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Can we make the switch from no time to more time?

Let’s face it, time is becoming the most important currency and we all need some more, daily. Now, how do we go from the forever “I have no time’ to “I have time” or maybe better “I have time for the things that are important and relevant to me”.

       

At work, the higher we go on the hierarchy scale the more we will be, interrupted or pulled in different directions.

While we cannot eliminate interruptions, we do have a say on how much time we will spend on them. Even more, if we preempt part of these interruptions by having review meetings with our teams before they find a need to interrupt for clarifications, we will see that easy the number of interruptions decreases and as a result the time available in hand increases.

We also have a say in how much time we will spend on the thoughts, conversations, and actions that will lead to success. Actions, being the key word here …

I used to think a few years back that I can only concentrate on one division we had at that time in the business and give it the whole 100% if we want it to be successful. Forget about time for myself, that was not even in the discussion. My schedule was simple; it would start at 7 am and finish by 1 am . Many days were spent in the office until 9 pm. And do not get me wrong I enjoyed every bit of it and remember these times with pleasure.

In time however, I realized that there are so many more things that I want to do, both for my company as well as for me as an individual. And I always thought that there has to be a way if there is desire to do it.

Funny enough, few years down the line, I now manage to find additional time for few divisions in the business and few other ventures as well. On top of that, I also travel and enjoying taking the time to plan my own trips, go to the gym maybe more than one who says “gymming is my hobby” does, read and do many other things that are important for me.

This, however, happened only when I really truly wanted to make the shift.

You see time is mostly a matter of the mind, so the good part is, we can control it if we want to.

So what would be the key to finding time for all the things that we want to do..

First and most important we need to sit down and put on a piece of paper all the things that we want to do and then accordingly start scheduling them. If we were to ask ourselves today, what is it that we would want to do if we had more time, most of us would not even know what they would want to do…Try it.

It is no rocket science, just better planning. We are so engaged in our daily routines that we rarely take a step back and consider what we are missing.

 

To summarize, here are few key things which in my opinion can get us to find the time we need. Don’t get me wrong, it’s hard work but doable.

  1. Mindset. We will never have time to do everything we want to do unless we are determined to find the time
  2. Daily job/task list. Taking the first 30 minutes of every day to plan your day. The most important time of the day is the time we schedule. Lots of the things we would want to do are missed are not because of lack of time. They are missed because of lack of planning and prioritizing.
  3. Focus -there are usually 20 different things going on around us at the same time. Let’s leave them for now and concentrate on the issue at hand. Yes, multitasking is , brilliant; however, one of its negatives is that it affects the productivity on the issue at hand.
  4. Communication – we need to be clear and precise while communicating. It can reduce a lot of confusion and thus save a lot of time.
  5. Cut the extra fluff in the office. It’s amazing how much time we can lose on irrelevant conversations and social media. Let’s concentrate on why, how, what, rather than who. (More on this later)
  6. Monitor what we are doing once we have finished our work day. Yes, 6pm-12pm matters and it can change a lot of things for us. It is almost an entire half a day in which we can do lots of other things we want to do. Let’s not waste this time on tv alone, please.
  7. Learn to say no: How many times we have done things we did not really wanted to do or just did them for the sake of doing them. Instead of that let’s just ask ourselves, am I here because I want to be and is the time spent here going to help me achieve my goals.
  8. Ask for help. Help from other people at similar levels with similar concerns, help from apps which can make life easier.

That being said, I by all means do not consider myself an expert in managing time. It is all work in progress, however what I do know is that I have much more time in hands now with more things to do than I used to have 8 years back with less things to do…so some of the things mentioned above are just working.

Author: Adriana Usvat
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The secret ingredient for a successful team

The secret ingredient that makes some teams better than others.

It trumps ideas, discounts, excellence in delivery, even ROI and more.

It’s called TRUST. Trust is however difficult to build and it becomes even more difficult now with the explosion of social networks.

