The Piles of Books

If you’re like me, you like to read books that will add to your personal and professional value.

Books are like candy — dopamine hits that offer affordable hope, insight, knowledge and oftentimes, distraction from what we should be doing. Once the books arrive, we have every good intention of digging into them and reaping the benefits. However, the reality for most of my clients is threefold:

  • Books pile up unopened. It looks overwhelming.
  • They start a book, get bored or don’t finish.
  • They forget what they read minutes or hours later.

Here’s what I do:

  1. I prioritize what I need to learn and select purchases carefully. I read a few book samples online. I don’t trust most reviews. Does it, early on, provide the information I’m seeking? What’s the format – short pithy chapters or long narratives?
  2. When available, I get book summaries instead of full books. These are thinner versions that focus on the key take-aways.
  3. In a large notebook, I have a section for each non-fiction book I read. As I read, I note key points and make associations with what I already know and think of ways to apply the new information. Once a week, I skim through my notebook to keep the information fresh.

                                   Need more help integrating and consolidating new information? Contact me at                                                                          [email protected]

 

Ways to Get Things Done…Easier

What can you do to get things done, done well and on time with greater ease? Here are some good starting points:

Delegate   A bit time consuming up front, but a better long-term solution. A solopreneur client, who hates accounting, figured that if she hired a bookkeeper once a month for a nominal fee, it would be one big ugly task off her plate. Instead of suffering with the bookkeeping, she uses those 2-3 hours to do what she does best and covers the bookkeeper’s fee 5 times over.

Best time of day   Deep work requires prime time focus and concentration. You’ll get through those tasks faster and with greater accuracy at a time that is optimal for your focus and energy level.  Use low energy time for mindless work like laundry or house cleaning.

Assess the task   Before jumping feet first into a task, look it over and get an idea how involved the task will be. When’s the deadline?  Will you need assistance, resources or a location more conducive for working on it? Do you need to break it up into chunks and spread it out over time? You may also find that the task will take less time than you imagined!

If you’re a PRO at procrastination, let me help you turn the PRO into a NO!  Contact me at [email protected]

Tips for Better Partnerships

Brett, a founder from San Francisco, writes: I need to partner up with other entities to support my housewares business. I’ve got a few options, but I’m cautious after hearing about failed partnerships. Any suggestions?

Successful partnerships with vendors, companies and investors come from building trusting relationships and doing your research. 

Partnerships are more than transactional interactions, they are relationships. It could take many months to build a trusting one, but it’s worth the wait. What kind of partnership would yield mutual benefit? Is the potential partner aligned with your mission and values? Will they work as a team or just be cogs in a machine? Would they agree to experiment with small batch orders or modest rounds of funding and work out the kinks before scaling up?

Next, do your research on a potential partner. Vet and vet some more. Go visit their factories and get references from customers. How responsive, collaborative and consistent is their communication? How do they behave with other customers in bad times? How did they stay operational during the pandemic?

Finding lasting partnerships is key to growing your business.

In business and in partnerships, mindful communication is everything. Have you a business relationship that could use a communication tune up? Contact me at [email protected] 

 

Find Freedom in “No”

Look in the mirror. Press the tip of your tongue up behind your teeth and make an ‘N’ sound. Then round your lips into an ‘O.’ Does this utterance sound and look familiar? Reviving this simple sequence of two sounds (“NO”) will give you great power: more free time, less stress and more focus.

We mastered the use of NO around age two and used it quite liberally up until we started going to school. NO became associated with all sorts of negative things, and then we began to use it less and less.

Take a look at your schedule. If you are overwhelmed, it’s probably because NO is a tough word to spit out. YES is so much easier to say – we get more smiles, more votes, less conflict and we please everyone for the moment, except ourselves.

I’m not saying to be a Negative Nellie. Just think first about what you agree to do for people. It’s just not worth the guilt and shame we pile on ourselves when we over commit.

Practice saying ‘no’ several times in the mirror (with a smile, if you must) or its relative phrases, “No, not now” or “No thank you, my plate is full” until it gets as comfortable as saying “Yes.”

Listening to ourselves is a valuable skill. Learn how. Contact me at [email protected]

Improve Your Awareness of Time

It is one of the most common concerns that come up in coaching. For some, hours seem like minutes, and vice versa. A faulty awareness of time passing or the inability to gauge how long something might take results in late arrivals and missed deadlines. Those left waiting interpret this behavior as rude and unreliable.

Here are 4 ways for the COREageous to improve time awareness:

  • Maintain a regular sleep schedule that aligns as close as possible to the sun setting and rising. A farmer’s schedule (early to bed and early to rise) has been shown to regulate circadian rhythms and optimize one’s sense of time.
  • Keep an analog clock, an hourglass or a device called a Time Timer within your field of vision. This way, as you work on a task, you can see time passing in a more tangible or pictorial way.
  • This exercise is a way to pace yourself and build a sense of what a 20-minute chunk of time feels like. Choose a task or a list of things you want to get done within a 4-hour period of time. Set a gentle alarm to sound off every 20 minutes. Marking time in this way serves another purpose. If you get distracted, the alarm will remind you to get back to the task. With practice, you’ll begin to anticipate the 20-minute alarm.
  • Past experiences, a closer assessment and asking clarifying questions before scheduling a task may give you a more realistic estimate of how much time you need to set aside for it. Add another 15–30-minute cushion, just in case your time estimate falls short.

Need help getting things done, done well and on time? That’s executive functioning in a nutshell. CoreCoaching can help. Contact me at [email protected]

A Founder Wishes to Connect

Drew, a founder from Boston, wrote:

Rebecca, How do I connect better with my team? People perceive me as a smart and nerdy guy to work for, but not fun enough to invite to gatherings. My strengths gave me the tools to start my company, but Covid, competition and other business concerns make me realize that it’s important to relate better, beyond a technical level, to my team. P.S.I can’t afford $$$$ outings .

Drew, you are correct! COREageous leadership requires connection. My mentor, Dr. Edward Hallowell refers to the need to build strong relationships as your company’s “Vitamin C” for Connect.

Accept that you may never be seen as “the fun boss,” and frankly, as a leader that may not be in your best interest. I sense that you would like to strengthen the bond between you and your team. Here are some affordable ways to build healthy connections:

Every few weeks bring your staff together (or do a one-on-one) for an informal walk or a group coffee chat at an outside location. Ask about their interests, where they are from and what’s going on with them. Forget yourself and listen with curiosity. You may not find football or trips to Disney very exciting, but it is interesting to see what floats their boat. This effort, perhaps a bit outside of your comfortable zone, signals that you care. If asked, share your interests. Look for commonalities. Until now, you may have been somewhat of a mystery to them.

If that’s a stretch, walk around the office once a week. Spend a few minutes with each person to see how they are doing. If that’s too personal, ask for feedback on their project.

These simple steps can build closer bonds and greater dedication to your mission. Not sure if you’ll be included in board game night, but you’ll be more approachable and that is where connection starts.

In business “communication is everything.” What are your gifts and gaps in communication? Let’s discover together. Contact me at [email protected] 

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