Friday, December 24, 2010

Happy Holidays!!!!

The New Year might see a rejuvenation of my interest in this Blog...or maybe not!

Anyway....all that aside, I wish you an engaging and meaningful New Year and a holiday that brings you close to your family and friends.

Happy Holidays!!!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Projects/Weekly Review/Next Actions GTD!

In GTD vernacular, a project is a desired outcome that takes more than one action. So, let's say you have an I do right now....purchase 4 AA batteries....thats a task that gets accomplished in one errand. Laura and I just completed a project I defined a couple of months ago.

The Project was Improve organization of attic so clothes can be easily found by April 15. I'm sure you all have projects like this you'd like to accomplish...and I'm not really trying to illustrate how to complete a domestic task.....but I would like to least a the project was achieved.

I think sometime in January, I defined this project. I thought about the project and tried to accurately define this attic cleaning project...and an accurate definition means...check mark...this project is done.

So..I did that.....and then...every the all important weekly review...I reviewed all of my projects and generally scheduled some next action that would advance this project. Many times that simply meant blocking off an hour on the weekend to work "up there". And I did that....the one hour time frame worked well...enough to get something accomplished and not too much that it felt overwhelming.

Then one of my next actions was @w/Laura (my wife) to work with her to sort some of the stuff that I was not qualified to sort...Christmas stuff and fabrics mostly. So that happened and Laura became inspired and together...while the attic is not is way better......the task is complete....and its really neat to be routinely getting things done using my trusted system.

Give it a shot. It works.

Clear Project Definition (Know when you can say Done!)
Weekly Review when you plan the next week's next action
Do the work planned (no...planning alone does not do it)
Weekly Review
One Next Action
Weekly Review
One Next Action
Check...project done...clebrate...reinforce....on to the next one!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

iPhone tech tips

I'm playing a role in the new Basketball Center at WVU which involves me driving back and forth to Morgantown from time to time. I like to have a good handful of podcasts available for these drives and/or a book from I drove up yesterday and everything was coming out high pitched and I texted a friend of mine who manages my tech things and he came up with the fix...thought I'd share.

So...launch your iPod and look at the bar that indicates where your are on your podcast...look all the way to the right and you will see "1X" if normal....."2X" if double time "1/2X" if have speed. Touch it and you can scroll thru these settings. (I was on 2X and wanted 1X).

Viola....and...I just learned this...if you want to take a picture of your iPhone screen...hit the home and on/off button at the same time and you will take a photo of your screen.

That was worth the read...huh?

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Thanks Coach Huggins

What a remarkable game yesterday. WVU beats Georgetown and...for the first time in school history, won the Big East Basketball title. I loved the game and really the entire week. What impressed me the most about yesterday's performance was Coach Huggin's post win interview.

Coach's post game interview doesn't seem to be popping up at the moment on ESPN's website...but here is the jist of it. (1) Coach Huggins is very close to tears....and this is not coming from the head....but the heart. (2) And why he is almost crying in his because the kids played their hearts out...played beyond their skill levels....and he is so happy because he is happy for the State.

And I for one am buying this. Many Division One coaches would be crying because they know their resume just got expanded and they are worth more money.

Huggins isn't looking to move. He loves West Virginia and he is inspiring these young men to play beyond their given capabilities. His ability to provide a much bigger mission is paying off and is a great example of leadership we can all learn from.

OK...he's got the X's and O's down...he is a great recruiter....he knows how to build individual skills and conditioning....yeah...and so do about 50 other D1 coaches. But he is leading these young men on a slightly higher this one for the people of West Virginia....he means it and I feel it.

Great season...great coach...great leader.

Monday, March 8, 2010

GTD and Vacation Protocols

At one point in my career, I was the CEO of a mid-sized design-construction firm which I founded, grew, and sold called Pray Construction Company. At a point in the early to mid 1990’s, Pray Construction really needed a job of some size. We were in the process of bidding-negotiating a major addition to Charleston Catholic High School. We knew we were one of two firms in the final running….and then my vacation (horseback riding in Ireland) presented itself.

So….with my family, we went to Ireland and I chose a style I call “going dark”…meaning I was not going to check in. Now…communications back then were quite different. E-mail was just firing up and cell phones were not at all wide spread. We were “in the west” in Ireland, which meant….from a communications point of view…that the available land lines were few and far between…but you could find one…but I choose not to. Instead of calling in to touch base…I remained anxious and worried about the job….or lack of it. (For the record, we did get the job and the decision was not finalized until I returned).

The point to all of this was I’m not sure I was better off not calling in. Yeah…I was on vacation and was not obsessing like some of my wall street friends that were also on the trip and who called the office everyday (although notably that really changed as the week went on), but I was still anxious.

So…here is what I do now…and I think this is very GTD.

1) First of all….I go on holiday with my in-boxes (electronic and two paper ones) to zero. Now…this is really no big deal for me…I’m at zero several times a week…but it is foundational I think. So…e-mails are either deleted, read or action taken, they are filed for reference, stimulate other actions steps and so forth. But..the in-box is zero.
2) I do a good weekly review just before I leave.
3) I let everyone I’m actively involved with know I’m off for a holiday. You can’t hit all the stakeholders, but you can get the big ones which really helps manage the incoming.
4) I use the out of office assistant to remind anyone sending me an e-mail that you won’t hear back from me.

So…I’m feeling very caught up and ready to leave. This involves work and discipline. Laura and I just went on a one week holiday and I’m sure I worked until 10:00 pm the night before to do all of the above.

