Archive for the ‘General Setup’ Category

Smart Feedback Management: 7 steps to take feedback the right way

Aug 8, 2011 Leave a comment

In business and also in private life, it is normal to get all types of feedback from time to time. Sometimes it is outspoken, sometimes you get it indirect. It does not matter if it is positive or negative feedback, the most important in my opinion is to take it the right way – a structured one – and to use it for your development.

This is what I learned and how I process feedback today:

1. Take the feedback without discussing it. Just listen, take the person serious, and say “Thank you!”. If possible, try to write the feedback down to look it up later.

2. In case of negative feedback, do not defend yourself. Accept the opinion of the other person – this does not mean to agree to the feedback itself – and ask for ideas to improve from the other ones point of view. Try to benefit from the feedback without being offended.

3. Explain that you will think about the feedback to improve yourself and – again – say “Thank you!”.

4. Take some minutes with yourself to lean back, breath, and think about the feedback. Try to filter the feedback, delete all emotions and identify the main points of the feedback. For complex feedback, I recommend to use a mind map to structure your thoughts.

5. Decide, if you want to do something about these main points. If yes, think about measures to improve and integrate these measures into your planning or your todo-list.

6. Think about a response to the person who provided the feedback. If you developed measures for improvement, the person might be happy to hear about it.

If you can not understand the feedback, decide if it makes sense to re-contact the person to explain that you thought about it but can not comprehend the given opinion. – This can be the starting position for a more detailed feedback to think about. But be careful to avoid an infinite loop. 😉

7. Finally, I recommend to archive the feedback. If you scan it, you can “dispose” the paper version of the feedback literally to complete feedback processing.

What do you think about this procedure? Can you provide me feedback to improve? 😉

Suggestion for Professional Performance Standards

May 11, 2011 Leave a comment

Last week, I had a discussion with two colleagues about the cooperation difficulties with other colleagues that do not perform in accordance with minimum standards of professional behavior. I often experience that some colleagues – always the same – need weeks to answer mails or simply are not able to complete tasks. Often their desks are completely overwhelmed by printouts and notes and the office looks chaotic. – Do you know this type of colleagues? 😉

I believe, that beside personal traits everybody is able to work in accordance with minimum professional performance standards. To support this theory, I created a “one pager” with five suggestions for professional performance:

Professional Performance Standards – Englisch Version (PDF, 21.5 KB)
Professional Performance Standards – German Version (PDF, 18.0 KB)

In the future, I will use this one pager to give my colleagues an idea about my expectations concerning professional performance and I hope, this will improve the cooperation step by step.

What do you think about these minimum standards? Do you have ideas for additional suggestions?

Organize your finances – Do you have an overview?

Apr 30, 2011 Leave a comment

Another important area of my life that I am managing continuously is finance. Surprisingly, I realized that it is not naturally for everybody to work on this area and to have an overview about your finances. – This is why I am really interested in your procedures to manage your finances!

About 10 years ago, I started to list my monthly income and expenses in a simple excel table to have an overview about my budget. This table improved from year to year and I am still working with this excel file.

One of the biggest improvements – influenced by Robert T. Kiyosaki’s book “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” – was to categorize my expenses into fixed expenses, varible expenses, accruals, and savings. To be honest, I was shocked after evaluating the proportion of the categories and I started to develop measures to reduce my outgoing cashflow (liabilities) and to build up assets. But this is another topic to write about…

To get to the next level, a few weeks ago, I installed a finance software to learn how to manage my finances with software support. I noticed a few nice features, but I am still not satisfied with this software solution.

But anyhow – from my point of view – the most important thing is to have an overview. It does not matter if you are using high sophisticated software or a simple excel sheet. – So, what are you doing to manage your finances? Please post or email your procedures! 🙂

Photographic evidence: my desk – lean, clean, and green

Mar 19, 2011 Leave a comment

Incited by a recent article about procrastination by Gregor Groß on which linked to an older article about “Minimal Office Furniture” by Thomas Mauch, I decided to take a picture of my desk in the company to prove that my desk is really lean, clean – and in addition to this – green. 😉

This is how my desk looked yesterday evening when I left the office. No paper, no unnecessary stuff. Just a clean surrounding for productive and focused work.

If you are interested in reading more about how I achieved this, please see this post.

Categories: General Setup Tags: , ,

Organize your desk – Lean and clean!

