Personal Acceleration: Five Ways to Get More Done Each Day

clock-head-tinyThere are many methods you  you can use to get more done each day and here a few suggestions that are simple and effective and won’t cost more money.  In many projects, it may be a task or resource scheduling that prevents completion but the one area with the most control is how much you can accomplish in a day and for most people we are not even tapping into the potential that you have. Here are some ideas to make sure you are operating effectively while managing your projects.
Do Things You’re Best At
Do things at which you excel or no one else can do. The better you are in a key skill area the more you can accomplish.  Because you are better at these tasks  you will be able to get them done with less effort and have fun doing them.  It is important to become relentless at evaluating what work you are doing and who else on team can accomplish that type of work. Identifying what can be eliminated from your day and delegating will create more time and space so you can do your genius work and produce the highest impact and value from your activities.
Work Harder
Work harder than you are working today. You may be thinking this is not possible but it is.  If you can create an environment that allows you to have greater focus you will be able to work with greater intensity and accomplish more.  Being able to focuse without  distraction is a learned skill.  If you think about it, how often does that happen?  Usually you are on phone, email, instant messenger and not focusing on the strategic plan and follow through to make sure resources clearly understand work and will finish early.  You can work harder than anyone else, which is a key to great success that will pay back dividends.

Work Faster
You can work faster.  If you pushed the gas pedal down a little more, what is result?  Small changes in your speed will get it done faster and others will respond faster as well in work they are doing.  As leader of a project, you can develop a faster tempo that will carry through the whole team and often drive a higher commitment to accomplishing work faster.    By focusing on speed, you will need to cut time down on tasks and eliminates a lot of the factor of people waiting till a due date to finish work.  Its adopting a “get it done now” attitude and eliminating distractions.  When you combine working harder and working faster, you can get more done in a single day than most people get done in a week.

Batch your Tasks
You can batch your tasks as in manufacturing theory it is more productive and more is produced. It eliminates the constant shift from start and stop on different activities. By batching and getting like activities done together you can take advantage of learning curve and efficiencies that you can employ to get tasks done.
Make Fewer Mistakes
To get more done, you can focus on doing it right the first time.  You’ve heard it said, “there is never enough time to do it right, but there is always enough time to do it over.”  Take the time to make sure you have latest info and its understood clearly what is needed. Redoing work is never fun and causes frustration.  This can be as simple as verifying you have the latest version of file, validating the analysis or test criteria, checking on design requirements with customer or what ever is relevant to your work. One of the best time management techniques is to do it right the first time.

As leader of your team, it is important you continue to use strategies to boost output and accelerate work as others on the team will learn and model from your habits. Small improvements made across a team of 30 people  drives large boost in overall team output. Take action now and implement an improvement today.

Project: Vacation in New Zealand

When you have worked hard through a big project it is key to go rest and relax doing something you enjoy. My current project is to see as much of New Zealand for 25 days and then spend a week with family catching up for the holidays. So how does vacation relate to project management?  It is a project. You can choose to purchase a tour which is paying a company to plan and book in advance for you or you can self guide and plan it all in advance. Given I spend most of my time planning, I choose to approach vacation with a more casual approach by booking a destination, place ticket and travel guide with some general plans about route. Then I use the time travelling to plan the next destination, travel means and take advantage of talking with locals and other travellers about the best places to go. This ensure I have time for spontanaity and not missing the best places that may not be in the guidebook. I usually use a mix of accomodations sometimes camping, hotels or hostel type places based on what’s available. So far I have packed in kayaking, hiking, abseiling 100 meters, climbing through limestone caves, touring cities of Auckland, Wellington and many small townships along the way. A “helihike” is coming up soon at the Franz Joseph Glacier. I am very excited and looking forward to a great day!  New Zealand is an amazing country full of national parks, tons of lakes, coastal sights and hiking trails. It is also full of adrenalin boosting extreme sports and sky diving seems to be a popular activity with other travellers. The escape from projects and normal routine is inspiring me with many new projects and ideas for when I return. So take this as a reminder to make sure you take down time and go do your favorite activities or plan your next adventure to see the big amazing world out there to explore!  I will post some pics when I return.

Interesting Excerpt on Leadership Ideas

At Deckplate leadership blog, I found some interesting elements that really hold true through projects and leading groups. Read some of the ideas I liked or  the blog itself at

“There are a lot of “Be”s in “Being The Chief”, “Being The Leader”, or just plain “Being Successful”, but I believe these five “Be”s to be the most important in creating success:

  1. Be BOLD
  4. Be READY
  5. Be RIGHT

I think of these five “Be”s as being very dependent on each other much in the same manner as the Triangle Of Fire, where heat, oxygen and fuel are all the three mandatory ingredients for there to be a fire. You remove one element from the equation and it is impossible for a fire to happen. You remove one of these “Be”s from the equation and the result is failure.

