Welcome to "Life of a Remote Leader"

This blog is intended as a guide to your leadership and professional development in the virtual workforce.

Our goal is to help you develop your foundation as a leader with a remote team, become proprietor within your industry and be known as a source of knowledge to your colleagues.

BusinessWeek’s Featured User: February 24th, 2010

Wednesday, February 24, 2010 Leave a comment

Jason was BusinessWeek’s Featured User on February 24th, 2010. There was a mention in the upper right corner on the site and it was also tweeted on their Twitter profile.

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The Simple Yellow Banana: How to simplify your life.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010 1 comment

(Photo: Jason Gulledge)

Did you ever notice how great the banana is? How it fits so nicely into your hand; how just by looking at it you can tell if it is ready to eat? Did you ever realize it has a built in pull tab for easy opening, the peel separates and falls back so gracefully and it’s even curved toward your face for easy consumption? Yes, it doesn’t get much better than the simple yellow banana.

For all the effectiveness the banana has to offer in its tight yellow package there is not much about it you can offer as a complaint; in fact the packaging is even biodegradable. So my question to you is how can you make your life simpler? What can you do to make everything you in your life as effective as the banana has? The answer is easy; it is execution that’s the hard part.

Going on an Information Diet:

“You don’t need to know everything; you just need to know where to go to get it.”

  • Watch a little less television.
  • Skip the morning paper occasionally.
  • Cut down on some of your internet time.

Think about it; do you really remember everything you read, watched or listened to at the end of the day? And of the things you do remember how important are they to your life? Does it really affect your life when a celebrity cheats on his wife? Unless you are his agent or he is endorsing your product, I’m guessing not. So why spend time cluttering your mind with information that is going to be yesterday’s news – tomorrow?

Instead spend some time with your family and friends or take some time for yourself to relax.

Apply the 80/20 rule:
Pareto’s Law says 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. This or similar ratios apply to most things in life.

  • 80% of your life’s complication is caused by 20% of….
  • 70% of your stress is created by 30% of….
  • 90% of your happiness comes from 10% of….

Think about what you can eliminate to remove the complicated stressful parts of your life and apply the extra time toward those things which make you happy and add simplicity to your existence.

Be in Control:

“You can’t control everything that happens in the world but you can control your response to it.”

Be in control of yourself. If someone is trying to argue with you; the only person who can allow you to get upset about what they are saying, is you! If you are feeling stress about an upcoming event, this may happen or that might go wrong; guess what? Those things are out of your control! What are you accomplishing by worrying about them? Have a contingency plan and move on.

All too often we get worked-up about things in life we have no control over, take time to assess the situation, determine if there is anything you can do to affect the outcome and if the answer is no, then let it go. Take control of your life and put your efforts toward the things you can contribute to and make your life simpler.

Once you start to let it all go, you will feel the stress dissipating and your mind focusing on what is truly important Let your own built-in effectiveness take over; the banana did it, why can’t you?

What are you going to do right now, to make your life simpler?

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What I’ve learned from playing with LEGO®

Tuesday, February 16, 2010 2 comments

(Photo: Legospective, originally uploaded by Guillermо.)

There I was, a young child, sitting in the middle of the floor in my parent’s living room with my box of LEGO® bricks, each in their own compartment sorted by color. My options were endless; with LEGO® I could be anyone, go anywhere and do anything. Now thirty odd years later in my own living room I relive those memories, sitting on the floor with my sons, toiling with them as they build their own LEGO® dreams.

As indirect as it may seem, I learned much from playing with my LEGO® building bricks. Many of those same lessons my sons will learn too.

1. Organization

“Organize your life around your dreams – and watch them come true.”

To this day, I am particularly organized; including lists, calendars, general tidiness and yes – color coding! Did it all start there so many years ago placing each color LEGO® into it’s own pile making sure none of the blue were mixed in with the red? Who knows, but I do know every day when it was time to clean up, each piece went back into its own color coded compartment ensuring the next time I brought them out, no sorting would be needed.

2. Following Instructions

I don’t remember them when I was a kid, but in today’s LEGO® sets there are step-by-step instructions of how to put together each item in the set. The coolest creations are made easy following along with page after page of pictures stepping you through the construction. Maybe it stifles the creativity a bit, but what it does is teach you how you can accomplish your tasks by following along with the directions. Not bad lessons to learn as you are starting out in life.

