Getting Control of Your Time (Part 2)

Getting Control of Your Time (Part 2)

Part II: Managing Tasks and Activities Tracking Tasks and Activities A time honoured tradition of time management is to write down the tasks that need to be accomplished. Utilizing systems of memory that are external to our brain is important. While there are many advanced online and digital applications for doing this, a surprising number of leaders use low-tech simple solutions for keeping on top of things. It is recognized by many that carrying a pen and notepad for taking physical notes is more efficient and more satisfying than the electronic alternatives. Tracking tasks and ‘to do’s’ externally is about clearing the mind. When we have something on our mind – especially a ‘to do’ item – we’re afraid we will forget it, so our brain rehearses it, tossing it around and around in circles in something referred to as the rehearsal loop which is quite effective at helping us remember things. Trouble is that it works too well, keeping items in rehearsal until we attend to them. Writing them down gives both implicit and explicit permission for the brain to let them go, to relax its circuits so that we can focus on something else. Categorizing and Prioritizing The purpose of categorizing tasks is to provide a framework for managing and reducing the number of tasks on your list. It all starts with a list of your tasks and “to do’s. Using a sheet of paper and list all of your upcoming tasks and “to do’s”. There are a number of lenses to use to assess your tasks and what you can do about them. The following are...
Getting Control of Your Time (Part 1)

Getting Control of Your Time (Part 1)

Part 1: Maintaining Energy and Focus As a leadership advisor and strategist I work with organizational leaders from across the country and from every sector. Every day I encounter leaders who work exceptionally long days with rarely a break, and they are often over-whelmed and stressed. Some organizations pride themselves on their culture of busyness where being in the office late into the evening, working weekends, sending emails at 3:00 am, and answering smartphones during meetings is worn as a badge of honour. For most organizations, however, this is not a desirable state, but one which has evolved over time from staff cut-backs, the proliferation of technology, and increasing stakeholder demands. This paper looks at two aspects of getting better control of your time. Part I addresses how we manage ourselves and create energy and focus related to our work. Part II looks at how to better manage and prioritize our work activities. The Myth of Multi-Tasking The processing capacity of our mind has been estimated at 120 bits per second. This is the ‘speed limit’ for the information we can pay conscious attention to at any one time. In order to understand one person speaking to us, we need to process 60 bits per second. This means you can barely understand two people talking to you are the same time. Under most circumstances you will not be able to understand three people talking at the same time. Attention is a limited capacity resource. There are finite limits to the number of things we can attend to at once. Our brains evolved to focus on one thing at a...
Webinar Recording: Leading Local Government Teams

Webinar Recording: Leading Local Government Teams

Thanks to everyone who attended my webinar about leading local government teams. If you missed it, the a free webinar recording is here: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/6956746774413526018 I will also be uploading to YouTube and posting on this page for easy sharing shortly. You can download my slides here: Leading Local Government Teams Webinar Slides And thanks for those in attendance at the webinar who gave us a heads up about the screen sharing, which we fixed at the 4 minute mark. It was great to chat with Peter Weeber about the steps we can take to provide out teams with clear direction, resources, and inspiration. We’d love to hear from you on what you liked most, what you liked least, and what topics you’d like us to cover in the future. Shoot me an email or leave a...
Leading Local Government Teams for High Performance

Leading Local Government Teams for High Performance

Middle to senior level local government leaders are invited to a free webinar which covers how to best lead teams in a local government setting. During “Leading Local Government Teams” you will learn: How to more effectively communicate your expectations to staff to ensure you get what you want How organizational culture impacts performance and what you can  to do shift it What you need to do to create an inspiring workplace and motivated people This webinar is hosted by myself, Robert Cooke, Executive Coach and Leadership Advisor, and Peter Weeber, Chief Administrative Officer of the District of Mackenzie. Together we have a tremendous amount of local government experience and insight. We’ve seen talented teams struggle, and we’ve seen what is needed for teams to excel and achieve their goals, and we look forward to sharing this with you. The content for this webinar is based off a highly successful workshop I hosted at a recent BC CAO Forum. I hope you join us, April 23 at 11:00am (PDT) and that you share this with others in your workplace who would find it valuable.   The webinar is on Thursday, April 23 at 11:00am (PST). You can register here. Below is a short video where I chat about what you can expect during the webinar. Presenter: Rob Cooke (@robcooke2) is an ICF-Certified Executive and Leadership Coach. He helps middle and senior level local government leaders who are smart, ambitious, and represent the future leadership of their organizations. He works with these leaders and their teams to accelerate performance and clarify desired...
What Do Leaders Do?

What Do Leaders Do?

