Category Archives: Time management

The secret to useful goals

evolution of man and goals

Goals should help you BECOME, not help you GET.

One the most important lessons I have learned is:

In absence of clearly defined goals, we become strangely loyal to performing daily acts of trivia.

Useful goals

One famous study showed that people with written goals coming out of college earned several times more than people without written goals. But, look at yourself.  If you still have the same written or unwritten goals you had 10 years ago, you are the exception.

Goals change. The real secret is to have specific written goals and expect them to change.

You will do better if you are striving to BECOME something much greater than you are now.  The world reshapes itself around you when you refuse to take the path of least resistance.  If you set 20 year goals that inspire you today, you will enjoy life more today and next year.  Your goals will change because you have grown to the point that you can see more important goals.  You will develop a vision of your future that is clearer and brighter than you have today. That is a good reason to change your goals.

A part of the goals secret is to have goals in the areas of your life that matter most.  Money is important. Job and career goals are essential for progress.  You also need goals about your family growth, social maturity, physical fitness, emotional strength and spiritual development.

For example, your goal could be to run 2 miles in 15 minutes in 2031.  If you really think about that goal, you need to strengthen your legs and knees, not pound them into arthritis.  That goal could inspire you to include bicycling, swimming or rowing in your fitness regime so that your knees will last throughout your life. That goal may change to being able to swim a mile in 2031 because of changes in your health.

A social goal could be to have a network of 1000 people who are leaders in their own field in 2031.  To get there you will have to have intermediate goals of recognizing, getting to know, helping, tracking and staying in contact with those people.  A goal like that would also be a great help to a career goal to become CEO of a company. Later your social goal may change to having a network of 2000 people who will help you fund medical research, and it may include all the same people as your original goal.

Remember, goals change.  The 20 year goals I just mentioned would be great goals for a computer technician, salesperson or CEO.  If you open your mind and see into the future, you will be able to pick out goals for the year 2031 that will help you now, and still matter in 2031.  If your goals are important to you, you will find you achieve most of them in much less than the 20 year, 5 year or 1 year horizon you set.

Something To Do Today

In your journal first make a list of the most important overall aspects of life.  I suggest: money, career, social, physical fitness, emotional and spiritual.  Then list a goal you can work towards BEING in 20 years, 5 years and 1 year.  Each goal should fit in with all the others.  Goals are about becoming better as the world shifts around you.

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Next:     Useful career plans

Later:              What is “the next big thing”?

How to read while you are driving

child reading

You can read while driving a car.

I love talk radio, but it doesn’t lift my spirits. It gets me perturbed.  Music on the radio doesn’t engage my mind as I drive.  I listen to books instead.  I love books that teach me and help me get a better attitude every minute.

The best source of books to listen to may be your public library.  Our main library has hundreds of books and college courses available on audio tape and CD. And all my favorites are available for free through interlibrary loans.

MIT has the vast majority of its courses available for free online.  Yes, free.  In most cases the lectures, notes, and everything you need to learn is available online and free.

The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.  (Toffler)

Audible.com is a great place to get books on MP3 inexpensively. I use my phone.  You can use any MP3 player.  I like the quality, selection, and prices.  Getting a monthly subscription is the way to go. And if I am reading a book on my Kindle, the audio version and the Kindle reader sync with each other.

The books on my listening list include: Man’s Search For Meaning (Frankl), Theodore Rex (Morris), Love is the Killer App (Sanders), Networking With Millionaires (Stanley), First Things First (Roger), The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (Covey), The One Minute Millionaire (Hansen), The Millionaire Mind (Thomas), and The Millionaire Next Door (Thomas).  I didn’t realize I am so fixated on the word “millionaire”.  These books have great “can do” themes.

Some books I love, but can’t get at Audible yet are The Power of Positive Thinking (Peale), How to Stop Worrying and Start Living (Carnegie), and Think and Grow Rich (Hill). And don’t forget to check out your library and interlibrary loans.

Something To Do Today

Engage your mind. Lift your spirits.  Listen to books that get your spirit soaring while you drive or exercise.  You’ll love it.

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Later:   Down by 20 at halftime

Feel the fear, and¼

Signs you will be laid off or fired

Creating reality – what to do with those dreams

Dead fish – arsonist firefighters and job hunting

“You’ve done well on your final interview.  I was told you can expect a job offer in the next couple of days.  Congratulations.”

