Coaching Tips on Effectiveness

Or how to focus on what matters to YOU.

Archive for the ‘Practical Tools’ Category

Integrated Learning

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About one year ago, I had a major life crisis.

I have – to quote – a jewel job, that most people would kill for, in a great compay. I have a partner, a few good friends and money to spare. This would put me in the 7% fortunate people on this planet. But there’s more to life than this.

The perspective of doing this and being here for the rest of my life was terrifying me.

I won’t bore you with my searches at that time. What’s enough to say is that I came up with a concept and an idea that would help me – and you, if you’ve gone through a quarterlife crisis. If not, prepare, it might hit you soon.

So we live our lives, most of us, from 9 till 5. We have a pretty good career, and we’re ambitious. Therefore, we work harder. We put our entire focus on growing, developing, contributing. We have – if we’re lucky enough! – a family to care for. Someone to love. We spend what’s left of our energy there.

Notice what’s the idea that appears most often there?

Yes – it’s spending. Giving. Contributing. Mostly with your mind. After all, we white collar workers are, according to Peter Drucker, knowledge workers.

But what about learning, receiving, reenergizing?

Where do you get that from?

And do you do it consciously?

So that’s where I thought – what if we could have a place where you could unwind. Not by resting and getting into the “vegetable” state, watching TV all day long. By doing some actual work. With your hands, not your mind.
The first thing that came to my mind was working the earth. To me, this is immensely relieving. If you have a house in the countryside, or visited your grandparents recently, you know what I mean. It puts your mind in a completely different perspective.
Cooking is another thing that detaches you.

All activities that remove your mind from the urban clutter and get you closer to the “authentic” living.

This is what I call “Integrated Learning“. Being able to de-focus from the daily abstract work – and here I include everything abstract. Yes, even that Time Management course that promises to help you re-organize everything in your life.

And if you want to experience a first bit of the “Integrated Learning” idea, do something with your hands. No, not on the keyboard. Any activity that involves some kind of discovery will be fine. Go hiking. Gather leaves from the park. Use your senses. Look at the sky.
Aren’t these all things that you didn’t do for a while?
No wonder we’re feeling lost in our little cubical. We forgot how to be in touch with the real world.

How do you unwind? How do you get back in touch with your physical self?


Written by effectivenesscoach

November 8, 2009 at 7:58 am

Time Management tips from an ebook

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I delivered a “Time Management” training last week, and when preparing, I stumbled across this great book on Time Management for creative people from Mark Mc Guinness.

No matter if you’re working in Advertising or Marketing, you sure need your time to think. And if, like me, you’re working in an environment where 20 minutes of uninterrupted work is a rare bliss, you’re going to need the tips in this book.

Some ideas I found useful:

1. Ringfence your creative time. My best time is in the morning. I get lots done. So, I book 2 chunks of time: Early morning 6:00 to 7:30 when I do research, read and write, and from 9:30 to 11:00 at work, when I work on my long term projects. The key word here is discipline. Also, creating rituals around your creative time ( I use my special blend of coffee, cocoa and amaretto syrup – yum 🙂 this gets me in the right mood for work)

2. You need to install a buffer between other’s demands and your response. The most interesting concept here is “Do it tomorrow” by Mark Forster (there’s also a book by the same title). It says that anything that comes into your “IN” tray should be packed, bundled, and solved tomorrow. Benefits? Tons. Realistic-ness? So-so. But I would give the idea a try, especially since I get annoyed at the ton of emails, tasks, projects, reports that come with an “ASAP” tag, and when finally solved, they’re not needed anymore.

3. The buckets concept – get one or max 4 buckets in which to gather everything – and he means everything that comes to your to do list. Then go through all your buckets at least once per week and sort through them, choosing priorities and putting them on your agenda.

Resources – the “Do It Tomorrow” book by Mark Forster, the “Getting Things Done” by David Allen, tons of blogs, links and tips at the end of the book. Thanks Mark!

Written by effectivenesscoach

October 25, 2009 at 8:13 am

Personal Branding Part 2 – Channels

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I wrote here about the importance of having a personal brand nowadays, and the 3 steps to building your personal brand.

