Category: Productivity

Anything related to productivity, GTD, performance management.

Buddhism – being busy

I get a daily newsletter with Buddhist quotes. Hence I like to collect the most inspiring ones and put them in my blog. Similar to what I did with Balamadana back in the days.

Most quotes have been in my draft folder for a few months, if not years. So here we go with one:

How very happily we live, free from busyness among those who are busy. Among busy people, free from busyness we dwell.

– Dhammapada, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

Now I recently couldn’t travel due to the sickness of my children. However, as I had holidays booked, I just ended up with two and a half days without any plans whatsoever but helping my wife and spending time (!) with my kids.

Time. Free time is almost unheard of. We all work a lot, normally 9 to 5.30, often to 6.30 and most often much longer. We are people that enjoy working (and I speak about people like myself), and we should probably or most certainly take a day off. Or compensate for over time. Not because we don’t value time at work or because it might be our right to do so. No, we should take time off because we need to.

We need to relax, unwind and take time for ourselves. Children really help you to de-stress and relax when they are in good form. Of course they can be awful, ill or very annoying at times, but the majority of the time you spend with them, it takes you back to “point zero“. You relax. You see the world with their eyes, more relaxed, more simplistic. It is great to unwind.

You become more productive if you are sitting down and unwind. Taking a break at work helps you to increase your productivity. Employers start realising that.

So as a self conscious Buddhist, someone who is at ease with him/herself, you should be able to have a calm and relaxed mind. A mind like water, being focused and concentrated whilst you ignore the busyness going on around you. You are the rock. You are the one that stays relaxed, not being bothered by what the environment tries to put upon you.

It takes a lot of practise but it is possible. You decide! You are in charge of your destiny and the way you live your life. Take charge.

Leadership & Great Companies

I recently revisited the book Good to Great by Jim Collins which I read a few years ago studying for my MBA. Now, with the TED talk about inspiring leaders and its affinity to both NLP and DBM, it was time for another post.

“It is your Work in life that is the ultimate seduction”, Pablo Picasso.

In NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) and DBM (Development of Behavioural Models), you drill down on actions by asking:

– What do you do?
– How are you doing it?
– Why are you doing it?

With more modelling this goes deeper, however focusing on this three questions, and looking at the TED talk, we are looking to answer the question what a successful leader is made of, and what are successful companies made of:

– What does s/he do?
– How is s/he doing it? How is he leading, managing and setting example?
– Why is s/he doing it? What motivated the leader and makes him so good in what he is doing and how he is doing it.

The latter seems to be key to a lot of discussions around leadership. Hence in Jim Collins book it is about “good to great”, the “level5 leader”. As of the graph above, the level5 leader builds enduring greatness through a paradoxical blend of personal humility and professional will. S/he differs from the effective leader, e.g. level4, through the input of personal humility and professional will: the main difference is the personal involvement and drive rather than “just following a vision and stimulating higher standards”.

Now my first question that comes to mind is “incentive”: why would a leader be like that? What are the incentives for that?

It seems to me that most examples of level5 leaders are either owner managers or they seem to have a big share package πŸ™‚ Some of course just want to do it for the recognition but let’s be honest: does anyone really care if you have build a great company over a period of 5 years and you didn’t see any financial rewards from it? I don’t think so.

Of course there are personalities that focus on the larger goal of building a great company, and their ambition drives them on to be above and beyond themselves and only think and work for the organisation.

Another principle Collins introduces is the hedgehog concept, e.g. waiting and being on top of things rather than being a fox that tries all possibilities. Maybe not the best summary of the concept, but I am personally not convinced that this is the best analogy in the first place. It is about “focusing on one big thing” rather than diversifying (too much) and having not real focus.

Let’s have a look at the circles:
– What are you passionate about?
– What you can be the best in the world at?
– What drives your economic engine?

Anyone having achieved a Master Practitioner in NLP and has worked with coaches, coached people or is interested in personal development knows what s/he is passionate about. The fundamental will to live and what makes you tick and cry, what makes you feel complete. What gets you out of bed in the morning. Collins however looks at the company perspective here.

Same with the next circle, from a corporate perspective it is all about: what you are good at? Don’t try to build an engine if you don’t know anything about engineering and don’t try to be a doctor if you cannot see blood. What is it you are good at? What are your skills? This could be something your company is currently not involved in.

Now the economic engine: money and share options? Maybe if you look at this model from a personal perspective but Collins refers to the ROI of your business, how do you measure economic success for the company.

Let’s reflect for a moment: the circles don’t only apply to corporate success but can be equally used to look at personal success. Then, once modelled for the individuals of a company, or maybe founding members of a company, transferred into a model for a successful business. As one of my managers used to say: “I recruit people that I trust and I can work with, I can then teach them the details they need to learn” – personality plays a key role in who we work with and how we (and a company) become successful.

