Time Management Quiz

This Time Management Quiz may be just what you need to help you focus on your priorities.

At 15 questions, this time management quiz will only take you a minute or two to complete. It’s a snapshot of the time management questions I’ve designed when I customize time management training and quiz’s for clients.

Time management is about what you do with the time you have – and how you feel. Do you feel good about what you accomplish – or stressed? Are you inspired, engaged and enjoying your time at work and with family/ friends – or are you not quite there?

This time management quiz will help you evaluate your priorities and best of all, it will help you immediately identify any areas of your time management where you need assistance.

Before you do one more thing, take this short time management quiz and see how you are doing.

Time Management Quiz by Time Management Training Facilitator, Bruce Mayhew Consulting.

Time Management Quiz by Time Management Facilitator, Bruce Mayhew Consulting.

Thank you for taking our time Management Quiz.

Do you feel there is no way for you to be both productive at work and fulfilled in your personal life? Especially now since you took this time management quiz, do you want to make sure things change for the better?

You may be ready for time management training. Time management is less about bad behaviour as it is about habits we learn from others. So in time management training we learn how and why we can form new habits – better habits. For example: Do your coworkers expect you to drop everything to help them with their work when they ask? Time management training shows you how and why you can stay focused on your important work and still be helpful.

Our goal at Bruce Mayhew Consulting is to provide you support to improve your time management and by extension your productivity, success and happiness. We have many blog posts on this topic as well as other business etiquette topics like Managing Difficult Conversations, Working With 4 Generations, Email Etiquette and Leadership Development.

Happy Time Management and business etiquette.

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If you enjoyed this post we think you’ll like:

Bruce Mayhew Consulting coaches leaders and facilitates business etiquette courses including Business Writing, Email Etiquette, Time Management and Mindfulness.

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Find answers to your Professional Development questions / needs at brucemayhewconsulting.com.

Call us at 416.617.0462.

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Bruce Mayhew Consulting

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5 Ways To Reinforce Training

When we train our employees we get a more productive workforce and we are able to offer customers better service.

In my article called ‘How To Reinforce Employee Training‘ I explore the reasons behind reinforcing employee training. I point out that professional development training is more than a training session it is an investment that should begin with a 5-step process. I also discuss how ‘Showing Relevance‘ is a key part of every professional development training.

And now this post is dedicated to the 5 ways to Reinforce Training; work that needs to be done post-training to maximize the organizations investment in all professional development training and knowledge transfer.Reinforce Training Options

Lets look at some habits highly effective executives use to reinforce training / knowledge transfer:

1. Provide One-on-One Coaching

One of the most effective ways to transfer knowledge is to coach employees as they incorporate new skills into their workspace. Here are 3 ways:

  • Observe participants in their workspaces before & after professional development & career training:
    • Measure and share the GAP between their behavior and the expected behaviour (its quite easy). Discuss what needs improvement staying positive during discussions and reward positive behaviour / attitudes. If you think it may be a difficult discussion – here is an article on Difficult Conversations that should help.
  • Meet With Participants:
    • Discuss what was learned and how it can be applied on-the-job. Make employees part of the implementation curve by asking how they can incorporate these new initiatives. Ask what you can do to help them succeed with their new skills.
  • Reward Desired Behaviour:
    • When you observe employees using skills and information from training, praise them for their behavior. Take advantage of routine supervisory meetings to reinforce expected behaviors and proper use of training on the job.

A variation on One-on-One Coaching is to create Self-Coaching teams where employees have a mandate to meet and support each other.

2. Share Success Stories (in One-on-One or Group Meetings)

During your internal communication and/or team meetings. Share success stories – or better yet have participants speak of their own successes / challenges / lessons they’ve learned as they’ve been practicing these new behaviours. This gives you the opportunity to once again review why the training was provided – objectives and benefit of the investment for the employees, clients and company.

3. Provide Training Handouts

Training handouts are certainly the most popular ways to reinforce training. Training handouts give participants quick reference guides that outline best practices employees can refer to. For example, during my email etiquette training courses I often point out what pages I’d like participates to rip out (or photocopy), and tape to their office walls.

4. Set A Good Example

Employees always follow a leaders example. If their leader isn’t using the best practices – why should they? It also makes it difficult for a leader to correct employee behaviour if they don’t set an example.

Leaders need to talk the talk… and walk the walk.

