Big Time Saved, Better Time Spent

The internet is full of time management tips and tricks, life hacks, and apps that are meant to make our lives easier, our tasks more convenient, and give us more time for the things we actually want to be doing.

Unfortunately, as tasks get easier, the expectations we have for ourselves and others increase. Yes, emailing and texting are easier and shorter than writing and mailing long-form letters, and our smart phones are right at the tip of our fingers all the time. That doesn’t mean it’s reasonable to reply to 100 emails and 700 texts every day!

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It’s easy to think that we can just shoot off a quick message, it won’t interrupt our flow. The reality for many is that we spend all day interrupting our focused work or time that’s meant to be dedicated to things like recreation or family just shooting off quick messages. The result is a constant state of distraction, and if you’re distracting yourself from focused work, a constant state of trying to get back in the flow of things.

If you want to have a full conversation with someone, call or meet them in person. Not only will it be a shorter conversation, it will be clearer, help build your relationship, will be a more rewarding experience. Save texts for brief check-ins or confirmations, or for communicating that you’d like to talk to the person when they are available.

If an in-person meeting or phone call is an option, don’t email them without a good reason to do so. Sure, if they have specifically asked you to, take the time to email them. On the other hand, if you’re emailing because you’re responding late at night, it may be better to write yourself some notes about what you wanted to say and give them a call the next day.

While some are very skilled at brief communication, such as the eminently tweetable Michael Hyatt, most of us struggle to communicate tone successfully through text or email. While it may feel like more time at first because you have to schedule it, doing the bulk of your communicating verbally will improve communication, build relationships, and save you time overall. 

Spend the next week limiting your texts and emails, increase the in-person or verbal communicating that you are doing, and let me know how it goes in the comments below.

It may take some time for the people in your life to understand this is how you prefer to communicate, but stick with it. As you eliminate more and more of the small demands on your time, you’ll see the time they once represented open up.

On Neil Patrick Harris’ Humour at the Oscars

As I watch the Oscars, with the inimitable Neil Patrick Harris hosting, I can’t help but wonder about the power of humour to both build up and break down a thing or person. While I can’t help but chuckle at NPH’s digs on the performances that didn’t quite impress over the past year, I also wonder if he is stepping on too many toes.

NPH’s ability to balance his jokes at the expense of other people with other types of humour, including self-deprecating humour, makes him an ultimately lovable person despite the icy reception of some of his jokes on Oscar night. I think that’s the key though, NPH doesn’t just criticize others, he also puts himself in vulnerable positions and is open to critique on a regular basis.

He certainly runs the risk of losing some friends in Hollywood if he pushes too far tonight, but also makes it very clear what his opinions and his priorities are by making jokes such as these, which allows him to be a leader in the artistic community. That’s the beauty of humour, those who make jokes are taking a huge risk every time they open their mouths to share something they think is funny. Each joke is a hugely vulnerable moment of revelation in which you can be harshly judged or happily embraced.

It is easy to follow someone that would lead with such transparency, especially given NPH’s wonderful reputation even outside of his acting and humour. If he did not have this reputation, it might be a little harder to accept the harsh jokes of his Oscar performance, but he has set himself up to be well-received by showing a great deal of integrity in his art and in the parts of his life that are open to the public eye.

If you are the type of person that is always ready with a great joke, just make sure you’re striking the same lovable balance and great reputation that Neil Patrick Harris has managed to achieve.

On Having Fun and Keeping their Attention

leaves-smallIn order to lead effectively, you need the engagement and genuine interest of your people. It is your responsibility to warrant their full attention, it is not their responsibility to give it to you just because you sit at the head of the table.

I realized recently that I had become lazy in my training techniques and in life. Probably not in the way most people mean when they talk about being lazy, but lazy nonetheless. You see, when I am low on energy or stressed, I tend to fall back on working really hard until I push through a thing. I stop being able to see the merit of breaks or of having fun until I arrive on the other side of the stress I’m experiencing.It takes active effort for me not to fall into this pattern, and the lazy option is to just give into it, to give up my relaxation and fun until I get through it. Of course, I don’t learn nearly as much from the experiences I have when I’m in this mindset, and what I do learn, I often forget a week or two later. Continue reading