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Get More Done by Finding Your Energy Source

loveA lot of people report that they don’t have enough energy to do everything they want to do. Many people often feel tired before the day is through.

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georgeMy dad used to describe it this way, “My get-up-and-go got up and went!”

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marylynn I was at an event recently. A friend of mine is part of the staff of a non-for-profit organization. They had a bigg fundraising kickoff. It started at 6 in the morning and the whole purpose was to get people to stop for free coffee, a bagel, and a fun family pack. I got there a little after 6 and there was my friend, on the corner, hopping up and down hollering, “Free coffee” and I don’t even think she’d had any. I admired her energy. I think she’s a peppy person – she’s always positive, always smiling. But I also think she really loves what she does.

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So your energy comes in part from being prepared mentally. But that’s not the whole story. You also have to be physically ready for the day. Because, for example, if you only get two hours of sleep night after night – no matter how much you might try to psyche yourself up – you’re going to run out of energy.

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georgeI have a friend who is the most disciplined person I’ve ever met. He seems to have boundless energy. I’ve never seen him drink anything but water. I asked him what he does to get going in the morning. I knew he didn’t drink coffee, so I assumed he must chug a highly-caffeinated soft drink or two. Nope. He said he just runs about five miles!

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Of course, if you constantly feel low on energy, it may be a sign of a deeper problem – a problem that demands your doctor’s attention.

A simple tool to find more energy

We always hesitate to suggest too much recording and tracking. It works, but it creates an additional demand on a schedule that’s already too demanding.

But we’ve found it helpful to keep an Energy Diary. We record the time of day, the activity and make comments about how we’re feeling. Then we’re able to look for consistencies – activities that boosted our energy level and things that squelched it.

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marylynn I’ve felt tired today. I noticed that I got up earlier this morning than I did yesterday. But I went to bed at about the same time. I think I need to establish a more consistent sleeping pattern.

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georgeAs we were writing this show, I told Mary-Lynn that I felt tired. Maybe it’s the subject! Seriously, I realized that I had been up for about five hours, but I had not eaten anything until about a half-hour ago. It hasn’t kicked in yet. I think I should eat more regularly so my energy stays up.

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We like this because it’s completely personal. By tracking what you’re doing and whether you’re feeling energized or not, you can find your energy source so you get more done. Because if it works for you, it works!

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Want to be a BIGG success? Get the tips and tools you need by subscribing to the Bigg Success Weekly – it’s FREE!

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Next time, we’ll discuss how to deal with an upset customer. Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

 

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2 Tips for More Effective Project Status Reports

pm411_logo We visited with Ron Holohan today on The Bigg Success Show. Ron is a Certified Project Management Professional and is currently the Director of Program Management at Shure in Chicago. Ron also hosts a weekly project management internet radio show called The pm411.org Project Management Podcast, which has consistently been one of the top four project management shows on iTunes.

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marylynn We all know that project management can be a stickler. So we asked Ron to share two tips with us to create more effective project status reports.

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ronThe first tip is to focus only on the exceptions. What I mean by that is that you don’t want to throw everything in the kitchen sink into your status reports. No one wants to read all that. They want to be able to look at your status report and pull out just the information they need. So focus on the exceptions – those issues that have changed since your previous report. Your audience only gets the information they need so your status report is short and concise.

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georgeI think that’s a bigg one. It seems that you often see status reports that look like a “mind dump.” You see all the activity that’s happened since the last report. You get bored with it so you’re not able to help them. might call it stubborn.

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ronThat’s right. If someone wants to go back, they can always look at one of your previous reports for more information.

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marylynn Cut the fat … get to the meat. What’s another tip?

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ronAnother tip is to make your report as easy as possible to read. This is the same kind of ideas as Tip #1. You want to allow your audience to easily scan for details that interest them the most. One way to do that is by using something called “Stoplight Reporting” – you communicate progress by using different colors. A bullet point in green may mean this item is going according to plan. Yellow means that particular item needs to be watched. Red means action is required because that item is starting to go off track. You can actually use blue as well to indicate that particular item has been resolved or completed.

