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    Three Complaints About Meetings

    January 20, 2020 2544 Views No comments

    Last year, I was given an opportunity to review the data from research on meetings conducted by an online scheduling platform, Doodle. The report offered compelling data, and I’ll share (with permission) the findings behind three of the most common complaints about meetings that might lead you to adjust some of your meeting practices.

    1. Busy professionals are more concerned about the quality of the meeting attendees than they are the meeting format because they felt that irrelevant attendees slowed progress.

    Eight or fewer participants is preferred for meetings. Invite only those people required to accomplish what you have on the agenda. Find other ways to inform and engage people who are not necessary. Of course, people want to be included and often get value out of meetings. The point is to be deliberate about inviting rather than just letting your group size swell without being thoughtful about who needs to attend.

    Management consultant Margaret Wheatley talks about small groups of people being able to make a big difference, and she uses the question, “What matters and who cares?” to help groups define their purpose. If you limit your meetings to discussions about what matters, your meetings will have more impact. If you invite only those most concerned, the conversations will be focused and productive. And you will also protect people’s time—making sure the investment value is high for those attending and giving those not needed in the meeting more time for individual work.

    2. The following irritating behaviors detract from the efficiency of a meeting:

    -taking phone calls or texts

    -people who interrupt others

    -people who don’t listen to others

    -arriving late or leaving early

    -people who talk about nothing for long periods of time

    You have two primary ways of managing behavior. First, ensure that the top people and most respected members of the group role model the behavior you want. Identify these people, take them to coffee, and ask for their support in improving the experience of the meeting for everyone.

    Second, spend a few minutes up front asking the group to be attentive and supportive of everyone who speaks.

    Some meetings will benefit from establishing guidelines about technology, interrupting, and side conversations—anything that detracts from the meeting’s efficiency. Don’t have a long list of guidelines, just three or four that the group agrees would help.

    You might use the graphic from Doodle below as an opening for your group to express what they would like to be true about meetings that isn’t true now.

    The Doodle Meeting Report 2019, created by online scheduling platform Doodle through research with 6,026 professionals in the UK, Germany, and the USA.

    3. Poor reception on conference calls and video meetings.

    This third point in the report is concerning because the vast majority of respondents experienced poor connections. When people are attending virtually, that leads to multitasking and half-hearted participation—never a plus if you want engagement and alignment. The experience of folks who are not in the immediate meeting room is often far less than for those in the room. Ask your people what support they need in getting the technology required to participate effectively.

    With the globalization of business, virtual meetings are becoming the norm for many conversations. Video conferencing technology has made it possible for virtual meetings to include many elements of face-to-face meetings, but not if the technology isn’t functioning for everyone.

    -Paul Axtell, author of Make Meetings Matter

    For more on ways to transform meetings, check out Make Meetings Matter>>

    Insights on Focus from the Female Jerry Maguire

    January 13, 2020 54 Views No comments

    Molly Fletcher, the author of The Energy Clock, started her career answering phones in the SuperBowl office and went on to become “the female Jerry Maguire” (CNN). Check out this video from Fletcher, who discusses how top-performing athletes manage their energy to achieve world-class performance and how you can apply that to your own energy and goals.

    Learn more about sustaining your energy with The Energy Clock>>

    3 Tips to Finally Start Saving

    December 31, 2019 6790 Views No comments

    The most common complaint I hear about money is “I don’t live an extravagant lifestyle. I don’t go on shopping sprees or luxurious vacations. Where is my money going!? There’s never any money left over to save.”

    Most of us didn’t learn about personal finance in school, and that puts us at a major disadvantage. Even after we learn what we should do and want to be doing with our money, we often don’t do it. It’s much more tied to our emotions and habits than we give it credit for - just like with food.

    The math around food and money is similar and actually quite simple. Dollars in minus dollars out equal saving, losing money, or staying the same. Calories in minus calories out equals weight loss, weight gain, or staying the same.

    If it were actually that simple, there wouldn’t be a billion dollar dieting industry - and we’d be a lot less stressed about money!

    One of the reasons it’s difficult to save is that we think about saving money all wrong. Most of us earn money, use that money to pay our bills and live our lives, and then wait to see what’s leftover at the end of the paycheck or month. The bad news is, there’s usually no money left over to save.

