Optimism: It’s Why We’re Late

SmileyThe Dark Side of Optimism

Whoda thunk that something so positive could have a dark side? That’s right. Optimism, the feel-good feeling, the basis for the entire self-help industry, the underlying principle of the smiley face can be harmful.

Now, I’m not having “a case of the Mondays,” cuz it’s Thursday. I ask only that you consider the evidence.

Would Optimism Please Take the Stand

We’ll dispense with the pleasantries, Optimism. Is it not true that you

  • Conspire to make people think their next meeting is “just two floors down?”
  • Encourage people to do one more thing before heading out?
  • Convince people that traffic is never bad this time of day?

Guilty on all counts! […]

A Baker’s Dozen on Traveling Productively

HappyAirTravelerEasy Ways to Make Business Travel Better

Traveling for business is often a consequence of career success. Making the experience comfortable and productive can be challenging. Ten years of traveling has taught this road warrior a few tricks for achieving that result.
Best Gear
Here are some arrows for the business travel quiver.
  • Duplicate Toiletries Kit. Investing and maintaining a travel-only toiletries kit ensures that everything needed is present. The investment is minimal and the return is high during the packing and the traveling stages.
  • Noise Canceling Headphones. Jet roar leaves ears ringing and who knows the long term consequences. Get a set of noise canceling headphone or ear buds. Consider the Audio Technica QuietPoint. They’re super compact, 90% as good as the comparable Bose set, and only $43.
  • Dual Port Mobile Charger. Charging gear is a necessity. Carry a dual port charger so one outlet can do the work of two. Make sure both ports are 24W/4.8A so it charges all mobile devices. Check out iClever’s for a good example.
  • Phablet & Mini Laptop. Trying to work on a tablet is inefficient. Better to invest in the right tools for the job. A phablet plus a mini laptop ensures content can be consumed (phablet) and hardcore work can be performed (laptop) in a lightweight combo. Examples are the iPhone 6 Plus and a Macbook Air 13.
Best Services
The travel industry is full of service providers to ease the traverse from Point A to Point B.
  • TSA Pre[check]. Schedule an appointment at the local TSA office to secure the Pre[check] designation. Getting through airport security hasn’t been this easy since the 80s!
  • Airport Lounges. Get away from the frenetic activity in the airport via an airport lounge. The lounges are quiet and comfortable. Most offer refreshments and all have electrical outlets. The lounges are generally run by the airlines and require daily or annual membership. However, they partner with each other, so one membership can often be used in many different airports. Moreover some credit cards, like the American Express Platinum, provide access to most lounges around the world.
  • Loyalty Programs. The travel industry is littered with loyalty programs. The credit card industry only adds to the confusion of which programs are best. Study them to determine which works best in your scenario. The author is a Starwood member for hotels (Westin, Sheraton, etc.) and Alaska Airlines member (who partners with Delta and American). The end-game is free stuff and status. Hey, if travel is a must, it might as well come with some perks!
  • Ride Sharing. The taxi industry should’ve seen this coming, but it took an outsider (Uber) to connect the GPS on our mobile devices with the need for a ride. Regardless of whether it’s a true ride sharing business – Uber, Lyft, Sidecar – or the racing-to-catch up traditionalists – Carmel, Curb, Easy Taxi – the on-demand livery experience beats standing in the rain waiting for the cab you called 30 minutes ago!
Best Practices
Here are some “shoulda known that” suggestions for making road life easier.
  • Mobile Checkin. Save a tree and never print another boarding pass. Download the major airline apps – all free – and checkin via the phone before heading to the airport. It makes moving through security and boarding soooo much easier.
  • Two Hours in Advance. Head to the airport at least two hours in advance of flight time. Traffic, TSA lines and sundry other delays can absorb a lot of time. It’s better to have thirty quiet pre-boarding minutes than it is to sprint through the concourse hoping to catch the plane.
  • Hotel Rules. Three quick rules to use in the hotel –
    • High Floor Away From Elevators. Street noise and people passing by the hotel room door can be noisy. Avoid both problems by requesting a high floor away from the elevator.
    • DND Sign Out. Always put the do not disturb sign out. It reminds passersby that someone is in the room, encouraging them remain quiet.
    • Hotel Alarm Off. ALWAYS confirm that the hotel alarm clock is “off.” It’s amazing how many people (1) still use them and (2) fail to turn them off after use.
If Travel is Required, Travel Well
Business travel is never the luxurious experience the marketers promote. Employing a few of these tricks can make it easier and more productive.