“Wow.  Uh, Bryan, are they doing a background check?”

“Yes. This is a bank.”

“There’s one more thing you don’t know.  I haven’t told anyone because I was afraid it would keep me from getting the job.  Three years ago I…”

briefcase-923847_640-pixabay

Is there a dead fish hiding in your briefcase?

Hiding a dead fish in your briefcase won’t make it smell better when you finally have to open it. We’ll talk about job hunting in a minute.  Projects are easy

Dead fish and the project arsonist

In project management hiding a serious problem will turn you into an arsonist firefighter—the guy who causes months of sleepless nights for his team.  For projects, let your boss know of the problem by asking for his help to find a solution.  If you ask early enough, he may still be able to get you training, equipment, or people to help you.

In job hunting, you need to make some choices if there are dead fish in your briefcase

You can make two mistakes.  The first is to put everything that might disqualify you on your resume.  That keeps you from being considered at all.  The second is to hide the information as long as possible. The first is like slapping someone with a dead fish instead of shaking their hand when you first meet them.  The second is like taking that dead fish and hiding it in your briefcase and putting it out in the sun.  The smell will get stronger and stronger over time.  Dead rotting fish don’t smell better after a few days.

First make sure it is a real skeleton.  Age, marital status, sex, sexual preference, and country of origin are often considered to be a problem by a job applicant when they are not.  Don’t bring them up.  They are not skeletons.

Problems that disqualify you from a job are another matter.  The only way to win with a serious problem is to find a champion.  It could be the manager who wants to hire you, the HR (Human Resources) person, or someone you know who overcame a similar problem.  You’ll have to take a risk in letting someone know during the interview.  Often your champion will be an agency recruiter.  As your champion gets to know you, he can break the bad news to the hiring team with a positive recommendation.  That may be before or after the first set of interviews.  It will never be just before a job offer is made.

Let’s face it, a disqualifying problem disqualifies you!  You are asking for an exception to be made.  If you can get someone to go to bat for you, you have a chance.  Don’t try to hide a major problem in your briefcase, hoping no one notices.  A rotting fish never smells better after a few moist days in the sun.

Something To Do Today

Are there problems you bring up in your resume?  Do you apologize for something?  Do you proudly display your age, sex, sexual preference or country of origin in your resume?  Get rid of that stuff.  It makes people worry you will be a flaming activist.

Bigger problems?  Decide how you will enlist a champion.  Will it be a recruiter or someone you know outside the interview process?  Will you recruit someone within the interview process?  You need a plan.

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Later:               Poisons

Liars

How to work a convention

How to heal a project or job search before it breaks: Dr. No

Doctor No can heal a case of pebbles. It can fix a project or job search before it breaks. How?  You make the people giving you a pebble, one more little thing to do, fix the problem they create.  They become Dr. No.

stacked rocks

Is your to-do list impossibly tall?

The team leader I disliked personally the most was a good project manager. I loved working for him. One redeeming social skill was that he knew about Dr No.  When he was asked to add just a little more to a project he would agree and then ask what he got to drop to make up for adding that little bit.  He did it religiously. He didn’t just say, “No,” he used the Doctor No approach. He asked the person adding work to heal the problem he was causing. He asked the manager, boss team leader, or project manager, “What can I now say “No” to? My team can’t do it all, so help me say “No” to another project, specification, or task. He turned the person giving him the work into Doctor No, a healer.

I hate firefighters–people who commit a project to disaster.  The most difficult problem for firefighters is to say, “NO!”  It is hard to refuse to carry a mountain as it is thrust upon you one pebble at a time by smiling friends.  Still, you MUST gently refuse the pebbles.  The best way I have found to refuse pebbles of additional work is to require the person handing you the pebble to tell you which other pebble you can drop. They become Doctor No and fix your time and resource problems.

The velvet glove on the steel fist comes in handy here. As the person trying to hand you the pebble tells you how small it is, you have to clearly tell them it will not get done unless they tell you what else to drop. When they say, “You decide,” tell them, “I won’t do your task unless YOU tell me what to drop.” If you absolutely can’t get them to let you drop something, you then decide to drop something.  Tell everyone by voice AND memo what will not get done due to the specific additional burdens placed on you by this specific person.  Then “don’t do” what you said you wouldn’t do.