5. Provide A Post-Training Review (in One-on-One or Group Meetings)

At your next group meeting following a training session, take a few minutes to review:

  • The objectives of the training
  • Ask employees to present key concepts they learned during the training.
  • Talk about how their newly acquired skills and knowledge are improving their ability to do their job.
  • Discuss any problems in transferring skills and knowledge from the training session to the job.
  • Share success stories (see above)

Why Is Training Important?

Employee training and development is an underused and underdeveloped method of:

  • Customer Retention
  • Employee Morale
  • Employee Retention
  • Increased Productivity

Getting consistent behaviour isn’t difficult. It just needs the willingness to reinforce the behaviour you want.

Still not sold that consistent behaviour isn’t difficult?

Example: Starbucks provides a very consistent, largely great customer service experience in over 21 thousand stores… with a very diverse workforce. Quality, consistency and predictability of experience are key drivers at Starbucks. To hit their objective new employees complete at least 24 hours of training in their first 2-4 weeks. That’s a serious investment. But that’s not all, store employees routinely (and I mean as often as daily), evaluate, reward and correct each others behaviours. The lesson here is that behaviour that gets recognized and rewarded gets repeated.

Conclusion

On-the-job learning, training and re-training are essential to long-term personal and professional success. Leadership development is a perfect example; who studies Leadership at school? Virtually nobody.

Professional development & career training keeps employees up-to-date and informed, and is critical not only for many job functions, but to maintain a cohesive, motivated, high-performing staff.

Happy training.

Please share and/or Tweet this post if you like it. It’ll only take a moment and will help us both share thoughtful business best practices.

Some popular ‘It Feels Good To Share‘ links are at the end of this post.

Bruce Mayhew Consulting

If you enjoyed this Business Communication blog post we think you’ll like:

Bruce Mayhew is founder and President of Bruce Mayhew Consulting a Professional Development firm that excels at quickly and easily tailoring programs to meet the unique needs of our clients and their employees. In addition to being an effective professional development trainer, Bruce is a popular conference speaker, writer and has been featured on major TV, Radio and Newspaper networks ranging from CTV to Global to The Globe & Mail.

Connect with Bruce on TwitterGoogle+ and LinkedIn.

Bruce Mayhew Consulting facilitates courses including Email Etiquette, Managing Difficult Conversations, Mindfulness, Time Management and more.

Give us a call at 416 617 0462. We’ll listen.

Bruce Mayhew on Canada AM

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Find answers to your Professional Development questions / needs at brucemayhewconsulting.com.

I’d enjoy reading your comments on this post.

7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Habit 6: Synergize

The first time I read Habit 6: Synergize from The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People I remember feeling a sense of a crescendo… that Habit 6 was unifying the previous Habits… both Personal Habits (Habits 1 – Habits 3), and the Interdependent Habits (Habits 4 – Habits 5… and 6). And then I came across a quote from Stephen R. Covey in the Habit 6 chapter that confirmed my feeling, it reads, “the true test and manifestation of all of the other habits put together.”Screen Shot 2014-03-07 at 4.31.35 PM

What Is Synergize?

Synergy is what happens when two or more forces choose to work together with open, trusting intention to embrace each others differences and to overcome the challenges that will inevitably arise.  The benefit of Synergy is that the end result will be something that is far superior to anything that could exist without the cooperation and sharing of the forces.

In The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People Stephen Covey writes about how:

  • Synergy has the ability to unify forces (people, departments, companies, countries)
  • Synergy is important to being an important leader and a successful, sustainable organization

In the context of two or more people – it is the minds, experiences, and openness and mutual respect of each person coming together that creates a new alternative.

Synergy & Steve Jobs

I believe synergy was a key approach Steve Jobs used to create the Apple empire (as I learned from the Steve Jobs biography written by Walter Isaacson). From this biography I don’t think I’d call Steve a great leader, but it does seem Steve Jobs was exceptionally good at identifying greatness in others, connecting people and inspiring them to find unique – new solutions to challenges (often that he imposed). Under his watch there was rapid product-line evolution and innovation.

Embrace Differences

It is important to note that it is our differences that make synergize possible.

Bruce Speaking On Global TV

Bruce Speaking On Global TV

The truth of Habit 6 is that differences are what make synergize so powerful.  For example: When two people have different experience / education and when they learn to embrace / respect each others differences and work together, what they create will be greater than what each individual could create on their own. If they are very similar, their accomplishment would not be synergy. Why? Because when everyone has similar values / needs etc… nobody is motivated to look for new opportunities – to stretch; compromise is Lose / Win.

