Tag Archives: SoundviewPro

New Courses from SoundviewPro

We’ve just released a new batch of courses on our website at SoundviewPro. Check them out below and see which ones fit your current career needs.

Creating a Fiercely Loyal Brand Community with Sarah Robinson

You can create a loyal following by following the set of strategies outlined in this course. Sarah Robinson gives you a ground-level view of how to help your company connect and communicate with the people who will convert others to become fans of your brand.

Adobe Photoshop Elements 12: Fundamentals with Stephen Monastra

Why pay someone to digitally edit your photos when you can do it yourself? This course will give you the techniques to do everything from scanning, color balancing, cropping and adding effects to your photos.

Microsoft Word 2010: Beyond the Basics with Gemma Cretella

Design newsletters, create flyers and edit documents all with one program! This course will help you move beyond the basics and learn the finer points of Microsoft Word 2010.

Creating an Insanely Positive Workplace Culture with Larry Johnson

Make your workplace an insanely great place to work. This course will give you the steps to help your company build a culture about which employees will rave.

The Seven Disciplines of the Trusted Strategic Advisor  with James Lukaszewski

Get into the inner circle of your organization by learning how to become a trusted strategic advisor. This course will help you develop the communication and strategy skills necessary to become a go-to strategic advisor for your boss.

The Leader’s Journey with Ron Price

Powerful principles to become a better leader form the basis for this course. Whether you are beginning your leadership career or in need of a tune-up, leadership expert Ron Price will provide you with strategic principles to guide you to get the best out of yourself and your team.

QuickBooks Online 2014: Essentials with Davita Pray

Make the switch to QuickBooks Online. If you’ve been hesitant to migrate from the desktop version of this popular accounting application, this course will give you a complete overview of why there’s never been a better time to change. Learn how to set up and navigate QuickBooks Online and perform day-to-day transactions from a Certified Public Accountant and certified QuickBooks Pro advisor.

Do You Think Triggers Will Change People’s Lives?

Marshall Goldsmith’s latest book, Triggers, will be released on May 19th. This blog is his answer to those with questions about the concept of behavioral triggers.

The sole purpose of this book (Triggers) is to help you become the person you want to be, to help you change your life. In Triggers, I won’t tell you who you should want to be. I won’t judge you or tell you who should become.

I will tell you why we don’t become the people we want to be. And, I do this for the sole purpose of helping you become the person you want to be. For instance, I explore the Two Immutable Truths of Behavioral Change. These will stop change in its tracks!

  • Meaningful change is very hard to do. It’s hard to initiate behavioral change, even harder to stay the course, hardest of all to make the change stick. Adult behavioral change is the most difficult thing for sentient human beings to accomplish.
  • No one can make us change unless we truly want to change. This should be self-evident. Change has to come from within. It can’t be dictated, demanded, or otherwise forced upon people. A man or woman who does not wholeheartedly commit to change will never change.

What makes positive, lasting behavioral change so challenging—and causes most of us to give up early in the game—is that we have to do it in our imperfect world, full of triggers that may pull and push us off course.

How do triggers work?

Belief triggers stop behavioral change in its tracks. Even when the individual and societal benefits of changing a specific behavior are indisputable, we are geniuses at inventing reasons to avoid change. It is much easier, and more fun, to attack the strategy of the person who’s trying to help than to try to solve the problem.

We fall back on a set of beliefs that trigger denial, resistance, and ultimately self-delusion. They sabotage lasting change by canceling its possibility. We employ these beliefs as articles of faith to justify our inaction and then wish away the result. These are called belief triggers and a few of them (there are many!) include:

  • ‘I have willpower and won’t give in to temptation.’
  • ‘Today is a special day.’
  • ‘At least I’m better than…’

The environment also triggers us. Most of us go through life unaware of how our environment shapes our behavior. When we experience “road rage” on a crowded freeway, it’s not because we’re sociopathic monsters. It’s because the temporary condition of being behind the wheel of a car, surrounded by rude, impatient drivers, triggers a change in our otherwise friendly demeanor. We’ve unwittingly placed ourselves in an environment of impatience, competitiveness, and hostility—and it alters us.