Circulate a list of unfinishable projects. Put them in order of importance. Let everyone else fight for the priorities on the list. Make it clear they will probably not get done. When you or your team gets lucky and finishes something unexpectedly early, you look like a wizard.  Remember Scotty in the original Star Trek series?  That was his management style.

The best defense against the atom bomb is not to be there when it goes off. (unkn)

Does this apply to job hunting?  Absolutely.  My blog and books can give you more information on job hunting than they can possibly apply in a day, week or month.  Doctor No is about prioritizing.  If you ask me what order to do things in, I’ll tell you.  Otherwise I expect you to figure out what is most important and drop the rest. For your job search, demand that you, yourself be Dr. No.

The team leader I disliked the most personally, was the best manager, and I really appreciated it.  He could get me to go the extra mile because he used Dr. No.

Dr. No is about setting priorities.  It is a nice way to get the people overloading you to help unload some of the burden.  Turn those people into Doctor No. Let them be the healer.

Something To Do Today

Most people are afraid to try the Doctor No approach.  Try it out the first time with a smaller project, something thrust on you that really is not that significant.  Don’t say, I’ll try to get that done and then stay late to finish it.  Ask the person to help you figure out what to drop instead.  If they won’t tell you what to drop, tell them it won’t get done until they open up a hole in your schedule for you to do it.  Then don’t do it.  Your pebble pushers need to find out you are serious.

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Later:               Dead fish

Poisons

Liars

How to work a convention

The Mythical Man Month

sand sculpture of a sphinx

The mythical man month is another impossible beast.

I hate firefighters–people who commit a project to disaster.  “Leaders” sometimes think that if one woman can have a baby in 9 months, then surely 9 women can have a baby in one month. Those leaders/firefighters create career death marches for their subordinates and coworkers.  Too often they are rewarded for being able to get so many hours out of their team.

The Mythical Man Month is a great book about the fallacy that projects can be infinitely divided and finished sooner.

To increase productivity on a 2 person project by 50%, you have to add 2 more people.  Adding one more person does little.  More time is spent communicating and coordinating than the person adds to the project.

A 9 month project with 7 solid, committed, experienced programmers will take as long to complete as the same project with 25 engineers, a manager and 4 team leaders.  Why?  Because communication becomes a major burden in a large project.

One machine can do the work of 50 ordinary men. No machine can do the work of one extraordinary man. (Elbert Hubbard)

In any complex project, adding people in the last month rarely speeds things up.  The folks who can finish the project have to train the new people, supervise them, and check their work.  The experienced people lose all productivity and the new workers are marginal no matter how strong their background.

In your job do you know how people really work together?  Do you know the cost to productivity of adding more people to a project?

For your job search

Are you making your job search more complicated than it needs to be?  Are you dooming your search with lots of undirected activity?

Are you spreading your search efforts so broadly that you are depending on luck?  Contacting 500 recruiters is rarely as productive as closely working with one or two or ten.  Spamming 1000 companies is not as effective as calling 10 managers who may be able to use you or refer you.  Networking with 5 CEO’s or Directors beats lunch with 50 production line workers.

What really gets more done?

Something To Do Today

Find a copy of The Mythical Man Month.  It is a classic.

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More firefighting problems:    The Elmer Fudd job hunt

Doctor No

Dead fish

Poisons

Liars

The incredible strength of weak connections

And later:        How to work a convention

5 Weeks – How to find a job in 5 weeks

Do you need a job now?  Then use the best job search plan ever created.

Come on!  How could it possibly be the best EVER created? Because it was created for only one person.  You.

I have seen it happen over and over.

One guy is out of work for less than a month, and he gets a job offer with a raise.

free from a bad job

Find a job in 5 weeks – that is freedom

It takes 6 months to get a job for the guy who sat next to him.  This poor guy was doing exactly the same job, got better performance ratings, and would get rehired first if the job was re-opened. To make things worse, the guy who took six months accepts a huge pay cut.

          It isn’t fair, but it happens every day.

It isn’t luck.  The guy who finds a job quickly did things differently.  He may have instinctively done the few most critical steps within the first days of losing his job.  He may also have mapped out a strategy and executed it.  Either way, he got the critical steps executed.  He got the job.

The critical steps most often screwed up by the guys who take 6 months to find a job.

For 22 years I’ve been watching people get jobs in days, or wait a year to find a job.  The steps most often screwed up are:

  • The resume stunk, and he never found out.
  • He burned his best leads before he was prepared.
  • Monster became his momma.
  • HR (Human Resources Department) was his master.
  • He never expanded his network, but he talked to a zillion people.
  • Interviews never seemed to go right.
  • He waited for a phone call back.
  • He thought recruiters were his friends

Give me a call or research these topics on my blog.