“Discoveries are often made by not following instructions, by going off the main road, by trying the untried.” – Frank Tyger

3. Creativity

“Creativity is the power to connect the seemingly unconnected.” – William Plomer

Once you get past the instructions and let your creativity flow, the options are infinite. With the LEGO® bricks in hand you can build whatever you want; there are no limits. When you build a straight up tower of bricks, it can be a rocket ship or a tall building or a sword, your imagination is your own limitation. Let your mind be your guide as you steer toward your life’s destiny.

4. Patience

“Patience is the companion of wisdom.” – Saint Augustine

Building with LEGO® bricks is a slow progression. It can be a grueling process, but it is a lesson in the value of patience. And patience is a virtue teaching you self control and restraint.

5. Attention to Detail

“In the successful organization, no detail is too small to escape close attention.” – Lou Holtz

Piece by piece you labor to advance your work of genius; each part needing to be in the right spot in order to achieve your desired outcome. I watch as my son studies in detail the pictures on the box, carefully calculating the placement and adjacencies needed in order to build his next LEGO® project. I recall similar analysis myself at a young age and to this day you can find me sitting down with a pad of paper and pencil to layout the design of my next project.

6. Adapt to the Situation

“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. – George Bernard Shaw

One day you can build an airplane and the next day, with those same LEGO® bricks, you can build a skyscraper. If you find yourself a few LEGO® pieces short for your intended project you can modify your results by using another color, a different piece or scaling down your design. The possibilities are never ending. In life everything will not happen as we intended, we need to be able to revise our plans when necessary and go with the flow.

7. Any Mistake Can Be Fixed

“Ok, I can fix this” – My son upon breaking one of his LEGO® creations.

My son enters my office to showcase his latest LEGO® construction. As he extends his arms to present me with his creation as it breaks into two. There were no tears, no grumblings of anger, none of the negativity you might expect when something you worked so hard to build falls apart. On the contrary the first words out of his mouth were, “Ok, I can fix this.” We can all learn a lesson from this type of can do attitude, knowing no matter how awful circumstances may seem our problems can be repaired with a little ingenuity.

8. Problem Solving

“Any problem can be solved with a little ingenuity.” – MacGyver

One of the greatest characteristics I developed playing with LEGO® is the ability to know I could use my mind to remedy any situation. No challenge was too great; I would always be able to determine a method for success. It may not have been my original intended approach, but I knew there was always a path to my final destination.

9. You Can Build the Impossible Dream

“Without dreams, there is no reality!” – Luis B. Couto

Dreams are the means to a desired end. With LEGO® bricks you can capture those ideas, you can construct your vision no matter how large an obstacle it may seem. The same applies to your life; never accept that something cannot be accomplished – despite the barriers to can realize your dreams.

10. Never Give Up

“Never, never, never, never give up.” – Winston Churchill

Sure there are times when you want to throw your hands up in defeat, I did it myself and I see it from my sons as they construct a LEGO® projects, but the answer is to never give up. Determination is a key factor in life; if you endure the journey keeping the vision alive you will see some of the greatest accomplishments achieved you never thought would happen.

11. Teamwork

“The nice thing about teamwork is that you always have others on your side” – Margaret Carty

We can all use a little help now and again, my sons will periodically come up to us for assistance with their LEGO® creations needing my wife or me to snap a piece or two together. Sometimes we can all use a little guidance to get us through a tough spot and it is good to know you have others to rely on. There is no need to go through a difficult situation alone; the insights from others can often be inspiring as they allow us to see circumstances from perspectives outside of our own architecture.

12. Celebrate your Achievements

“The virtue of achievement is victory over oneself. Those who know this can never know defeat.” – A.J. Cronin

Finally, you have worked so hard to carry out your objective don’t let your labors go unnoticed. Boast your accomplishments with humility and place your LEGO® creation up on the shelf for all to see. The same policy is relevant in later life; use tact, but be proud of your accomplishments.

Those are just a few of the lessons I learned from play with LEGO®; I’m sure there are many more. Who knew back in 1934, when a carpenter turned, wooden toy maker, Ole Kirk Christiansen, took the first two letters of the Danish words LEG GODT, meaning “play well,” and put them together; the concept later developed by LEGO® would expand into a global staple of childhood toys shaping the minds, visions and futures of children into adulthood.

“Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” W. Clement Stone

What other life lessons have you carried into adulthood based on your childhood experiences?

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What’s so honest about Abe?

Friday, February 12, 2010 Leave a comment

(Image: Michael J Deas)

Abraham Lincoln had many nicknames during his lifetime—the Rail Splitter, The Great Emancipator, The Liberator, Father Abraham, Uncle Abe—but perhaps none of these is as widely recognized and referenced today as the nickname, “Honest Abe.” But do you know why people called Lincoln “Honest Abe?”

