Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Managing Email is Managing Time

Excerpt from the book: Organizational Strategies for the Overwhelmed.

I do believe this is another of the competencies I mentioned in the introduction that needs to be developed.  Effective email management is a skill.

If you can manage your email 1% better - you’ll create more time to get more work done. With the suggestions to follow, find your 1% edge.

Email can be an effective way of communicating, but I believe and have experienced, that the lack of skill in using it just creates more work. A lot of time is wasted with email.

With that in mind, I recommend you adopt this mindset regarding email:
Email is a tool to manage the virtual experience. It is a tool to work with people through a process to get to a result. (So is text and the phone for that mater). 

You know there are a lot of expectations when people communicate virtually that are in their head but don’t get put on paper.

Here’s what I mean. How many times have you gotten a request for something from a colleague and there was no indication of when it’s needed - no time and date?  How many emails don’t have enough information in them and therefore requires 3 or 4 more email exchanges just to get from point A to point B.
Because most people do not use email effectively, I recommend developing this skill:
Be more specific, informative, & directive when using and writing emails.
So what is specific, informative and directive? Tell people what to think, how to behave, and what to expect as specifically as possible.
For example - have a format or template that you use on a regular basis. If someone sends a request for something and it doesn’t have all the information, send it back with specific instruction on exactly what you need at the exact time and date you need it.
In some cases you already to do this. When I’m conducting a seminar I ask, “How many of you have your out of office reply on?”  Many raise their hand. Then I ask then to share what it says. Many will say, “I’ll be out of the office on x day returning on x date. If you need assistance call x at extension 3560.”
That is a great example of instructive, informative, and directive. It clearly illustrates tell them what to think – what to expect – how to behave.”
Here’s the overriding point to remember: e-mail like voicemail is a tool to manage a virtual experience and relationship in the context of trying to execute work.  It’s about managing behavior, results, and expectations.
It’s useful to think:  “I’m managing my relationship (or experience) with this person and I’m communicating with them through e-mail, and that’s apart of a relationship.  This person has a personality.  This person has a work style with certain characteristics that are either helping me or hindering me and I need to communicate in a way to coach that person so that I get the results I want in the most efficient and effective way.”
This is an excerpt from the book: Organizational Strategies for the Overwhelmed -
To learn more - click here | It's available in a variety of formats.

This blog is based on this book. In it are actionable ideas on being a better manager: The 1% Edge - The Workbook - Power Strategies to Increase Your Management Effectiveness

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Who's Up For the 1% Challenge? - An Excellent Time Management Strategy

Do you like a challenge?  I hope so!  I want to present a challenge the readers of this blog.  In the spirit of the title of the featured book for this site: The 1% Edge,  I challenge every reader to improve their productivity by 1% a day.  This is an excellent time management strategy!

Why 1%? Consider this, if you can improve by 1% a day, you can improve your effectiveness in 70 days! (It's also called "the slight edge rule".)   Really? Test it! (I sound like a broken record - but that's what a coach does!)

I find that fact in order to increase productivity -- to be more efficient and effective,  it does not take lots of big things, but in fact little things that are just done consistently.

So who's ready for the challenge?  Who is willing to join The 1% Club? Challenge your friends and colleagues to take on the challenge.  Invite them to join this blog and participate in this challenge. Here's your chance to lead your whole team to increase productivity by using this forum as your resource.

I'll be providing tips on how and where to find your 1%. Participates can post how they've achieved their 1% that day.

Here's your first 1% area: EMAIL
Email can take over your life.  In fact as part of the information coming into our workspace, in some cases we take as much time managing email as getting actual work done.

So here is your 1% Challenge: Sort Your Inbox Quickly - This is an excellent time management tip! The 1% edge comes in your ability to make decisions quicker combined with a specific strategy.

Email usually falls into one of 4 categories: Reply (or something that you need to take action on), Reference, Refer On, or Retire (had to find an 'r" word for delete).

So here's the technique. Set up 2 "temporary holding folders" for the first 2 "r's":
1. Reply-Action
2. Reference (this is something you need to hold on to for ready reference).