Some environments are designed precisely to lure us into acting against our interest. That’s what happens when we overspend at the high-end mall. Other environments are not as manipulative and predatory as a luxury store. But they’re still not working for us.

The environment that is most concerning is situational. It’s a hyperactive shape-shifter. Every time we enter a new situation, with its mutating who- what- when- where- and- why-specifics, we are surrendering ourselves to a new environment—and putting our goals, our plans, our behavioral integrity at risk. It’s a simple dynamic: a changing environment changes us.

The Solution

The solution I describe is to identify our behavioral triggers (any stimuli that impacts our behavior). These can be direct or indirect, internal or external, conscious or unconscious, etc.

The more aware we are, the less likely any trigger, even in the most mundane circumstances, will prompt hasty unthinking behavior that leads to undesirable consequences. Rather than operate on autopilot, we’ll slow down, take time to think it over, and make a more considered choice.

We already do this in the big moments. It’s the little moments that trigger some of our most outsized and unproductive responses. The slow line at the coffee shop, the second cousin who asks why you’re still single, the colleague who doesn’t remove his sunglasses indoors to talk to you.

Isn’t it time to learn how to be who we want to be in every moment possible? If your answer is “Yes!” then this book is for you.

To learn more from Marshall Goldsmith about improving leadership skills, try his SoundviewPro course: Helping Successful Leaders Get Even Better.

Time Poverty Is Half Of The Issue

Today’s guest blogger, Jones Loflin, is an internationally recognized speaker, author and trainer, and the co-author of the award-winning book Juggling Elephants.

An article in the Economist entitled, “Why Is Everyone So Busy?” got my attention with the term “Time Poverty.” The word “poverty” is one I don’t use often because I most often think of those “living in poverty.” Listening to my mother and father talk about growing up during the Depression is what I think of when I hear the word poverty. Seeing the conditions that many in the world live in is my visual of the word. So, I wasn’t completely comfortable when I began learning more about this term, “Time Poverty.”

Then I had to remind myself that the word poverty, according to Merriam Webster, means “scarcity or dearth of something.” I can work with that. However, I was still a little perplexed because unlike financial or food poverty, we are all provided with the same amount of time each day. So, I googled time poverty to get a better understanding of the phrase. Turns out that it has its origins way back in the 20th century to describe individuals who were financially wealthy but had little leisure time. Now we’re getting to the bigger issue.

When we speak of time poverty, I think we are really saying that there is a scarcity of something we want in our work or life. In many cases, it’s not that there isn’t sufficient time; the challenge is that we have made (and continue to make) other choices with that time. Maybe I’m still stuck on my original thoughts about poverty. If someone is living in poverty, they do not have the money or food to sustain life at a certain level. When it comes to time, we all have the same amount; it’s just how we use it that makes the difference. Granted, some people have control over more of their time than others.

I bring this up because I think to accurately solve any issue you have to correctly identify it first. To simply say you are suffering from “Time Poverty” doesn’t address the full challenge you’re facing and seeks answers in trying to find more time… which there isn’t. A more comprehensive approach is to specifically identify where you are sensing a scarcity as it relates to your daily activities or desired goals. Some examples might include:

  • Focus poverty
  • Time with family poverty
  • Personal time poverty
  • Professional growth poverty
  • Creativity poverty
  • Sleep poverty

Once you have identified your specific poverty you can take any number of specific actions to address the area. They include:

Evaluate your current choices of how you are using your time. Where could you spend less time on something to give you more time for the area of scarcity?

Revisit your priorities. Because of limited time resources we have to make choices about where we want to excel and where we are willing to fail, or at least not be the best.