Stories of Abe’s Honesty:

As a young man, Abraham Lincoln worked as a general store clerk. One evening he was counting the money in the drawers after closing and found that he was a few cents over what should have been in the drawer. When he realized that he had accidentally short-changed a customer earlier that day, Lincoln walked a long distance to return the money to the customer.

On another occasion Lincoln discovered that he had given a woman too little tea for her money. He put what he owed her in a package and personally delivered it to the woman–who never realized that she was not given the proper amount of tea until Lincoln showed up at her doorstep!

Lincoln’s integrity and insistence on honesty became even more apparent in his law practice. In his book, An Honest Calling: The Law Practice of Abraham Lincoln, Mark Steiner notes that: A relative by marriage, Augustus H. Chapman, recalled: “In his law practice on the Wabash Circuit he was noted for unswerving honesty. People learned to love him ardently, devotedly, and juries listened intently, earnestly, receptively to the sad-faced, earnest man…I remember one case of his decided honest trait of character. It was a case in which he was for the defendant. Satisfied of his client’s innocence, it depended mainly on one witness. That witness told on the stand under oath what Abe knew to be a lie, and no one else knew. When he arose to plead the case, he said: “Gentlemen, I depended on this witness to clear my client. He has lied. I ask that no attention be paid to his testimony. Let his words be stricken out, if my case fails. I do not wish to win in this way.”

Lincoln didn’t like to charge people much who were as poor as he was. Once a man sent him twenty-five dollars, but Lincoln sent him back ten of it, saying he was being too generous.

He was known at times to convince his clients to settle their issue out of court, saving them a lot of money, and earning himself nothing.

An old woman in dire poverty, the widow of a Revolutionary soldier, was charged $200 for getting her $400 pension. Lincoln sued the pension agent and won the case for the old woman. He didn’t charge her for his services and, in fact, paid her hotel bill and gave her money to buy a ticket home!

He and his associate once prevented a con man from gaining possession of a tract of land owned by a mentally ill girl. The case took fifteen minutes. Lincoln’s associate came to divide up their fee, but Lincoln reprimanded him. His associate argued that the girl’s brother had agreed on the fee ahead of time, and he was completely satisfied. “That may be,” said Lincoln, “but I am not satisfied. That money comes out of the pocket of a poor, demented girl; and I would rather starve than swindle her in this manner. You return half the money at least, or I’ll not take a cent of it as my share.”

“When I do good, I feel good, and when I do bad, I feel bad, and that’s my religion.” – Abraham Lincoln

(Image: The Warren Report)

Lincoln carried his regard for the truth through his years at the White House. He, himself, was forthright and deeply sincere. It seems as if some of his colleagues wondered if he could ever tell a lie. During the Civil War, President Lincoln stated, “I hain’t been caught Lying yet, and I don’t mean to be.” [Rufus Rockwell Wilson, Lincoln Among His Friends: A Sheaf of Intimate Memories (Philip Clark, “A Friend of Lincoln’s New Salem Days”), p. 65.] For Lincoln, the truth was not worth sacrificing for any gain, no matter how large that gain may have been.

Lincoln didn’t need to lie to save the Union, to unite the people, to free slaves or to lead a nation. Perhaps that is why he remains a hero to so many around the world, and an inspiration to leaders well into the future. From his work as a clerk to his duties as a president, Lincoln’s honesty was unwavering, showing that telling the truth is an essential lesson for all, no matter who you are or what you do.

Thank you for the influence you still provide us more than 200 years after your birth.
Abraham Lincoln: February 12, 1809 – April 15, 1865

What can you do to be more honest in your life?

Story Adapted from:
Why Honest Abe?. By Kathy Crockett, The MY HERO Project
Honest Abe. By Adam Khan, Stuff That Works

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Team Bonding with a Virtual Workforce

Tuesday, February 9, 2010 3 comments

(Image: Jason Christensen – Created in PowerPoint)

A growing number of companies are instituting virtual workforces allowing the employees to be closer to their customers and working in a remote environment. These remote employees work distantly from the members of their team and may rarely have in person contact. As a manager you soon learn you can set up a group of employees to work as a team, but that doesn’t mean they will feel like a team.

What’s lacking is the personal bonding. In an office, personal bonding usually occurs with colleagues working side-by-side day after day. Relationships develop; people learn about one another, understand each other’s skill sets, hear about family life and gain perspective of each others personal interests. With so many virtual teams spread far and wide across the globe today; can you still cultivate the bonding experience achieved in an office?

