Sunday Column (446)

A week without travel you might think makes my life easier. It does. It makes it more pleasant. More time with the kids, I saw them most mornings and most evenings. That made a huge difference. However, there is always something that isn’t right. First of all the new keyboard for my iPad which I don’t really enjoy yet and it makes it awkward to type and get anything done. As a matter of fact: I sent it back. The other annoying bit are the trains. A strike and overtime ban result in fewer trains, delayed trains and more annoying travel. So to a certain extend I hope to be back on the road. Yet, there is a huge advantage of being in the office every day: I have time to catch up with people and get real work done. I definitely enjoy that bit.

Last week I ran a promotion for my productivity book. It is about life systems and finding your own systems and habits, to allow for the perfect life. If life can ever be perfect? Probably not. However, if you build a system that allows you to be able to deal with things in a close to perfect manner, you end up being more efficient, more productive, and be better in life. That in my opinion is enough of a reason to consider buying my book πŸ™‚

I am writing this post before I actually do my weekend run. I joined the Spitfire 24 hour relay race. That means I am in a team of 5 running 10K relay over a period of 24 hours. I anticipate to run 30-40K and be totally knackered on Sunday. So I update on the outcome and whether I would do it again next week. I signed up for it last year but couldn’t make it at the end. It is my wall and I shall see what my next wall might be. Maybe some kind of solo race like a marathon or off road challenge, we shall see.

Remember I write this prior to the race. Going out of my comfort zone is one thing. I am almost more worried about the camping logistics than the physical strain. On the the other hand it is going to be tough but the things I always enjoyed is endurance sports. Going beyond your status quo, pushing yourself. I remember vividly to go on a bike ride after little sleep with a massive hangover as a student. And it was a tough ride. And making it through that or running 2.5 hours along the beach in Aberdeen, that is what I truly enjoy. I let you know if that’s still the case next week.

Similar to dry January, I decided to stop drinking this week prior to the race. Not sure it would make a difference, but it is interesting to see how tired I got. The body converts the sugar in booze into energy and gives you a boost. Not having this results in more tiredness. Similar to giving up coffee resulting in you getting headaches. Whilst I wouldn’t consider myself a heavy drinker, I do enjoy a drink on a regular basis. So my body is used to the additional sugar and energy. I will do some more research into it, as I am keen on trying the new wine Laithwaites delivered last week πŸ™‚ And wine, according to Ceasar anyway, is good for you. The French drink a whole lot of it and never seem to be bothered by it. As always, in moderation things are good for you, but for every habit you have – let it be exercise, coffee, alcohol or sweets, chocolate – taking a detox and break from it every now and then is useful and resets the system a bit. I am keen on exploring more, and if I was younger, and I said that before, I would compete with Tim Ferris on experimenting with my body and it’s system a bit more.

Now it is back to some travel over the next two weeks. The nice thing is that with summer being here, I actually have a manageable workload. I said the other day, I wasn’t busy. My staff laughed and I realised I have been busy, but it doesn’t feel overwhelming at the moment, not crazy rushed off my feet. Normal I’d say. And that is nice. That in my world means not busy LOL. In case my boss reads that, I am still busy enough! πŸ™‚

That’s all for this week.
Have a good on,
Volker

, , , , , , , ,

No Comments

Thursday Flash (28)

Flash….

Taking the right break makes you more productive – similar to last week’s quantitative measure vs. quality measure, taking breaks makes you more productive. Don’t believe me – try!

This is a great article on prioritising. It is all about focus on priority. Then about output. Which one thing can you do today that make everything else obsolete or easier?

This article on Business Objectives and Operational Efficiencies is a good guide on how to measure business success. Worth a read.

Thanks for reading,
Volker

, , , , , , ,

No Comments

Sunday Column (445)

Same old … no things are in constant change. It is hot in Europe and I truly enjoy it. Kind of….we really shouldn’t complain about the nice weather. I personally just don’t like it too hot. Anyway, the week was quieter than usual, so just a normal week, and part of it is due to the 4th of July bank holiday in the US. Happy Independence Day!