Determine if this is a short term or long term poverty situation. As I wrote about in my article, When A Lack Of Balance Is Okay, there are times when we have to expend more resources in one area than another. A work assignment that creates “personal time poverty” for a few weeks is one thing. Work requirements that have been creating this type of poverty for a year are yet another.

In all the articles and blogs I read about time poverty, I found a strikingly similar solution in all of them: Start where you are. Like most people living in the “other” type of poverty, there is nothing that can be done about the past, and they don’t know what the future holds. Our greatest opportunity lies in what we do in the next moment to improve our impoverished situation… whatever that poverty may be.

The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The next best time is now.

-Asian Proverb

To learn more about personal productivity from Jones Loflin, try out his SoundviewPro course: The Five Keys to Experiencing Extreme Personal Productivity.

Doing Nothing Is Really Something

Today’s guest blogger, Jones Loflin, is an internationally recognized speaker, author and trainer, and the co-author of the award-winning book Juggling Elephants.

In our activity-obsessed culture, the idea of doing nothing is not considered a positive thing to do. Oh we talk about relaxing and disengaging, but even those moments of idleness are incessantly interrupted by the ding, chirp, or ring of an electronic device. The tide is changing, however, and there is now mounting evidence that we need these moments of what I call “sacred idleness. Forbes had an excellent article on the subject just a few months ago.  I’ve taught the general benefits of taking an “intermission” in my work life balance training for several years, and am always looking for more neurologically-based facts to support the value of doing nothing.

Enter the book, Autopilot: The Art And Science Of Doing Nothing, by Andrew Smart. It’s an intense read about how the brain works when we are actively working on tasks versus when we are idle. While the author’s goal is to show how doing nothing improves our creativity, the information is beneficial to any of us who are trying to figure out how to enhance our focus and increase clarity in our lives. Some of Smart’s findings include:

  • Our brains need to go on autopilot. Smart gives a brilliant analogy of how putting a plane on autopilot allows the pilot to rest and conserve mental energy for higher risks tasks like landing. In the same way, Smart argues, we need to relinquish control of our brain and allow it go where it really wants to go-and let it take us there. Constantly trying to prevent the brain from acting in this manner (i.e. being busy), causes mental fatigue, whereas allowing our brains to wander actually refreshes our mental energy.
  • Idleness brings deeper thinking. Smart writes, “Through idleness, great ideas buried in your unconsciousness have the chance to enter your awareness.” Always being activity -focused subdues these more meaningful thoughts or reflections.
  • Letting your mind wander actually gets you more organized. Smart says that when we “space out,” information in our brain begins to flow more freely between different regions of it. Connections are made that are not possible when we are focusing on the completion of a list of tasks or just trying to get stuff done.
  • Constant activity reduces creativity. One of my favorite sentences in the book is, “As children become more scheduled, more measured, more managed to achieve, and more hijacked by digital media, they become less and less creative.” And couldn’t the same be said of adults? We allow so little time for informal interaction, brainstorming, and just casual discussion in the workplace. Every moment is hyper focused on getting something done… NOW! Ironically, some of the best ideas that move an individual or organization forward come when the focus is NOT on generating those ideas.

So what are some guidelines for doing nothing? Smart’s timeless example is lying in the grass on a summer afternoon, looking up at the clouds. The main requirement is that you not be engaged in trying to complete a task or focus on one external stimulus. This would include getting away from your normal work or life environment with all the reminders of incomplete tasks and all the stuff  you could be doing. I was intrigued to read that having random noise during our down time is okay, and even acceptable. It stimulates the brain to make connections between normally unconnected items or thoughts. Listening to music during our idleness, however, is not recommended. Remember, it encourages you to focus on just one thing (the music) and our goal is to let our mind wander… and wonder. I found some other good tips at Real Simple.

The strongest case Smart makes for being idle from time to time comes when he writes, “….as we organize our lives down to the last second, we are suppressing our brain’s natural ability to make meaning out of experience.” Sounds like a pretty good reason to do nothing.