The answer is “yes,” but it is not going to be without challenge, effort and proper systems set in place.

A bond is a close personal relationship that forms between people working toward shared goals using collaborative efforts. So how do you duplicate this in a virtual team environment?

“When everyone works together, things start getting done and the nearly impossible tasks are accomplished.”

Where to Begin

Start with a group meeting in person, if possible. Miscommunication and conflicting expectations often arise early in the project. This formal gathering will allow you to:

  • Set goals and objectives as a group.
  • Define team roles.
  • Establish relationships amongst team members.
  • Construct a team identity.
  • Build a foundation for trust.

If you are not able to bring everyone together in person, create a virtual environment where the team can gather to collaborate on these objectives. It may not be as effective, but it will begin the process and allow your remote employees to interact on a more personal basis.

Developing Team Goals

The entire team needs to have a clear understanding of their purpose and what they are looking to accomplish. Through collaboration a team can develop the goals and the processes needed to achieve their objectives. As the leader it is important you guide the team making sure their action plan is (SMART):

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Timed

By allowing the team to set the goals for themselves it gives them ownership in the process knowing they had a part in the decision making.

Defining Team Roles

The process of team bonding encourages team members to learn how to manage conflict, evaluate group performance, and provide feedback and support encouraging each member to reach their highest potential. In a team-oriented environment, every member contributes to the overall success of the organization. While each person may have a specific job function, everyone is unified to accomplish the overall objective.

Each team member should have a definite role as part of the group and every member of the team needs to be aware of each associates function and responsibility. Having clearly defined roles enhances the understanding of the workflow and increases productivity. Thereby each member of the team understands what the next person in the process needs to complete their task and can be sure to provide them all the facets needed to do their job properly.

Getting to Know Each Other

In your initial gathering you should allow time for people to get to know one another. You should have a round table where each team member takes a few minutes to talk about:

  • Who they are.
  • Where they came from.
  • Family.
  • Their interests.
  • Life experiences.
  • Personal goals.
  • Professional background.
  • Their role on the team.
  • What they are looking to achieve in their career.

These types of discussion will open doors for common bonds between the members of the team allowing them to take interest in one another.

Following these discussions the information should be gathered and posted to a team site. As time goes by people lose track of the information shared and interests change so the site should be easily updatable by each member of the team. A good online forum readily available is Facebook where private groups can be created. This forum also allows each person to upload pictures and other information about themselves creating a more personal, humanizing dimension to people who are otherwise perceived as distant and unconnected.

Building a Team Identity

A common feeling of identity is a vital part of taking your group from solitude to companionship. People have an inherent interest in feeling part of something special. During your initial assembly allow the team to work together in developing a distinctive individuality.

Once developed, use this identity on all project documents, presentations, team sites, and related materials; it will further strengthen the character of the group

Trust Building

Cohesive teams cannot be built without trust. Each member of the group needs to have full faith in the other members knowing each team members is skilled and dependable in his area of expertise. However, trust takes time to grow and mature; so how do you cultivate trust?

If you have implemented the recommendations above you have already taken great strides in laying the foundation for strong trusting relationships. To further nurture the process below are a few ideas which have been used successfully:

  • Start a buddy system, a first source of information. Each team member is a assigned a buddy, preferably one who compliments the others skills and abilities, carefully chosen to be a mentor to one another. This unit relies on each other for answers to questions, advice and general commentary. When the group members utilize the expertise each offers, they understand the value of their counterparts in their roles and enhances their confidence in the group.
  • Assign group projects. On a rotating basis pull together members of the team to complete goal related projects impelling them to work closely with one another gaining knowledge of the other team members capabilities and strengths.
  • As a manager knowing the strengths of your team gives you the ability to build the bench strength by delegating. By knowing the strengths of your team, when approached for assistance, you have the ability to ask them to utilize a particular team member who may be stronger than you in the particular area. Essentially you are assigning “go to” guys for particular areas where a member of your team is strong. Not only does this free some of your time, it is also an exercise in building bench strength and most of all it enhances team members confidence in one another.
  • Injecting humor, at the expense of yourself helps to break down barriers and creates an understanding with your team you are regular person
  • Willful collaboration among team members and sharing information to assist each other in achieving goals is a key attribute to encourage within a team.

As the trust expands through the group, the team members will start support the other members of the team and pick each other up if they start to tumble.

