Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Our Addiction to Social Media

social mediaApps and social media are stealing our attention. We have become obsessed with likes, retweets, and finding the perfect gif response to post.

We miss the amazing play or moment at the concert because we are updating our Instagram.

We miss the bus because we are enthralled with the latest video on one of our YouTube subscriptions.

We miss our floor on the elevator because we were reading Twitter. We miss the green light because we are checking Facebook.


The CEO of a technology and data company recently shared with me his frustration about one of his senior leaders who appeared to be addicted to Candy Crush. In every spare moment, his director was online and had to be counseled twice in one week. The leader tried to explain it was his form of relaxation but after much questioning, he reluctantly admitted that his workload had fallen behind, he had emails in his inbox that hadn’t been answered for five days, and he was two weeks behind in developing a database for a client. Remember, this is a smart, functioning adult.


Maybe you don’t play Candy Crush but you feel a need to check every notification of a new email, text, tweet, or post on Facebook or LinkedIn, or maybe you have created Pinterest boards to plan your perfectly designed office or maybe you monitor every like you get on Instagram?


Gut check time: How much of your attention is being stolen by apps and social media?


Do we really have to include in our employee policies that people can’t play Candy Crush or check social media at work? Possibly. Some of our obsession is driven by habit and some of it by boredom. And it could be that the voyeuristic interest in other people’s lives is more exciting than whatever work is in front of us.


Regardless, the addiction is real. Technology, social media companies, and app development companies are competing for our attention and intentionally feed our addictions in hopes we will spend more time on their systems, enveloped by their tools. Either way, it demands are decaying our ability to truly connect in a meaningful way with others that is mindful, intentional, and purposeful.


I doubt anyone on their deathbed will say “I wish I’d posted one more tweet or picture.” Instead, I bet they’re likely to say “I wish I’d paid more attention to the people I was with rather than those on social media.”

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Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Intention Makes Attention Valuable

intentionEver thought about the value of paying attention?


Attention sometimes gets a bad rap in today’s society. Perhaps that is because we’ve come to associate the concept of attention with unrelenting selfies that scream “look at me’ and the constant sharing of eery details of one’s life on social media. That is not the type of attention I want to discuss. The type of attention that truly matters and makes a difference in our lives is intentional attention – the kind that helps you show up as the best version of yourself in all

roles of your life.


We all want and need attention from the people who are important to us. We want to feel we are the center of somebody’s attention, even if we don’t want to be the center of everybody’s attention.


Attention is critical throughout all aspects of our lives – including our jobs. We need focused attention from our leaders and employees to get work done, to achieve results, and to succeed. our customers and our teams need attention, too. People want to be seen and heard and to know that their concerns are being addressed.


Attention is not optional; it’s vital. It is attention that drives the results we all want and need.


Perhaps this why we always hear the phrase “Pay attention!” Our parents told us to pay attention. Our teachers told us to pay attention. We tell our kids to pay attention. These are all valuable life lessons.


The issue is that most of us are giving distracted, unfocused attention (like texting while driving) to everything and everyone we come in contact with. That kind of attention is worthless. It sends the message that the focus of our attention has little value, meaning, or importance to us.


Intention is what makes attention valuable.


Intentional attention is active. it involves seeing, hearing, and thinking about who is with you and what needs your focus right now. it requires us to choose consciously, act deliberately, and invest transformationally with our attention.


If you are ready to intentionally invest your attention in what matters at the moment; the people you are talking to, the priorities you are acting on, and the passions you are pursuing, it’s time to pick up a copy of Attention Pays and start paying attention to what matters most.


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Tuesday, April 03, 2018

Protect Your Schedule, Time and Attention

scheduleAre you constantly competing with others over your schedule? Do you feel inundated by a barrage of interruptions and distractions each day that leaves you feeling as if you worked like a crazy person all day and accomplished nothing as a result?



In my new book, Attention Pays, I outline strategies for busy professionals to protect their time and attention from being fritted away by anyone and anything asking for it.


Here are seven strategies you can being implementing today to take control of your schedule and permit you the time necessary to leverage your attention to accomplish more each day.

Create a personal daily strategic 15-minute appointment – Take this time to determine your top three non-negotiable activities you must complete before you sleep tonight. Several years ago, I challenged an executive leadership team at Comcast to invest 15 minutes of their attention every day in a strategic appointment. They say awesome results, become the highest performing team in their region. Their shared increased focus allowed them to prioritize completion of strategic objectives and invest in their people’s development instead of being distracted by everyday busyness.

Schedule your morning routine – We outlined this routine in Chapter 3 of my new book, Attention Pays. It’s critical that you get this on your calendar so that phone calls or meetings don’t encroach on this important time.