How could you start building more moments of “doing nothing” into your week?

To learn more about personal productivity from Jones Loflin, try out his SoundviewPro course: The Five Keys to Experiencing Extreme Personal Productivity.

Emotional Intelligence. Have you lost it? Part II

Today’s guest blogger is Morag Barrett, the founder of Skye Team and author of Cultivate: The Power of Winning Relationships. This is Part 2 of 2. Read Part I.

The more I read about Emotional Intelligence the more fascinated I become about its impact in both the workplace and at home. I am also conscious that awareness is not sufficient, as my earlier example shows, knowing what I should have, or could have done different is not as effective as actually doing different…

Now if you are raising your eyebrow and thinking “that would never happen to me” or “this is a business, there is no place for emotions in business” or “I’m a tough leader… I don’t get emotional.” Then take a moment and humor me for a moment. I want to show you how quickly emotions drive behavior. How quickly emotions drive YOUR behavior.

My team and I start our EQ workshops with a discussion and activity that demonstrates how emotions and feelings are at the root of all our actions and drive behavior, performance and leadership. Here is a quick example of how emotions impact and drive behavior…

Imagine you are walking down the street… around the corner comes your Nemesis, your archenemy, what are you thinking and feeling in that moment?

Here are some of the things we hear from workshop participants:

• Dread
• How can I avoid them?
• I feel myself get defensive

When we then as what happens next, participants will say they:

• Cross the street
• Pretend to be on a phone call
• Avoid eye contact
• Walk quicker (so as to spend as little time as possible with them)

Now imagine its your best friend who turns that corner… What are you thinking and feeling in that moment?

• Excitement
• Pleased to see them
• Maybe you have a quick flashback to your last evening out together

What happens to your behavior this time?

• Smile
• Walk quicker (to be able to spend more time with them)
• Make eye contact

Even in the classroom we can see participants visibly tense up in the first scenario, and then relax and smile in the second, even though their best friend is not in the room, they are only mentally picturing the encounter.

This is a simple but powerful example of Emotional Intelligence in action. Emotions are part of our DNA, our operating system, and try as you might, you cannot leave your emotions at the door. They are with us every minute of the day. Emotional intelligence is about recognizing this fact, understanding the emotions we are experiencing, why and how best to leverage that emotion to achieve a successful outcome.

Emotionally Intelligent leaders are aware of the emotions they experience in or about work. Consciously and unconsciously these emotions impact the how you communicate and the messages you send to those who work for and with you.

• When was the last time you laughed at work? Why did you laugh? Did others sense your positive mood?
• When was the last time you were frustrated? How did this impact the atmosphere of your team?

My advice? Don’t dismiss EQ as a fad, or as something you don’t need. “I have got to where I am today without it, why would I need to know this?” Think of it more in terms of where do you need to be in the future, to what extent does that rely on building effective relationships and managing your responses in given situations? Emotional Intelligence is the game changer that differentiates great leaders from the pack.

You can learn more about emotional intelligence at Morag Barrett’s SoundviewPro course A Leader’s Guide to Emotional Intelligence.

Emotional Intelligence. Have you lost it?

Today’s guest blogger is Morag Barrett, the founder of Skye Team and author of Cultivate: The Power of Winning Relationships. This is Part I of 2.

I lost it yesterday. I was at a meeting and all was going reasonably well. I was aware that I was tired and not focusing 100% on the matter at hand when it happened, I lost it. What happened? Someone made a comment and I decided to come out of my corner fighting. As soon as I did I regretted it.

How many times has that happened to you?

• Have you ever been in a conversation that started ‘heating up’, where the tension and/or complexity increased?
• Where you wanted to say ‘No’ but found yourself saying ‘yes’
• When things didn’t go as well as you would have liked? …

And a few minutes later you’re thinking, “Why didn’t I do this?” or “Why didn’t I say that?”