Enhancing Communication

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” – George Bernard Shaw

Communication amongst a virtual team enhances the fellowship of the group and should be made as easy as walking over to the water cooler. There are many possibilities to augment a virtual community:

  • Shared virtual workspace.
  • Online forum such as Facebook.
  • SharePoint site to store team files.
  • Instant messaging program.
  • Weekly conference calls.
  • Web Conferences.
  • Virtual conference rooms.
  • And believe it or not — the telephone!

Celebrate Accomplishments

Nothing is worse than working so hard to achieve greatness and no one ever finds out. It is important to celebrate the wins on a team and send a flag up the virtual flag pole staking your claim. As a leader it is your duty to communicate these wins to everyone who will listen and reward the members of your team for their accomplishments. Congratulatory compliments are a vital part of bonding people on a team. Make the announcements personal and call on the individual(s) responsible to “toot their own horn” in a group setting explaining what they did and how they did it.

Virtual Gathering

One of the greatest challenges with a virtual team is the social solitude people feel outside of an office environment. To offset this seclusion you can coordinate activities which build identity, unity and a competitive spirit within your entire team.

  • Hold an online poker tournament.
  • Depending on the group, a combat game might be of interest.
  • Host a Second Life event.
  • Participate in a virtual team farming exercise.

There are many games and social events to take part in over the internet or through electronic gaming devices; pick something fitting of your team which allows them to accomplish a common goal.

Todays virtual environment can be taxing and as a leader you must work hard to unite your group. Personal bonding in a virtual environment is going to be challenging, but the more you can do to develop this connection between group members; the more productive they will be, greater motivation they will have, morale will increase , retention rates will be greater and you will have a strongly bonded team.

What are some methods you have seen used in a virtual workforce situation?

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Betrayed in the Fourth Grade

Wednesday, February 3, 2010 1 comment

(Photo: hayitstayler)

It was a begrudging incident the day we voted for fourth grade class officers I remember it well…

The year was 1984; incumbent President Ronald Reagan and former Vice President Walter Mondale were vying for our nation’s top spot. As a practice in politics my fourth grade teacher opened the door for us to campaign as class officers. My chosen position – Class Secretary. My opponent – a cute, kind hearted girl I had befriended since pre-school. We campaigned through the classroom working to secure the votes of our classmates. Election Day arrived and each member of the class cast their votes for President, Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer. Once the ballots were tallied the officers were announced, but wait there was a tie. As it turns out the votes were split 50/50 for the position of Class Secretary. With neither candidate willing to concede the teacher called for a revote. Prior to casting the second round of ballots my opponent the sweet, kind, girl I had known for the majority of my life, who I sat next to in class, leaned over to me and offered an olive branch, “If you vote for me, I will vote for you.” Wow, such a kind offer, a show of support for true friendship by supporting one another, no matter which of us wins we’d know this election, would not come between us.

The second round of voting commenced, the teacher counted the ballots and this time there was a clear winner. The announcement was made, “The winner, by the change of a single vote is…,” we’ll just say, it wasn’t me. Disappointed by the loss, I vowed to go on supporting my friend who I had shared a keen friendship with for so many years. But wait, this just in! Word had spread through the classroom newswire, the vote that tipped the scales in her advantage, was….her own! My long time friend had broken our pact, tricked me and voted for herself. My feeling was that of devastation. How could someone do such a thing? How could my life long friend deceive me? The anguish of this event hit me hard, it was this day I learned an early lesson in life. The lesson of BETRAYAL!

Betrayal can strike us hard, obviously – for me to refer back to this incident from more than 25 years ago. It is a life lesson most of us learn at some point along our path, but not one we easily forget.

Once trust is broken, can it ever be repaired? Sure, but it is not going to happen overnight and it is not going to come easily. Trust can take years to rebuild it is something you have to believe in and work hard at.

What is betrayal?

Betrayal is the breaking or violation of a presumptive social contract, trust, or confidence that produces moral and psychological conflict within a relationship.

Resolving Betrayal
The first question should be, “Do both parties want to repair the relationship?” If not, then you cannot force it on them, it is best to move on. Hopefully with time, forgiveness will come.

If both parties are in agreement and would like to move forward rebuilding the relationship then it needs to begin with courageous integrity on behalf of the offender. The guilty party needs to:

  • Admit fault.
  • State their mistake.
  • View the breach of trust from the victim’s perspective.
  • Listen to the offended party allowing them to speak without interruption.
  • Reflect their feelings, avoiding the temptation to explain your actions. This can have a negative affect leading to a feeling of your insincerity by the injured party.
  • Accept responsibility for the violation.