Then my old iPad mini keyboard broke. No, I didn’t (yet) buy an iPad Pro, but I replaced the 85 GBP Zagg version with a cheaper Tecknet version. Not the same, but I will get used to it I am sure. At the end of the day, I already made the decision to buy an iPad Pro, so now it is a timeline decision. Maybe I see how the connections change in autumn, and if we all get USB C ports instead of lightning connectors, and also there might be an upgrade to the iPad Pro 2 in spring. We shall see. Flying from Heathrow mid day in order to get to Munich in time for a dinner catch on Monday up resulted in a delay and things just didn’t go as planned or hoped. A short and exhausting trip. In the queue to the flight I met someone from Munich. He was from Liverpool originally, studied in Aberdeen about 10 years before I did. And he moved to Munich for his love about 17 years ago. Coincidence, I am not sure. People come in your life for a reason. Life is full of miracles and connections. What is the chance that I started to speak to him in the queue of all the 150 odd people I could have talked to.

This week was the first time I really got annoyed at the constant travel. Mainly because my family isn’t that happy. Not only do I hardly see my wife which annoys both of us, but also the boys are getting fed up with me being away all the time. Understandable. I also look forward to not travel next week. I guess there are a few busy weeks ahead before travel will mainly be for holidays with the family. And I cannot wait to enjoy some downtime with the family soon. The last few months were full on, enjoyable, but exhausting.

On the plane I started to reflect on H1. My first 6 months in the current job. My wife going back to work. Achievements I have made, reducing coffee, publishing my book and moving forward with evolutionary coaching. To understand how learning works and how the “One Thing” allows you to focus and makes everything else unnecessary or easier. Yes, I am striving to apply further productivity techniques to constantly improve my work flow and strive for perfection. One of my staff asked me for the recipe the other day, the recipe to stay on top of everything all the time. Inbox, Google’s add on to Gmail, and the snooze and reminder function are crucial for me. The last 6 months have been busy but good busy, I truly enjoyed them and I genuinely love the work I am doing and the people I work with.

I am happy and slowly try to teach the boys two important things: one is that happiness comes from within. You cannot buy it. You cannot buy it with a great and expensive car for instance. And I have to admit that the Jaguar is nice but whilst it makes me happy, I am not attached to it πŸ™‚ That took the lesson a bit to far, and the oldest said he lost me there. Fair enough. The other lesson is that they need to think. For them to listen, use their brain and then speak. That’s another difficult one for a 6 and 8 year old to understand. They are doing very well. And the weekends and time I do spend with them, they are understanding if I am tired and cuddle up in the movies and are good pals. Until of course they start being typical children and do your head in. Then we go back to play UNO, and I did not count the amount of games we played since they started end of last year. They love it. Same as Trivial Pursuit. Monopoly is next again I suppose, we haven’t played it for a while.

As we go through those phases I have been thinking how they turn out when they are older. Will they become engineers and little brains? We don’t want to dictate them what to do. They already are little brains of course, but what will drive them on. What will they teach their kids and when am I ready to let go? Let them get on with their own life? When will I have enough trust? When did my parents, if ever? They do now – I think. I hope so anyway πŸ™‚ As a responsible parent I need to find the cut off point. And I am sure this will come over time and I will understand when the time is right. My wife surely will support me in my decisions. We will not be able to always watch over them. That’s one of the hardest things to learn as a parent. I think so anyway. And when letting the eldest walk with his mates the last 500 meters to school….that is a first step of independence. Wow. Letting go already?

It was a good week. I got a new white board in my office, a new stand up desk, and I made progress on a project. That strives me on. And I managed to take the wife out for a meal, play UNO with the boys and got cuddles.

What else to ask for?

Love and Kindness from my little corner of the world,
Volker

, , , , , , , ,

No Comments

Thursday Flash (27)

Flash….