Differences Example:  If you represent a lady’s shoe company with 100 customers and you buy another ladies shoe company with 100 customers, chances are the manufacturing, delivery, marketing will be similar and the merger will be relatively easy… but you are still representing a lady’s shoe company and in the end will likely have less than 200 customers – because of pre-existing customer overlap.

But, if you are representing a lady’s shoe company with 100 customers and you buy a mans shoe company with 100 customers, chances are the manufacturing, delivery, marketing will be different and there will be many challenges to work through (opportunity for synergy), as you merge… but because of synergy you are now representing a whole new shoe company and perhaps have up to 400 customers (cross selling to exiting customers husbands/wives/partners).

When there is a clearly defined common purpose, differences lead to better outcomes.

Embracing differences does not mean you have to become each others best friend. For example, when you have two or more leaders with strong Type A personalities working together… cooperation will be difficult sometimes. But, embracing differences does mean we have to remain open to the different ideas, values, needs and feelings of others.  When we do this we gain new insights and it is a learning opportunity (personal growth).

What’s Required For Synergize?

When people / companies work under these guidelines, synergy and new ideas begin to emerge.  Participants / companies have to:

  • Have one common vision – one common goal
  • Be different
  • Have a sense of self
  • Stay open to differences and new ideas – stay authentic
  • Embrace trust
  • Accept the better way will likely not be their way…100%
  • Offer respect to everyone – everything
  • Be able to apologize and forgive
  • Practice mindful listening (listen with empathy)
  • Maintain an open desire to understand
  • Control negative judgment
  • Stay with Win / Win (not Negative synergy Win/Lose or Lose)

Conclusion: Building Partnerships

When you synergize you have to spend less time fixing problems because your employees are working with each other and creating systems and learning expertise and efficiency as they drop their guards and increase synergy – between team members and across teams.

It is a struggle for people and companies to synergize because the ‘old’ way of doing business is more of a push system – not a collaborative, synergistic solution. But you can succeed by creating alignment / vision at the top and by training and supporting your staff to ensure synergy is taking place.

The highest level of communication is positive synergy (Win / Win) communication. The truly effective person remains positive by being is mindful of their own abilities and limitations, and respectful of the abilities… and limitations of the people around them.

Happy communicating.

Click here to join our priority list of people who receive our latest Business Communication blog posts.

If you enjoyed this post we think you’ll like:

Bruce Mayhew Consulting facilitates courses including Email Etiquette, Managing Difficult Conversations, Multigenerational Training, Time Management and Mindfulness.

Find answers to your Professional Development questions / needs at brucemayhewconsulting.com.

Give us a call at 416 617 0462. We’ll listen.

Bruce Mayhew on Canada AM

Click on the image to watch us on Canada AM.

I’d enjoy reading your comments on this post.

Reference Material:

  • Stephen R. Covey: 7 Habits of Highly Effective People ©
  • Michael Bungay Stanier: Do More Great Work ©
  • Walter Isaacson: Steve Jobs
  • My experience

7 Habits of Highly Effective People Habit 5: ‘Seek First To Understand’.

 

Principles of Empathic Communication / Empathic Listening

My introduction to Habit 5 of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People happened without me realizing. When I was young I was taught to not speak when someone else was speaking… unfortunately I didn’t realize I was also supposed to listen.

When I entered the professional workforce my mother gave me a piece of advice. She said, “keep your ears open.” Mom was correctly identifying that my best chances of making an intelligent contribution (and my boss happy he hired me), was if I strived ‘First To Understand‘ before I offered an opinion. Since then Moms’ advice has continued to serve me well.

When I became a student of Performance Management, I noticed Mom’s advice turned up in most books and lectures – although expressed differently. Stephen R. Covey refers to the idea of Empathic Listening many times throughout 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, he addresses it specifically in Habit 5 as ‘Seek First To Understand, Then To Be Understood’.

It’s not surprising when I became a student of Mindfulness I quickly saw the connection to Stephen R. Coveys work since Empathic Listening is similar to Mindful ListeningI now believe this empowering pair of Performance Management and Mindfulness make a great – supportive partnership.

Seek First To Understand, Then To Be Understood

Empathic Listening

Empathic listening means we turn off our filter of ‘How is that going to affect me/my team/my goals’. Mindful Listening

Empathic listening means we listen FIRST with an open, respectful mindset of ‘let me try to understand this persons’ needs, goals, pressures and feelings’. Empathic Listening focuses on the speaker, building trust and seeking to understand because where trust and understanding exists, people will openly – actively look for opportunities to help you.