Rebuilding Trust
Can trust be rebuilt? Most likely, with time the wounds will heal. Although steps will have to be taken to rebuild the trust once shared by all parties.

  • Set up an agreement going forward stating boundaries for all parties involved.
  • Determine methods continuing the relationship without overstepping the bounds.
  • Allow time for memory of the incident of to dissipate.
  • Make amends.

Aftermath
Even when forgiveness has been granted and reparations have been made, relationships do not always return to normal after violations of trust. The violator often has lingering feelings of guilt, embarrassment and self-consciousness when around the victim. It may take time for the victim’s emotions to wane as well. Full forgiveness may take weeks, months or even years, but if everyone involved is committed to the relationship time will help to heal those wounds.

So, do I resent my fourth grade friend for something that happened so many years ago? No, let’s face it, we were nine years old at the time, I have long forgiven her; in fact she represents to me, someone who alerted me to the stratagem we can experience in life. She taught me early on, trust is a sacred contract between people and once broken, it is not easily repaired. People learn from many of life’s lessons, but few have such a great impact on us as those of trust and betrayal.

Do you have any stories of betrayal? Feel free share, I’d love to hear them.

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Get More Done in Less Time

Tuesday, February 2, 2010 1 comment

(Photo: margolove)

How are you possibly going to get everything done today? The answer is simpler than you might think. Focus.

We have all been there, it may be an mounting pile of work, a project needing completion, or a customer presentation you have not even started to put together. You may be thinking you are up against an impossible mission, but don’t give up – just stay focused.

Getting Started

Take time to clear your head and relax so you can start with a clean slate and concentrate. Many people find by allowing yourself a calm before the storm, it allows you to enter into your project with a clear head focused on the your desired out come. For me it could be reading a book and having a cup of coffee; others may go for a walk, hit the gym or read the morning paper. Do whatever works for you, but by allowing your mind to calm you are preparing it for what lies ahead.

Get in the zone

As you prepare to take on your day be sure:

  • The location is free of disruptions.
  • You have everything you need.
  • You are prepared.

I will grab something to drink, go into my office, close the doors, tune to my favorite internet radio station, sit at my desk, clear away any distracting clutter and organize for the day. Do what works for you.

Sometimes all it takes is a change of location to really focus, there are times I have packed up my laptop and found a far corner of the local library for some distraction free concentration. Some people enjoy having music on in the background, others do not. I find music gets me in the zone and allows me to zero in on my task. Whether it be music, a change of location or something else determine what works for you and make it happen.

Planning

Task List: It’s best to keep a task list of some sort be it electronic, a note pad, or just a scrap of paper you write your “to do’s” on.

Prioritize and Schedule: Prioritize your task list  by sorting them into urgent, important and non-urgent tasks. If you have trouble prioritizing, use the 80/20 rule (aka Pareto’s law) to determine what the important tasks are.

Staying on Track: Now you have prioritized your day and determined the first item on your list, break it into small pieces. As you do this it will make a large task seem less daunting and as you accomplish each piece you will build momentum as you move throughout the day.

“Your daily schedule helps to focus the mind, holds it steadily to one thing at a time and in the right order. Following a logical sequence tends to eliminate confusion.”

Keep a stringent schedule for your day. As mentioned, I take time in the morning for relaxation so I can come in the day focused. I move right into my projects and phone calls, check and respond email before lunch, come back, work on other projects and phone calls, check email an hour before the day is over, review my next day, prioritize, clear my desk of clutter and I am ready to start the next day with a clean slate.

Not everyone is the same, so when you find a method that works for you, stick with it. Soon you will see you will be getting more done in less time by using focused planning and execution.

More Tips:

  • Only check email twice per day. This is not easy to do, but is productive.
  • Let your calls go to voicemail knowing you can get back the callers when you decide to break or complete your task.
  • Don’t multitask. Multitasking has been proven time and again to be the cause for lack of focus. When you multitask, you never do anything well.
  • Inundated with random thoughts? Keep a notebook, task list, or sticky note pad near by. As I am working I have stack of index cards I use. If something pops into my head I write it down knowing the thought is saved there on the index card for later and I don’t mentally have to keep coming back to it.
  • Schedule time for future tasks. As new tasks present themselves, put them through Pareto’s Law, prioritize them, and schedule them for the future.
  • Rest, eat appropriately and exercise. It has been found these habits are contribute greatly to your level of concentration.
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