I was mentioning in one of my previous articles my belief that while for the manager it is not easy to trust, for the employees with most potential, it is by far the highest form of motivation. It increases speed and decreases cost.

 

Why is trust so essential and how it can increase speed?

For one, if you are trusting your team to do certain things on their own or with slight monitoring only, then you can concentrate on other things which are maybe more crucial. Like building more verticals or focus on a new initiative… Makes sense?

Another reason why trust is crucial is that it encourages collaboration, facilitates open dialogue and allows team members to share their opinions, innovative ideas and questions they might have.

It also helps to increase productivity. Productivity in a team requires setting aside personal goals and motives and working together for the common goal of the team.  When each believes in the commitment of every member to the common goal, then only the team is free to work together productively.

Lets face one thing. Everyone makes mistakes, we all did and will continue to make them. If we however decide to let go of a team member it is only because of lack/losing trust. Trust in his/her character (most important) and trust in his/her skills.

We had a team building exercise the other day in the office and we were supposed to try and built the tallest building out of plain paper. Time was limited, about 5 minutes, and all other teams seemed pretty strong and with well defined strategies.

I started concentrating on building a strong structure and looked at the rest of the team, and especially at one particular individual and said, “you go ahead and concentrate on building it as high as possible”.

Both structure and height were essential, however, I chose to trust the rest of the team to deliver on height.

Once we finished the competition, we realized we won and were asked to give one reason why our “building” ended up being the tallest and strongest.

There was one main reason that set us apart from the other teams: “trust”. We trusted each other to deliver on our respective KPIs.

How to build trust in a team?

 

 

Rule no 1: We go first. As the team leaders we should be the ones to first model the behavior. (meaning we start trusting others)

Rule no 2: We start with the hiring interview itself. We ask ourselves “do I trust this person’s character?” If there is a slight doubt, we stop the interview and continue the search. Always remember that while we can teach skills it’s almost impossible to change characters.

Rule No 3. Communicate vision and values of the company to the team, be transparent, encourage the same in the team. We need to get everyone on the team to share information in an honest, meaningful way

Rule no 4: We have one on ones with each team member. Get to understand what are their career goals and how we can help them achieve the same. This will also help identifying each member’s strengths and weaknesses.

Rule no 5: We do weekly review meetings with the entire team where we listen, discuss milestones, status and ideas

Rule no 6: We concentrate on problems and how to solve them rather than personalities

Rule no 7: We give ongoing, useful feedback, so that everyone is aware where we stand

 

Rule no 8: We ask the hard questions to build and protect the team and company.

Like with all other precious things in life, trust is an expensive gift…chose carefully who you give it to.

Author: Adriana Usvat

Trust to Delegate!

For some, delegating comes easily, maybe way too easy.

For the rest of us letting go of tasks, even unimportant tasks it is difficult.

Statistics show that less than 30-40 percent of managers think they can delegate well, and out of those, only a third are considered good delegators by their team members.

Shortly this means only around one manager in ten knows how to delegate and empower others.

Let’s start with “Why” don’t we delegate enough?

There are various reasons behind this however there seems to be 3 key elements:

  1. Time. When we start delegating initially it will take at least twice as long to delegate the task than it will take for us to do it. Frustrating right? Let’s remember however that once we delegate something successfully, it is out of our plate for good, the only thing we have to do is properly monitor.
  2. Fear. Effective delegation makes us replaceable, which is a bit scary to begin with. On the long run, it allows us to spend time growing—rather than simply maintaining our business.
  3. Trust. We don’t know if we can trust others to do the job or we think we cannot or should not.

What ingredients we need to start delegating properly?

