February 2012

The Most Important 15 Minutes of Your Day...

I was struck with a recent comment from a new coaching client. I had given him some initial thought questions to answer as part of our first strategy/goal session. He told me he groaned at first, as the questions take thought and are not easily answered. But when he took the time to consider his answers, he realized that by reflecting and looking more deeply at his goals, who he is and wants to be, he was glad to have spent the time. He is not alone in his reaction. It’s something we don’t do often enough, but one that can make a huge difference in how we lead, and ultimately what we accomplish.

Typewriters and Reflection

I was surprised and delighted with a recent story on the CBS Sunday Morning show about manual typewriters making a come-back. You know… the machine that actually typed words onto a piece of paper that required white-out for corrections until the invention of the electric typewriter with the correction key. One would assume that the personal computer would have forced the typewriter into the same graveyard as the turntable. But according to the report, typewriter sales and repair shops are doing quite well today. Who would’ve thought?? The folks that were interviewed on the show talked about how the typewriter makes their writing even better because it forces them to slow down and really think about the words. One young person thought it was a valuable new invention by the way it allows you to be grounded and to back up and reflect about the words before you commit them to paper. The essence of the story was about slowing down, and taking the time to think before acting or doing. It’s a powerful lesson and a great metaphor for effective leadership. Slowing down and reflecting creates more effective decisions and speed of execution in the same way that a manual typewriter can enhance writing.

I’m Too Busy…

And who isn’t these days? There’s not one of us who doesn’t admit to handling more and working more hours than ever before. Despite overwhelm and chaos, there’s always the opportunity to stop, and reflect before acting. And as leaders it’s absolutely critical. It doesn’t have to take a lot of time. In fact it can be the most important 15 minutes of each day.

15-Minute Solution

Schedule 15 minutes at the beginning of each day to think about the one or two things you want to accomplish today – to move you forward toward your primary goals. That’s it. Just one or two things in your list. Then make a few notes about how accomplishing those one or two things will help move you toward your important goals. Schedule another 5 minutes just before you leave for the day to reflect on how you did with the one or two things on your list. And jot down any unfinished area to include in tomorrow’s 15-minute meeting with yourself.

Rinse and Repeat

Then schedule 30 minutes with yourself at the end of the week to recap how you did overall, and determine the important tasks or actions for the next week, building on the work from the current week. This planned reflection can provide good uninterrupted thinking time for new ideas or new insight gained through the week to keep you moving toward your important goals.

So... for about 2 hours a week, you can stay focused on your most important goals. And more importantly, taking time to reflect in focused small blocks will provide you with clarity and consistent connection to the important goals that can be overlooked or even lost in the urgent needs of your day-to-day work. Try it for one week and ask your team if they notice the difference.

Follow effective action with quiet reflection. From the quiet reflection will come even more effective action. - Peter Drucker


Struggling with leadership effectiveness or business change?

If you’re looking to enhance your leadership effectiveness and would like some help to get the results you’re looking to achieve, I’d love to talk with you. I help leaders to successfully navigate the challenges of making change to achieve the results they want. Visit my website www.terrihughes.com for details, free resources and to schedule a complimentary consultation to move you forward!



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