Reading the Collins book, he goes on and describes the use of technology and its importance for further greatness of companies. Definitely a must read book for any manager and aspiring leader.

And the latter is then responsible for keeping the momentum going, or as Collins calls it the “flywheel effect”. Once a company is going, and growing, one needs to look at the results, energize the people and build the momentum to drive the company forward. Not too fast, not too slow, and always looking at the underlying processes. Companies without the right processes, monitoring and feedback tools are prone to fail as control is everything. If you don’t know where your profits come from or whether you make money, you are doomed straight away, becoming a fox.

This sums up the key principles of successful companies by Collins and shows the resemblance between successful personalities/leaders and companies. Maybe another pointer to make a company “more personal” and look at it from a different perspective. What do you think?

Work Life Balance…

Nigel Walsh spoke on TED about Work Life Balance.

What I take from this video:
– I am not 40 yet.
– I want to spend more life with my family.
– I don’t know if my career matches a work-life balance.
– I don’t want to leave it until it is too late.
– Work Life is about the balance of emotions, spiritual and personal relationships and work.
– I work on further concepts and buy his book.



I have been digging around in personal development lately and have re-discovered Anthony Robbins. I gave him a miss a few years ago because I thought he is just a motivational speaker.

However, below is a nice video from him, and I believe he is a great source for coaching, life change and personal development.

work balance only?

Yes, you read correctly. There is a new approach David Allen, the GTD guy, wrote in his book “Making it all work“. Or maybe it is not a new approach but a different thinking I personally like.

He says pretty much to forget about a work life balance. David argues that people put too much emphasis and pressure trying to separate the two: work & life. He further says that the concept of balance is irrelevant as you only seem to focus on it when you don’t have it.

By just focusing on what you are doing that moment, trying not to count the minutes you play with your dog as supposed to type your article for the press, it gives you more energy. It is about living in the now and thinking about “What am I doing”, “What is next”. David says that the key element is to eliminate the distraction, whatever its source, and to have focused alignment in whatever you’re doing.

I find this approach quite right. If I worked for myself or at home and let’s say I have to go shopping, then I go shopping. In return, I work late at night catching up with my emails. Of course, some companies already offer that, and it is a common approach for some. And, I would not differentiate between my work and my private life.

By desperately trying to separate the two, e.g. working 9-5 in an office, then going home and not looking at any work related things at all, would put more pressure on me. Naturally I try to not think about work when home and not thinking about home when at work. Maybe the way I demonstrate it exaggerates things, but generally speaking, I agree to not separate the two.

Personally, I don’t mind having a day off but checking and in urgent cases responding to my emails, or even make a phone call. When I get home after work, I surely want to spend as much time as possible with my boy, then put him to bed. And, if there is important work, I might just work for another hour or so. In return, I would (and can) expect my employer to give me time if my child is ill and I have to work from home, or come in late as I need to go and see the doctor with him.

But, and that is the way I understand David Allen, people in general worry too much and think too much about the “what if” rather than “what’s next”. It is about productivity and about making the most of your time. If you are officially at work or at home or if you just in “your time”. And that is what counts.

Of course for blue collar workers that have more of a regulated, maybe even machine driven work pace, things are different as they cannot really do anything else whilst supervising a production line. And, whilst being at home, there might less work to be done. Work might not be as flexible.

Bottom line: Stop Worrying, and Start Living. Dale Carnegie wrote about that more than 60 years ago.

Stop being desperate about a balance between work and life. Treat all as life and organise yourself. From there, you will be productive: for work, for life, for yourself.

Hope that makes sense.

Blackberry Bold Review

I now had my Blackberry Bold for just over 2 weeks. Thanks to Vodafone, things got sorted and I absolutely love the Blackberry Bold. I had a Blackberry Curve for the past 18 months and without WiFi and proper 3G connection (I was with T-Mobile), it just wasn’t the same.

What I like about the Blackberry Bold is not only the slick design but the new outline of programmes, e.g. the way the desktop is presented. It comes with Vodafone SatNav free for 18 months. We tried it out and the first time it sent us in circles but the 2nd time it worked very well. So overall, that is great and save us getting a TomTom.

blackberry boldMy first Blackberry Bold that got delivered didn’t work properly over the weekend and crashed a couple of times. I had to reset it and re-install the software several times. I then exchanged it and the new one hasn’t had any problems yet. Fingers crossed.

One drawback is the 128 MB limitation for applications. Blackberry Application downloader makes it easy for you to pick and chose applications for your Bold, but after I installed

– Gmail
– Facebook
– Bloomberg Mobile
– SatNav
– Blackberry Maps
– Weather Eye

I am now running at the limit already. And those programmes are what I consider the basics of what you need additionally to the applications that came preinstalled: the document readers so you can work on Office files on the go. However, they are not compatible with the new OfficeXP version. But another step up from the curve.