If you think about how you’ll respond while someone is speaking, you are not practicing Empathic Listening or Mindful Listening. Don’t confuse Empathic Listening and Mindful Listening with reflective listening or mimicking. Empathic Listening and Mindful Listening are much more involved.

Four Styles We Use To Respond

We traditionally respond using one of four styles. Unfortunately these don’t often build trust with the people we are communicating, therefore,  change in our behaviour is required. These four styles are:Empathy At Work

  • We evaluate (either agree or disagree… using our own experience as reference)
  • We probe (ask questions… using our own experience as reference)
  • We advise (give council… using our own experience as reference)
  • We interpret (we make assumptions about their motives… using our own experience as reference)

These response types do not use empathy. The following demonstrates a positive approach to empathic listening; a very similar approach I learned when I began studying Mindfulness. It requires we use empathy to focus on what someone is saying, AND how someone is feeling.

Example V1 (Using Empathy):

  • Customer. “I hate the long lineups here.”
  • Store Manager. “I’m sensing that you are feeling frustrated by the long wait times you are experiencing.”
  • Customer. “That’s part of it, it bothers me that my Mom doesn’t have a place to sit.”
  • Store Manager. “I see, you’re feeling concerned that Mom doesn’t have a place to sit.”
  • Customer. “Yes. It means mom feels tired for the rest of the day and I’m worried she might fall either here or after she leaves because she’s so tired. She really likes to get out of the house – but she may have to stop coming here.”

Notice the Store Manager kept exploring the customers feelings.

Example V2 (Traditional):

  • Customer. “I hate the long lineups here.”
  • Store Manager. “I’m sorry about the lineups. I have a plan to put on more staff next week to take care of it.”

The important learning from this example is that by exploring feelings the people we speak with have opportunity to correct our incorrect assumptions and add clarity to what they’ve said. This process also helps the person you’re speaking with explore his or her own thoughts and feelings. Sometimes they can even resolve their own challenges… or at least be calmer and more open to consider multiple options. In this short example two important things have already happened.

  1. The customer has gone from hate and frustration to less volatile feelings of concern and worry. This means they are likely becoming easier to interact with.
  2. Everyone realizes the biggest challenge isn’t the wait times; it’s the need for places to sit.
  • Without knowledge, the solution was to add more staff – which may still not eliminate all wait times.
  • With knowledge, the Win/Win solution is to purchase a few chairs – it’s quick, inexpensive and long-term.

Diagnose Before You Prescribe

Before becoming a corporate trainer focusing on individual and team effectiveness I worked for Scotiabank in Corporate Marketing and helped Product Managers develop and market product enhancements.  We would spend time with clients and the Corporate Sales teams to identify both client needs/priorities as well as evaluate how to best market these products / enhancements. We had to understand needs before we designed and implemented product enhancements sales training and sales resources. We diagnosed before we prescribed solutions.

Stephen provides a very good example of Diagnose Before You Prescribe in 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People.

Optometrist Example.

A patient needs glasses so his optometrist gives the patient his own glasses because they work so well for him. Unfortunately, they make it worse for the patient and the patient politely tells him so.  The optometrist responds by saying the patient was ungrateful because he knows the glasses work perfectly.

Clearly the doctor didn’t try to diagnose before he prescribed a solution and was using a one-size-fits all approach.  The doctor failed to ‘Understand’.

Empathy At Work Takes Too Much Time

Nonsense.

Some people say empathy at work takes too much time. It does take time, but the most efficient thing you can do is to be in the present moment and be patient. Consider all of the days, money and resources wasted when we don’t seek first to understand.

Doctor Example Of Empathy At Work Taking Too Much Time:

Consider how much time a doctor would save if they did the following:

  • Everyone that came in with a headache – the doctor gave an aspirin and sent away
  • Everyone that came in with an upset stomach – the doctor gave an antacid and sent away
  • Everyone that came in with a sore arm – the doctor gave a tourniquet and sent away

During a day there would be lots of people seen but few provided appropriate care. These patients would either come back to that doctor or be escalated to a hospital… wasting time and money for everyone including the doctor.

Conclusion 

Different people will see the same challenge differently… and this is a good thing. I might be creative – you analytical. Many of our values may also be different.  By being patient with each other we can explore a richness to find a Win/Win solution.

The empathic listener can actually get to the important needs / objectives quickly so that the focus is on the Important Work / Quadrant II Work. When you truly focus on understanding someone’s needs and feelings, it becomes easier to calmly find intersections with your own goals / objectives where you can focus on your circle of influence and work toward a mutually beneficial WIN/WIN solution.