This is Emotional Intelligence in action… or in my case, re-action, as I didn’t effectively manage my response to the situation. My emotions ‘escaped’ and I only applied the emotional intelligence knowledge afterwards.

What is Emotional Intelligence?

Daniel Goleman’s Primal Leadership is an excellent read. If you haven’t already obtained a copy I would highly recommend that you do. Daniel talks about Emotional Intelligence as the key ingredient that causes great leaders and performers to stand out. As you move through your career it becomes less about how smart you are or the results that you achieve personally…it is about your ability to build effective relationships and to motivate and inspire others – to achieve results through them.

Daniel Goleman’s model for EQ has 5 components.

Personal Competence – this comes from you and understanding the following:

1. Self-Awareness– understanding yourself. What is your default behavior, fight or flight? What causes or triggers you to react one way or another and it may be different at home than work. It may be situational, specific to individuals with whom you are working. Once you understand what drives you, you can move to:

2. Self-Management – how can you anticipate and plan for your reactions and triggers. If you know you are about to enter a situation or a meeting that in the past has caused you to behave in a way that is different to what you intended, how can you anticipate and influence your reactions and stay in the moment. And trust me, its one thing to know and anticipate an ‘amygdala hijack’ – when your brain takes control of your ‘sane mind’ and you speak without thinking and another thing to be able to manage it in the heat of the moment. Think about it, how many times have you thought about the ‘right response’ or “I wish I had only…” later on in the day, when it is too late?

3. Motivation -understanding what drives you to individual and team success. How you react to and explain successes and setbacks.
Social Competence -understanding and managing other’s reactions.

4. Connection – once you are aware of your reactions then you can apply these to others. Understanding from their perspective how they may perceive the situation, their reactions and seeking to start from their point of view, to learn and to move forward in an effective manner.
5. Social Skills-the ability to influence others, to communicate effectively such that the shared learning and understanding of different perspectives grow (rather than just focusing on one point of view). To lead and inspire others, to manage conflict effectively and to build relationships that collaborate and work effectively together to achieve common goals.

To Be Continued . . .

You can learn more about emotional intelligence at Morag Barrett’s SoundviewPro course A Leader’s Guide to Emotional Intelligence.

Coaching Us To Do The Right Thing

John Baldoni, leadership development chair at N2Growth, is an executive coach and the author of many books, including MOXIE: The Secret to Bold and Gutsy Leadership. This blog appeared first at Forbes.

When you do something right, do not seek recognition for it.

That was the essence of a comment that Dean Smith made to John Feinstein about not wanting to be remembered for helping to desegregate restaurants in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, 1958. Feinstein, an author and sportswriter for the Washington Post, had covered Smith for years and got to know the man personally.

Remembering Smith for NPR on the occasion of his death, Feinstein noted how Smith entered a lunchroom with a black man who was a member of Smith’s church. This was a risky move for a young coach to do in the segregated South, and years later Smith’s pastor related the incident to Feinstein. When Feinstein recalled the story to Smith, the coach was disappointed that his pastor had noted it. When Feinstein pressed Smith as to why he would not be proud of his actions as a young man, Smith replied, “John, you should never be proud of doing the right thing, you should just do the right thing!”

Far be it from me to disagree with Coach Smith but I believe it is important to recognize people for doing the right thing. A self-effacing character such as Smith who won two NCAA titles and made 11 trips to the Final Four never wanted a fuss made about him, even asking the University of North Carolina not to name the arena in his honor but rather for the players. In this instance UNC did override Smith’s request.

Smith was a righteous man who stood up for causes larger than himself politically and as a coach for his players. He radiated integrity and so remembering him now for the good things he did is a way to honor his memory. Reporters around the nation hailed Smith as a good coach but an even better man. President Obama, who awarded Smith the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2013, noted Smith’s triumphs on the court but also cited his involvement in Civil Rights, his recruitment of UNC’s first black players and his 96% graduation rate.