Assign certain activities to specific days of the week – This system has you group regular activities together to maximize productivity and minimize distractions. Will it work seamlessly with every week in the same way? no, but with a system, your team or assistant can schedule meetings on designated days. We worked with a financial services executive to design her ideal week. here is what hers looked like. Yours, of course, will be different:

  • Monday: Meet with team members, senior leadership, and her boss in the office.
  • Tuesday to Thursday: Industry and vendor networking events, client appointments, presentation preparation, and travel. These days were spent outside the office and included a work-from-home day.
  • Friday: As she enjoyed being home for weekends, any meetings were local and never scheduled to finish later than 5pm. If no meetings were scheduled, she focused on strategizing for the upcoming week and catching up on administrative work.

Schedule no talk days – My best friend manages multiple companies, raises my two beautiful God-daughters, volunteers in her community, and enjoys working with her clients. She discovered that on days she doesn’t talk to anyone, she’s massively productive. So, she started scheduling no-talk days – days with no appointments, which are dedicated to strategy and achieving goals. As an extrovert, I found this strategy especially helpful. Could you do this once a quarter to make more progress toward your bigger goals?

Schedule service days – I allocate one day a month on my calendar for pro bono assistance to people in my industry who need help. could you add a service day to your calendar?

Time block – Schedule space in your calendar for strategy, email review, meetings, social media engagement, and personal time.

Create visual recognition systems – Use color-coding to simplify your life. My calendar uses a variety of colors to show speaking, travel, consulting, personal appointments, and administration and business development.

Block out personal time in advance and honor the appointment with yourself as you would a client or employee.


Pick up a copy of Attention Pays to learn more about creating an extraordinary life by ‘unplugging’ from the constant barrage of disruptions and ‘plugging in’ to the tools, strategies, and mindsets that allows you to harness your attention to reach your highest potential.

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Monday, March 19, 2018

Without Focus, Your Team Will Fail (So Will You)

Without Focus, Your Team Will Fail (So Will You)I can tell a lot about the leadership and culture of an organization just by mingling with the employees. What I often witness is an unintended disconnect between what leadership thinks employees are focusing on, versus what they are.


As a result, employees are overwhelmed. They feel overworked and underappreciated as they run frantically on a daily hamster wheel chasing orders they’ve received by leadership.


Leaders, on the other hand, rarely see themselves as the problem. Instead, they get frustrated with employees who don’t make progress, aren’t productive or producing results. Leaders lose hope when their teams frequently ask for deadline extensions or say the work simply cannot be done.


Leaders rarely see themselves as the problem, when in reality, their bad habits are to blame.
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Does this scenario sound familiar to you?


What many leaders are guilty of is initially setting priorities, and then derailing team focus by tossing out non-priority related requests throughout each day. It’s not that any leader wants to see their team fail. They just don’t recognize the frequency of their non-priority requests and the amount of time it can steal attention away from employees’ top goals.


If you want to succeed, you must set your team up for success. The only way to do that is to focus your attention on what matters most, then using this as the filter for all decisions and delegation requests thereon.


Here are 5 ways you can help your team maintain focus, boost productivity, increase engagement and boost profits.


1. Establish a non-negotiable set of goals. Whether it’s each day, week, month or quarter, meet with your team and cover the non-negotiable goals that must be reached for success to occur. Create priorities and tasks necessary to accomplish those goals.

2. Communicate frequently. Remind your employees frequently of the goals you agreed up as a team. Challenge each and every one of them to use those goals as personal filters for their own work and focus.

3. Empower employees to Say ‘No.’ Employees want to please their boss. They want to pursue solutions to areas of stress and ease the burden of leadership. Their natural need to please can easily derail them from priorities and can make them a target for others to steal focus. Empower and implore your team to say ‘no’ to any requests of their time that don’t directly align with the goals and priorities set. That means even empowering them to say ‘no’ to YOU!

4. Be mindful of your requests. Ever sent an employee an email that started out by saying “Wouldn’t it be great if….” Stop it, now. This is where employees get derailed in their focus and lose time and attention on what matters most. Remember their need to please? Well, if you are tossing out great ideas or concepts without filtering them through your agreed upon priorities, your employees will consider this to be a delegation, not a simple conversation. They will stop what they are working on to pursue an answer for you. Before suggesting or asking anything of your team members, ask yourself if the requests fall square in line with the priorities.

5. Stop messaging them after work. Nothing will burn employees out faster than a non-stop barrage of emails, texts, and calls after work hours. Give them the break they deserve. Let them focus on friends, family, home life, fitness, and whatever else matters to them personally. Discourage them from checking work-related emails after hours and encourage their personal priorities. Permit them to rest. In turn, you’ll have a more engaged, well-centered team the next business day.