Difficult conversations without having a conflict isn’t always easy. It is about listening, understanding the other point of view and being direct. Practising makes perfect, but it doesn’t get easier.

The next article is stating that actually, nobody cares how hard you work. Is that right? What the author tries to say is that we are all tuned towards quantitative measures, e.g. time rather than output. So if you work hard and accomplish more in less time, no one cares. This is changing, and I noticed that society puts more pressure on output rather than time spend on something.

Productive Space is something essential in my opinion. Having your space, the right tools, light and environment, to make you the most productive person even, is key to any success.

Did you enjoy this week?

Please share,
Volker

, , , , ,

No Comments

Sunday Column (444)

Same procedure as every week? Same procedure. Heathrow on Tuesday morning and to kill some time I had a play with the Apple iPad Pro. The large one. The medium one. It makes my iPad mini look small. My keyboard clunky and my Evernote stylus, which I haven’t used for a while, obsolete. So thinking about not needing my notepad that scans things instantly, my Evernote stylus and instead having it all within my iPad Pro is very appealing. Just what I always expected the iPad to do. Finally. I am not ready to swap just yet. Having said that, my beloved ZAGG keyboard broke this week. A sign? First let the iPad Pro be out there for at least a year and the charger and connection cables be changed to the new USB one. Or will they? And when do we find out? Painful, or maybe there won’t be cables and everything will be wireless charging? Let us wait a while. So a cheap replacement keyboard it is for now.

I am not getting too excited about Apple anymore. This is mainly because I feel that the innovation leaps are gone. The incremental innovations are amazing and first class, but the new revolutionary things are nowhere to be seen. But I let myself be surprised of course and I cannot wait for their October event to reveal the new iPhone and whatever else is in stock. With Apple buying a new company every few weeks, AR will be high on their cards. I cannot wait for that. Discussing innovation and IOT and technology moving further into our homes on Linkedin the other day, the question is who owns the data of voice recognition and voice recordings and learning from those analysis. There is a huge can of worms we are going to open, and when your TV listens to you making love during certain TV shows to show you ads….or Alexa offering you the latest sex toys from Amazon on the back of it…..those are scenarios we have to be careful about. Or do we? I guess this is the question we have to ask.

Can we rely on our privacy in a connected home moving forward? I am not sure we can but do we have a choice? We should of course have a choice. Interesting times ahead. We are trusting a lot of information in our phones, our tablets, our computers. Our personal assistants like Siri/Alexa and soon other devices. And whilst thinking about this, I am more and more putting my phone away at the weekend. I do not need all the social media entertainment. Maybe the odd messaging, email or call of course. The time for a detox is coming closer I think, and back to basics, the hippy movement of the 70s, just for digital, is near. That’s my prediction anyway. Not for all of us, but being disconnected, like me now on my flight, makes it peaceful and productive. The choice must be given even in a connected home stuffed with IOT devices. And no, probably not for me.

Travel. Routines. I have been very good keeping my routines going when travelling as described in my book on productivity. That means mainly to exercise and to eat healthy. However, as you get less sleep, be more busy, you have to compromise on some things over others. It can hurt. I managed to kick my five a day coffee habit. I am only drinking one double or triple espresso a day. I enjoy it a lot more and I am less agitated throughout the day. That works. Eating habits are in the process of being improved. Slowly but surely I am getting back to watching what and when I eat. My aim is to loose about half a stone by end of summer to have my “fighting” weight back πŸ™‚ That’s about 3kg for my readers from the continent πŸ˜‰ It won’t be in time for my 24 hour relay race but overall it should get me back in shape. My 10K is on the 48 minute mark on the treadmill, I am getting fitter again.