Now is also a time to remind us that we do live in a world that is shaped by good men who do good things. Too often if we focus on the news we learn more bad than good in terms of conflict between people, nations and religions. Digesting such evil day after day it is easy to fall into the trap that evildoers outduel the righteous.

Very often I am asked in interviews about the sad state of the world, specifically the fact that there seem to be too few role models or good leaders. I always disagree. Certainly those who make headlines are executives who make mistakes that end up costing their companies millions. Daily we witness the gridlock that paralyzes national and state politics because elected officials favor partisanship over governance. It is easy to turn cynical.

That said I try always to mention the good example of leadership we have all around us. Everyday we see men and women of good intention struggle against the odds to do what is right for their businesses or their organizations. These are people who teach by their example. Like Dean Smith they don’t seek recognition; they seek to make a positive difference.

For that reason remembering a man such as Smith who did the right thing is to hold a light up against the darkness. In doing so we illuminate a path forward where good deeds are noted, not to the benefit of patting people on the back but for the reason of reminding the rest of us that we can do better because good men and women show us the way.

Learn more about leadership from John Baldoni in his SoundviewPro course Do-It-Yourself Leadership.

Announcing New Courses for February

We’ve added several new course this month that you’ll want to check you, covering leadership, sales, software and more.

Transform Your Organization with the Executive Checklist with James Kerr
Learn how to better set your organization’s direction and manage change. In this course, taught by veteran expert management consultant James M. Kerr, you’ll learn to develop a strategic plan, engage your employees and help create your company’s vision for the future.

Creating a Networking Lifestyle to Grow Your Business with Guy Dunn
If you’re looking to improve your career, your focus should be on others, not yourself. In this course, you will learn how to take a strategic approach to networking. You’ll learn how to create a networking plan, execute specific action steps and ensure timely follow-up that gets results.

A Leader’s Guide to Emotional Intelligence with Morag Barrett
There are certain situations that bring on stress and cause you to perform at less than your best. In this course, global executive coach Morag Barrett will help you increase your self-awareness, recognize your emotional triggers and control the situation to keep you on the path to success.

Sales Onboarding – Keys to Success with David Leaver
As top sales management consultant David Leaver will tell you, sales onboarding is not a one-time event. Learn a powerful framework to help your sales professionals connect learning to growth and create effective execution to win more sales.

Final Cut Pro X: Beginner with Sean McKnight
Learn the basic video editing skills for Final Cut Pro X. This course will teach you the basics and includes a set of media files to allow you to edit your own version of the project created by the instructor.

Microsoft Excel 2010: Advanced with Robert Devine
Challenge yourself and maximize your skills in this advanced course for Microsoft Excel 2010. You’ll learn the full functionality of UserForms. You’ll also learn how to connect to a database and format and fit database records to a worksheet.

Adobe Premiere Pro CS6: Intermediate with Tim Walker
Learn to combine creativity and complexity and produce professional videos. In this course, you’ll learn editing techniques to help you tell a compelling story that gets attention. To sharpen your skills, this project-based course will have you create an intro video, photo montage, short documentary and a commercial.

Enjoy!

Eight Signs You Discount The Value Of Your Time

Today’s guest blogger, Jones Loflin, is an internationally recognized speaker, author and trainer, and the co-author of the award-winning book Juggling Elephants.

I have a bulletin board at the door of my office containing several items that would probably appear strange to you, but keep me focused. Some items come and go while others have a more permanent place. One is the memorial program for the recent funeral of a friend who unexpectedly died at 53. Another is an adorable “brochure” that one of my daughters created for me to use several years ago. One item that seems to always stay posted is a chart I picked up at a trade show many years ago that charts how financially valuable one’s time is at work, based on 244, eight hour working days per year. Here’s an example:

If you earn $40,000 per year:

  • Every hour of your work time is worth $20.49
  • Every minute is worth .3415
  • In a year, one hour a day is worth $5000

Every time I see this chart I am quickly reminded that I can not allow my day to be filled with activities that don’t give me a solid “return on investment.” When I do waste time, I frequently force myself to do the math on just how much that lack of intention cost me, and how I could have used those financial resources to support or grow my business, or just provide for my family. You can see the actual chart here.