If you want to have the shortest job search possible.  Fill out the survey at this link and then contact me.  bryan@dilts.us or call Bryan Dilts at 717-975-9001.

No, I don’t guarantee that you will get a job offer in 5 weeks.  But I will put 22 years of experience behind your job search.

Making milk and getting the raise you deserve

Is there something you do that is critical? How many are there? Do you get credit for them? A raise?  When the kids were all home, I wrote this.

I make the milk

With up to 9 kids (we have 10) and 2 adults at home, we drink a lot of milk. There isn’t enough room in our 2 refrigerators to keep enough fresh milk.  We use powdered milk instead.

Where the milk comes from

Me, in the morning, getting ready to make the milk.

Every morning I get up early and write.  When I am done I make breakfast for myself.  The milk is usually gone.  Sometimes I grumble a little.  Why is it always me?  Everyone uses it.  Can’t they make it too?  Then I go ahead and make the milk.  Occasionally  I remind my wife that I made the milk.  She can’t leave me for another man. He might not make the milk in the morning. (Truth be told: she makes it more than I do, but I can’t have her believing I am totally useless.)

Do you “make the milk” at work?  Are there indispensable chores you do?  Then you need to remind your boss of them every week or at least quarterly.  Put them in your weekly, monthly or quarterly reports to your boss. He needs to be reminded.

Since you are reporting what you do as routine every week, you’d better add what the extra things are that you do every week. Write how you saved money, speeded things up, or made a customer happy.  Don’t forget to include training you gave or received.

There is no way that your boss can possibly know all the important things you do.  He has his own job.  Giving him a weekly, monthly and quarterly report reminds him.  It also gives him a weekly opportunity to think of new projects to give you.  It forces him to think of your career.

Make the milk. Then make sure you get the credit.   It really will help your career.

Something To Do Today

In your job journal make a list of the things you do every day, week and month.  What do you take care of so your boss doesn’t have to worry?  Keep adding to the list.  Friday, write up the list and give it to your boss.  You may just surprise him with how much you did this week.

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Tomorrow:     Guerilla gardening

Great ideas are…

Forgetting

The trick to working less hours and getting promoted

You don’t double your productivity by doubling your hours. Working lots and lots of hours may get you a promotion and a raise.  It may also get you burned out and fired.

A coupla months in the laboratory can save a coupla hours in the library. (Westheimer’s Discovery)

What you really need to do is double your productivity. Here is how to do it.

A friend sold me a chainsaw cheap.  She was doing me a favor.  She admitted that it ran, but it did not cut well at all.  I took the chainsaw home and reversed the chain.  It works great now. I could have just run the chainsaw more and eventually cut through any log (maybe). A little while ago my son decided to cut some monstrous tree roots with the chainsaw.  Suddenly it wouldn’t cut anymore.  The dirt on the roots had horribly dulled the chain.  I took it into my basement and spent half an hour sharpening it.  Now it cuts again.  But, I could have just worked a lot more hours cutting logs with a dull chainsaw.

The career trash heap is littered with the bodies of people who thought 20 MORE hours a week at work would get them promoted. While they were slaving away, someone else reversed the chain or sharpened the saw.  The thinker and planner got promoted.

You need to do your basic job well.  Other than your basic job, what will set you apart?  What will make you the best?  What will make you the natural leader?

How for YOU to get a promotion or raise

Your boss wants to look good and get a raise and promotion.  What can you do to help him? Is your working more hours the only thing that will make him look better?

Your company wants to make more money, spend less, and keep the customers happier.  Can you do something a little better while you are doing your basic job? Can you get involved in highly visible projects?  How can you set yourself apart?

In addition to being better, you have to get noticed, respected, and appreciated. Give your boss a weekly, monthly and quarterly report of exactly what you did better.  Then in your next annual review, you have ammunition.  And if you go job hunting, you have proof.

Take a careful look at your job.  Can you reverse the chainsaw chain somewhere?  Can you just sharpen the saw?  What do you need to do that will move you forward the fastest?  Is just putting in more hours really the most important thing you can do?

Ask your boss how HE is evaluated.  Now ask yourself how can you help HIM get a better evaluation?  Sharpen your chainsaw, don’t just work more hours.

