Getting Over the Hump: Activation Energy and Executive Time Management

I’m sure this isn’t so hard to do but imagine yourself staring at a mountain of tasks. You know you need to climb this mountain but taking that first step feels overwhelming. This mental hurdle is like the concept of activation energy in chemistry – the initial energy needed to start a reaction. In our daily lives, activation energy applies to getting started on tasks, especially those we find daunting.

For executives, this can be particularly true. Big decisions, complex projects, and endless to-do lists can create a high activation energy, making it difficult to even begin. This is where understanding activation energy becomes a powerful tool for time management.

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Hurry Up and Wait

Let’s be honest: have you ever repeatedly pushed an elevator button magically expecting that the elevator will arrive faster?

All of us have done this. This week I observed several examples of this that reminded me how often people get stressed over things they have no control over. One happened on the subway platform when a passenger got extremely upset when the oncoming train wasn’t his line.

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First Quarter: Look Back and Look Ahead

“The way to get started is to quit talking and start doing.”
– Walt Disney

The first quarter of 2024 is coming to an end and after you get your breath, it’s worthwhile to look back and review the past three months. Here is a brief checklist to use as a guide and to set yourself up for a strong year

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“I’ll Get Back to You…”

Famous last words. How many times has someone said that they would get back to you, complete a task, follow up on a lead, or get some information to you. . . and you feel like you’re getting old as you wait to hear back?

Now, in fairness, no one is perfect and certainly there have been times when you’ve not followed up on things, so before you start ranting about everyone else, you might want to look in the mirror.

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Pile It On!

During the last few weeks, people have seemed busier. New business opportunities are cropping up and people are responding with appropriate enthusiasm. One of my colleagues commented that work is flowing her way and she’s delighted with the influx.

Although leaders are thrilled with the inflow, the challenging aspect is managing it. This obviously flows downstream in the organization. Managers are complaining about their grouchy team members who are balking at the increase in work.

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May I Have Your Attention…Please?

Recently, CBS Sunday Morning featured a story on our shrinking attention span. Obviously, this is not a new topic; in fact I’ve been writing about it for years. That said, were a few takeaways and reminders worth highlighting.

Psychologist and attention span researcher, Dr. Gloria Mark, provided an interesting statistic. When her team researched attention spans two decades ago, on average the people in the study shifted attention every two and a half minutes.

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The Power of One Strong Goal

It’s that time of the year where you’re wondering what the heck happened to the year…how did it go by so quickly…. and … how am I going to complete everything that I committed to do in 2023?

Well, there are about 80 days left in this year. The biggest challenge is falling into the trap of trying to do everything that you didn’t accomplish all year. If you turn into a whirlwind, you might make a little progress on several things, but may end up feeling dissatisfied because you didn’t get a great result on an important initiative.

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The Influence of Experts

Hank is a talented practitioner and emerging leader who is expanding his professional practice into a business. The business is growing, but Hank is frustrated by the pace of growth and the obstacles that cross his path. As confident as his outward persona is, he experiences periods of self-doubt.

This isn’t at all unusual; in fact, many of my clients have had similar experiences. As Hank and I dug through what he perceives to be the obstacles to his success, I learned that he has been strongly influenced by some prominent business “gurus”.

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Relax – Relate – Release

I once knew someone who worked at my local library branch who had a Zen-like response to annoying people. Janey had a mantra, which was, “Relax – relate – release.”

When she shared this with me, I was immediately drawn in and wanted to know more about this 3-step mantra. Had she gone through customer service training? Did she read about this in a book? Perhaps she had seen something on the internet?

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