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Archive for the ‘Improving Productivity’ Category

The 5 Choices to Extraordinary Productivity

by Franklin Covey


“The 5 Choices to Extraordinary Productivity teaches you how to achieve extraordinary results. This solution will empower you to achieve outcomes that have previously been outside your reach. It will enable you to make day-to-day decisions that are focused on your most important outcomes instead of focusing on the gravel that gets thrown at you constantly. You will learn to eliminate the activities that distract you from achieving your most important goals. The 5 Choices to Extraordinary Productivity will guide you to a new paradigm of your roles, effective weekly and daily planning, technology mastery, and energy renewal for truly extraordinary achievements.

The five  choices are:

  1. Act  on the important, don’t react to the urgent. Do you  have the ability to clearly evaluate which choices will give you the highest  return on your time and attention? Make a good choice and concentrate for more  than 5 seconds.
  2. Go  for extraordinary, don’t settle for ordinary. Do you define purposeful,  high-impact outcomes that  will transform the results you get in work and life? You know you want to be  extraordinary – come and find out how.
  3. Schedule  the big rocks, don’t sort gravel. Do you  know how to prioritize and organize those few high-leverage activities that  will move you forward personally and professionally? You can do better than one  step forward 10 steps back!
  4. Rule  your technology, don’t let technology rule you. Do you have a reliable  personal system that accelerates your ability to get the right things done, or  are you constantly distracted by your technology? A sticky note on your smart phone does not count as a  reliable system.
  5. Fuel  the fire, don’t burn out. Do you  regularly renew your body, mind, heart, and spirit to generate maximum energy  for the things that matter most? You need more than 2 hours of sleep to count  as renewal time.”


Register to attend:

The 7 Habits is Ranking High!

Amazon ranked The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People book No.4 in their
Worldwide Business Bestsellers list from March 1st – June 20th 2011.

Top 10 reasons to try Visio 2010

An article from Microsoft regarding Visio 2010.  For further details:

“Microsoft Visio 2010 advanced diagramming tools help you simplify complexity  with dynamic, data-driven visuals and new ways to share on the Web in real time. Whether you’re creating an organizational chart, a network diagram, or a business process, the new tools and more intuitive interface in Visio 2010 make it easier to bring your diagrams to life.

Jump-start diagramming with templates.

With modern, pre-drawn shapes, intelligent templates, and sample drawings, Visio 2010 offers a wide variety of options to meet your diagramming needs for IT, business, process management, and more.

Use templates to jump-start your diagramming

2 Find and access the tools you need quickly.

Every step in creating a diagram is more intuitive, with the logical groupings of features in Ribbon tabs, an enhanced Shapes window for
easy access to shapes and stencils, and a new status bar that helps you move more efficiently within and between your diagrams.

Ribbon tabs help you quickly find tools you need

3 Draw diagrams faster with improved automatic features.

Whether you are creating a diagram from scratch or modifying an existing one, Visio 2010 helps you add and align shapes easily and accurately, with features such as the Quick Shapes Mini Toolbar, enhanced dynamic grid, page Auto Size, and automatic alignment and layout adjustment.

Draw faster and easier with improved features

Simplify large and complex diagrams.

Add clarity to diagrams using Subprocesses and Containers to group related shapes visually and logically. As a diagram grows larger or becomes more complex, Subprocesses and Containers help you to keep information more organized and understandable.

Subprocesses and Containers keep information more organized

5 Make your diagrams professional-looking and appealing in seconds.

Visio 2010 helps you make diagrams look attractive with a wide range of formatting tools and design options, including modern shapes and visuals, a rich gallery of themes, and Live Preview.

More formatting tools and design options to choose from

6 Bring your diagrams to life with real-time data.

See the entire picture with dynamic, data-driven diagrams.
Simply connect your diagram to one or more data sources such as Excel or SQL Server. Then, display real-time data right within your diagrams, based on conditions you define, using vibrant colors, icons, symbols, and data bars.

Connect your diagrams to real-time data sources

7 Share diagrams with others on the Web.

Easily share dynamic, data-linked Visio diagrams in Microsoft SharePoint Server. Online users can see your real-time information in their browsers at a high level, right on the diagram, or delve into the
details—even if they don’t own Visio. They can pan and zoom in the diagram, follow hyperlinks in shapes, and refresh the data.

Share diagrams with others via the Web

8 Ensure consistency and accuracy with diagram validation.

Check for common errors and support diagramming standards across your organization using diagram validation. With one click, you can validate a diagram against a set of rules to make sure it’s logical and properly constructed.

Use diagram validation to check for common errors

9 Model and monitor SharePoint workflows.

Create and monitor SharePoint workflows more easily than ever with a new, advanced template that contains SharePoint workflow rules and logic, and supports the ability to export and import workflows between Microsoft SharePoint Designer 2010 and Visio 2010.

