Viewing entries in


How to Create More Time

Everyone can use more time. The truth of it is, there is no time. There is only right here and "Now." When you woke up it was "Now." As you read this it is "Now." And in an hour it will still be "Now." In each precious moment of Now many things will ask for your attention. They will not all fit in the here and now. What you choose to allow in your Now quickly becomes your past. Success and fulfillment is making choices in your Now Moments that are based on your highest priorities. To create more time in your life the first step is finding out what you are "saying Yes to" in the Now moment. Because every time you are saying "Yes" to something in the here and now, you are also saying "No" to a whole lot more.

Without knowing your specific situation, I would say one of the two most important action steps that can be taken to be more organized and effective are clarifying values and doing a time log.

Download the complete Time Log PDF article here.

Download a Time Log spreadsheet here.

MyEvent Log, an iPhone app that you can use to do a time log.


What is an Organization's Culture?

I was asked recently, "HR people struggle with the concept of Culture at a company. How do you define it? As co-author of the book Dealing With People You Can't Stand, How To Bring Out The Best In People At Their Worst, (Brinkman & Kirschner, McGraw-Hill, 1994, 2003, 2011). I tend to view culture in an organization as the behaviors both good and bad that are considered acceptable and verboten.

For example, when I did programs for Chevron, they told me they have a term called the “Chevron Yes”. What that means is you are pleasant and agreeable on the surface but that doesn't mean you agree or follow through.

When I would do seminars as part of IBM's leadership series and talk about the Grenade tantrum, consistently half the IBM’ers in the room would say “I can imagine somebody doing the tantrum at work.” While the other half of the room would say, “Oh yes they do!” The difference was the half but couldn't imagine it were IBM’ers who were always at IBM. The half that said “Yes they do”, were IBM’ers who get sent to someone else's facility. As they discussed their corporate culture they realized grenade tantrum was not tolerated. However, they admitted that Tank (attack) and Know-it-all run free as protected species.

I once did a seminar for aerospace firm that was designing planes. They had a lot of engineers on the job who when at work must be in a mode of Get it Right / Perfection. The only problem with that is when in a perfectionist mode you can study things from now till the cows come home and never get it done. What the organization learned to do is you hire a very controlling manager to ride herd on those engineers and make sure the project also gets done. However, in their case it went too far because management by Tank attack was considered an acceptable leadership strategy and even promoted.

I did a program for a software company in the Seattle area (not the evil Empire). They realized they had hiring practices that effectively weeded out people who needed control or attention at work and pulled in people like to get along and get it right at work. This was a big “Aha” for them about their culture. On the upside “No wonder we're one big happy family and we’re very meticulous about our work.” (Get Along and Get it Right). But on the downside they realized, “No wonder it’s a major miracle to get a decision made in the company.” That’s because everyone was either waiting for consensus (Get along) or studying it in further detail (Get it right).

So I would does not I would define the culture of an organization as the behaviors both good and bad that are accepted and unaccepted.


Preserving Memories Without Clutter

Those of you who receive my e-article series have seen the article on de-cluttering and how it can free your energy and give you back more time. Here is a tip sent in by a reader of how she preserves memories without the clutter. "I read the article on De-Clutter. I was amazed that most of what you suggested I have already been doing through the year's. Before giving anything away that has been of sentimental value or an item that had a special purpose in my life, I take a photograph of the item, let it go and place the photo in an album. Months or year's later visiting the albums, I get much joy looking at "things" that were a part of my life during that period."  Barbara Cumberland, Pinehurst, N.C.

If you do not receive the article series you can subscribe to it here.



What are the top 5 mistakes managers make?

I was recently asked what the top 5 mistakes managers make. I think they all relate to meetings.

I ask you, how much of your time in meetings is really well used given the other priorities. My brother-in-law told me recently he spends the whole Monday in meetings and does absolutely nothing that brings revenue to the company or serves the customer.

So I would say the top 5 mistakes managers make all relate to letting meetings run them, instead of them running meetings.

1- Questioning the necessity of meetings that have been around forever. When people are at a meeting they are not doing a million other things. Time/Benefit of bringing people together must always be questioned.

2- No speaking order at a meeting. You need a speaking order otherwise the assertive personalities will dominate and the passive people drop out. Your eyes see from two different points of view and when your brain puts them together you see there dimensions. To have holographic thinking at a meeting requires everyone's participation.

