Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Ahhh... New Year "Resolutions"

Some items to consider if you are currently pondering New Year resolutions:

· If you are "resolving" to do something in 2009, first review prior "resolutions" ---

Did you fall short? Learn from the lack of results. Why did you not obtain them? What will be different this time? Was there one resolution that you did stick to or a goal that you did hit? If so, why? Reflect on it. What was different about that one? How were YOU different? Learn from your past accomplishments and non-accomplishments.

· Ask yourself what fulfilling your new year resolution really means to you.

Is it something you feel you "should" do, or is it something you can fully engage in because you CHOOSE, WANT, and COMMIT to doing it? Think about the "end" if there is one ... fulfilling your goal. What does that do for you? How will you feel? How does it help you fulfill other goals in your life?

· Do you choose to "resolve" or "commit"?

The word "resolution" has been earning a negative "vibe" over the years. You can probably think of prior resolutions you or others around you have made that lasted .... well .... not very long. A common example is exercise. Maybe you received some new work-out clothes over the holidays. Ooohhh they are all bright and shiny and the gym is undoubtedly most crowded in January when new enrollments peak. I audited Gold's Gym one year and the rise in enrollments early in the year were pretty predictable, as were the attendance peaks that always teetered out a month or two later.

So, consider a small word-change -- instead of calling it your new year resolution, how about your new year commitment, or the lifestyle change you want and are beginning on Jan. 1? Just a play on words? Maybe not. When you make a commitment, you are making a formal promise to yourself, not a half-hearted resolution.

OK, so time to craft your "resolution" / "commitment" -- Consider asking yourself the following questions:

· Is my "resolution" specific?

Exercising more is vague. Reading more is vague. Spending more time with my family is vague. Losing my tummy fat is vague. Spend some real time being VERY specific about not only what you want, but how you will meticulously accomplish it.

· How and when will I measure milestones and results?

· How will I hold myself accountable? Do I need help from others? Should I tell others?

· What are the roadblocks I will encounter and what is your plan to drive through them?

· How will I CELEBRATE hitting my goals or the continuation of the positive lifestyle change I am starting? When? Who will be involved?

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Yes Man - the Movie

The Jim Carrey movie comes out this week called Yes Man. It's an issue I hear raised a lot with accountants ... "I have a problem saying no."

OK, so while sometimes there are other issues wrapped up into that perceived weakness, let's just look at that for a second...

How do you get better at saying no? That is a great question and there are lots of tips out there but the most important thing you need to do to get better at it.....


It is not a science and it is a choice. If you want to get better at this start attempting it. You will learn and you will get better if you are dedicated.


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Looking for some new workout exercises? Abs!

Here are a few workout exercises that are atypical and only require an exercise ball:

The "alligator"

The "jack-knife"

I have "tried" each of these and let me tell you, in each case I realized over the next few days there were certain abdominal muscles I was not using (at least that is how I felt based on being sore!)

As always, consult a doctor before you start or significantly increasing your physical activity.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Busy Season - Energy Renewal Activities?

So for many accountants, "busy season" is upcoming and its during that time that our time management techniques are tested the most.

So, with that being said, how do you "renew your energy", especially during the busiest times, so that your capacity to get things done increases? We can always try and find more time, but what allows us to do more with the time we have? Energy capacity.

First let's start with your physical energy levels for this post. So, what helps you increase your energy levels?

Great sleep?




Walks, in particular, are SO UNDERRATED. Take a time out next time you are stressed out or your brain feels over excerpted and simply take a walk. Get crazy and take a walk outside in the cold for five minutes. Clear your head.

Oh my gosh all those examples TAKE TIME! Isn't that counterproductive when we are real busy? Yes if one feels like they are already working at maximum efficiency, but for the other 99.99% of us who realize we aren't and that the body is incapable of being at maximum efficiency for very long during a day ... these energy renewal activities potentially make us MORE productive during the busiest days.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Yep - Eat that Frog in the Morning

Here is a link to the concept in movie form ... and its summarized in a much better way than I could ever do it.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Touching Things ONCE

So we can probably agree that our inability to touch certain inputs (emails, voicemails, memos, etc.) once can be a productivity limiter.

That email in your inbox, the oldest one in there ... how many times have you opened it? Glanced at it? Thought about it?

Some of the causes of "multiple touching":

1.) Indecision - something needs to be done but you are not sure or you are not ready to make the decision. You need more time or you are just unsure in general.

2.) Procrastination - this is not always the same as indecision. We might know what needs to happen, we just don't want to do it!

3.) Lack of confidence in your system - You have an email or a voicemail but you cannot delete it because it being there is what will remind you about what needs to get done. You do not trust your system to (1) create clearly defined actions and (2) to remind you about when to do them. So that old email stays in your inbox because that is your (informal and maybe frustrating) system.

So ... Are you tired of continually touching the inputs in your life because they limit the time you spend on the most important things? If the answer is yes, Do you intentionally try and touch things once, process them, and extract the ACTIONS that need to happen into a personal system you have tailored to your own needs, one you trust?!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Multi-tasking: some reflection

Should we really brag about our ability to multi-task? If multi-tasking is doing two things at once, what does that mean for the quality and efficiency of those two tasks? Would you want your surgeon multi-tasking while operating on you?

Maybe a better way to think about the accountants need for multi-tasking is more about "continual re-engagement". Work is not always one task right after the other, we have all kinds of things open at once and we must "touch" our tasks throughout the day.

But really even the young Gen Y folks I work with, the more responsibilities they get, the more they long for their own time to focus on one thing at a time. In an ever changing and continually accelerating world, the ability to intensely focus on the task at hand is a sought after skill, even if it is in spurts.

Multi-tasking in a way that dilutes your focus is inefficient, and unfortunately, it can be addictive. If you watch TV and check email at the same time, you might feel like you are getting something done while relaxing, but is that type of combined activity a long-term solution to (1) being efficient at processing email, and (2) spending time on an energy renewal activity? Probably not.

Re-engaging your focus in an efficient manner on single tasks IS different from multi-tasking.

Ask yourself:

1.) Do I multi-task efficiently?
2.) Do I consciously focus on one thing at a time during my day?
3.) Do I allow myself some "closure time" between tasks? (Even if it's not completing a task before going on to the next: Are you allowing yourself to know where you are formally leaving it ... and most importantly, what the next action item will be once you re-focus on that task again?)