gentle sound of the oars and an occasional call of a seabird.  For me, the image evokes both serenity and triumph.  Serenity because kayaking gives me time to think.  And triumph because several miles of kayaking makes me feel like I’ve gotten a good workout.  But the picture-perfect scene quickly shatters …. when I realize that my kayak is still tied to the dock!

What is your workplace equivalent?

Sure, laugh if you must; I did too (well, much later) when it happened to me.  But I bring it up to make a very specific point.  Continue reading

6 Rules for thriving in an open-office environment

My newest column for The Globe & Mail is up in cyberspace this morning!  Today’s topic is about something that is happening in many workplaces across the country – the shift to an open-office environment.  Love it or hate it, the numbers show that it’s happening more than ever.  So in Six rules for the open-office environment, I don’t debate its merits and drawbacks.  Instead, by offering six definitive rules to survive, and thrive, in an open office environment, I focus on how to make this kind of a workplace environment effective and productive.

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So … as always, very interested in hearing about your experiences.  Are you working in an open-office floor plan?  Does it work for you?  Why or why not?  If possible, please share your perspectives directly on the The Globe‘s site since your point of view will get a much wider audience than if you choose another alternative.  But I’m always open to hearing from you directly as well, so you can post your comments here on the blog, or send me a tweet (@mergespeaks) with your thoughts too.

And one last thing — do me a HUGE favour – help me get the word out … share the link with your staff and colleagues (easiest directly from The Globe‘s site using the share icon at the very top of the article).  My objective is always to get conversations started, so the more people who respond to this column means deeper and extended dialogue, which is always a good thing!  In advance, please accept my thanks for your help.

I’m looking forward to hearing from you. Here is a direct link to the article in case you need to cut and paste it elsewhere: http://tgam.ca/EQQZ

Leaders, how do you minimize distractions?

CyclingThe topic of how to minimize distractions to maximize productivity came up again this past weekend.  My husband, an avid cyclist, rides his bicycle to work daily (at least while the weather is still cooperating).  Recently, he moved offices, and so his daily cycling route has changed.  Even though almost his entire journey is on bicycle trails, the path itself is quite serpentine, twisting and winding its way through tree groves and up and down many small hills.  In a passing comment to me this last weekend, he said “I find that I can’t really enjoy the view on my bike rides anymore because I need to concentrate and pay attention to the path.  A couple of times I’ve been distracted by birds or squirrels in my peripheral vision, and I found myself almost veering off the trail and into the brush.  This is not a straightforward pathway, so I have to really stay focused on what is ahead of me, otherwise I run the risk of getting into trouble.”

His comment about getting distracted by birds and squirrels got me thinking about how often we lose focus at work by the well-known (and notorious) “squirrel”. Continue reading

Minimize distractions and maximize productivity

Some of you may recall that last month I became the newest member of ProfitGuide.com’s panel of business experts. ProfitGuide.com is the online version of Profit Magazine, a sister publication to Canadian business magazine giants Canadian Business, MoneySense and Macleans. My inaugural column was titled How to become a persuasive triple-threat and it explored what it takes to get more people to buy your ideas.

Well, column number two just hit cyberspace this morning! How to stay focused by managing workflow interruptions offers up three strategies to minimize distractions, maximize productivity, and get more done.

ProfitGuide061815 Continue reading

Does your employee health and wellness policy include fun at work?

I’ve always said “If it’s fun, people will do it”. In fact, I’ve blogged in the past about a series of experiments sponsored by Volkswagen that proved this very hypothesis of the importance of fun at work:

Today though, I’m excited to have Robert Manolson, my professional colleague who is the creator of Powerful Play Experiences guesting on the blog. Not only does Robert have some practical advice on how to have fun at work, but in true fun playfulness, he also sent us a cool comic! Continue reading

Make decisions and take action, ask for forgiveness later

Happy new year everyone! Welcome to 2015!  To kick-start the Turning Managers Into Leaders blog, my first column of the year for The Globe & Mail went online this morning.

Leaders: Get rid of the ‘Mother may I?’ mindset

The premise: Don’t ask for permission, ask for forgiveness – a statement I make repeatedly to managers and supervisors. What I’m really saying is: make decisions and take action. In the column, I tell you why, I explain what I mean, and I even show you how to “ask” for forgiveness. And guess what? The word “sorry” doesn’t come up even once!

G&M010915As always, I’m eagerly awaiting your reactions and perspectives. As in all the columns I write for The Globe, it’s a short read and shouldn’t take more than a few minutes. I really want to know what you think! Do you agree? Or not? Add your viewpoint to The Globe‘s website, or if you wish, drop me an email or send me a tweet (@mergespeaks).

And please help me get the word out … pass the link along to your staff and colleagues. I’d love to hear from them as well! And if you have experiences or “war stories” of your own to share, PLEASE DO!

I’m looking forward to hearing from you. Here is a direct link to the article in case you need to cut and paste it elsewhere: http://tgam.ca/EHTj

Having trouble staying focused? You may be the problem!

Computer Keyboard With Word InterruptIn the past, I’ve blogged about the challenge of staying focused citing research from Gloria Mark, an associate professor at the University of California, Irvine and an expert on work interruptions (see A leadership lesson on staying focused (from cats)).  Recently, I was doing some research for a new program and came across an interesting interview with Gloria Mark in which she made another specific comment that caught my eye.  Her studies have shown that people interrupt themselves almost as much as they are interrupted by external sources – people interrupt themselves about 44% of the time; the rest of the interruptions come from external sources.

Wow!  Think about this for a moment – on average, 44% of interruptions are self-induced.  Continue reading