    We think the answer is to earn more money. I’ve thought this many times. Then I got a raise and expected there to be money left to save but there wasn’t. The irony is that I couldn’t point to big meaningful changes in my lifestyle, but the money just got taken up with more of the same.

    One of the reasons this happens is Parkinson's Law. It’s the idea that things take up as much space we give them. It’s why our junk drawer always fills up, meetings take exactly as long as is allotted in the calendar (even if there is only one agenda item!), and you guessed it - our expenses always fill what’s in our bank account.

    Most of us will have to make some shifts in order to start meaningfully saving. The good news is that they aren’t hard, it just takes thinking about saving in a different way and setting up a system.

    Here are three tips to finally start saving that no one tells us.

    1. Get it out of sight, out of mind.
    The first thing you want to do is create a separate space for our savings. You want it out of sight and out of mind. When we have a checking account linked to our savings account within the same bank, it’s all too easy to transfer the money over on a whim.

    We also can’t help but notice it when we login to check our checking account balance. The money is available and for most of us, and that means it won’t stay in savings for long. There are a few unicorns who are able to keep their savings in the same bank connected with their checking, but for most of us, it just doesn't work.

    I’m a big fan of online savings accounts for this reason. The money is available to us (transfers typically take 2-5 days) but it’s not top of mind. They also earn a much better interest rate than our accounts with brick and mortar banks. This means our savings will be growing! And they’re free.

    So the first thing you can do to finally start saving is to open an online savings account.

    2. Set it up to be automatic.
    The next important piece of this is that you want to pay yourself first. What doesn’t work about how we typically save is that we pay everyone else first. We pay our bills, pay for our food and other lifestyle expenses, and even get other people gifts. By the time we’re ready to pay ourselves, there’s nothing left.

    You can shift this paradigm by paying yourself first. You do this by setting up an automatic transfer to your online savings account each week, month, or paycheck. When something transfers out of your account automatically, you’re treating it like any other recurring expense or bill. You’re treating it like a top priority expense, which it should be!

    We work for the money we earn, we deserve to get paid! It’s ironic that we always pay ourselves last.

    3. Don’t be afraid to start small.
    It’s really exciting and empowering to decide to pay ourselves first but next we have to figure out how. When we’re paying ourselves last, most of us aren’t saving. We’re living paycheck to paycheck or even if we’re not, we’re not putting aside money into savings.

    Deciding to pay yourself first is like taking on another bill. It’s as if your taxes went up or you added a recurring subscription to your expenses. Those things tend to figure themselves out or you adjust for them in your spending elsewhere.

    If you’re unsure of whether or not you’ll be able to save anything, don’t be afraid to start small. Set up an automatic transfer for five dollars per week or per paycheck. Then set a reminder to check in with the account after a few cycles. If you didn’t miss it, you can up the ante and increase your automatic transfer.

    One of the most exciting parts of this process, no matter how small the amount, is the mindset shift that you are a saver. Once you have this transfer set up, you are someone who saves.

    Sometimes we don’t start saving because we think the contributions we can make are too small to make a difference. But our progress isn’t linear. Small steps build momentum and exponential results. Don’t be afraid to start small and build from there.

    In Conclusion.
    How we traditionally try to save money isn’t working for the majority of us. We want to shift the paradigm and start paying ourselves first. You can do this by creating a space outside of your checking accounts in an online savings account, and setting up an automatic transfer each week, month, or paycheck. As this is a new habit and way of thinking for many of us, you'll want to start with something that feels very manageable and build from there.

    For more, here’s a free guide on how to save $1,000 this month.

    -Ashley Feinstein Gerstley

    For more tips on budgeting your money, check out The 30-Day Money Cleanse>>

    Managing Holiday Chaos

    December 20, 2019 2389 Views No comments

    Make the holidays less stressful by managing your energy! Author Molly Fletcher talks about ways to stay energized and in-the-moment during the holidays.

    Learn more about sustaining your energy with The Energy Clock>>

    Make Presence Your Gift

    November 25, 2019 10121 Views No comments

    As the Winter holidays approach, face it: if you’re like most of us, you’re going to feel busy. Overwhelmed. Scattered. Like you can’t keep up with it all.