Whether you work for yourself or for an organization, there is no question that there is a cost associated with not placing a high value on your time. If not financial, it might be in diminished quality of relationships, a lack of personal well-being, or just the sinking feeling (and fact) that your most important things aren’t getting done.

Here are eight signs that help me recognize I am discounting the value of my time… and not making a wise investment of these critical resources:

I accept interruptions as the normal mode of work. Whether the interruption is physical (phone or email) or mental (thoughts of unfinished tasks or other things I need to do), there are steps I can often take to create an environment where my higher priority tasks actually get accomplished. I can move to another work area, shut down my email, or just take a second and write down the thoughts that keep hovering around me like pesky gnats. Unfortunately I sometimes foolishly think I can keep all those thoughts in play and still stay focused.

I am too available. Don’t get me wrong. People sometimes need my attention immediately, but if I always drop everything at a moment’s notice, they come to expect it. And once they are trained that way, it’s hard to break the cycle.

I don’t put filters in place. In our book, Getting to It, Todd Musig and I discuss the use of filters in screening out unwanted interruptions or distractions. Simply put, decide what you will allow to interrupt your work BEFORE the interruption actually occurs. What phone call, email, message, or face to face interaction are so important that you would pause work on your highest priorities to handle?

I don’t create an effective task list. If I just haphazardly make a list and don’t prioritize the items in light of which ones will most move my work forward, it’s easy to get “check happy” and just start plowing through the list, finishing the mundane and unimportant. A more effective approach for me is to ask myself, “If I only got 3 things done today at work that are most aligned with my purpose and goals, what would they be?” With those three in mind, I build my day around them.

I don’t share my current work activities with others. A favorite moment in one of my training programs is when I work with those who are so frustrated with their boss or coworkers because they keep piling on more work. When I ask them if those bosses or coworkers know exactly what they are currently working on at the moment, the answer is usually, “Well…no.” If we don’t communicate what we are working on that is of value to the organization, the team, or to our own personal success, why is it a problem for them to want to fill our schedules with less important tasks? Even in my office I let Belinda know what I am working on so she can make a more informed decision about when to interrupt me…or not. For a more detailed strategy for sharing your work priorities with others, check out my CARD Techinque.

I don’t put limits on meetings or activities. I hear you screaming, “But Jones I am not always the one in control!” True, and for those situations you can only reflect back to the previous point and remind people that your current work is important and you need to get back to it ASAP. For those other events or meetings where you do have influence, reflect on the time needed for completion and plan with that deadline in mind. I’ve also found that if I tell others of my desired time limit, they will often work just as hard to meet it. Don’t tell them and…. you might as well be burning money. For more about the value of limits, click here.

I let multitasking rule my day. The starting and stopping process alone is like throwing money away with all the lost mental resources trying to regain focus. When I define what “done” looks like for a task (or at least how far I can take it with the information or resources I have available), and then work to that objective, I get so much more of value accomplished.

I’m too lazy to get away from distractions. When I first started writing this blog I had multiple messages vibrate on my phone and a number of notifications light up on my tablet. I hadn’t looked at any of them, but my mind was racing with the thought of, “I wonder who the message is from?” After checking the messages, I moved my phone and tablet out of eyesight, and turned my phone to silent. If I’m working on a new training concept or a keynote address, the last place I need to be is at my desk. There are just too many visual reminders that I could be doing something else. If I see my time as valuable, I’ll make other arrangements to get the right work done.

A poem I read many years ago highlights the incredible value each moment has if used wisely:

I have only just a minute, Only sixty seconds in it.

