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by Alan Hargreaves



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Tuesday
Feb152011

The Fullback

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Ever have days when you can’t seem to get focused?

We take a dim view of distraction. We think we should be constantly paying attention – as if we were all hard wired for acute focus.

What if distraction is our brain telling us we need to take a broader view; that there is a lot going on and we need to monitor our entire environment, not just the minutiae.

What if we embraced our distraction?

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Thursday
Feb032011

Creating action: make the first step the biggest

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Action creates action. We probably all know that. Once you get on a roll, you tend to keep on rolling. It’s the first action that’s the hardest part.

 The fuel for motivation is found in the tiniest rays of hope – that sense that we are moving in the right direction, or heading toward actually achieving something. Unfortunately, hope only gets rolling when things have started happening. It’s all very chicken-and-egg.

The good news is that you don’t have to progress very far to raise some hope. Taking the very smallest step chips away at mental and emotional inertia.

Without hope, we are easily overwhelmed by the size of the mountain we have to climb. We view the entire ascent as one massive obstacle rather than something that is achieved through piecing together a number – possibly even a large number -- of very simple steps. 

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Monday
Jan242011

What happens if you don’t delegate?

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I once asked a colleague of mine how he kept his desk so clean

There was all sorts of clutter on my own desk. I think I knew where everything was, but it didn’t look that great. New piles seemed to sprout like weeds and there was an array of folders parked there like old cars in the bottom paddock. Some had been there for months. Compared to my desk, his looked like a freshly mown lawn.  How did he do it?

The answer was simple enough: Every time a piece of paper landed on his desk, he asked himself ‘Who is the best person to handle this?’. If it wasn’t him, it got sent off to them.

You could argue that that’s about all there is to management.

Deciding what is yours and what is theirs isn’t that hard. There are only two things that should determine your role:

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Monday
Jan172011

Personal organisation #101 - the single best idea

Do you know this internal dialogue?

In the meeting: That’s great info. I must look up that website before the next meeting.

Next week: Where did I put that URL? I know I wrote it down in the meeting. Where was it?

The week after: I’d better log on again and print off that download. What did I do with the password? I scribbled it on a post-it note. Where’s that? 

Just prior to the next meeting: What were the key points I took down from that website? I wrote them on a pad. Where’s that pad?

It might not have been a URL. It might have been someone’s contact number, or their address. Or maybe it was the outline of that absolutely brilliant idea you had for a presentation while you were waiting in the departure lounge. It was so clear in my head after I had drawn all the circles and arrows. How did it work again? 

For me, those dialogues stopped in 1995, when someone made a simple suggestion.

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Monday
Jan102011

Organise the best day of your life

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What does personal disorganisation feel like?

For me it’s as if I’m lost in a sea of clutter. There’s no clear focus, no sense of priorities and the nagging doubt that I won’t handle everything that’s on my plate. That’s what it feels like. 

What does it look like?

The desk is covered with stacks of stuff, allegedly in order. The in-tray is overflowing. There are piles of unread “must read” material behind me. On the screen there’s a backlog of unanswered emails.

It happens. Often I am on top of things for long periods of time, but business trips, holidays or urgent projects can invite chaos into my office. It’s not just a matter of how bad it feels or looks. My productivity plunges. That’s because I am no longer able to apply four basic management skills.

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