On the other hand I want to decrease the distance I run a week from 3x10K to maybe 20K over 3 runs. I want to stay fit and healthy but don’t overdue it. The next habit to tackle will be wine. No worries, whilst we all drink too much (according to government guidelines in this country anyway) it is more the regularity of having a glass at night to relax. So my plan is to replace that with an equally tasty, less alcoholic beverage. Tea maybe. Or juice. Putting all that together, I should be back on track for a healthy lifestyle that has lapsed a bit over the last few months. And part of it is the travel as it throws you out of your routine. With sleep, exercise, food etc. There is my summer challenge. One habit at a time.

Being tired and worn out also affects sleep and makes you impatient with the kids. I noticed that on Thursday when I took them to the child minder in the morning. Then I caught up on some fabulous sleep over the weekend, whilst doing some work too. This month will be busy.

And as H1, and 6 months in the new job, come to a close, I look back and think if I enjoy it, am I happy? The answer is yes. The opportunity given to me in the last 6 months are amazing, I feel I arrived and be in the place I want to be. Yet there is so much more I’d like to do but feel I don’t have enough hours in the day. Guess that will never change as long as I continue to have this fire in my belly. Which I do. And this won’t change.

Have an amazing week.
Volker

, , , , , , , , , , , ,

No Comments

Thursday Flash (26)

Flash….

10 things to get anything in life– this collection of top 10 tips is useful. It is about knowledge, fun, imagination and talking hard to yourself. Yet, it is also about looking after yourself.

Smartphone screens are totally different to what I normally post here. I found this very interesting though. How have the screen sizes changed and how do we anticipate the sizes to change moving forward? I personally love the new iPad Pro 10.5 inch size, but cannot justify it. Or maybe I will come Christmas?

And last but not least, there are a lot of articles on Time Blocking. And more on Time Blocking. Essentially not a new subject, but I started doing it more. Scheduling a time in my diary to work on something to get something done. Often, between our emails, we forget that we actually got some work to do.

Hope you enjoyed it.
V

, ,

No Comments

Sunday Column (443)

You know the opening line? Maybe slightly different this week. My last Easyjet flight for a while. No, I wasn’t fed up too much with them, almost accepting the standard hour long delay on a Monday/Tuesday morning, but they changed their flight schedule. No more early morning flights to Hamburg. So I am back to Eurowings and BA for the next few weeks. I also did my last longer, 3 days, trip to Hamburg. Moving forward it will be a two day visit with 2 hours total commute to the airport. The joys. However, we came a long way with work in Hamburg. It has been a pleasure to guide things so far and change things accordingly. Now it is about guidance and supporting the new set up.

It is a bit of accomplishment, a bit of 7 years of Easyjet, a bit of early morning tiredness that makes me feel a bit melancholic. Seriously, it ain’t over yet. The hard work only just began, but it is the fun bit. It’s like getting your kids out of nappies, to get this annoying phase over. Then it is fun from there on, still challenging but different. And personally, I love the stage the boys are at. Different interests, different favourites, different developments. Own characters. My most favourite thing last week was on Friday night when I came home and heard that the younger one peed on the older one. The older one took it in stride, given it was in the bath. Yet when I explained to him that I was the younger one once, he as ked if I was that annoying to my older brother. Of course I was. That’s the way the younger ones are. No matter what the age difference is. And when they fight in the car for attention and ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ ways of doing things….or when the oldest says (not in the car) ‘daddy you can have a nap, we are entertaining ourselves’. They are growing up so quickly. It is great pleasure yet just not enough time with them.

We started playing Trivial Pursuit and it helps them learning a lot. So do we as parents. It is interesting to see their logic and how they put things together. I am just loving it to be a dad. And every weekend it is getting better it seems. Last weekend for instance we went to Laser World for C’s birthday and attended the local school fair. Boy was R excited to do the Maypole dance, whilst C just loved finding more cuddly toys for his bedroom. The difference to last year, letting them go at the school fair to do their own things, is immense. Giving them wings, and now it is about guidance, what to do and what not to do, yet under daddy’s protective shield and help. Just don’t fly too close to the sun. Amazing times ahead. And this weekend: a sleep over for one with mum and Beavers and Daddy time for the other. Fun and one-on-one time. So good.