Model and monitor SharePoint workflows more easily

10 Create visual mashups using Visio Services.

Publish and share visually compelling dashboards that contain interactive Visio diagrams and other application services. Visio Services and SharePoint Server integration supports visual mashups of actionable data and diagrams for an information-rich viewing experience.”

Create visual mashups with Visio Services

5 Ways to develop a sense of urgency



5 Ways to Develop A Sense of Urgency
By: Brian Tracy

“Perhaps the most outwardly identifiable quality of  a high performing man or woman is “action orientation.”

1. Take Time to Think and Plan
Highly productive people take the time to think, plan  and set priorities. They then launch quickly and strongly toward their goals and  objectives. They work steadily, smoothly and continuously and seem to go through  enormous amounts of work in the same time period that the average person spends  socializing, wasting time and working on low value activities.

2. Getting into “Flow”
When you work on high value tasks at a high and continuous  level of activity, you can actually enter into an amazing mental state called “flow.”  Almost everyone has experienced this at some time. Really successful people are  those who get themselves into this state far more often than the average.

In the state of “flow,” which is the highest human state of performance and productivity,  something almost miraculous happens to your mind and emotions. You feel elated  and clear. Everything you do seems effortless and accurate. You feel happy and energetic.  You experience a tremendous sense of calm and personal effectiveness.

Eat That Frog Training Kit

3. Become More Alert and Aware
In the state of “flow,” identified and talked about  over the centuries, you actually function on a higher plane of clarity, creativity  and competence. You are more sensitive and aware. Your insight and intuition functions  with incredible precision. You see the interconnectedness of people and circumstances  around you. You often come up with brilliant ideas and insights that enable you  to move ahead even more rapidly.

4. Develop a Sense of Urgency
One of the ways you can trigger this state of flow  is by developing a “sense of urgency.” This is an inner drive and desire to get  on with the job quickly and get it done fast. This inner drive is an impatience  that motivates you to get going and to keep going. A sense of urgency feels very  much like racing against yourself.

5. Create a “Bias for Action”
With this ingrained sense of urgency, you develop  a “bias for action.” You take action rather than talking continually about what  you are going to do. You focus on specific steps you can take immediately. By employing  this technique you concentrate on the things you can do right now to get the results  you want and achieve the goals you desire.

Action Exercises
Here are two things you can do immediately to put  these ideas into action:

First, select one major task confronting you and launch into it immediately. Don’t  hesitate. Move fast.

Second, start doing this every morning, first thing, until it becomes a habit.”


I highly recommend Brian Tracy’s book “Eat That Frog!”

Lists … learn to love them …

Why “list” is a dirty word

An article by David Allen

What’s wrong with lists? Most people haven’t had a lot of success with lists, especially the ones they’ve tried to use to “get organized.”

You are either attracted or repelled by your lists and everything on them. There is no neutral territory. When you look at any one item you will either be thinking to yourself, “Hey, when can I mark THAT off?” or “Yuck! Back away!” My educated guess is that 98 percent of people’s responses are some version of the latter.

Why? Because;

1) they’re hard work and/or

2) they’re scary and/or

3) they’re disappointing.

1) Hard work

If you know your list of calls to make doesn’t include every single call you have to make about any and everything in your life, you will feel that you still should be remembering things that aren’t on the list. That’s low-level and hard work for your psyche, so it’s not really getting the relief from the list it is seeking. If you don’t have everything out of your head, it hardly feels worth trying to keep ANYthing out of your head. Also, most big to-do lists have things grouped together on them that cannot be done in the context you are in at the time, and a lot of repetitive re-thinking (wasteful mental effort) is required to figure out what you actually have the opportunity to do in the moment versus what can’t be done until another place and time.

2) Scary

If a to-do on your list is not the very next physical visible action to be done, there is a gap between current reality and what you are looking at, and it can trigger a subtle but very real sense of being out of control with what to do about it, every time you glance at it. Some part of you knows that there is more thinking and decision-making required, and you don’t feel you have the energy or capability to do that well, in this
moment. Simply having “Mom” on a to-do list reminds you that her birthday is coming and that you should think and decide about what you’re going to do about it… but, oh my… I don’t have the juice to deal with that right now!

3) Disappointing

Ever had to rewrite a list of things you didn’t get done when you thought you should? People who try to work daily to-do lists usually have undone things at the end of the day that create guilt and the trouble of having to transfer them to the next day.

So, to change your relationship with “lists” to a more positive one:
1) Make them complete, so your brain gets to graduate from the job of remembering; and organize your action reminders by context (phone, computer, errands, at home, etc.) so you only need to review that you actually can do at the time.

