Have a reliable task management system as backbone in busy times

Oct 31, 2011 Leave a comment

As my days were very busy during the last weeks, I used the time on a flight back home today to review and to think about what really helped me to stay on top of what I am doing.

Besides the support of my wife 🙂 the two tools I am using frequently are my target mind map and my task management system.

About my mind map I have written another post already. Now I would like to take the opportunity to share my task management experience in busy times with you.

Read more…

Manage your life with a mind map – Five steps to get started

Oct 12, 2011 1 comment

I am always looking for ways to simplify my self management system. In the past, I used an excel sheet to manage my goals, but a few month ago, I started using a mind map to organize and review my targets.

For me, using a mind map is much more intuitive and flexible compared to excel sheets. I am really enjoying this very simple visual way of managing my targets and I would like to share this experience with you. Read more…

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? 😉

Found on FTD: Tidy desk looks professional

Jul 25, 2011 Leave a comment

After reading an article on Financial Times Deutschland which confirmed that a tidy desk looks professional, I thought it would be nice to translate the key facts and to share these with you.

The author Sabine Meinert reports about a study conducted by the temporary employment agency OfficeTeam. To develop this study, OfficeTeam surveyed 500 HR manager.

OfficeTeam found out that a cluttered desk looks as if the owner is not able to organize his or her desk and this might lead to the association that the person in general is careless, unstructured, and chaotic.

83 percent of all asked managers rated the employee to be less professional in case of a cluttered desk.

In addition to this, not only the desk itself is of interest. The whole office will be scanned and evaluated by superiors. Crowded shelves, high piles of paper, or overflowing trash cans will not support career advancement.

But Sven Hennige, Managing Director at OfficeTeam, warns that a tidy desk itself will not boost a career. In addition to this, high quality and performance is still necessary.

If you are interested in how I uncluttered my desk, please read this post.

Professional Performance Standards – Request for Comment

Jun 12, 2011 Leave a comment

Inspired by existing standards like EN ISO or OHSAS etc. and my previous suggestion for professional performance standards I decided to develop a request for comment for a professional performance standard applicable to all persons.

This is the first draft of my proposal for this standard and I am looking forward to receive your feedback! 🙂

Professional Performance Standards – Request for Comment

1. Introduction
The application of a self-management system is a strategic decision of a person to enhance personal performance and to improve cooperation in a business environment.

This standard is designed to prove reliability and honesty of the person.

The defined requirements are generic and shall be applicable to all persons.

2. Personal Commitment
The person shall state to comply with the requirements of this standard.

3. Basic Requirements

3.1. Task Management
The person shall establish and maintain a reliable task management system to register all tasks. These tasks shall be prioritized and scheduled to ensure completion.

3.2. Mail Management

3.2.1. Incoming Mail
The person shall process incoming mail within 24 business hours.

Processing shall be done by “first touch” without returning the incoming mail to inbox.

Processing of incoming mail is defined as:
a) delete mail, if information is not relevant and answering not requested
b) forward mail
c) answer mail
d) transform mail into a task
In case of b) and d) sender shall be informed about processing decision.

3.2.2. Outgoing Mail
The person shall write outgoing mail as short and precise as possible.

The person shall address outgoing mail to relevant addressees only.

3.3. Time Management
The person shall establish and maintain a system to manage available time.

3.4. Office/Desk Management
The person shall ensure privacy of all processed information.

The person shall minimize usage of paper.

3.5. Document Management
The person shall archive documents and records to ensure traceability of the work performed.

3.6. Password Management
The person shall ensure the use of strong passwords.

The person shall protect passwords and keep passwords a personal secret.

3.7. Feedback Management
The person shall evaluate received feedback regarding performance and shall develop measures 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! 🙂