Ultimately – people want to be understood so I encourage you practice your listening skills.

Happy communicating.

Click here to join our priority list of people who receive our latest Business Communication blog posts.

If you enjoyed this post we think you’ll like:

Bruce Mayhew Consulting facilitates courses including Email Etiquette, Managing Difficult Conversations, Multigenerational Training, Time Management and Mindfulness.

Find answers to your Professional Development questions / needs at brucemayhewconsulting.com.

Give us a call at 416 617 0462. We’ll listen.

Bruce Mayhew on Canada AM

Click on the image to watch us on Canada AM.

I’d enjoy reading your comments on this post.

Reference Material:

  • Stephen R. Covey: 7 Habits of Highly Effective People ©
  • Michael Bungay Stanier: Do More Great Work ©
  • Zindel Segal  Jon Kabat-Zin (general)
  • My experience

7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Habit 4: Think Win/Win

Does your organization think Win/Win? In most organizations their employee reward systems are hurting sales, fulfillment, profit, employee satisfaction and their brand reputation because their reward systems are designed to have employees compete against each other – not compete as a team in a Win/Win environment.

Example:

Imagine we have 10 sales people. The yearend reward system is structured as follows:

  • The Top sales person gets an all expense paid vacation. He/she feel great.
  • Next two sales people get a weekend away. Unfortunately, they still feel like they’ve lost.
  • The remaining 7 people (who still performed well), receive a standard raise, unfortunately they really feel they’ve lost.

In addition:

  • The Top sales person likely reached their goal early so stopped selling… or put off sales to help ensure they win Top prize next year.
  • Winner 2 and 3 might have also stopped selling early if they knew they could not catch the Top sales person.
  • The pride and morale of the remaining 7 has certainly taken a significant hit. In addition, they likely knew they were not going to be in the top three early on which means they stopped working on their stretch goal early on.
  • And finally… there are now between 7 and 9 people who likely feel under-valued and who might be looking for an employer who does make them feel valued (and the Top person might feel they deserve better).

There are many challenges with this all too common scenario including two often-overlooked disadvantages:

  • The company didn’t win; in fact the company lost because most if not all of their sales people held back sales or lost motivation.
  • The customers didn’t win because sales people likely delayed important sales or provided unmotivated customer service.

Imagine the benefit of a Win/Win environment where everyone wants to do their best. Imagine the success and the influence the Top 3 sales people could have had if they acted as mentors – teaching best practices to the other 7 members while utilizing their energy, excitement and creativity. Imagine the long-term benefit and brand reputation that develops when customers experience a fully integrated organization that is clearly focused on their satisfaction.

When the internal organizational structures are in place to support a Win/Win approach, personal ability and team performance are magnified. The success each individual – team – and organization experience are greater than if they were working against each other – not trusting each other.

Dimensions of a Win/Win Solution

Clearly when it’s Win/Win everyone benefits except the competition. When it’s Win/Lose there is someone who will not be 100% invested… which means employees, customers and the business are the losers while your competition benefits.

Stephen R. Covey describes the principle of a Win/Win relationship requiring 3 mutual experiences for all involved.  Those being:

Bruce Speaking On Global TV

Bruce Speaking On Global TV about Millennials

  1. Mutual Learning
  2. Mutual Influence
  3. Mutual Benefit

Stephen R. Covey also describes the principle of a Win/Win relationship needing to be supported by 3 personal / interpersonal and 2 organizational traits. I would suggest that All 5 of these foundational traits need to be nurtured by the organization… not just the last 2. Therefore, allowing room for my interpretation these Win/Win personal and organizational traits can be broken down as follows:

  • Character (Personal / Interpersonal and Organizational)
    • Integrity
    • Maturity
    • Abundance Mentality
  • Relationship (Personal / Interpersonal and Organizational)
    • Trust
    • Respect
    • Credibility
  • Agreement to Cooperate (Personal / Interpersonal and Organizational)
    • Goal
    • Guidelines
    • Resources
    • Responsibility / Accountability
    • Consequences
      • Financial
      • Psychological
      • Opportunity
      • Responsibility
  • Support Systems (Organizational)
  • Processes (Organizational)

The Win/Win paradigm believes that everyone can fulfill their dreams / goals because team success will provide enough for everyone to share.

