A productivity tool for you…

I’m sure many of you will have come across the Pomodoro Technique (™) as a means of maintaining focus and getting stuff done, but if not, here’s how to get started.

The technique was, I discover from this Wikipedia article, developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s and it involves working in a very focussed way with a timer running for a period of time – in this case, twenty five minutes – then taking a short break to rest the eyes and the brain – in this case five minutes. After a number of work sessions, you take a slightly longer break.

I first discovered it when I was tasked with a horrible job (which shouldn’t have been mine anyway!) and wanted to get it done as fast and painlessly as possible. I originally set out to bash away at it until it was done, but I found I was losing the will to live and making stupid mistakes after about forty minutes. That was when I remembered Pomodoro. I had a tomato shaped kitchen timer which I used daily to control the length of briefings (I’ll describe that in a different post) and since ‘pomodoro’ is Italian for tomato (and, I now discover, was what Cirillo used), I used that. It worked well for me and I hope it may do so for you too.

If you don’t have a mechanical timer, your search engine of choice will provide you with lots of links to places where you can download Pomodoro timer apps for your phone, tablet, laptop or desktop. There is of course the danger that you will spend so much time on productivity techniques that you are still no more productive, but I’m sure that couldn’t happen to you… could it!

How can you make learning stick when returning to work from a training course?

I came across an interesting article today which contains a link to a learning strategy that you may find practical to use. It’s by Martin Sandbrook, who says:

“How often have you been fired up by something you have learned on a development programme? You return to work the day after the course all ready to implement your new learning. Within hours, business as usual has swamped your resolve. You mention your idea to a colleague and she just rolls her eyes and says “just been on a course have you?”

Recently I was invited to facilitate the final session of a leadership development programme. The participants had been offered some radical new ideas and were being asked to make significant changes in their behaviour when they returned to work. I suggested that I teach them about ‘Action Experiment’, so that they could identify a single simple action, one which they would feel confident to actually do, and one which they would see as the start of a changed pattern in their approach to leadership.”

The blog post is continued here: http://www.schumacherinstitute.org.uk/how-can-you-make-learning-stick-when-returning-to-work-from-a-training-course/

And this is the system he proposes: Action Experiment

Confucius he say…

Confucius said: “By three methods we may learn wisdom: first, by reflection, which is noblest; second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest”.

I’ve been reading a number of books recently which make use of quotations to set context at the beginning of chapters and since I’m writing a time management course at the moment, the appearance of this quotation as I turned a page this morning seemed quite apposite.

It occurred to me that one could actually choose a quotation to set the context for each day.

What quotation would you use to set the context for, say, a particularly productive day?

Break Bad Habits by Keeping Your Plan Simple

Break Bad Habits by Keeping Your Plan Simple – http://pulse.me/s/oTbdX
Research from the British Psychological Society suggests strongly that trying to change too many habits at once doesn’t work, whereas focusing on one at a time does. This should be no surprise to anyone who’s ever over-committed themselves, but it’s still tempting when you’re in ‘let’s make changes’ mode to attempt too much all at once.

Here’s one habit I’m breaking – a bit at a time. I have decided to avoid ‘trying’ at all costs. This may seem an odd thing to say, but I know from experience that you can waste all your effort in ‘trying’ without ever actually doing whatever it is that needs to be done. So here’s the challenge: expunge ‘trying’ from your vocabulary.


In contrast to pedagogy, which means “leading children”,
andragogy comes from the Greek “andro” meaning “men and
women”, and it means “leading adults”.

The principles of androgogy are those suited to all kinds of
training and coaching and include:
· an equal relationship between trainer and trainee based on
· multiple communication to, from and between all members of the
learning group
· learning based on trainees’ needs
· everyone’s experience is valued as a learning resource
· decisions on learning are shared
· varied learning styles are used
· the training itself is an experience to be learned from
· learning aims to produce solutions to current and future

Item below from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andragogy

Knowles’ theory can be stated with six assumptions related to motivation of adult learning:[1][2]

  1. Adults need to know the reason for learning something (Need to Know)
  2. Experience (including error) provides the basis for learning activities (Foundation).
  3. Adults need to be responsible for their decisions on education; involvement in the planning and evaluation of their instruction (Self-concept).
  4. Adults are most interested in learning subjects having immediate relevance to their work and/or personal lives (Readiness).
  5. Adult learning is problem-centered rather than content-oriented (Orientation).
  6. Adults respond better to internal versus external motivators (Motivation).

The term has been used by some to allow discussion of contrast between self-directed and ‘taught’ education.[3]

http://www.instructionaldesign.org/domains/management.html discusses some of the theories in relation to managegment.

A video is available here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vLoPiHUZbEw

Why do I need a coach?

Top sportsmen and women employ top coaches to help them achieve performances which stretch excellence even further. Their coach is focussed totally upon them, challenging them to overcome every tiny deficiency in their performance so as to improve upon their current success.

In organisations dedicated to the continuing personal and professional performance of their staff, coaches are allocated to the high flyers and high achievers to stretch them in a similar way to that in which a sports coach stretches an athlete. An executive coach is a valuable facilitator of change. Your coach will encourage and support you, and help you to stretch what Dr. Angus Mc. Cloud refers to as your “frame of reference” so as to discover new perspectives and explore your perceptions from a different angle. Executive coaching is explicitly linked to the strategic business or institutional objectives and will challenge you to look at things differently and to think differently.