This post is about the online channels, or the “how to reach my target group”, once you have a clear message to convey.

1. Your Google results. What’s the first 3 things that Google returns once you do a search on your own name? My results are my Linked In profile and articles I’ve written. I think that’s pretty good, but could be better. You can post your public Linked In profile on the web ( or create a personal branded page with Lookup Page.

2. Linked In and posting on Linked In discussion boards. Who makes up your network? Make sure you’re connected with the people who share your interests, by clicking the “find users with this keyword” option that appears in the Interests section on your profile.  Also, look up groups which discuss about your niche of business. Get involved in discussions and contribute. Don’t try to sell directly via discussion boards – posting your resume there will not get you attention. Find something that will attract interest, and share. That will get you known (and liked) far easier.

3. Facebook. What do your status changes and application updates say about you? What kind of photos do you upload? Keep in mind, Facebook is not just a utility website for young people. You can actually post ads there, or create posts and links that direct users to your blog or website.

4. Twitter. What you twit about is who you are. I recently got on Twitter and found it immensely useful. I saw what some people were posting, and became very interested in them, visiting their websites, blogs, and re-tweeting their posts. I got to read 200% more useful information in the self development field, thanks to the links posted by the people I follow. I just started with a few connections, and surfing their blogs, got to other links, who pointed to other people, who wrote other articles, whom I started to follow. And so on.

But the above is only about the “listening” side of Twitter. What should you post? Do you want to be perceived as a trend setter? Then you need to stay online quite often, and post whatever is new in your field, or, better, come up with your own innovations. Do you want to be perceived as a networker and facilitator? Then you should follow all the interesting posts and re-tweet them. Most importantly, don’t be afraid to “unfollow” people who don’t fit your interest. Filter your information, and before you post anything, ask yourself: “Would this tweet add value to my followers?” Or even better: “Is this information so good, that some would pay money to get it?”

5. Blog. I guess this says it all. Don’t mix semi-professional or work related blogs, with sharing what you did last night in the pub. But then again, if your target audience would dig that, consider it.  In what kind of catalogs or networks does your blog enter? To whom do you link? A pretty good blog network I discovered is Once you include your blog in this catalog, it will look somewhat like this. Of course, there are endless possibilities to promote your blog so that it goes up in the search list.

There’s also Technorati, the blog directory. Personally, I found it rather hard to digest, but I’m still going to give it some shots.

How often you write is another issue. You should write at least once a week. Experts say at least once per day, but I consider this to be a bit overdone. Once every 2-3 days is enough. Write about useful things, the sort of things who would interest your audience. Don’t be afraid to write. You don’t have to revisit each post 10 times before you publish. I’ve had the surprise that some of my posts which I considered mediocre were most visited and commented upon. Just write. You will see, the more you write, the more ideas will come to you.

6. Forum posts. What kind of forums do you use? Make sure your opinion is based on arguments. See above my mention on Linked In discussion boards.

7. Articles. I’ve heard about people who were in business or NGO field, and I had little idea on what their full time job was – I just knew I read their articles each month, and they were damn good writers. This made them known, more than promoting their business would have. And when one of them posted a note on starting an open training, I thought “Whoa! I know this guy! He’s really good. I would buy his service.”

You can use your blog posts to elaborate them into articles. To what websites? Look for those websites that fit with your style and mindset. Approach them and offer to write. Once you get better at writing, people will start approaching you more.   On what topics? Choose your topics wisely. Don’t jump into anything you’re not accustomed with. And always base your information on reliable sources. Just like a full time journalist.

8. Presentations and webinars. I only got as far as this with presentations (see my previous post on Prezi) but I know there are other tools as well to building online presentations and sharing slides (Slide Share is just one other example). You can embed it in your blog, share it via Linked In or Facebook.

All in all, these are just a few channels that can help you promote yourself online. The basic idea behind it all has to be CONSISTENCY.

Make sure that your message is crisp, clear, and that your audience can see this through your tweets, posts, articles, or even photos.

As for myself, I can only hope this made a difference to your personal development. And if you’re wondering how to get started, I can help – just click here and drop me an email to schedule a first coaching discussion.

Written by effectivenesscoach

October 17, 2009 at 6:47 am