Feb 26, 2011 1 comment

Inspired by a colleague who loves to clean up everything, I started to lean and clean my desk as well. Today, I have only my computer (flat screen, notebook, mouse (without mouse pad!), and keyboard), a telephone, a memo cube, and a cup with a ballpoint, a highlighter, and a pencil on my desk. No paper, no other stuff. Also the walls are empty, only one calendar, a clock, and a framed A0 printout of our mission statement.

This lean and clean surrounding helps me to focus onto my work and I feel much more organized and structured. Less distraction, less mess. 🙂

To achieve this, I started with putting all the papers and documents onto a big pile and worked through it according to my inbox processing and archiving behavior. I tried to throw away as much stuff as possible. To make this a little bit easier, I store sorted out papers temporarily in a box which I empty from time to time by first-in-first-out principle. This offers the possibility to buffer my trash a little bit and to have the chance to retrieve thrown away papers for some weeks or months. 😉

After sorting all my papers and after throwing away unnecessary stuff like additional cups, notepads, decoration, and other gadgets, I took a cloth and wiped the table. Perfect!

Since that, I try to keep my desk as clean as possible. I process all incoming documents and meeting notes according to my inbox processing and I archive (and throw away) everything right away. In addition, I try to work online to use as little paper as possible. For all working documents, that I can not avoid, I maintain a folder that I can put into the drawer easily in the evening. – And my desk is lean and clean. 🙂

And does it work? Definitely! Feedbacks from colleagues and customers confirm it and my achievements visualize it as well. I am more successful and more productive than ever before. – And I absolutely enjoy it! 🙂

Request: How do you archive and backup your stuff?

Feb 18, 2011 1 comment

To be honest, I do not have a really good practice for archiving my stuff like e-mail or snail mail, invoices, photos, or other documents and I am absolutely looking for your advice.

At first, I have to differentiate between my private stuff and my company related information. In the company it is a little bit easier: Every year I start a new outlook pst file and set up a structure according to my projects. Within this structure I file all my e-mails and I also record my notes and other offline documentation by using scan to mail and archiving the e-mails afterwards. Finally, as long as there is no retention period, I simply dispose the original paper documentation. That is it. – To prevent me from loosing all my data, I do continuous backups to our fileserver with a company owned backup tool. This is where I also store my working documents like doc, ppt, and xls files.

In my private life, I tend to do it in a similar way by having a large email account and by storing files on a NAS. In addition to this, I file my invoices and other paper records in folders in a cabinet. I do not scan this documentation, at the moment.

In addition to this, I am experimenting with online tools like evernote, dropbox, backblaze and crashplan. – But I am still trying to figure out which one might be the best tool for my needs and I am also a little bit reluctant to upload all my data to the internet.

Please share your experience and send me your practices for archiving and backup by e-mail or simply comment on this post. Many thanks in advance! HowTo get started in 4+2 steps… (Updated!)

Feb 15, 2011 1 comment

After explaining to a few people how to get started with Toodledo during the last weeks, I decided to write a short “HowTo get started with Toodledo in 4+2 steps”:

1. Register at, it’s free and it takes only seconds!

2. Go to “Settings” (top right corner) and…

  • Set “Display Preferences” to “Entire page scrolls”, “Grid (One line with columns)” and activate “Show note and file attachment icons on the left”.
  • Activate the following “Fields/Functions Used”:
    Folder, Start Date, Due Date, Repeat, Length, Timer, Priority, Tag, Status, Star.
    To learn more about how I use these fields, please see “Task Management with”.
  • Set “Row Style” to “Title is styled by priority” and “Completed tasks are dimmed”.
  • Set “Default View” to “Folder”.
  • Configure the following “New Task Defaults”:
    Start Date: Today, Status: Next Action
  • Set “Show Tab Counts” to “Show the number of tasks inside each list”.

3. Go to “Tools > More…” and activate e-mail importing within “Email Import / Export”. You can use this e-mail-address to mail tasks to toodledo.

4. Go to “Organize > Folders” and create folders (these are your to-do lists) for different areas like main job, bigger projects, private, shopping,…

Optional steps:

5. If you like to go to “Goals” and insert your goals. If you are interested in this topic please see “planning section”.

6. Finally, if you want to import tasks from an existing tool go to “Tools > Import / Export” and use the appropriate function.

This is it! Now you are ready to go to your “Tasks” and to add tasks via “Add Task”.

To read more about how to use Toodledo, I recommend to continue with “Daily Operations – How to manage my day?” or “Inbox processing”.

PS: If you have ideas or comments how to optimize this howto, please do not hesitate to post your thoughts.