    And when you swipe through Instagram, Facebook, or any other social network, you’re going to feel like everybody else is having a perfect, twinkle-lit hashtag holiday while you’re simply trying to keep up.

    How did this happen? Wind back the years and maybe you’ll feel nostalgia for the slower pace of time gone by…the fragrant smells, jingling sounds, and warm connections of what the holidays were once meant to be…and wonder why it all feels so frenzied to you.

    If so, take a moment. And a deep breath. Pause, and relax. You’re not alone in getting swept up in the “more more more” that this season has somehow unintentionally become.

    And I’m not alone in attributing that frenzy to the rise of social media and our dependence on our mobile devices as a primary point of connection. In the years since mobile phones found their way into nearly 5.5 billion hands worldwide, we’ve become more distracted, stressed, and, heartbreakingly, depressed than we were only a decade ago. Warnings about the “disconnection” our mobile devices (despite their promise to “connect” us) have risen over these years, It’s a topic I first explored on the TEDx stage in 2016, and it’s only become more concerning with time.

    Close your eyes and imagine the holiday season you’d most like to have. It’s likely pretty different than the one nagging at you from your calendar (or your holiday-planning app).

    What to do? Well, it may feel like you simply have to go with the holiday flow – yet the good news is you actually don’t. We’ve all gotten swept up unwittingly in the frenzy. Yet there’s a way to step back. My recommendation? “Make presence your gift” – and here are three science-backed ways you can make that happen.

    1. Slow things down. You know all those shortcuts we’re taking to try to get more done in less time? They may not actually be helping.

    See, the brain does some lovely stuff when we slow down. The Default Mode Network (DMN) – a special cognitive pattern that kicks in when the “busy” modes shift gears – helps us come up with new ideas and even new perspectives on ourselves. By integrating cognitive modes that otherwise work independently, the DMN helps the brain form new connections between recent thoughts and experiences and ones we’ve had before. That’s an important process that can’t happen when we’re rushing around.

    When we slow down, veg out, and do habitual, repetitive tasks, it’s an invitation for the DMN to activate in ways that can help us gain new insights, update our narratives about what’s happening in our lives, and see things around us in new light.

    Want to turn it on? Rhythmically chop those veggies. Carefully wrap those gifts. Stare out the window and watch the leaves rustle in the winter breeze. Invite a sense of quiet. Let yourself reflect and relax. Your brain will be listening, and will use that little vacation from the hustle to get caught up on some important work that might deliver a new cognitive gift to you.

    2. Check the tech. For at least one of your holiday experiences, put the mobiles out of sight and out of mind. Simply SEEING a mobile phone shifts our focus, researchers say, distracting us from conversations and activities for up to 23 minutes.

    Break the cycle by giving yourself, your guests, and your tech a break. I’m hearing more and more people say they’re putting an “ unplug box” or phone-collecting basket near their front doors and corralling devices there.

    Sure, it can feel weird not to have those always-on distraction optimizers at hand, ready to give us a neurochemical jolt once we’ve scrolled or liked or posted.

    But weird can be good: use it to shine a light on how strong the tech urge has become for each of us, and consider what you might want to do about that as a new year beckons.

    3. Surprise a sense. When we shift the usual way of doing things, we challenge our usual ways of experiencing things. Suddenly we notice things we may have overlooked before.So…why not do that as part of your holiday? Open your mind and consider…let’s be curious here…playing classical music rather than the usual holiday tunes…getting your table guests to enjoy one course in silence… opening a present with eyes shut and trying to feel what it actually is.

    Something tells me you may have thought of something that’s even better than those ideas. If so, make it happen. Simple changes, especially when enjoyed together (hello, mirror neurons) can awaken whole new experiences.

    The frenzy of the season is real, but that doesn’t mean we have to let it take over. Take a breath. Unplug. Do something slow that you enjoy. And pay attention in a way you might forget to indulge in other seasons. In other words, open the real present: your presence. Close your eyes and think about that and you’ll connect with a true gift.

    -Ellen Petry Leanse, neuroscience educator and author of The Happiness Hack

    For more brain hacks, check out The Happiness Hack>>

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