If you were to write a job description for a leader, what would it look like? The first things that may come to mind are qualities of a good leader, no shortage of those. You could write words like: decisive, a good listener, humble, strategic thinker. But while it is easy to think of what a good leader needs to be, it is harder to think of what a good leader does. The position of leader is one of the most coveted yet least understood jobs in an organization. A leader can delegate a lot of tasks, but there are some things a leader must do themselves. If you represent the future leadership of an organization, take the time to understand the role before you take charge. The following are the three fundamental roles of leadership. Leaders Create Clarity and Alignment As soon as you move into that corner office, employees will want to know how you plan to create clarity and alignment within the organization. Clarity is achieved when there are answers to questions like, “What does this organization do?” “Who are we?” “What does success look like?” A leader must decide what business the company is in and how they plan on making money doing it. Clarity is leadership answering these questions thus clearly and concisely convey the direction of the organization. Alignment is helped by creating so much clarity that there is little room for confusion, disorder and infighting. Leaders Create Individual and Team Competence Once the leader defines the purpose of an organization the second job of a leader is to build the senior team,...
Missed the Webinar?

Missed the Webinar?

Thanks to those who were able to join me for my webinar on February 5. In Make 2015 The Best Year Ever we discussed goal setting in 3 different areas: personal, business, and leadership. We also identified roadblocks to success and how to stay motivated. Also thanks to those who were able to give me feedback on my very first webinar. It was a pleasure and there are already more webinars in the works....
You Help Others Succeed, Now Help Yourself

You Help Others Succeed, Now Help Yourself

Have you given up on your goals? Do you feel like you see everyone else achieve great things, but you’re treading water? If so, that’s rough. I’ve worked with numerous executives that help others succeed all the time. They mentor them, provide them with the tools needed to achieve their goals, they motivate them, and keep them accountable. However, they often forget these same tactics can be turned inward to allow themselves to achieve great things. I suggest for this New Year, to take some time out for yourself and consider investing in you. Below are some tools you may use to motivate and empower others. Let’s turn these around and put the focus squarely on you. Clearly Defined Expectations In order for your staff to be successful you clearly explain what is expected of them. Have you thought of asking yourself the same question? Leaders can spend lots of time thinking about the direction of business and evaluating how others have delivered. What they expect from themselves typically comes in last. Whether it’s being the best example to staff, taking on different tasks, or working towards a fulfilling retirement, leaders need to slow down and take some time out for personal reflection. This month I suggest taking some time to reflect on the last year. Pause to celebrate. Pause to reflect. Pause to take inventory. And pause to see what you can learn from this past year. I find adding structure to reflection helps, so here are some questions from Michael E. Angier that might assist in deciding where you’ve been and where you want to go: What...
Webinar: Make 2015 The Best Year Ever – What Leaders Need to Do

Webinar: Make 2015 The Best Year Ever – What Leaders Need to Do

I’m hosting a webinar designed to help leaders get the most out of the new year. Join the conversation and learn how you can make 2015 the best year ever. On this live training you will discover: – How to evaluate your priorities and set goals – How to identify and rise above roadblocks to success, and – How to stay motivated and develop long-term focus. **Click here to register** Join me as I share the secret to creating a fulfilling 2015 by consciously growing in all 3 of these areas. I will share some of the secrets I personally employ to assess your current situation, get inspired, and turn dreams and plans into action. Don’t miss this opportunity to learn firsthand how to set achievable goals, make them a reality, and prove to yourself and others that the best is yet to come. Please share this webinar with others who you feel would benefit. Hope to see you...
Forget New Year’s Resolutions: How About a Few Simple Goals

Forget New Year’s Resolutions: How About a Few Simple Goals

It is traditional for us to set New Year’s resolutions. They are pretty simple to define, (exercise 5 times per week, read more, work less hours, get better organized, and so on) unfortunately we rarely stick to them and they are soon forgotten. I would like to propose that you forget resolutions and establish a set of simple but challenging goals that you can measure achievement against. But who has the time to set goals? This is the time of year when we should be setting goals for the upcoming year. The theory and rationale for this is well defined. Personally I struggle with how to do this in an efficient but meaningful way. I have multiple goal setting frameworks that experts have created to make this easy for me. Unfortunately most of these require many hours to fully complete and I am just not ready to allocate this much time. I do believe that we can make this simpler. As organizational leaders I believe we should set goals in three areas: Personal goals that outline what we personally want to achieve include those related to career and personal development, family, health, fitness, time mastery, financial security, leisure time, etc. Leadership goals that focus on managing the performance of direct reports and your executive team; building commitment, building relationships with staff, peers, boss, boards; enhancing team performance; enhancing leadership style and approach; effective communication, etc. Business goals which define what results and outcomes you want your organization to achieve through the direct efforts of others as well as by your own efforts over the next year. These could include...