Forced upon me, can’t refuse it. Didn’t seek it, didn’t choose it.

But it’s up to me to use it. I must suffer if I lose it. Give account if I abuse it.

Just a tiny little minute, but eternity is in it.

-Dr. Benjamin E. Mays

To learn more about personal productivity from Jones Loflin, check out his SoundviewPro course The Five Keys to Experiencing Extreme Personal Productivity.

Imagination: Use It Or Lose It

John Baldoni, leadership development chair at N2Growth, is an executive coach and the author of many books, including MOXIE: The Secret to Bold and Gutsy Leadership. This blog first appeared at www.forbes.com.

How can a one-footed worm kick a soccer ball?

You cannot “put too much thought into such things… [Y]ou have to allow room for imagination and just let things be as they are,” replied Richard Scary, Jr., son of the famous children’s author speaking about one of his father’s greatest creations, Lowly Worm.

The above question was posed tongue in cheek by Scott Simon of NPR’s Morning Edition Saturday. The interview was conducted in connection to the publication of The Best Lowly Book Ever, which was initiated by his father (who died in 1994) but finished by the son, known as Huck Scary. Judging from the interview, Huck has the same kind of wit and humor that his father depicted in his books, which are treasured by parents for their wit and children for their imaginative turns and both for their style and beauty.

Most important, as is evident from Scary senior’s work is a respect for his audience. Richard Scary “loved to put a lot of things on the pages so the children would have a lot to look at, and he also wanted the parents to have a good time.” Scary wanted to entertain children by catering to their own vivid and fanciful imaginations. A child won’t question how a worm can kick a ball. That’s a question for grown ups.

It has become an axiom that as children mature they lose their sense of imagination. Certainly the structures of formal education — coupled at times with a need for conformity — does not encourage imagination and in some areas it is devalued. That said, the world has been shaped by the creative energies of people who refused to stop imagining, whether they were at drawing table or a research bench, or work on CAD screen or managing a new business. Creativity abounds.

Part of the imaginative process is as Huck Scary, pointed out is to stop thinking literally. There is a need for literalism in learning the basics of one’s discipline, or disciplines like science, engineering and medicine, but once we have the rules down we can innovate to our hearts content.

A perfect metaphor for such thinking is jazz, an oft-cited example of free flowing creativity. Jazz musicians will often begin with a standard tune – be it by Harold Arlen or Dave Brubeck – and after playing the melody, the basic thirty-two bars will let it rip into an improvisational tour de force that accents the musicianship of the combo. Think Charlie Parker with his dazzling riffs, Miles Davis with his soaring trumpet solos, or Oscar Peterson with his classically inspired piano maneuverings. It sounds incredible in the hands of such masters. What we forget however is the hours of practice that talented musicians pour into their crafts in order to create sounds that sound spontaneous and unencumbered.

Creativity then is based on substance which in turn becomes transformed by the energy that an artist, scientist or entrepreneur expends in producing something new and something different. Most importantly, as we see in the work of Richard Scary as well as in jazz, there is always purpose. The phrase creativity for its own sake gives short shrift to the intention that creator gives to the work.

Management by nature is administrative. It is designed to make things work operationally. At the same time management without innovation becomes stale and stolid; it degenerates into bureaucracy where policy dictates behavior to denigration of the individual.

Managers then need to fight back against burdensome bureaucracy in order to enable individuals and teams to think clearly and freshly. Why? So they can contribute purposefully. Creativity nurtures the organization and for that reason it must be fostered and stimulated.

Time spent reading Richard Scary – or other great children’s authors – might be a good place to learn how to turn off our literal mindedness in favor of imagining as a child might just how a one-footed worm could kick a ball.

As Huck explained, “Kids understand that Lowly can kick a ball. They don’t care that he can’t back up and then run forward and kick it, but he kicks it.”

Simple when you imagine it!

You can learn more about leadership from John Baldoni at his SoundviewPro course Do-It-Yourself Leadership.