The Greenfall fire, and I touched on this briefly last week, was horrible. I think it totally surprised me to see the video of one of the flats. It looked to me like all the walls and plaster boards were burnt to the ground. The glue was still on the wall, the bathtub was around and that’s about it. And of course you ask questions of why there weren’t any sprinklers or why was material used that was declared as being unsafe in other countries. And why did no one listen to the people making the council aware of these circumstances? 70+ lives I believe were claimed. Totally avoidable. It makes me furious. Totally for no reason other than profit and bureaucracy. Whoever carried the responsibility for the refurbishment, this person should go to jail. Full stop. No excuse. Shocking on top of this was an interview I saw Friday a week ago. News Night. The moderator was shaking, asking Theresa May questions and she avoided EVERY single one. No compassion, just being a politician. Wow. What has this country come to in the last few months. I am appalled. Time for change, no doubt. I never liked Corbyn but at least he seems to be human! I give May a few more weeks if that. Given Trump in the US is under investigation by the FBI, things are unravelling. Let’s continue to watch how things will unfold. Brexit negotiations started, and the negotiating party doesn’t have full control of the government. At least any Europeans that lived here for 5+ years should be allowed to stay. I am glad I got my passport, I don’t trust those promises anymore.

I finish this post early. I started my day on Wednesday at 7.30 local time (DE) in the office. So when I left the office, given I had a quick lunch, I had done 8 hours. Now I am on an almost empty flight reflecting on 3 days in Hamburg. I am tired. I did my run. It was hot. I made progress. I met friends. I didn’t sleep well. I got s* done. Yeah, that’s the way I like it, that’s the way I roll. I cannot stop, cannot just pause. A flight is a welcome time to sleep, chill out and think. A quick call with a friend from the airport, a thought about the weekend ahead, and some reading. Taxi home and some work, then seeing the wife.

Do I like it. Actually I do. I could do with more family time and less travel, but I also feel that I am needed. And that is a nice feeling, that I can help and support people who need me.

From my little corner of this world I hope you have an amazing week ahead.

Love and kindness,
Volker

, , , , , ,

No Comments

Thursday Flash (25)

Flash….

The One Morning Habit to Break to Create More Time in Your Day – have you thought about getting up early? And enjoy the moment rather than the moment or phone controlling you. Stop to smell the roses I say. Nothing is more satisfying to watch your kids sleeping.

Management and Emotions – I wrote my Master Thesis on Emotional Intelligence (EQ). Showing emotions as a manager isn’t a bad thing. We are all humans, and I believe that honesty paired with real emotions, no fakeness, gets you a lot further than stabbing people in the back.

Willpower and motivation are key to success. Being able to focus on the most important task first and having the mindset to stick to it, is super important.

Did you enjoy the Flash?

Please forward it!

Thanks,
Volker

, , , , , , ,

No Comments

Sunday Column (442)

I love flying out on a Tuesday. The planes are emptier, the airport is busy with tourists, yet things seem to go smoother than Mondays. Soon I have to fly both ways from Heathrow again, Easyjet stops flying out early from Gatwick. However, as I am going less often, this will be manageable. I didn’t miss not flying last week, and the boys truly enjoyed having me around. On Friday I had a half day, which was to look after the boys. We had an amazing weekend: bowling, pizza, going on the bikes and just having loads of fun.

The weekend was topped by my oldest son’s birthday on Monday. I managed to work from home. So not only could I complete another run but also be there for the 7 am, with him being awake from 5, unwrapping his presents. A new pod or Walkman was the main present, another cosy blanket, and a fidget cube. His actually birthday party was this weekend with a trip to Laserworld. Whilst I cannot believe that he is 8 already, I sometimes wonder how time flies.

Also, we went to the youngest school fair. I remember going to that fair a year before we moved to Hassocks. It is a village get together, a catch up amongst dads, mums and kids of course. A great way to spend a sunny summers day. Great to see you all.