Company culture and tone starts with you. If you want a well-balanced team who is engaged, positive and productive, start by concentrating your attention on what matters most. They, in turn, will do the same. Together, you can achieve deadlines, establish boundaries and create a happier, more productive and profitable organization.

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Monday, March 12, 2018

You’re Attention is Being Stolen (and You’re Letting it!)

You’re Attention is Being Stolen (and You’re Letting it!)“Hold that thought for just a moment.”


“Let me grab this call.”


“Now, where were we?”


How often have you uttered these phrases in conversations that were interrupted by a phone call, text message, or someone just popping into your office? How often have you been in the middle of a project or task that was stopped midstream to respond to someone else’s immediate need for your attention?


If any of these scenarios sound familiar, you are allowing your attention to be stolen.


In a world full of open-door policies and open-office concepts, our attention is like a wad of cash sitting in an unoccupied, unlocked car. It’s ripe for the taking, tempting anyone who comes within reach of it.
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Time is our new currency and where we spend it is a choice. It certainly doesn’t imply that some things are always more or less important than others; it just means you must choose what is most deserving of your attention at that moment.


For instance, if you are on a deadline for a high-stakes project, it’s okay to silence your ringer, unplug from devices, close your door and concentrate – free from distractions. The deadline for that project is your highest priority. You don’t want to permit anyone or anything from stealing your attention away from it. Once the project is over, take a small break to rest, recover and refocus. Then, evaluate what else is required of you and prioritize your attention accordingly.


It’s that simple.


When you allow others to steal your focus from what you need to pay attention to, you give them time you can never get back. As a result, you feel the pressure of tighter deadlines which then challenges you to work at a faster rate of speed. When you can’t work faster, you wind up working longer, then cutting into the time you need to rest and recover with friends, family, and loved ones.  In the end, you feel overwhelmed and overstressed – and for what? To allow someone to have your attention to meet their needs?


It’s not about being selfish, or about making others feel less important. It is about realizing we each only get 1,440 minutes in a day and we must choose how to spend it. If we want to live a life of more significance, we must pay attention to what matters most and implement methods necessary to do so.


Here are 10 tips to help you pay attention to what matters most in your day:


1. Schedule your day. Use your calendar to set aside times to return phone calls, answer emails, and respond to social media. Commit to your calendar of time as if it were a client. Don’t be late and refrain from going over time.

2. Silence your phone. Whether it’s a desk phone or cell phone, turn off the ringer. We have this brilliant tool called voicemail and it’s there for a reason. Phone calls can be returned when you are ready to give them the time and attention they deserve.

3. Close your door. The idea of an open-door-policy was never intended to allow anyone to barge in at any time. Schedule times in your day and let others know when you’re available to chat. Setting boundaries will not only ensure you can focus on time-sensitive tasks, it also ensures your undivided attention is given to those who need you during open-office hours.

4. Clear your clutter. Few things can steal concentration quite like incomplete projects sitting on your desk silently begging for your attention. Whether it’s papering in need of filing or projects yet to be completed, keep them organized in such a way that your workspace is clear from distractions.

5. Maximize your productive times of the day. Some of us are morning birds while others are night owls. Capitalize on your most productive time of day to complete the tasks requiring more attention, thought, and creativity.

6. Cancel meetings. 45% of meetings attended by professionals are thought to be a waste of time. If you’re attending meetings for the sake of attending, stop. If you’re hosting meetings out of routine, cancel them. Do not attend or host a meeting without a legitimate, well-thought-out agenda. Know why you’re being asked to attend and ensure everyone is on the same page.

7. Take routine breaks. No one can give their undivided attention to one project hours and hours on end. Take frequent breaks to step away from your desk, get fresh air, stretch and allow your mind to break from it’s concentrated state. You’ll find a renewed sense of focus upon return.

8. Reciprocate respect. If you want others to respect your time and need for focus, you must start by setting the example. If you create a reputation of popping into coworker’s offices unannounced, they will do the same for you. If you leave voicemails, followed by emails, followed by text messages, expect others to do the same. Demonstrate a respect for the time of others and respect for yours will follow.

9. Reiterate priorities. Whether you are a leader or individual contributor, knowing the priorities of your organization is key to your success. Ensure you understand them thoroughly, repeat them frequently and use them as a filter for your attention.

10. Stop working 24/7. Few of us can operate efficiently or effectively when we are always on call for work. After hours phone calls and emails can make us feel overwhelmed and unable to rest and recover from the day. As a result, our stress levels increase, and our relationships suffer. Your after-hours time must be tightly guarded and given to those who matter most. When you allow yourself to get the rest you need at the end of each day, your ability to focus and concentrate on the workday increases boosting your productivity and accountability.


When you begin to think of attention as our new currency, you can begin to shift your thought process around time as being a limited resource which must be managed responsibly and protected from those who wish to steal it.

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