Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : October 29th 2015 Contents Develop smart routines
to find your focus
The more decisions you have to make in a
day, the more drained you feel. To focus your
attention and energy on the work that matters,
it helps to apply a repeatable structure to your
day. You can start by beginning your mornings
an hour or so earlier. No matter the time you
choose, you ll feel more energised by how
much more you check off your to-do list before
Then try working in 90-minute increments.
This is the optimal amount of time for focus.
Concentrate on one task, uninterrupted, for
an hour and a half. Then take a break to refuel
before switching to your next task. When
you re powering down at the end of the day,
review your to-do list.
Did you get everything done? Were your
expectations realistic? Doing this every day
will help you determine whether you re assign-
ing time and tasks appropriately.
(Adapted from "Getting More Work Done"
from the 20-Minute Manager series.)
Four questions to
ask when you debrief
on a project
Debriefings can help you accelerate projects,
innovate new approaches to problems and hit
difficult objectives. More than a casual con-
versation about what did and didn t work, a
debriefing digs into why things happened. It
should review four key questions:
• What were we trying to accomplish? Start
by restating the objectives you were trying to
• Where did we hit (or miss) our objectives?
Review your results, and ensure the group is
• What caused our results? This should go
deeper than obvious, first-level answers.
• What should we start, stop or continue
doing? Given the root causes uncovered, what
should we do next, now that we know what
(Adapted from "Debriefing: A Simple Tool
to Help Your Team Tackle Tough Problems,"
by Doug Sundheim.)
Help your team
stop fearing data
Data is permeating the nooks and crannies
of every industry, which understandably makes
many people nervous about their jobs, teams
Fear can paralyse teams and individuals, so
good managers don t allow it to fester. To help
your team stop fearing data, start by reading
and studying. Find books and news articles
that are relevant to your industry.
Next, practice using data. Pick something
that interests you, then gather some data on
it. Create simple plots, compute some statistics
and ask yourself what the data means. As your
knowledge grows, push forward. Dig into other
data sets, learn the difference between cau-
sation and correlation and share what you
find with your team.
Finally, bring data into your daily work.
Challenge your team to gather all relevant facts
when making decisions. Using data in your
everyday routines will help everyone feel more
comfortable with it.
(Adapted from "Dispel Your Team s Fear of
Data," by Thomas C Redman.)
Focus on your breath to
sound more persuasive
Breathing plays a big role in how you sound.
The ability to harness your breath is critical
when you re speaking up in a meeting or giving
a speech or presentation. To speak with more
confidence and power, focus on your breath.
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart
and raise your arms up over your head. Breathe
As you exhale, slowly lower your arms down
to your sides. Make sure your shoulders are
back, not hunched. This is the best posture
for speaking: You are standing tall, owning
your full height and resonating confidence.
Put one hand on your belly button and one
hand on your chest. Breathe deeply and notice
which hand moves. Keep your chest steady
and breathe into your stomach. Then exhale
slowly, and speak "on the breath." Also, make
sure to use your breath to support your words
by letting it out steadily while you are speak-
ing.(Adapted from "Breathing Is the Key to Per-
suasive Public Speaking," by Allison Shapira.)
Help your team avoid
It s hard to collaborate if you view your col-
league as the competition. Even when leaders
don t explicitly paint a win-lose game for their
teams, the competitive mindset is the default
for most high-achieving professionals. So you
have to communicate that success in the team
can be greater and more exciting when people
Emphasise the opportunity for all team
members to value and learn from each other.
And follow these tactics to help employees
adopt a team-centred mindset:
• Model the behaviour you re hoping to
inspire. Demonstrate curiosity and interest in
the people you work with, ask them genuine
questions and respond thoughtfully to what
• Place a high value on and reward successful
teamwork more than individual performance.
• Frame the challenge ahead (the work, the
initiative, the project) as something in need
of diverse perspectives and skills.
(Adapted from "Get Rid of Unhealthy Com-
petition on Your Team," by Amy C Edmond-
@2015 The Economist Newspaper Ltd. Dis-
tributed by the New York Times Syndicate
BUSINESS GUARDIAN www.guardian.co.tt OCTOBER 29 • 2015
TIPS & TALKING POINTS
DESIGNATE. DON'T DRINK AND DRIVE.
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