Implementing a Win/Win Solution

One of the first steps when integrating an innovative Win/Win corporate environment is to align all internal reward and recognition systems. This is critical! Good faith and trust are paramount and can overcome previously existing structural and cultural barriers, however, if one department or Leader rewards Win/Lose (internal competition), then the whole organizational ecosystem and success is in jeopardy.

Win/Win cannot exist in an environment of internal competition

Win/Win can thrive in an environment of external competition 

External competition is good as long as it does not create competition internally – even between one team and another.  It can be used to help identify a goal – even a stretch goal for the team / organization to reach. Internal competition is not a friend of Win/Win – it undermines the trust required. One of the rare circumstances a variation of internal completion can be used would be to compete against last years results, market norms or other business / products / services in the market.

For Win/Win to work, the systems have to support it.  The training system, the planning system, the communication system, the budgeting system, the information system, the compensation system – all have to be based on the principle of Win/Win.” Stephen R. Covey.

Stephen suggests individuals / teams can align their objectives for mutual benefit by using a 4 step approach. I offer these 4 steps below – with my expanded insight:

  1. Look at the problem [assignment / situation] with an open [creative] mind [that considers what can be done – not what can’t be done.  This positive approach to thinking is called affirmative action]
  2. Identify [and agree upon] objectives
  3. Identify [and agree upon] approaches, [process, threats and resources]
  4. Identify [and agree upon] tactics to meet your objectives

In the end – living within a Win/Win paradigm requires individuals and organizations to embrace a culture of honesty, integrity, maturity and abundance. A Win/Win solution balances efforts on both the P (Production), as well as the PC (Production Capability)… caring for the output while also ensuring the process that creates the output is cared for. Stephen calls this investment ‘sharpening the saw’ in habit #3.

Conclusion

Having a business culture of Win/Win is within reach and quite inexpensive – especially when considering the financial benefits. The key ingredients of a Win/Win organizational culture and brand reputation is to design all access to information, reporting and rewards to ensure everyone when there is a win that everyone (the individuals, teams and the organization) win; hence the Win/Win paradigm.

Happy communicating, creating workplace harmony and reducing employee turnover.

Click here to join our priority list of people who receive our latest Business Communication blog posts.

If you enjoyed this post we think you’ll like:

Bruce Mayhew Consulting facilitates courses including Email Etiquette, Managing Difficult Conversations, Multigenerational Training, Time Management and Mindfulness.

Find answers to your Professional Development questions / needs at brucemayhewconsulting.com.

Give us a call at 416 617 0462. We’ll listen.

Bruce Mayhew on Canada AM

Click on the image to watch us on Canada AM.

I’d enjoy reading your comments on this post.

Reference Material:

  • Stephen R. Covey: 7 Habits of Highly Effective People ©
  • Michael Bungay Stanier: Do More Great Work ©
  • My experience

7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Habit 3

Put First Things First – or as I like to say….”Do your important things first.”

My first memory of Stephen R. Covey was many years ago watching the video clip I’ve linked here where he gives an example of Habit #3 called Big Rocks. There is a strong relationship between this example and his 4 Quadrant Time Management Matrix theory. I summarize this relationship as follows:

  • Big rocks represent the key activities (Quadrant II), therefore they matter most because they are strategically important and not urgent.
  • Small rocks (not used in this video), represent smart activities (Quadrant I), therefore are strategically important and urgent.
  • Pebbles represent busy activities (Quadrant III), therefore matter least. They are not strategically important but often appear urgent.

The Time Management Matrix is a resource to help us make decisions and prioritize the conflicting daily demands we encounter.

Time Management Matrix

I enjoy asking two questions of Stephen Covey’s Big Rocks example:

  1. What is the point of this exercise?
  2. Why are the big rocks not urgent?

Two answers are:

  1. It’s not that we can always fit more into our schedule (a recipe for burn-out).  The point is that if we don’t put the big rocks in first we will never get ALL rocks and pebbles in (with room to spare if planned correctly).  The things that matter most should never be at the mercy of the things that matter least.
  2. The big rocks are not urgent because we are proactive.  The strategically important tasks are days, weeks, months in the future and we have broken the work into sizable chunks than can be managed in a timely, controlled way.

Habit #3 is about choosing to make Habit 1 (Empowerment), and Habit 2 (Vision) part of our daily behaviour.

Recap from previous posts:

Habit #1 Personal Empowerment. We can choose to act/respond.
Habit #2 Make Thoughtful Decisions.  We are responsible for our decisions, vision and values.