  1. We need to choose carefully what tasks we are willing to delegate and what not. Let’s keep the most critical tasks for the business with us, and the tasks that only we can do. Let’s delegate the rest.
  2. TRUST. Not easy for the manager, however for the employees with most potential, trust is by far the highest form of motivation. It increases speed and decreases cost. How trust works? It has 2 dimensions: first there is the character of the person and then there is the competence. Choose the employee who ticks both the boxes for the job in hand.
  3. Give clear assignments and instructions. Find the right balance between over – explaining and providing the team with enough information for them to successfully complete the task.
  4. Allow the ones we delegate the job, to have it done their way. One can reach from A to B in different ways… who knows maybe the team can find a better way than ours. Always remember if we hired smart people in our team to tell them step by step what to do then we are wasting our time or money…or maybe even both.
  5. Monitor progress and provide feedback When we delegate tasks that take more than one or two days, it is essential to monitor the progress and provide feedback. Ideally, we should identify project milestones to ensure the project stays on track when initially discussing the plan.
  6. Have a clear deadline in place If we need something in 3 days there is no point of getting it after one week. At the same time it is not correct to expect the job to be done in 3 days if we did not mention this initially as the timeline.
  7. Evaluate performance and acknowledge your team this will provide satisfaction for work done, and learnings for elements missed.
  8. Avoid reverse delegation. Once we delegate a task we need to try and refrain from taking it back. It can demotivate the person it was handed over to and also … in the long run, every team member needs to learn or move on to something he/she is more talented at.

Author: Adriana Usvat

Stop overthinking and start living!

In my last article I was mentioning that one of the things we should carefully look into is “overthinking”.

Overthinking is not only affecting the great majority of young and middle age women it is also present in around 43% of our male colleagues! Shortly it deserves some attention.

 Is it all bad? I believe there are benefits to thinking in depth.  Being logical about taking action has merit and definitely positive results. There is however a difference between thinking about something just enough – and overthinking to the point of losing it or letting it paralyze our actions.

 Starting a new business, or a new venture, anything new in general is no easy task. And the bigger the venture the more difficult it becomes (or so we think).

Truth is however that we tend to overthink and therefore overcomplicate the starting process and overall the entire process. We tend to make it more painful than it actually is.

 So what is overthinking, where does it originate from and why do we need to carefully look into it:

 What is: Overthinking is spending an unreasonable amount of time thinking through something. It is worrying about our past mistakes or current stresses, overanalyzing regular experiences & interactions, reading into them things that aren’t actually there.

Where does it originate from? It originates from an actual or perceived lack of control over a certain aspect of life. The lack of control comes with a feeling of helplessness. Overthinking is frequently the direct result.

Why do we need to carefully look into it? Because it is a waste of time and energy! We often end up spending more time thinking of an issue than we would spend on solving the issue!

Because overthinking affects problem solving and rational thinking; it interferes with initiative and motivation; most important because it takes a serious toll on our wellbeing.

Overthinking isn’t something we are born with, it is a habit we form over time, probably as a defense mechanism to the possibility of failure.  In other words, it means it is something that with a bit of effort we can avoid.

How?

  1. Admitting that it is there and it is not helping
  2. Realizing that being perfect is not possible.  Striving for perfection is signing up for disaster, and the sooner we give up those perfectionist ideas, the sooner it will all become clearer and easier.
  3. Overcoming fear. Lets ask what is the absolute worst that could possibly happen – and then accept that outcome. If the worst case scenario isn’t actually that bad, and if we know how to deal with it if it came to that, anxiety about that thing may disappear completely.
  4. Changing the channel in our mind when found overthinking.  The best way to avoid overthinking is to busy ourselves with an activity. Getting out, doing something, and get our mind off the thing we can’t stop thinking about.  It is possible to do this… we just have to be willing to give it a shot, which is probably the trickiest.  Working out, reading, going on a drive, writing are things that work for me.
  5. Scheduling reflection time. Let’s incorporate a “thinking time” in our routine. Enforcing a time limit to our thinking and documenting our thoughts surely helps. Let’s say 15 minutes daily. When we notice overthinking outside the scheduled time, it is time to stop. Remember we have another 15 minutes tomorrow.
  6. Keeping focus on active problem solving.  A repetitive thinking about our problems will not help. How about trying to look for solutions to the problem?