If you apply these “Be”s in everything you do, whether it be at home with your family or achieving personal and professional goals, you will be successful in your ventures. If something fails however, or if you or your team fails at something, then take a look at this list and figure out which principle was not applied to the best of your ability and work harder in that area to prevent failure the next time around.

Be Bold

Being bold is NOT:

  • Being a jerk to get things done.
  • Being combative with everybody who disagrees with what you do in an effort to stand your ground.
  • Taking unnecessary risks.
  • Sticking out your neck for someone because you feel obligated to do so as a boss.

However, being bold IS:

  • Getting out of your comfort zones.
  • Being visible.
  • Taking on the hard jobs.
  • Being vocal up, down and across the chain of command.
  • Laying it all out on the line every single day.
  • Making a decision.
  • Not being afraid to make mistakes.

Getting Out Of Your Comfort Zones

You want to avoid being a one-trick pony and diversify your skill sets. When you stay within the confines of those things that you are comfortable with you become complacent and short-sighted. Worst of all, you will stymie your personal and professional growth. Get out of your comfort zone by taking the lead on projects that you may not have much experience in, or those jobs within your organization that you think you may not particularly like too much. In the end, the education you receive by learning how to do those things you might not have done otherwise will be priceless.

Being Visible

Speaking of getting out of your comfort zones, get out from behind your computers. Roll up your sleeves and get dirty from time to time. Walk the front lines, visit the troops. This will make yourself available for mentorship and development of your people. Remember, you will set the tone as the Deckplate Leader, and your actions will always….always….speak louder than your words. By getting out from behind your computer and spending time with your people you will be demonstrating their importance in your life because you are a busy person with a busy schedule, yet you still found time to see what life is like in the trenches first hand. And, hey, you might just learn something new about your field from one of your people that you may not have learned otherwise.

Taking The Hard Jobs

The hard jobs aren’t necessarily the jobs that are physically difficult to do, but rather the jobs that are important and need to get done with nobody willing to do them. This is what I like to call “Embracing The Suck” or “Leading In The Suck”. You have to pay your dues in order to gain credibility and increase your sphere of influence. And more often than not these will be those jobs that are WAY outside of your comfort zones.

Being Vocal

Doing the right thing is easy when everybody’s watching, it is much harder to do when nobody is looking though. I would argue that standing up for what is right is even harder. But you must be willing to speak your mind and provide valuable insight up, down and across the chain of command. Remember the analogy of the lumber jacks. They are ordered to cut down a group of trees, so they get all their equipment, figure out the overhead costs, and develop a timeline. Then they run out and start cutting down the trees in a forest. The leader is that person who speaks up and says, “Hey, we’re in the wrong forest!”

Laying It On The Line…Everyday

When you suit up in the morning you must be willing to play ball. I grew up playing baseball and football, and one thing that you learn early on is that once you commit you have to go all out. A half-assed effort will produce half-assed results. Part of what makes people successful is their passion. They show up to do business day in and day out. Mix this with a positive attitude and now you have a potent solution that will be infectious, and spread down to your teams. The Deckplate Leader sets the tone. They set the pace.

Making A Decision

Inaction is a horrible cancer that can bring an organization down to its knees. A successful leader must be able to make a decision. There comes a point when the analysis is complete, or as complete as it can be, and it is time to make a decision and execute. Sometimes, if not most times, you will have to be able to make a decision and hope for the best, with a 50/50 shot of your decision being the right one.

“The most difficult part of creativity, or innovation, is having the change last. You have to have sustainable innovation. How do you do that? Well, first, you can’t make changes just for the sake of making change. You know the addage, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Everybody wants to make their mark and leave their legacy. But if it ain’t broke then don’t fix it. Maybe your legacy is that you kept a successful program from falling apart and passed on a good product to your successor. I will argue, though, that things can always be better and processes can always be improved. After all, times change, technology improves, old ways of doing things and normal routines become obsolete. It is our creativity that allows us to move with the times.

The second part of sustainable innovation is keeping it simple. The KISS rule applies here. Keep It Simple Stupid. Too much change is a shock to the system. You must manage it and pick away at the battles that you can win. Make sure that your change doesn’t create more work or cost more money. The goal is to become more efficient and cost effective, thereby producing more output with the same level of quality as there was before.

Another part of sustainable change is what we call “buy in”. This is not your father’s world anymore. It’s not a situation where the boss gets to bark the orders and the worker-bees just do it. There must be buy in from your subordinates. This means that you have to solicit the input and creativity of your replacements, our future leaders, to come up with a solution that the majority will approve of so that you have their buy in. More than likely, the workers will still be there after you leave. If you want your change to stick, then it will be those workers that carry out the job and pass it on. And if your successor ends up making a change just for the sake of change then it will not be well received, in a way forcing your successor to continue with your way of doing things or improving on your idea.

