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The 2-Hour Solution from 30,000 ft.
by On May 29, 2012

My first post on getting the 2-Hour Solution back into my life generated a lot of interest from folks.  That is AWESOME!  I’m glad to hear you feel like you have room for improvement.  In the words of Roger Seip, “That FIRES me up!”

The first thing we should do is make sure you have a basic understanding of what the 2-Hour Solution is all about.  In a nutshell, we are talking about taking a chunk of time and dedicating it to laying out how and where you will put forth effort within a specific window of time.  It’s a bit more detailed than that, but based on where we are at in this whole process, that definition should suffice.  For the sake of this post, well be looking at a two week window.

A few things to know and have with you before you start this process (in order of importance):

A One-to-Two Hour Block of Time – Where you can’t and won’t be interrupted

Your Desire to Improve – Because that’s what this is all about.  How much better do you want to be at managing your time?

Your Why – This one is a hot button topic lately, but incredibly important to the process. Why are you here?  Why do you need to be better at managing your time?  Why and where will this effort improve your life?

Your Core Values – What is your foundation; what are YOU all about?

Your Vision – Where do you see yourself a few years down the road?

Your Calendar – It’s the blueprint we’ll work off of to make you super-efficient

If you don’t have all of the above, don’t stress…too much.  To really maximize the process you should have taken the time and effort to identify all of the above.  If you need help with this, a P.A.C.T. course will be a step in the right direction. (Yes, that is a shameless plug for a 100% guaranteed program that will help you identify these things)

The process goes like this: The first thing you do is find a block of time where you can disappear and get unplugged.  No TV, no radio, no social media, no family, no phone, no birds; Angry or otherwise.  This is time to focus on YOU.  Anything that is a distraction during this step of the process will be a distraction in getting things accomplished outside your “bubble”.  Sure, these things probably have importance to you, but like they say on the airplane, you have to put your oxygen mask on before you can take care of others.  Get committed to being 100% focused during this block of time or you’re just setting yourself up for failure when it counts.

Next, take some time to review your Why, your Core Values and your Vision.  Remind yourself what is important to you and why you do what you do.  Reminding yourself of these foundational topics will help as you are prioritizing your activities for the next two weeks.

Next, take a look at your calendar and start to identify, categorize and prioritize all the things you need to do over the course of the next two weeks.  How you do that is up to you.  You might use numbers, colors, pictures, or phrases.  Just keep it consistent and make it mean something to you.  I prioritize my top revenue-generating opportunities and and I use the color green (like $$) to identify them.

Crucial to this step is identifying and prioritizing where you are going to put your efforts.  Meetings, tasks, phone calls, preparation, etc.  It might get overwhelming, and that’s a good thing.  Could be a sign that you are taking on too much.  Here’s a great litmus test to use when identifying and prioritizing your efforts.  Ask yourself the question, “Does doing this move me closer to or further away from my Vision?”

Then identify the time you want to dedicate to personal development.  When are you reading/listening to audio/attending seminars?  This is the time you spend honing your craft and making yourself a better professional.

After that, it starts getting fun.  Once you have all the above items on your calendar, start to look for holes around those activities.  This is your flex time.  This is where you can allow for a schedule change or an unexpected task to get done.  Once you have your flex time nailed down, add your ReCreation (spelled that way on purpose) time.  Daily Exercise, Date Night, Poker Night, Sudoku, whatever.  This is what you do to re-charge and relax.

Sounds like a lot, huh?  It is.  But if you take the time to do this right you will notice something you have even more of than scheduled stuff and that is free time.  By prioritizing and committing to specific times to do the things you NEED to do, it leaves you more time for the stuff you WANT to do.

OK, I realized that we just dropped below 5,000 ft and that was not the point of the post.  If you want to learn a bit more about how others have used this approach, there have been a TON of articles pop up recently.  A couple examples are David Allen’s short video talking about how he takes some time to do this and we recently posted a link on our Facebook page to a distilled 1-hour version of this concept.

Anyone else getting excited about maximizing their calendar?  Considering the fact that summer is right around the corner here in Wisco, I sure am!  Feel free to drop any comments below, or connect with me on Twitter or Facebook.