Where you can - reply quickly, if not put in Reply-Action folder. The same with reference -  move those emails into that folder quickly. For Refer On - forward immediately and for retire - delete immediately. Now challenge yourself to do this fast.  Don't belabor the sorting...just move through your email quickly.

Key tips: Create the habit of sorting quickly.
You might even want to time yourself or give yourself a time limit.

Ok...there's your 1% tip and challenge.  Please post your progress and if you need feedback on this technique, I'll be monitoring comments.

To your 1%!
If you need more help with productivity, time management or getting more organized, then you'll want to pick up the book or audio Organizational Strategies for the Overwhelmed - learn more here

Does your team need help? Consider bringing a workshop to your organization. I consider this one of 5 individual contributor competencies that should be delivered during onboarding. Learn more here.

Did you know this blog has it's own app?  Download The 1% Edge Portable Coach for mobile learning at your finger tips!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Got Creative Thinking? -- If Not You're Missing Out

I just finishing speaking at SHRM15 and what fun was had! I am so excited my creative and innovative thinking session was so well received. Though it was at the end of the conference, many people said they were glad they stayed and someone even stopped me in the Las Vegas airport to tell me the experience made her day! 

Here's a few comments: 

Creative & Innovative Thinking - The Next New Skill still proves to be one of my most requested topics for keynotes and conference break-outs.  Yet, I think it's not being requested enough.  My belief? -- every company needs to have this topic as one of their required workshops for every employee (along with time management - see my complete recommendations of Individual Core Competency topics series).

Why you ask?...because creative and innovative thinking is the key to addressing many things that adversely impact the competitive challenges that companies and employees face such as productivity, the ability to manage, sense of work satisfaction, retaining talent and name a few.

How? The best way to answer that is to share some of the benefits of learning how to think and tapping the creative resource each employee has. To follow are those that are top on my list :

1). Learning to think creatively is learning how to think.  Many people don't know how or don't want to put forth the effort (and then their managers think for them and subsequently resent it!) Consider this quote from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 

"Rarely do we find men who willingly engage in hard, solid thinking. There is an almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions.

2). Employees who are trained to and expected to think independently increase their engagement, contribute more, are more personally motivated, feel more job satisfaction and are generally easier to manage. It's an essential component of talent management.

3). Learning to think creativity contributes to the life blood of a company -- continuous improvement for continuous and increased profits. I call it "the ability to create new". Consider this "new" list:
a new way to save money on a product
a new way to save money on a process or procedure
a new way to negotiate with vendors
a new way of reaching customers
a new way of presenting a product
a new way of executing a process
a new way of recruiting talent
a new way of retaining talent
a new way to reward employees
a new product
a revised product (innovation)
a new way to price
a new way to engage customers
a new way to ..... you fill in the blank with what your company needs

4). The follow up to #3 is creative and innovative thinking helps in nurturing better decision-making and judgement which is fundamental to success in any realm.

5). The knowledge and experience that one can think creatively reduces stress because there is a ready confidence that "problems" can be adequately addressed and a sense of crisis is kept to a minimum. Problems are essentially seen as challenges with hope. I believe and have experienced that problem solving is an essential employee skill and ultimately life skill!

6). is a tricky one. Creative and innovative thinking teaches us not to think -- that is over-think.  Many times over-thinking inhibits the ability to generate new idea. Over thinking is just churning up the same old stuff over and over again. Over-thinking becomes the paralysis of analysis.  This speaks to an Einstein quote in my previous article - Creativity - The Next New Skill

7). And finally on a human level - creativity feeds hope.  It empowers and lifts the human spirit and fuels motivation to achieve and to leverage resources.

Now you see why I believe having a creative and innovative thinking workshop included in every training curriculum is absolutely necessary and is truly an investment vs. an expense.

Book one today - click here to learn more.   | or email me -

Buy the new release Brain on Fire - Unleashing Your Creative Superpowers (discount available for bulk orders)