Unfortunately, most of us spend most of our time in Quadrant III. This doesn’t make our work important… it just makes us busy, stressed and less effective with our truly important tasks.

Example:

You are a professional body builder and your peak physical productivity is in the morning. So, to be most effective you would do your hardest workouts in the morning… not leave the workout to end of day.

If you are a professional executive I can almost guarantee your peak creativity productivity is in the morning – therefore you should do your creative, strategic work in the morning. Leave routine – low priority work like email to the afternoon.  I know answering a hundred email feels rewarding… but most of our email is busy work – it can wait a few hours until our important / strategic work is done.

It’s all too easy to push aside Quadrant II work because the due date of that deliverable will be in the future.

Habit #3 (and Habit #1), of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People means we can choose to ‘Act, not be Acted Upon’.

How To Move Forward

You have the power to reinvent how you approach your day.

At first you may want to adopt Habit #3 slowly – perhaps the first (most important), 2 hours of your day. Don’t allow interruptions. Go work in a conference room if you need to – certainly, turn off email.

Focus on your big, important, non-urgent tasks. Prioritize what you, your boss or shareholders measure.  These items should remain non-urgent (Quadrant II), because you will keep them under control. If they become urgent it probably means you’ve let them slide in favour of other “Busy Work”.

Every week – revisit your true key 3 or 4 goals and use your creative imagination and a well implemented plan to succeed.

The Importance Of Saying No

Get used to saying no (or at least not now), to in favour of your Quadrant II (non-urgent but important), activities.

We all struggle with conflicting daily demands. Some non-strategic things we need to say no to… or at least say not now.  If these small activates threaten our ability to do our important work then it is our choice to succeed or fail.

To change we have to break our habits in favour of new habits – we can’t stop smoking if we keep lighting up. 

Habit #3 of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is not a quick fix. Do First Things First is called a ‘habit’ for a reason.  This is a long-term life skill commitment to things that matter most. It’s a habit to help us achieve the priorities and quality of life and success we want.

At home it might be as simple as stop watching TV and instead pull out a book or play a game with our child.

At work we might re-arrange our work schedule so we have dedicated “Help Others with their URGENT items” time between 3PM and 4PM in the afternoon… not in the morning when our personal productivity is at its peak.

What do you want to achieve?
Habit #2 asks – how do you want to be remembered by people close to you?

Conclusion:

Quadrant II is deeply important and not urgent; it is where we want to spend our time / resources. Quadrant II is the quadrant of quality and personal leadership – where we:

  • Plan
  • Give creativity and brainstorming space
  • Broaden our minds
  • Prepare for important meetings
  • Delegate
  • Listen to our partners
  • Act

Unfortunately, most people spend most of their time in Quadrant III and IV – which means our leadership / life-changing activities are not being addressed.

One Day At Work

A typical day integrating Best Time Management Practices might look like this.

Quadrant II is our most important quadrant.  It depends on us knowing our objectives based on our future planning / envisioning work we did in Habit #2. 

Happy, safe and healthy communicating.

Click here to join our priority list of people who receive our latest Business Communication blog posts.

If you enjoyed this post we think you’ll like:

Bruce Mayhew Consulting facilitates courses including Email Etiquette, Managing Difficult Conversations, Multigenerational Training, Time Management and Mindfulness.

Find answers to your Professional Development questions / needs at brucemayhewconsulting.com.

Give us a call at 416 617 0462. We’ll listen.

Bruce Mayhew on Canada AM

Click on the image to watch us on Canada AM.

I’d enjoy reading your comments on this post.

Reference Material:

  • Stephen R. Covey: 7 Habits of Highly Effective People ©
  • My experience

7 Habits Of Highly Effective People: Habit 2

7 Habits Of Highly Effective People: Habit 2 is ‘Begin With The End In Mind’.

Begin With The End In Mind means learning from your past, understanding where you are today and most importantly planning your future. It’s about making thoughtful decisions and being responsible for those decisions.  Begin With The End In Mind is about taking ownership of your vision and values and using your unique talents to purposefully live your life to it’s fullest.

Begin With The End In Mind answers the question “What do you want your family, friends, professional and spiritual contacts to say about:

  • Your character?
  • Your contribution?”

It’s more than being busy, it’s about you achieving your desired lifetime goals.

Do the big events in your life happen by chance or are your big events the result of conscious decisions that are inline with your circle of influence?

Habit 1 of 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People discusses your Circle of Influence vs. Circle of Concern.  Do you live your life focused on your circle of influence – doing the things that are important to you?