Time Management the Second Time Around
by On May 11, 2012

I experienced a VERY embarrassing few minutes last weekend.  At our annual sales meeting, the concept of time management came up and Roger and Eric were reinforcing how effective the 2-Hour Solution was.  When asked how often I used it, I replied, “What’s that?”  Not good.  It’s the basis for our Time Management program.  My answer spurred an impromptu 15-minute “refresher” on the concept.  The bad news is that about 17 seconds into the description, I realized I DO in fact know what the 2-Hour Solution is all about.  At 18 seconds, things went from bad to worse as I realized as a P.A.C.T coach, I have TAUGHT the 2-Hour Solution (successfully, I might add) to clients.  I always just called it the “Time Management Exercise”.  I learned it a while back and have used it (successfully, I might add) in my own life.  At 25 seconds, I reveled in the bliss that was my weeks being laid out well in advance, unexpected tasks not getting in the way of my regular workload, my regular workload getting done and still having plenty of time to exercise and play with the kids.  Then I remembered the size of my checks coming in and how I was starting to feel comfortable in life.

Unfortunately, in that comfort zone, I stopped using it consistently.  Maybe I took it for granted because I have access to our programs every day, maybe I decided to prioritize something else, maybe I just thought I was better than I really was and didn’t need it.  Whatever the case, I was reminded of what a great thing the 2-Hour Solution is and how well it did work for me when I was actively applying it.  All of this happened inside of a minute.  Anyone who has been through the Memory Training knows that the brain thinks seven times faster than other people can speak.  I was easily doubling that.

For the next 14 minutes, my life was a whirlwind of listening, taking notes and brainstorming.  I got to thinking; I’ll bet there are LOTS of folks out there just like me who have a tool in their toolbox, but either let it get dull or even worse, just haven’t put it to use.  So here’s the plan: I’m committed to making the 2-Hour Solution part of my life again, and you are invited to come along for the ride.  This will be the first of a series of posts I’m doing on integrating this AWESOME program into my day-to-day.

Some of you may not have any idea what the 2-Hour Solution is all about.  PERFECT!  You are going to see first hand what effective time management can do for you.  Others of you might know about the 2-Hour Solution, but like me you stopped using it for one reason or another.  PERFECT!  You are going to be reminded how easy it is to re-integrate it into your life and can work along with me to get it back into your day-to-day.  Or you might be a 2-Hour Solution Evangelist.  PERFECT!  You can comment and share where it has helped you and the benefits it has brought to your life.

Feel free to follow the action here by adding us to your reader (click that link on the top right), or connect with me on twitter or Facebook.  I look forward to answering any questions and sharing how I get this crucial solution back into my life.

Be Free!

6 Time-Management Tips From Accelerator Programs
by On May 2, 2012

By Alina Dizik

Want to work work smarter–not longer–hours? Start here with advice from Y Combinator, Techstars, Founder Institute, Excelerate Labs, and Seedcamp.

For startup accelerator programs, teaching wannabe entrepreneurs time management skills is critical. These camp-like incubators have one of the steepest learning curves of any professional environment, and making sure entrepreneurs stay productive is the key to success. For startups, managing time is a matter of sink or swim, and infant companies can only succeed if they stay on task.

Of course, balancing your time isn’t reserved for startup founders tackling the first part of their business plan. It applies to anyone who’s eager to work smarter–not longer–hours. So we asked founders and partners at the world’s top accelerator programs for time management tips they always share with bleary-eyed entrepreneurs. Here’s what they said:

1. Avoid the email time suck.

“Email is my worst enemy, so I only check it three times a day,” says Jonathan Greechan, partner at the Founder Institute, an accelerator program in 13 cities around the world. “Keeping email open all day is the quickest way to kill your productivity.” Instead, he’s developed a schedule when dealing with email: “First thing in the morning I glance over most emails and address only the critical ones. Midday I check progress on the critical emails I addressed in the morning. And before I go to sleep my main goal is to clear volume and smaller or menial tasks. On especially busy days I only check twice a day, cutting out the midday scrub.”

Sometimes taking longer to respond can be even more effective, Greechan says: “It may sound bad, but ignoring emails is a good way to make people not as dependent on you–in most cases, they can find the answers or solutions themselves. If you are always quick to answer, they will get lazy and be always quick to ask.”

2. Choose your most important goal each week.

Techstars chief executive David Cohen tells entrepreneurs to focus on one big goal each week. “This mental exercise makes you figure out what really matters, and focus time and energy on it at the cost of other, less important things,” he says. “Focusing on the right priorities can help you do more faster. I remember when Isaac Saldana of SendGrid decided he wanted to bring in an outside CEO. He focused on this until it was finished as his number one priority, and it accelerated the company more than anything else he could have done. Now SendGrid is on fire, and Isaac contributes as the technical leader, which is further propelling the company. It’s all because he focused on the biggest and most important thing through to completion.”