Now, I’m not talking about always going with the “group think” mentality. You are “The Chief” after all. If you know your people well enough then you won’t always have to consult them when implementing change because you will already know what the reaction will be. “Soliciting” in this case means talking to your people. Asking them questions and listening, really listening, to what they have to say.”

How to Say Goodbye

At “Making Project Management Better Blog”, Alec Satin has written an insightful strategies to deal with team members leaving. This can become uncomfortable and can be awkward if you are leaving company or you have team members leaving through reduction efforts or projects ending or have been cancelled. Read the article on How to Say Goodbye. Above all keep a positive attitude even if the reasons are confusing and you are feeling hurt that you were chosen. Be respectful to colleagues as you would want to be treated as your relationships are important for future opportunities.

Working in large organizations, these situations are common and people deserve to be celebrated for their commitment and dedication to the project while they were on it. Jobs aren’t guaranteed or controllable, but you can choose your attitude and response to tough situations.  Goodbyes are tough and can be traumatic for person leaving as well as those left to deal with aftershocks. Communicate openly, do what you can to transfer info, make a plan to stay connected, follow through on what  you say you will.  Leave with the legacy you want to be remembered for and not a reactive response that does not serve you professionally.

Please share other ideas and strategies you have used to manage through the tough goodbyes.

Dealing with Difficult People

An interesting and useful post on Dealing with Difficult people from the Think Simple Now Blog. Some of the key points are below but check out the full post now.

In every project and through your day, you will encounter that person and situation that you need to decide how to respond.  There are many practical suggestions in this post on dealing with those difficult encounters. Review and pick a few to try when the next event in your project needs to be managed. Employing these techniques can smoothe the way and help you to decide when a response is and is not apporpriate. Becoming a master at managing difficult persons and situations will only lead you to manage high payoff projects for high impact results.

Here are some tips for dealing with a difficult person or negative message:


2. Wait it Out

3. “Does it really matter if I am right?

4. Don’t Respond

5. Stop Talking About It

6. Be In Their Shoes

7. Look for the Lessons

8. Choose to Eliminate Negative People In Your Life

9. Become the Observer

10. Go for a Run … or a swim, or some other workout.

11. Worst Case Scenario

12. Avoid Heated Discussions

13. Most Important

14. Pour Honey

15. Express It

PM Strategies to Lead Effective Transitions

The role of transition leader is frequently overlooked but important aspect of program management. There are several keys that you can use to be a top performer.

· Gains support from and confidence of others. Change is not accepted and work cannot be done without the buy-in of key stakeholders. Building support early and frequently is a key to ensuring you have management, customers, team members or shareholders when needed

· Collaborate effectively. No matter how good a manager is, people will not follow without a sense of ownership in the organization. Working together at all levels of organization is critical. People look to see results and your ability to get results effectively and break through roadblocks. This is a fundamental to rapid results. In order to collaborate effectively, you need to focus on building relationships with customers, peers, and project team members.

· Takes accountability. As with any effective manager,successful transition leaders take accountability for their own work as well as that of the entire team that he or she manages. If the transition is structure change, project change, team member change there will be a lot of changing elements. To be viewed as the leader, you need to take accountability for the good and bad and keep communication strong.

· Inspires and motivates sponsor, stakeholder, customers and team. In order to manage change effectively in the organization, transition leaders need to have inspired employees and stakeholders. This can be a challenge as many people will view change as negative. The one constant these days is change, so helping people

· Communicates openly and often. Since change is such a complex and fearsome idea for process what it means and connect to what they do and contribute will mitigate the effect and keep project moving forward as it needs to. For most people, it is important for transition leaders to open the flow of communication and let people know what is undecided and what is decided so they are not left to speculation, rumors and growing fear develops. This holds true on a day-to-day basis as well and just becomes more critical during times of change.

· Provides clear direction. People want to know where program or project is headed. They want to know what roles and responsibilities are and they want to do a good job. Often, there can be a lot of distracters and inhibitors to people doing a good job. Stakeholders also need to understand where they are and where the organization is going. The action you can take leading through change is to link vision to goals of program and keep defining and redefining so people can understand and work to the needed results

· Create a culture of urgency – Often change becomes worse when prolonged as it can create a wait and see operating style. Creating the platform of why and what must be done with urgency will help force resolution and implementation more quickly.

· Creates opportunities for wins. The change involved in large scale and complex IT implementations often appears insurmountable to employees. Define interim goals and wins the team and individuals can celebrate. It is important to frequently reward and recognize team members to help boost morale and to keep change initiatives from failing due to a burned-out staff. It will help build momentum and feeling of accomplishment over long term projects.

Change is a constant. You can implement simple strategies to assist surviving tough transition and being the leader to help team thrive through change. It is important to practice these on a regular basis but step it up in a big way through transition times. It will ensure you delivery High Payoff Projects!