So my first facit is that the Bold could improve the capabilities of being a bit quicker, but then again any phone could be πŸ™‚ Then a bit more memory for applications. I was even asked to delete some preinstalled language support items to create more space. It is a shame that I cannot install as many applications as my colleagues can on their I-Phone. Surely, this is something Research in Motion (RIM, the maker of the Blackberry) will improve over time.

They really are stepping up the game, and have to, to take on Apple. However, I am a Blackberry Enthusiast and from the looks of it, will stay it for at least another 24 months.

Use your brain

On the OPEN Forum I discovered an article about brain usage and the 10 tips on how to improve your brain.

I have written about “Train your brain” before and always encourage people to use their brain. Not only when parking their car at Tesco, going around a round about, going shopping or making a comment at a conference….and you will find more examples if you actively listen. No, you should train your brain any chance you get. Ever tried to go around the shopping aisles and memorising what you have in your trolley. Make up a story to better memorise things, e.g.:

When I picked the SALAD I also thought of APPLES and BANANAS that would then go together with the CHEESE sandwich and the HAM on top of it. However, the BBQ with the PRAWNS, the CHICKEN and the little cats, who were eating their CAT FOOD, ……

Ok, this is not rocket science. You memorise words, particularly ones that have nothing in common, much easier if you actually think of a story. It has been 2 years since I wrote the article about the brain training and I have written about brain draining in regards to GTD too. The weekly brain sweep as they call it.

The best part is still that things you do go from your unconscious incompetence to your unconscious competence. A simple way of learning new things. When I first started in SEO I had to memorise that Link Building was put together of directory submissions and link sourcing, e.g. approaching websites to link back. Nowadays you don’t need to tell me that and I added more to that knowledge. Anything you learn goes from not being aware of where it fits all in to it fitting in automatically when you worked with it.

Maybe this was not the best example but I found an old note last week with “what is link building” πŸ™‚ However, if you question things and look things up that are new, memorise them, write them down, revisit sites etc, then you get your brain working. That is what the article on the OPEN Forum suggests too.

I particularly like the idea of learning a new word everyday. My birthday’s word was “compedious“, meaning “Containing or stating briefly and concisely all the essentials; succinct.” Now, I will try to memorise that, revisit this blog post and then make sure I use that word when I can. If I manage to learn a new word every other day, then I add almost 200 words to my daily use – and this is for English only. That can make a difference to the way I can express myself, impress others and train my brain too. And, as you can see below, teaching others (which I did at university), gives you the extra benefit!


Also, I am a big fan of the 20 minute power nap they suggest. Not very practical in a day job. But when I was at uni, I used to study for 60 minutes, took a nap for 20 minutes to let things sink in, then had a cup of coffee and studied for another 60 minutes. That helped me a lot in getting a good degree.

Coping with stress, stress management and turning stress into success are key to being efficient and productive as well.

Also, as of my earlier posts on training your brain and the OPEN Forum, the idea of being open minded and turning your view 180 degrees around is very powerful. Imagine you had the best idea in the world. Now, try to change your point of view and think you are the person that has to work with that idea, or if it was a product idea, you are the person that would buy it. Be creative and find different angles of anything you do. NLP is very powerful, e.g. putting yourself in the other person’s shoes, and can help you a lot, with sensory acuity in the forum being another example.

So bottom line is that the OPEN Forum does a good job of summarising various techniques I introduced before plus some key points of personal development. Keep going, you are doing a great job!

Let me know if you have any questions and how cb consultingg could help you!

Stress Management – Working Out

As it happens, and I have written a lot about stress management lately, my new Buddhist Chanting CDs arrived. Wow, super easy listening and makes me much more productive whilst working on proposals and presentations!

However, I found an article in the Metro again, this time about “Busy working, so no workout” – what is that about.

Well, it says that 4 out of 5, e.g. 80%, of all London workers only exercise half an hour a week instead of 4 hours. The latter is the recommended amount. The poll was amongst 2,500 employees from It showed that only 7% worked out correctly and the reason for it is….TIME!

Who would have guessed? Working hours in the UK are longer than anywhere else in Europe.

Working week figures, thanks to the Economist!
Working week figures, thanks to the Economist!

So managing stress becomes more important, particularly if you are working at lot and long hours. Sitting in front of a laptop/computer all day does not help. You need to achieve the work life balance needed by exercising regularly.

How am I personally doing? Not too bad, but could do better.

I go to the gym twice a week, on average a 45 minutes work out, plus 1 hour Tai Chi a week. Totalling just about 2.5 hours. Counting the escalators at Victoria and Kings Cross twice a day, I might even make it to 3 hours a week πŸ˜‰ Not bad, is it? Not achieving my 10,000 steps every day. Currently sitting around 7,500 steps on average.

So overall, I should not complain. An enjoyable job, regular exercise and a healthy attitude to life πŸ™‚ Stress Management I guess!