7. Have a sounding board. Someone who will provide us with relevant, meaningful, unemotional feedback. Someone who will tell us what we need to hear, not what we want to hear.

 

 Business isn’t easy, I will admit. There is a lot to deal with and the road to success is a long and difficult one. Rarely anything will happen just the way we planned.

But then again should we spend all our time and energy, overthinking and never starting what we want to or better jump into the waters of the unknown, learn, adjust, adapt, grow, look for a moment back, just to see how far we have reached and continue our journey stronger because of the battles and struggles we have been through?

 

Author: Adriana Usvat

 

 

Equality or teamwork and results?

In my previous article, I was suggesting that during a photoshoot it would be best to be yourself and enjoy it rather than concentrate on being someone else.

What about in real life? Can we do that?

Growing up as a teenager I was told several times not to do certain things because I am a girl.

My question is why do we have to label in advance what a man or woman can or cannot do? Maybe best to let the individual decide?

So…am I saying that we are equal as in same? No!

When there are inherent differences between man and woman, how can we be equal/same?

What I’m saying is that we should make use of our natural abilities as well as our skills and talents. We should also give an opportunity & respect to a person and not a gender.

In today’s world equality should never even be the question, what should be the question is what traits we posses which the other does not have and how we can team-up, so that we are growing for the betterment of us and everyone else.

At the place of work, rather than concentrating on gender we should look into who is good at what. There is no such definition that women alone are good at one thing and men only can do the other thing. There can be however someone who is more passionate and has a talent towards working with figures and another person who is more creative and would do better as a stylist or designer. How does it matter if it is a man or a woman holding a certain position? What matters is the set of skills the person brings to the table, the talent and also the dedication that he/she is willing to put in.

We all know ‘talent without dedication’ can sometimes deliver less than ‘less talent but 100% dedication’. The key to delivering results and enjoying would be to surround ourselves with a team of people who are:

  1. Willing to work together and respect each team member as well as trust his/her skills
  2. A mix of people from different backgrounds & genders
  3. A set of people who look more into ’how can we achieve this?’ and ’why did our strategy delivered less this time?’ rather than why you and not me.!

As a woman, what should we do if someone treats us badly or we feel if he does not appreciate our real value? I say ignore. One person will not change our world so let’s search for other people, other places and better opportunities.

Let us stop thinking about the problem and look into the solution.

There were instances when for example someone I was addressing looked at my male colleague when I was the one carrying the conversation… so what now? well there are lots of cultural differences especially when we live in a society as diverse as the one we live in. So unless one asks we can’t really tell the real reason. And then again the way one behaves has more to do with who he/she is than who we are.

Let us also not forget that men do feel sometimes that they are not treated ’equally‘. A dear friend of mine (male,) complained the other day that when I put a post on social media saying ’I am sick‘ I immediately receive private messages or comments saying get well soon while if he posts something similar he will receive messages that will say “so what do you expect me to tell you? Get over it!” or “so you want attention now?”

For us ladies, few key things we should look into in detail. Here are my top 6:

  1. Stop finding excuses – Stop thinking “I am a woman that’s why I have less chances”. Let us instead find a way to get that chance!
  2. Support each other –It is not a surprise that women get extra scrutiny mostly from other women. Men know how to support each other, we still have a long way to go.
  3. Don’t overthink – by the time we reach office we are already tired with projecting what could happen and preparing strategies in our head. (more on this soon)
  4. Ask – When in doubt ASK, don’t judge or presume. If we want a certain role/ position let’s just ask for it and see what happens.
  5. Control your emotions – While its good to be sensitive to things, keep a check on emotions, we need to know when to stop and put our rational hat on.
  6. Delegate – We tend to think we need to do it all in order to get the job done. How about delegating and overseeing?

Overall based on my experience men seem to be better into looking at the overall picture while women have more attention to detail, but then again this is not a rule and many exceptions can be out there. Imagine if we work together how powerful results such a team can deliver!

Author: Adriana Usvat

 

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