When I was 8, I am sure, I cycled around town on the roads. Maybe I didn’t. My oldest isn’t, and I am still protective of him going up the hill and cycling down in our quiet cul de sac. Maybe our generation is too overprotective. Maybe we fear the worst. Last weekend, we took the bars on the side of his bed off. He still wiggles a lot but claims he slept in beds at friends without bars and didn’t fall out. What if he did? He won’t die falling out of bed. But we fear for their safety and security.

No, I am not knocking fear. Just the opposite, fear is healthy. The reason I write about it, is that Tim Ferris in his latest TED talk is speaking about conquering fear. One of his guests stated that if you make easy decisions you have a hard life but if you make hard decisions, you have an easy life. We must make decisions and approach and conquer fear. One must ask the question what the worst possible outcome would be, and if that’s happening, what would you do instead? How could you escape the worst possible situation if what you fear actually happens?

A coping mechanism. And that’s what in my opinions systems are all about. In my book I write about best practises to work on your own systems and define your own habits, routines: systems. Due to lack of time I havnen’t really started to formalise a more condensed approach, e.g. a seminar or one pager or video. This is still all to come and my next project on the horizon. Life doesn’t have to be difficult. Even with doing two jobs, I don’t feel that I am overworked. Sometimes there is too much to do, but on most days I manage fine. Delegation, systems, decisions and focus are key. However, when I worked from home the other day, I was sitting in the living room around 7.30 pm and thought I should carry on. I don’t normally have that much time, but I did miss the 3 hours commute that day, on which I normally finalise a few projects. Systems absolutely help to get on top of things, stay on top of tasks and manage team members well. Yet, more often than not, I am still the one doing more than others, just because I very much enjoying it. Life couldn’t be better at the moment I find, and it seems as if I am settling in just fine.

Just as I think life might be a routine itself, and it never is, there are new challenges ahead, and new decisions to face. Being surrounded by great teams and support staff, I think we can turn up the heat one more bit. I want more out of life, enjoy it more by achieving and experiencing more. Life becomes almost like a drug where achievements sporns me on. Where I feel like I would like to achieve more. This isn’t even about money, ownership and possessions but about owning experience and learning, knowledge and a better system to cope with more. This is particularly true in times like these where we don’t know what the Brexit strategy is or how our government will look like in six months time. Uncertainty is part of our life, in politics and elsewhere, yet Systems stabilise those and make it bearable and conquerable.

One decision I can speak about soon. I want to discuss it with some friends and noodle on it. It is a sporting challenge, but as one says, if you are thinking of already doing something, haven’t you made your decision already? This goes in line with some news I heard this week and some connections I made this week also. Positives and Negatives. Life is yin and yang. And we should honour what we have, and enjoy whilst we can. The terrible fire in London this week reminded us yet again that we never know what’s around the corner.

I guess I talked enough about systems and fear today. In other news I had a quite enjoyable trip to Germany this week. Short and sweet or Kurz und Knackig (short and cross/crisp (?)) as the Germans would say. It is funny how some things cannot really be translated. I came across a quote last week ‘ein Affe auf dem Schleifstein’ which just doesn’t translate. A description of a monkey bending over a far too small tool/table. The look you get if you put your 8 year old on a bike of a 3 year old. Never mind.

Have an amazing week,
Volker

, , , , , , , , , ,

No Comments

Thursday Flash (24)

Flash….

Does Facebook Make Us Unhappy And Unhealthy? – The Wall Street Journal publisher a summary of a research paper. I am not surprised about users feeling isolated or that likes/not likes lead to some kind of competition. But competition about whether you are liked? Who is the judge?

Another industry related post on IBM Watson AI (Artificial Intelligence) and how it can be used in daily life. Amazing things await us in the (immediate) future.

Standards – whether your own or for the company – can determine the way you run your life or your business. The main challenge is that one should not project one’s own standards to everything. It will drive you potty πŸ˜‰

, , , ,

No Comments