My computer stays at home but the iPhone comes along.

I do in fact read my e-mails. If they require action, I move them to a folder on my sidebar entitled “e-mails to respond to”. This helps me delete the junk, stay very loosely up to speed, and sets the stage for re-entry. Plus, and I think this is relevant; I don’t get reminded of my work every time I review my in-box...(as the messages have been physically moved). Plus, I maintain that good feeling of having a zero in box.

I tested this process last summer on a two week holiday and just did it for a one-weeker. Process works well. I try and get back from holidays on Saturday so I can process the e-mails to respond to folder on Sunday. I have likely 50-60 e-mails that required action. This took about 4 hours.

Coming back to my two “cleaned” physical offices effectively supports the re-charging you are hoping for from a holiday. And…I woke up this morning with a zero in-box as well.

I think this method of execution helps support vitality and renewal which is one is one of the things one hopes for from holiday. But…like a lot of the GTD stuff, this works for me and may/may not for you…but perhaps is worthy of experimentation.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Don’t Let the Door Hit you in the Ass on Your Way Out

A good lifelong friend of mine recently sent me a link to the attached NYT article. When he sent it to me I did not read it but felt I would be inspired to write a retort referencing my recent work with the Adize’s Methodology. And I could perhaps do that…..but after reading the article, I actually would have to say right on!

I’ve been around small and mid sized businesses for the better part of 40 years and…as a group…we….businessmen…just put up with too much crap. I’m serious. It’s tough stuff running a business…..right…fun…exciting…rewarding….and I do not think the exclusive focus should be earnings (earnings is a natural outcome of a job well done…maybe), but there is a bit too much bitching going around most shops.

So….got a problem…fine….do me a favor and go find another job. I’m serious…quit. Go share your good attitude and work ethic with one of my competitors.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day!!!

I had all sorts of brilliant topics for BLOG posts, but I got sidetracked uploading photos from my camera to my new 27" iMac. That led to a brief review of all my images from the last year...and this one caught my eye. This is my 2+ year old granddaughter taken last September.

Happy Valentines all!! this your first BLOG post??? Well.....maybe the first for 2010.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Working on my GTD System

I first became exposed to David Allen when the Mountain State YPO Chapter brought David to Charleston to present his public one day seminar. I’m guessing this was in 1994. I brought about 6 or 7 employees from Pray Construction Company hoping his system would sweep through PCC.

I’m pretty sure his system didn’t really stick at Pray, but I bought in and continue to practice. I later spent some one-on-one time with David and his wife Kathy on an YPO cruise. David gave me a few telephone coaching sessions with Meg Edwards and she really helped me tune up my Outlook based system. I think I did perhaps two sessions and then went on about my business.

I likely stopped about 2 sessions too early!

Anyway….I lived with my system. Essentially, I used tasks to collect my next actions (calls; e-mails; read; meet with; waiting for, etc). So, let’s say someone sent me an e-mail and this e-mail stimulated a response (that took more than 2 minutes) so I’d drag this mail into the left column in Outlook and into the task folder. When you do that, the mail explodes. You can then input text in the subject line (i.e. 304-744-1111 Jack Jones and then select @calls from your custom designed menu in categories in the lower right corner).

So… have the context (@call) and the next time you have time and or desire to make calls, they are all there together. A few things going on here.

1) You can stop thinking about what you need “to do”…in other words your personal RAM is not being bogged down trying to remember all your stuff.
2) I like the electronic system as it is easy for me to keep portable. I use an iPhone and an app called iMExhange. This app syncs up my tasks from Outlook, so again, when I have an appropriate spare moment, whip out the iPhone, see what calls I might make and then make one.

What I was also doing was sorting by due date, which reminded me to make that call on a particular day. So, this also drove me to review my tasks more or less daily and change the date on a number of tasks as they did not get accomplished that day…..and that happened almost every day.

Fast forward to about a month ago when I thought perhaps it might be time for me to pony up and buy some consulting. So, I interfaced with Davidco and hired Julie Ireland to do some telecoaching. Using Go to Meeting, Julie was able to spend an hour with me and look over my shoulder. Essentially she said, “Well…this is very non-GTD”.

Yikes! But wait…I thought I had this all figured out!!!

So…the illumination was as follows:

If it MUST be dealt with on a day, that task goes on the calendar. (In Outlook, launch an appointment, put your to-do in the subject, click all day event, show time as free, and add any supporting stuff below).

So…when you start to Do Work, you look first at your calendar. (If something is going to happen at a specific time, clearly put the time in and don’t select all day event).

Now…..when you look at your calendar, Julie suggested be sure it’s not too clogged up. Three booked hours in a day is about tops. OK…sure…there are going to be exceptions, but if your calendar is booked from start to finish, then you better start learning how to say no.

OK….now my tasks are no longer sorted by date. So, I open up my tasks segregated by categories, and all my stuff to do (say @office), is all together. Based on my appetite and other in-coming I can now choose what to do.

Anyway…….my system was pretty broken and I had more or less learned to accommodate, but was always feeling like I had way too much to do. I was wasting time sorting my tasks by date and then feeling like every day I was not getting done what I “should” have been doing.

If you haven’t given GTD a look……I suggest you consider buying the book and then sticking your foot in the water with implementation. We are all expected to perform at a high level. This helps me get a lot done (i.e. perform) and I feel good while doing so.

And I have my second telecoaching hour with Julie booked for next week.