2) Make sure every actionable item has the very next visible physical action identified along with it, so you don’t freak out about unknown territory between here and there.

3) Only put items that cannot be done any other day on your calendar, and everything else hold in “as soon as I can get to them” lists.

I suppose “love your lists” could be a little too radical an admonition for some of you. But how about at least “be good friends”
with them?

Eat that Frog!

Another article by: Brian Tracy 

“Single Handle Each Task”

Eat that frog! Every bit of planning, prioritizing and organizing comes down to this simple concept.  Your ability to select your most important task, to begin it and then to concentrate on it single mindedly until it is complete is the key to high levels of performance and personal productivity.

The Requirement for Every Great Achievement
Every great achievement of mankind has been preceded by a long period of hard, concentrated work until the job was done. Single handling requires that once you begin, you keep working at the task, without diversion or distraction, until the job is 100% complete. You keep urging yourself onward by repeating the words “Back to work!” over and over whenever you are tempted to stop or do something else.

Reduce Your Time By 50%
By concentrating single mindedly on your most important task, you can reduce the time required to complete it by 50% or more.

It has been estimated that the tendency to start and stop a task, to pick it up, put it down and come back to it can increase the time necessary to complete the task by as much as 500%.

Each time you return to the task, you have to familiarize yourself with where you were when you stopped and what you still have to do. You have to overcome inertia and get yourself going again. You have to develop momentum and get into a productive work rhythm.

Develop Energy and Enthusiasm
But when you prepare thoroughly and then begin, refusing to stop or turn aside until the job is done, you develop energy, enthusiasm and motivation. You get better and better and more productive. You work faster and more effectively.

Never Waste Time
The truth is that once you have decided on your number one task, anything else that you do other than that is a relative waste of time. Any other activity is just not as valuable or as important as this job, based on your own priorities.

Action Exercises
Eat That Frog! Take action! Resolve today to select the most important task or project that you could complete and then launch into it immediately.

Once you start your most important task, discipline yourself to persevere without diversion or distraction until it is 100% complete. See it as a “test” to determine whether you are the kind of person who can make a decision to complete something and then carry it out. Once you begin, refuse to stop until the job is finished.

Create Large Chunks of Time

Here’s an extract from an article by Brian Tracy in which he discusses creating large blocks of time in your diary to enable you to focus on something important and thereby achieve something useful. 

I use this technique myself when I am planning my week ahead.  If you don’t do this you run the risk of running out of time to complete what needs to be done even though you keep yourself very busy all the time.  Nobody can get everything done.  What matters is focusing on what needs to be done and then planning how long it will take and making sure you keep sufficient time clear from other distractions. 

 The discipline of predicting how long you need to complete something will help you plan for similar tasks in the future.  If you plan that it will take one hour but, in reality, it takes two hours, you should adjust the record in your Diary to help you to make a better estimate next time.  A lot of people I know who don’t manage to get things done seem to considerably under-estimate how long tasks will actually take. 

People also under-value the importance of having short, regular breaks so find themselves dashing from one meeting to the next or writing one Report followed immediately by writing yet another. 

The brain needs short breaks so that you can work at your most productive.

Create Large Chunks of Time
By: Brian Tracy

This strategy requires a commitment from you to work at scheduled times on large tasks. Most of the really important work you do requires large chunks of unbroken time to complete. Your ability to create and carve out these blocks of high value, highly productive time, is central to your ability to make a significant contribution to your work and to your life.

Thoughtfulness may be defined as a careful concern for the secondary consequences of each decision and each action. This is the essence of strategic thinking.

Start Immediately on Number One
Successful salespeople set aside a specific time period each day to phone prospects. Rather than procrastinating or delaying on a task that they don’t particularly like, they resolve that they will phone for one solid hour between 10 and 11 AM and they then discipline themselves to follow through on their resolutions.

Many business executives set aside a specific time each day to call customers directly to get feedback.

Create Specific Amounts of Time
Some people allocate specific 30-60 minute time periods each day for exercise. Many people read in the great books 15 minutes each night before retiring. In this way, over time, they eventually read dozens of the best books ever written.

The key to the success of this method of working in specific time segments is for you to plan your day in advance and specifically schedule a fixed time period for a particular activity or task.

You make work appointments with yourself and then discipline yourself to keep them. You set aside thirty, sixty and ninety minute time segments that you use to work on and complete important tasks.

Create Preplanned Periods
Many highly productive people schedule specific activities in preplanned time slots all day long. These people build their work lives around accomplishing key tasks one at a time. As a result, they become more and more productive and eventually produce two times, three times and five times as much as the average person.

Action Exercises
Here are two things you can do immediately to put these ideas into action.

First, organize each day to create large chunks of time you can use for key task completion.

Second, make a written appointment with yourself to work on a key task at a specific time.