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marylynn Can you put a “Don’t Walk” in there?

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ronThat would be nice! Use short bullet points. You don’t want to write a paragraph; this isn’t going to win you a Pulitzer Prize. You’re just trying to convey simple facts to your audience. Also, use tables where you can. They’re great for listing things like milestones, budget information, or product material cost.

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georgeWhat’s interesting about this to me is that some people are good with words or numbers, but other people are very visual. So you’re giving your report in a way that allows your audience to consume it the way they prefer.

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marylynn I prefer stick figures!

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georgeIt’s a great system that you’ve outlined with the different colors. You instantly can see what’s going on. Now I assume what you talk about are the “yellows” and the “reds”.

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ronThat’s right. So if I was reading the report, my eyes would naturally look for those yellow and red bullets that need my attention the most.

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Ron’s freebie!
Ron has a free status report template available for you, complete with a Stoplight along with other great templates.

Thanks Ron for sharing your fantastic tips with us!

 

 

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Is Your Schedule Overloaded Like A Dishwasher?

dishwasherSome couples argue about whether the toilet paper should roll over or under. Others squabble about whether toothpaste should be squeezed from the bottom or the middle. We might be unique, but we have a running disagreement about how full the dishwasher should be.

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marylynn If you’re keeping an eye on the news, you see that a lot of large companies are cutting marketing and even customer service. They’re cutting jobs and even entire departments. They’re streamlining.

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georgeAnd Mary-Lynn doesn’t fill it up enough … we spend money we don’t need to because we waste water and electricity.

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marylynn Well, we spend money when we have to wash the dishes again because some of them didn’t get washed in the overload.

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So now you see where we reach an impasse!

More importantly, this whole dishwasher discussion made us think about our schedules.

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marylynn My theory is that if you put too much into your schedule, just like the dishwasher, you can’t get it all done.

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georgeI don’t disagree that you have to be careful about overloading your schedule. I may be guilty at times of doing that, just like I overload the dishwasher according to Mary-Lynn. But you know the old saying – if you want something done, give it to a busy person.

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marylynn It’s the old 80/20 rule – 80 percent of the work gets done in 20 percent of the time. It is true that when you’re super busy, it seems like you are more productive. However, when you get too overloaded, you may not achieve what you set out to do. The result – you get frustrated and discouraged. It can even paralyze you at times.

4 ways to keep from being overloaded

#1 – Plan for reaction time

georgeWhen I first started managing people, I often overbooked myself because I didn’t allow for time to respond to my employees. I’ve seen a lot of first-time managers make this same mistake. The closer you are to the front line, the more important this is. Allow time to react to customers and employees or you’ll find yourself with too much to do in too little time.

#2 – Understand your patterns 

marylynn George is more of a morning person … I’m more of an afternoon person. So we just don’t work together at all! Seriously, plan your schedule so you’re working on your most important activities when you’re at your best.

#3 – Work at human capacity

georgeThis is a tough one. My dad, who’s one of my heroes, always thought he could get done more in a day than he actually could. He taught me well! Make sure you’re not planning ten hours of work if you only have eight hours to do it. Realize that you’re human, too. There will be times when you need to slow down or take a break.

#4 – Sometimes it pays to procrastinate

marylynn A prime example is the post you’re reading. Yesterday, we were trying to get this show done and I just wasn’t feeling well. We felt like if we pressed on, our end product wouldn’t have been as good as what you’re reading now.

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georgeSo we decided to put it off for a day. There was no reason not to … and hopefully, you’ll agree that we did alright!

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marylynn Now if I can just get George to stop loading the dishwasher so full!

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The Riskiest Thing Most of Us Do Every Day

drivingWe saw a great post by John Grohol at PsychCentral called Distracted While Driving. He really caught our attention with one thought. We allow ourselves to be distracted while we drive because we think we’re playing a race against time. In reality, we’re playing against the odds.

A study by Virginia Tech Transportation Institute and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that about 80 percent of all crashes and 65 percent of all near-crashes involved someone who was distracted within three seconds of the event. 

