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This blog reflects ideas I've stumbled upon in my executive coaching practice helping clients deal with opportunities and problems.

Your Two Inboxes

Working with a client the other day I came upon a novel solution to his time management problem. My client is a busy junior lawyer in a mid-sized firm. He reports to a number of partners who delegate work to him and as well he services a number of the firm’s clients independently.

His problem is how and when to focus on his own priorities when he has so much responsibility to others. It’s very motivating to have another person organizing your workload and urging you to get their work done first. We all want to satisfy our clients and bosses. But how are we to be motivated to tackle our own priorities. In this case marketing himself to get his own long term clientele, not to mention issues of work life balance.

I suggested he initiate a two inbox system and have a policy as to when each took priority. The simple way of looking at this is that his lunch hour has become his marketing time. He’ll keep a separate to do list [an ersatz inbox] to keep him planned and organized. We even changed the time of our marketing coach sessions to make them a lunch time activity.

As a junior he won’t be able to focus on his marketing inbox everyday that he wants to. Emergencies and important distractions will arise. The key to success will be to focus on those days when nothing interrupts. Those dedicated time on task hours will pay handsome rewards.

Posted by Jerome Shore

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27 October 2014 ~ Comment

Your New and Improved Goals

Something I often find with my executive coaching clients is that their goals become more tangible as we talk about them repeatedly. Today for example I was with a client for a second meeting. The goals discussion at the first meeting went pretty well and produced motivating goals. But that was not enough.

In the second meeting we talked about goals again and made one excellent improvement. We devised the strategy to make my client’s work life harmony goal more achievable. Now my client wants to earn hours to use away from work as well as income. Earning hours by delegating is the tangible way to get what she wants.

The outcome goal for my client will be more mountain biking while the progress goal [what she can do daily] will be delegating. Each time she delegates another task that she had been doing until now she will earn more hours to take her bike for a ride.

Posted by Jerome Shore

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13 October 2014 ~ Comment

Time Management Tip from Grade School

Do you recall your early days at school. You had a schedule. Typically it had about 35 periods per week. Maybe something like seven one hour periods per day for all five days. Every hour you refocused on a new activity.

I’ve had lots of success using this concept with my executive coaching clients, especially those with busy schedules.

What I do is get them to schedule all of their important but not urgent activities for the week. These include briefing their assistant, marketing time, delegation time, focus on what’s most important time, focus on what’s less important time, exercise time etc.

So a typical day might look like this for a manager or professional.

7 – 8 a.m. Workout [or end of day]
8:45 to 9 a.m. Brief assistant on day’s priorities
9 – 11:15 a.m. Focus on what’s most important [meeting, doing]
11:15 – Noon Delegation activities
Noon to 1 or 2 p.m. Marketing* [leaves room for lunch marketing or planning]
1 or 2 p.m. to 1:15 or 2:15 p.m. Brief assistant on priorities
1:15 or 2:15 p.m. to 4 p.m. Focus on what’s most important
4 p.m. to end of day Focus on what’s less important

I’ve had clients tell me this kind of discipline was a game changer for them.

A general rule is that there will be days when emergencies arise and get in the way. That’s OK. It how you do on days when no emergencies arise that will provide the game changing payback you want.

* Let’s define marketing as client generation if that’s needed or team/relationship building if that’s what’s needed.

Posted by Jerome Shore

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17 September 2014 ~ Comment

What’s on Your Won’t Do List

I’ve written about Time Management several times in the past. Here is the first post on the subject.

One of the ways I coach Time Management is to suggest my executive coaching clients have an A list [most important, do it first activity], a B list [less important, do it after all the A activities are done] and a C or Won’t Do list which are activities you want to avoid doing at all. Creating a Won’t Do list and adding to it can be very profitable.

This article is about another kind of Won’t Do list. The kind of Won’t Do list a successful emotionally intelligent person keeps. I think you’ll find it interesting and helpful.

Posted by Jerome Shore

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19 August 2014 ~ Comment

Your Foundation Goals

When my kids were in primary school their principal said that her primary goal was to help students build a foundation for themselves. She saw helping the children develop the qualities of “asking good questions, finding robust answers, and contributing to the nurture of our world” as the foundation she wanted them to develop. Along the way they learned to read and write as ways to meet the foundation goal.

As an executive coach my foundation goal is to help people reach their own goals. So a great deal of my time is spent acquiring knowledge and techniques to help me do that better. If you follow my twitter feed you’ll see that I frequently retweet articles on how to do your work better. They are the ones that catch my interest and, hopefully, make me a more informed coach.

What’s your foundation goal? You’re probably quite aware of how you spend your day, all the things that you do. But to what end? I believe that if you’re aware of and are motivated by the ‘why’ you’ll be a much better at how you spend your time and effort.

Posted by Jerome Shore

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25 July 2014 ~ Comment

What is Experience Anyway

Whether you are a football fan or not you probably have a good idea of what the quarterback does. The quarterback coordinates the efforts of the offensive team while at the same time the defensive team is rushing him in order to break up the play. Experienced quarterbacks seem to be able to make the clock slow down in order to get their job done before the rushing defenders tackle him.

I recently visited a car manufacturing plant. The cars being assembled are constantly moving on the assembly line while at each of a dozen or so stations a team of ten assembly workers do their work under the guidance of a team leader.

In my mind the team leader is like the quarterback on a football team. The assembly crew is like the offense. The constantly moving line is like the defense. The more experienced the team leader the more they are able to help their team deal with the constantly moving line and associated stress.

It’s likely that you are a team leader is some way. It might be at work with people, machines and tools or at home with your family. As you get more experienced you’re able to read situations more quickly based on past experience and handle them better. I think the time you save reading situations more quickly is what makes the clock appear to be going slower and adds to your effectiveness. Like a more experienced quarterback.

So what to do? 1] Take an inventory of common stressful situations that you face. 2] Catalog the successful solutions you have used in the past. These are ‘best practices’ and ‘know how’. 3] Use what worked well in the past again in order to succeed in the future.

This is why training is often based on problem solving. As participants practice solving common problems their experience grows and their ability to perform better in the future is enhanced.

Posted by Jerome Shore

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26 June 2014 ~ Comment

Swing vs. Setup Thoughts

If you’re a regular reader you’ll know I’m a bit of a golf addict. It dawned on me the other day during a game that I hit the ball better when I took a more time with setup thoughts and relied less, as I should, on [in]swing thoughts. That is, more preparation time is good.

I recommend this concept to my executive coaching clients in a number of ways.

1] I suggest some alone planning time at the beginning of each year, month, week, day and afternoon.

2] If you have an assistant I suggest adding that person to your planning at the beginning of the day and afternoon.

3] I often ask my client to do a ‘potential problem analysis’ before an important meeting. This analysis aims to understand what could go wrong and what the workarounds could be.

4] I ask interview skills clients to create a mantra as a central focus for upcoming interviews. The mantra should be what they surmise is the most important quality the interviewer would be looking for. And then to tailor their answers to that mantra.

Posted by Jerome Shore

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09 June 2014 ~ Comment

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