Something To Do Today

Ask your boss how HE is evaluated.  How can you help him get a better evaluation?

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Tomorrow:    Confronting your boss

Later:              How to leave your job

Make your job search 50% more effective

The first step to making your job search 50% more effective, is to really know what is happening.  Yes, get a job in half the time. Let me give you an example that changed my life that applies to your job search.

I was overspending by 20% every month. I had an absolutely fixed income.  So I bought a notepad and kept track of every expense.  In one week it was obvious where the money went.  In a month it was unavoidable.  The truth? 20% of my very limited income was going for lemonade from cozy little shops in Murcia, Spain.

Your time is very limited.  You only get 24 hours a day.  You can’t buy more time. Do you really know how you use it?

Learning to ignore things is one of the great paths to inner peace. (Sawyer)

Buy a small notebook.  Exert incredible discipline for one day each month.  Every time you shift tasks, write it down.  A phone call is a shifted task.  An internet link can be a shifted task.  Write it down.

It may help to create 15 minute intervals on the paper and write down what you did for each 15 minute period.

Now get out the chainsaw.  What was really REALLY productive?  Do you spend 2 hours daily trying to avoid offending people by chatting amiably or reading their useless emails.  Cut out the unproductive stuff.

Make sure you do what is important.  Education is essential. Networking is critical.  Talk about the NCAA tournament with Larry—don’t kid yourself.  That email of funny things kids do—delete it.

I tried it. I found I was spending hours each day with candidate email that wouldn’t do any good.  I did a 2 month experiment.  I took all my job openings off the internet. Instead I started calling up people.  In the recruiting business that is taking a chainsaw to your daily schedule.  Nothing neat and clean, I just cut 25% of my time wasted.  I have since added back some job ads, but not where everyone else advertises.  Now I get better candidates and less time wasters.

Create the log.  Keep it for a day or a week.  Get your chainsaw out.  Cut off the termite riddled, least productive part of the log.  Use the time you save to get the most useful things possible done.

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Something To Do Today

Create a time log.  Use it for your job or your job hunting.  Keep it. Analyze it.  Chainsaw it.

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Next:      Unbelievable networking facts.

Later:               Take unfair advantage of those networking facts.

Are you job hunting? or working hard?

Useful work or administrivia?

One of my managers told me, “Bryan, you don’t work hard enough.  I put in 60 or 70 hours a week. Even if I’m just in here filing stuff, I’m getting more done than you.”  I couldn’t answer him.  I was too amazed.  He took my silence for the deep pondering of a well taught student and left. I am grateful he could not read my mind.

The hardest working people I know are paid about the same as others who work steadily and put in 40 to 45 hours a week.  Both the 70 hour week and 45 hour week people are VP’s and directors. They are paid the same.

The people working seventy hours a week focus on the 3 do’s differently.  They focus on working efficiently or hard.  They want to get a lot of work done. At the end of the day they point to the fact that they did the work of 3 people in only 70 hours.

The 3 do’s

  • Do it.
  • Do it right
  • Do it right now

 

The people working 40 to 45 hours a week also focus on the 3 do’s.  But they first prioritize.  They try to avoid adminstrivia, the things we are asked to do that don’t really help.

One director I worked for said, “When my boss asks for a new report, I faithfully send it to him for 3 weeks.  It is always a masterpiece.  The fourth week I prepare it for him and don’t send it.  If he calls and asks for it I apologize and he has it in his hands in minutes. Most of the time he never asks for it.  I prepare it for a couple of more weeks just in case, then I stop entirely.”   He was one of the most highly rated directors in that company.

Now lets get something straight.  45 or 90 hours of wasted time will get you nowhere.  Solitaire, internet poker and reading the news don’t count as well spent time.  You have to be doing what’s most important for 40 hours each week to beat out the person working 70 hours.

In your job search or your job this lesson applies.  Are you only putting in the time or are you focusing?  Are you doing the hard things that will have the biggest impact, or are you spending your time in the same online job boards praying for miracles?

Do it.  Do it right.  Do it right now.  Don’t get distracted.  Focus on what is most important.  Then take some time off with your friends and family.  They’re important too.

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Something To Do Today

It is time to figure out what you are doing.   Really.  Make a list of the things you do at work or in your job search each day and each week.  Think about it.  Are you consistently working on the most important stuff, or are you merely focusing on activity?