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georgeI plead guilty as charged. I have to admit to using my car as a roaming second office. I store up phone messages and return calls while I’m on the road. .

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marylynnI’m in the car on a busy, busy day with all these things rolling through my mind. That’s one of the distractions that we often don’t take into account. I zone out … I don’t really pay attention like I should. I’m in my own world. .

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Psychologists have identified four types of distractions, according to Grohol’s article.

  • Visual … checking out an accident or looking at a billboard
  • Audible … cell phone calls, the radio, or another person talking
  • Physical … eating, flipping the dial, shuffling your iPod, or putting on make-up
  • Cognitive … daydreaming, thinking about other things in your life

Of course, a lot of distractions are multi-faceted. For example, talking on your cell phone includes three of these – audible, physical, and cognitive.

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marylynnI really do think it saves time. We have a friend who consults with us. He talks to us when he’s on his hour-and-a-half commute home. I can understand why you would use your phone when you have that long drive.

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georgeI won’t dispute that at all, but I now realize more than ever that I have to recognize the odds of something happening and take measures to try to minimize the distractions.

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Changes we plan to make

  • Leave earlier. When we have a lengthy trip, we usually don’t give ourselves the time to stop and eat. We gas, grab, and go … eating on the road. Leaving earlier will allow us time to stop and eat. We’ll probably eat healthier, too!
  • Ignore the phone. Granted, that’s a hard thing to do. So we’re going to turn our ringers off when we’re only going to be in the car for a short time.
  • Change our greetings. If we’re expecting an important call, we’ll change the greeting to let them know when we will be checking our messages.
  • Pull over (if we can). For those rare situations where we have to take the call, we’ll stop driving momentarily.

What's your biggest distraction while driving? 

 

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Is the Way You’re Spending Your Time Costing You Money?

moneyGeoffrey Moore, in his book Living on the Fault Line, discussed the “Core versus Context Model” for businesses. Core activities are things which set you apart from your competition and context is everything else. For many businesses, this may include administrative activities, marketing activities, and the like.

As we discussed his model, we realized that this works in our personal lives as well. You want to do more of the things you’re really good at and less of everything else. Usually, we really like to do what we’re good at so by focusing on just those tasks, we can advance in our careers.

Like for us, our strength is working on content for Bigg Success. At least we’d like to think so … or more importantly, we hope you think so!

For us, the contextual activities would be everything else. So for a couple of examples, we outsource our house cleaning and the yard work. Instead of spending time on these things, we can work on our business.

You’re getting a glimpse into how integrated our personal and professional lives are. Since we often work from home, all of these decisions are floating around together. We don’t think we’re alone on this – a lot of people are finding it pays to integrate their work life and their professional life.

By outsourcing your contextual activities, you save time and you open up the opportunity to make more money. It comes back to the time vs. money conundrum …

If you don’t have money, you have to invest more time.

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georgeFor example, if you start a business that is well-capitalized, you will be able to spend your time differently than if you start on a shoestring. With limited capital, you may have to take care of the janitorial work – a lot of business owners have done that. I’ve done that!

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At first, you may have to do it yourself because there’s no money. But you want to contract it out as soon as you can because it’s definitely a contextual activity, unless you happen to be the owner of a janitorial service.

Thinking about core vs. context helps you focus on where you want to spend your time and where you want to spend your money. You think twice about spending money because there’s something else that will let you spend more time on your core.

You may find that you spend your money on things that save you time, rather than cost you time.
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marylynnI want a bigg screen TV, but we would rather spend that money on a web person. Right now, I handle our web site. So when there are changes that need to be made, I get to work. But there are better uses of my time.

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Because we know that’s not in our core. Bigg Success is still in its early stages, so as soon as we can we’ll outsource this activity. Another example is publicity – right now, we do it ourselves. We want to contract with someone who is better at it than we are and can accomplish more than we can on our own.

So although we don’t have HDTV, we do have goals for that money!

It boils down to thinking about how much your time is worth. You may find that by contracting out certain activities, it costs you less than what you can make by spending your time working in your core.

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