3- No time limit for speaking at a meeting. A time limit needs to be established for any one moment addressing the group. Two minutes at the most. Otherwise some people will go on and on and on saying what they already said.

4- No visual recording of people's thoughts. Visual means you can see it. Everyone's point when speaking should be recorded on a flip chart or computer hooked up to a monitor. The difference between visual communication and auditory is visual remains over time and you can see totality.

5- No agenda. Everyone needs to know the agenda and each agenda item should tell the participant what is expected of them.

For more on this subscribe to my articles and the first two you will immediately receive are: "The Meeting Magic Process" and "The Art of the Agenda". You can get those here:

Also for tips specifically related to conference calls I refer you here:



The Unhidden Agenda

And speaking of meetings. Every meeting should have an agenda which all participants receive a few days before the meeting. The more prepared the attendees, the more focused and effective the meeting. Here are some important  elements to include on the agenda.

1. "Weird times." (See last post on Killer Conference Call Tips)

2. "Purpose." Why does this item warrant valuable human interactive time. Remember that people at a meeting are essentially saying "no" to many other important things in their life while they spend their time meeting. The purpose should explain to them why it's worthwhile.

3. "Process." What process will be used with each agenda item, i.e. presentation, question answer, voting. How much time will be allotted to each process? "What is needed from the group." This orients people at a meeting to focus on the item in the right way. You don't want one person focusing on criticizing an idea while the real agenda item is just to understand the next step since the idea is already moving forward.

4. "Prior to the meeting." What does the participant need to do to prepare themselves for the meeting. (Thank you Dr. Doni Wilson, president of the New York Association of Naturopathic Physicians for this one.)

Here is a sample agenda item from Dr. Wilson.

9:14 – 9:34 Project reports Purpose: Update board on the following projects: Licensure effort Process: Presentation by Erin Waterhouse followed by Q & A (10 min) Needed from group: Attention, familiarity with written report (below), questions and ideas. Prior to meeting: Read monthly updates report below.


As a Conscious Communicator always remember the meeting formula: E = P * F

Effectiveness of a meeting is equal to how Prepared participants are before the meeting times how Focused they are at the meeting.

If you want more meeting information, sign up for my enews articles.



Killer Conference Call Tips

I teach seminars and consult on how to run effective meetings. Many of my clients must attend conference call meetings because the participants are so geographically diverse. Here are some killer conference call tips. 1. Establish a call-in and start time. Make the call-in time about five to seven minutes before the meeting starts. For example, "Call between 8:53 am to 8:57 am. The meeting will start promptly at 9:02 am."

Make your times weird; it causes people to remember and it is more likely they will arrive on time. It also shows you are paying attention to and respecting time. Stick to the times. Start exactly on time whether or not "the right" people are there. Even better, block late-comers from the call. You will only have to do this once or twice before everyone arrives on time. (This is true for in person meetings too.)

2.  Allow some cacophony at the beginning of the meeting. Have everyone say hello simultaneously before you master mute them and ask them to mute themselves. This gives people a feeling of being in a virtual room together.

3. Establish a speaking order. You can't see people raise their hand if you are on the phone. It's too easy for people to either talk over each other, or be too polite and say nothing. Print the speaking order on the agenda. When you do a round and it's a person's turn, they can either speak, pass, or say "come back to me."

4. Have an agenda. All meetings must have one. It should be well thought out with realistic time frames so that items are not cut short, but the meeting ends on time. Each participant should receive the agenda before the meeting.

5. Keep group notes of people's contributions. As people speak, someone who is designated as the flight recorder should write the essence of the point each person makes (in a couple of sentences or less). After each speaking round, the flight recorder summarizes to the group what she recorded and asks the group if that correctly summarizes the points people made.  Another option is to have the flight recorder summarize the point right after each person makes it. Each participant should also write down the flight recorder's summary so they can see it in front of them. By keeping notes visually as opposed to just listening, it allows the group to more easily understand and integrate different points of view. Continue to do speaking rounds as the agenda time permits. (After the call, the flight recorder should email her notes to all the participants.)

6.  At the end of the call have everyone un-mute themselves and say good bye together. Again a little cacophony gives people the feeling that they have been together.