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Five Ways to Make Silence Work for You

QuietThe Silent Symphony

The modern world is a symphony of noise. The squawks and pings of mobile devices are only the latest editions to the cacophony of rings, bells, announcements, conversations and other noise-producing machinations of daily professional life. Interestingly, getting things done – being productive – is largely a result of silence. In fact, the quieter we can make our internal and external worlds, the more productive we become. […]

Five Killer Note Taking Abbreviations

Action-Oriented Note Taking Taking notes is a good way to capture and digest the content of a meeting. It also increases focus on the subject matter at hand, as the notes preserve the salient points. Here is a list of abbreviations for use when taking notes to make them even more productive: A is an[…]

Making Email Better – Part 2

EmailOverloadYou are the Cure for Email Overload

Part 1 of Making Email Better observed that how we use email significantly contributes to its negative effects on our productivity and sense of satisfaction. Last year, the Wall Street Journal reported on a UK study that found up to 80% of email traffic is a “waste!”

 

Better Mechanics and Better Messaging

We established that focusing on Better Mechanics – use of the tool – and Better Messaging – the manner of communicating – makes email more effective and productive. We covered three best practices suggestions for each. You can review those here.

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Making Email Better – Part 1

EmailHellSwimming in Email
We are overwhelmed with the flood of email. They flow into our inboxes unabated like the ocean tides. We struggle to keep up, often ending the day feeling that we’ve only treaded water.

How can this situation get better? Technology solutions, like spam filters, have helped. But what about all the email that we legitimately receive? What can be done to stem the rising tide?

We are Them – A Dichotomy
The irony of our situation is that we’re doing it to ourselves. This is not the work of auto-bots. Other people are sending us email, and we are sending them email. Focusing on receiver-centeric behaviors – managing the inbound flow – can only help us so much. Receiver-centric efforts are like putting a bandaid on the problem. […]

Making Time To Be On Time

Waiting_BoredBruce Turkel is a nationally recognized expert on branding. He’s also a prolific blogger, one that I follow. Bruce recently wrote about his serendipitous early arrival to the airport in a post titled “Early To Bed. Early To Rise.” It’s a worthy read.

I commented on his post, focusing my message on the importance of being on time. It’s what I call Making Time To Be On Time.  Here’s the way I see it.

Why Being On Time Is Important

Being on time – in any form and for any purpose – is important in three specific ways:

  • Leadership – Being on time demonstrates leadership.  It communicates that we command our schedule and we fulfill our obligations. Others follow those who lead, resulting in more people showing up on time.
  • Respect – Being on time respects other peoples’ time. Forcing others to wait for us is impolite regardless of the reason. They’ve made time for us and we are professionally obligated to make good use of that time.
  • Productivity – Being on time is productive. As obvious as this seems, many miss the point. Gathering people for a meeting consumes two valuable and limited resources – money and time. When meetings start late and, as a result, run long, time is lost, productivity is lost and money is wasted. The aggregated effects of that loss can be staggering.

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Disciplines are Hard. Habits are Easy.

I am loath to post a “New Year’s Resolution” article. Instead, I want to give you something to consider for making any type of change easier. Change Management Arc As a time management coach, it is my job to help people change the way they manage their day. Change is hard because it forces us[…]

QuickTip: The Mostly-Closed Door

The Issue – Drive-By Distractions One of the greatest distractions in the workplace occurs when people pass by our office. We often catch their eye and they come in or they just come in one their own accord. Either way we’re the victim of a drive-by distraction. One option is to close the door.  However,[…]

QuickTip: Texting Improves Communication … If You Try

Face it.  Texting is here to stay. Love it or hate it, it’s just another chapter in the long history of faster, more mobile communication technologies that started with messengers running across the Greek mountains between rulers.  Whether we’re using the “old school” flip-phone style of texting or the update-to-date smartphone with its virtual keyboard, nearly everyone is texting, at least to a very small group of people.  In fact, the only people I know who aren’t are my parents.  That’s because my Mom can’t stay focused long enough on the “how” to make it happen!

It occurred to me while deplaning the other day and watching everyone check their messages – text and voice – that if done properly, texting can actually improve how well we communicate with each other.  The reasons lie in the technology’s (perceived) limits of 140-160 characters and in the nature of short-burst opportunities occasioned by its mobility.

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