Habit 2 is about planning; it’s about mapping out your efforts in specific areas that are important to you (your goals), and to measure everything you do towards achieving your goals.

Dream Your Destiny

Begin with the end in mind means you have to dream your destiny before it can become real.  

Example: A Home Renovation

I recently renovated a home. Some walls had to be torn down – some had to be built. Note: It’s rewarding taking a sledgehammer to a wall that no longer make sense –  lightly disguised parallel to life.

Personal Leadership was important throughout the home renovation process.  Before I began renovating I had to create a new vision for the house. I had to known in advance what I was tearing down, what I was leaving and why… because if I tore down walls that should stay it would be a waste of time and money… and risk the project vision. I had to make sure I was doing the right things.

Stephen R. Covey quotes Peter Drucker and Warren Bennis. “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.”  Habit 2 of 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People is clearly about Personal Leadership.

When it comes to personal life, business and your career, Begin With The End In Mind helps you know where to reinforce your foundation and what walls to keep or build. Habit 2 helps you make sure you are doing the right things.

What’s Important To You?

Stephen also discusses The Principal Centre in Habit 2 of 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People.  The Principal Centre is a model that helps us remember that any decision we make impacts all of the other areas of our life. 

Screen Shot 2014-01-13 at 9.14.17 AM

There is great value in exploring The Principal Centre in the context of personal values and questions like, “How do I use my values to make decisions that impact these areas of my life?” and, “What other areas of my life might I be impacting when I make a decision about work?”

Make It Real: Make It Happen

Mastering habit 2 of 7 Habit Of Highly Effective People doesn’t happen overnight – it is an evolutionary journey on which you actively evaluate your past, your goals and become the architect of your future.

How we respond is up to us and will ALWAYS be an expression of our values. In addition, how we respond may be the first impression someone has of us… so it’s important we respond mindfully.

There are many situations we encounter and have to respond to on a daily, weekly basis.  They can include how we respond to:

  • A traffic jam
  • Acquiring a new customer
  • A star employee resigning
  • Your partner unexpectedly sending you flowers

Creating Affirmation Statements helps us practice mindfulness and visualize our response to situations in advance. I encourage you to do this – especially for challenging situations because this preparation will help you visualize in advance how you will express our core values when you respond. 

Example: Situation is…  A Traffic Jam

Your Affirmation Statement may be, “I will not get upset when I’m in a traffic jam; instead I will be mindful and I will breath. I will respond with thoughtful patience, self-control and respect for the other drivers who are sharing the same experience.”  Stephen R. Covey outlines a good affirmation statement should have five ingredients.  They are:

  1. Personal
  2. Positive
  3. Present Tense
  4. Visual
  5. Emotional

Conclusion:

Act or be acted upon with grace, humility, patience and a plan.

Taking risks will be part of the overall experience and learning curve.  The journey will help shape your unique experience and character while your vision and values will be your guide. In my Time Management training I discuss the importance of recognizing Important work from Busy work. Important work is your center of influence; busy work is your center of concern.

The world is changing so quickly that a static long-term plan is a risk. My experience and my work with Mindfulness confirms that a a short-term plan is often best, and that our values are our best guide as strive to make our vision reality.

Begin with the end in mind means learning from your past and looking to your future – it’s about making thoughtful decisions and being responsible for those decisions.  It’s about personal leadership, taking ownership of your vision and values and having the patience to plan, listen to and respect ourselves and the people we encounter.

So, one more time… what do you want your family, friends, professional and spiritual contacts to say about:

  • Your character?
  • Your contribution?

Happy communicating.

Click here to join our priority list of people who receive our latest Business Communication blog posts.

If you enjoyed this post we think you’ll like: Improve Your Time Management SkillsGenerational Differences Training, 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People: Habit 1 and Effective Business Email Writing Training.

Bruce Mayhew Consulting facilitates courses including Email Etiquette, Managing Difficult Conversations, Multigenerational Training, Time Management and Mindfulness.

Find answers to your Professional Development questions / needs at brucemayhewconsulting.com.

Give us a call at 416 617 0462. We’ll listen.

Bruce Mayhew on Canada AM

Click on the image to watch us on Canada AM.

I’d enjoy reading your comments on this post.

Reference Material:

  • Stephen R. Covey: 7 Habits of Highly Effective People ©
  • Michael Bungay Stanier: Do More Great Work ©
  • Zindel Segal  Jon Kabat-Zin (general)
  • My experience
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