3. Know your productivity limits.

“Most people have a maximum for productivity,” says Troy Henikoff, chief executive of Excelerate Labs in Chicago. “I had an employee that would produce the maximum amount on 55 hours a week. The rest of us had to work 80 hours to get done what he did in 55; but if he worked more than 55, his total productivity started to drop. Make sure you know your limits and the individuals on your team’s limits.”

In addition, be sure you understand the most important tasks that need attention. “Do not get urgent confused with important–it is easy to get sucked into all those urgent issues, but you really should be prioritizing by what is most important,” he adds.

4. Be like Dorsey: Take breaks to prevent burnout.

“We encourage founders to not underestimate the importance of exercise, sleep, and taking breaks to restore energy and creativity,” says Harj Taggar, a partner at Y Combinator in Mountain View, Calif. “It’s better to average eight solid hours of productivity a day than it is to output 12 hours of mediocre ones. [Twitter cofounder] Jack Dorsey is running two $1 billion plus companies and he finds time to take Saturdays off to recharge.”

5. Skip some meetings.

It’s tempting to take every meeting that comes along, but it can be more distracting than productive, says Y Combinator’s Taggar: “Don’t waste time on meetings,” he says. “Once you’re a YC company, there will be an endless stream of people wanting to meet with you–investors or people offering ‘mentorship’ who will pull you in all sorts of different directions. During YC, block these out and focus on the two things above. One meeting can blow an entire day of productivity.”

Techstars’ Cohen tells entrepreneurs to avoid meetings that last longer than half hour. “Meetings with no goal, also known as ‘coffee shop’ meetings, can be huge time wasters if you’re not efficient with them,” says Cohen. “Always know why you’re meeting, and make sure it’s important–try to keep them to 30 minutes, max.”

6. Say “no” when you need to.

Reshma Sohoni, partner at Seedcamp, a venture accelerator in London, tells entrepreneurs that accepting offers of everything from meetings to seemingly related projects can quickly kill productivity. Sohoni teaches newbie founders the importance of saying no. “Entrepreneurs–especially early on–will say yes to everything. It’s really a hard balance to strike,” she says. “Whether that’s in having too many meetings or taking too much on for the team, entrepreneurs really need to make decisions fast about when and where to say no. It’s a critical skill [we] all need to learn.”


Are You Asking For It?
by On May 1, 2012

There goes a saying around my house — Jana wants, and Jana gets.  Not because I deserve it, but because I ASK for it.  There are very few things in this world not worth asking for.  Have you ever complained about not getting something you want?  Have you considered taking responsibility for it because you did not ASK for it?

Perhaps you did not ask for a referral from a client, a raise from your boss, the sale, help from your spouse around the house, the pretty girl on the train for a date, or a refund for airline luggage fees when your luggage was lost?  If you could have asked for something you wanted, and you didn’t…why?

Did you not think about it, or were you scared of getting the answer, “ NO”?

Fear of rejection is a learned fear.  I believe it can be unlearned as well. When did we realize it was so bad to be told ‘no’?  So your parents told you ‘no’ when you were a child, so what…someone told you as a child you could not play with them, get over it…wherever this fear was learned – it is time to challenge the thoughts that are holding us back.  Why are you NOT ASKING FOR WHAT YOU WANT???

The other day I had a meeting that ended up being rescheduled.  Not what I had anticipated for my day, but I still walked out of that office with 5 referrals even though I had not technically conducted business with anyone.  So what if they had said no?  NEXT!

One of my favorite books is The Four Agreements.  If you have not read it, I highly recommend it.  One of the four principles it teaches i

s not taking things so personally.  The word ‘no’ is not going to kill you, in fact – how will you ever get the yeses if you never go for a no?  Anyon

e in sales knows this principle well.  There are many sales leaders that will tell you to go for the ‘no’.  For the law of probability will eventually give you a ‘yes’.

So you have come to the conclusion you are not asking for what you want. How do you begin? Start by asking yourself a few questions…

1. What do you want?

2. Who do you ask for it?

3. What is the best way to approach the person (make sure your intention is kind)?

4. What is the worst-case scenario if you do not achieve the outcome you want? (I guarantee it will not end in — and then I died.)

5. What is the best-case scenario (maybe you get MORE than you asked for)?

6. Is it worth the risk to you?

I have more cajones than most, so I say ALWAYS GO FOR BROKE – but you might not be so risky … maybe it is not worth it to you to be rejected for a simple room upgrade at the hotel. But what do you have to lose? The great news is, once you ask for it, you just might get it! With some self-confidence as an added bonus!