Exactly what it says on the tin… or not.

‘To do’ List: Forming Good Habits

Graphic image showing list of things to do - making a plan.
‘ To Do’ List (Example)

A ‘To Do’ List can help you focus…

Do you make ‘to do’ lists? Are there days when you have so many things to do you don’t know where to focus? Does this make you feel overwhelmed? Well, if you actively sit down and put your thoughts, needs and desires on paper in the form of a list, it can help you prepare your day.

Not only will you feel more organised, making a daily list is a good way to ensure you form new habits that bring about positive life changes. I am sure many of you can relate to going grocery shopping and coming home with way more than you intended, plus forgetting some things you need. Also, spending far more time doing so. Why? Because you didn’t make a list.

When you do things on a daily basis, they can become easier and you become proficient.

The items do not have to be in any specific order. The purpose of the list is to rationally calm your mind. It will then act as a reminder of what you wish to accomplish within a certain timeframe.

Inspiration from Great Leaders Who Make ‘To Do’ Lists

Warren Buffett is a household name when it comes to success. An article that can be found in Business Insider tells the story about how he and his pilot discussed goals and ambitions and implemented a 3 Step Strategy. He asked his pilot to write down 25 goals he wanted to achieve. However, 25 as you can imagine is quite a lot! Much like the 21 items I put in the image above. Some goals take longer and have a higher input than others. Buffett then asks his pilot to circle the 5 most important things on that list – there is no leeway for 6, 7, 8 etc.

Once his pilot had narrowed this number down, Buffett asks what, when and how will the pilot start working on his top 5 prioritised tasks. The pilot knows what he wants to do, who he will get to support him and when he will take action.

What he wasn’t expecting was for Buffett to tell him to disregard his second list – all the items he didn’t circle. He had thought (as many of us would) he could work on these alongside as he made progress with the main choices. This is where making a not ‘to do’ list differs. This second list of uncircled items is the ‘don’t do’! They must be avoided until the five top choices have been completed. All the other items eat away time, weave their way in the back of your mind and will be distracting, maintaining noise over your main focus. And this is what causes overwhelm.

Click on the Business Insider article linked above to read the full story and have a go at weeding out your own not ‘to do’ list.

The Eisenhower Matrix and 4 D’s

Another method of organising tasks can be found using the ‘Eisenhower Matrix‘. Here the idea is to maximise time management and achieve end goals by sorting the urgent important tasks away from the less urgent. Then implement the 4 D’s. Ask yourself, do you have to do it or can you delegate to someone else? Would you be better deleting some items on your list as they waste valuable time with no lasting foreseeable outcome?

Adaptation image for a 'to do' list using Eisenhower's Matrix and 4D's
An adapted example of how to use Eisenhower’s Matrix and combine the 4 D’s of Time Management: Do, (Decide)/Defer, Delegate, Delete!

Above I have adapted Eisenhower’s Matrix and 4 D’s using my example list in the first image. I simplistically made up ‘to do’ items based on business tasks, household chores and *Me time. I’ll explain the ‘Me’ list later.

To Do

As it was Saturday, I thought about the fact I would like to update my Business Blog on a more regular basis. I needed to give this some attention now. Adding a blog item can increase your visibility rating not only with Google but also you can use it to update a social media status.

More than anything I like to reflect and add a little value. To do that, I need to do some research! So this comprises the first 3 items on my list of ‘Do now’.

The household task that might cause me some embarrassment if I put off would be ‘washing’. Whilst it is getting lighter and slightly warmer, clothes still take a little time to dry!

My *Me List? Ah, well, actually, this should come first. And it did. I sat with my coffee, relaxed and made a Plan of Action – ‘to do List’.

To Decide/Defer (Date)

I already have a website that functions well, has interactivity and I can update. My aim would be to improve the skills I constantly add to self-coding, fluidity, SEO etc. With the help of the several courses, I purchased that I have mentioned in earlier blog items. Here, I could schedule a date to tackle this later or at least put off until tomorrow. But it is something I want to do myself.

Emails! Don’t we all have a cluttered inbox at times? Well, yes, but… they don’t have to be read or replied to this minute. I’m very good at keeping on top of queries. The rest may be newsletters and updates I’ve subscribed to and many could go in the ‘Delete’ decision box without consuming too much time.

Being the beginning of a new financial year for me, my accounts are pretty up to date with one outstanding client on annual leave.

My household tasks … well, the washing will take up a fair bit of time, so sensibly, knowing that our refuse collection is on Monday, I can work on Sunday towards more clearing and the recycling. This is an ongoing task that could do with setting further break down stages to achieve by certain dates. The danger of not doing so is turning a blind eye on something that has the tendency to overwhelm. Time passes quickly (Five years since I moved)!

To Delegate

So, what about the tasks I added that I don’t need to do personally and could give to someone else? I’m sure if I smile sweetly and ask politely, one of my family might make me a cup of coffee, or even tidy and hoover? I do need to learn how to let go of tasks. I’m not the only one who can do things, contrary to my often prominent feeling of the need to be in control!

Along with tackling the main tasks in my original list, I have covered a few others that weren’t added to the boxes. Such as ‘Marketing’. If you are an SME just starting out or an established company – guaranteed there will be times when you have staff holidays or tasks that you would like to delegate. Or outsource to a Virtual Assistant. SME startups may not be ready to take on a full-time admin professional and can benefit greatly from reliable ad hoc support.

You might even be working on a Report right now that you could do with for Monday but think, who else works at the weekend? You can free up your time used researching for your business plan. Why not get a transcription of your podcast or video that you could use for your own blog item?

If you are reading this as a student you might be looking for methods to try planning your assignment or exam study dates. Perhaps you are undertaking research interviews (or a consultant attending conferences). With recorded audio it would be helpful if you could highlight and read or know where to skip to on the recording.

To Delete

I didn’t really have anything to put in this box other than ‘reward’. It isn’t essential to reward yourself. But I include it here for the days where overwhelm has set in and getting started on things like ‘de-cluttering’ even thinking about it, can have me sitting worrying rather than doing.

By adding the reward thought to my list, I can put a positive image in front of a task that moves me out of my comfort zone. I then set a time limit breaking up the task in manageable bites. With something to look forward to it really makes a difference. This process can be repeated. However, make sure you also set a time limit on the reward. Especially if you enjoy spending time watching telly, playing games or following social media.

To gain a practical working example of the 4 D’s in action, why not watch this short video presented by ‘DecisionSkills’ on YouTube:

Another helpful article on how to use the 4 D’s method can be found on Forbes – ‘How To Use The 4 Ds Of Effective Time Management

The Pareto Analysis

By now you will be getting ideas of how to perfect your ‘to do’ and ‘to don’t’ lists. What about the order you take on tasks? Do you get put off by knowing some tasks are going to take a lot of effort and that list is still hard going?

The Pareto Analysis devised by Vilfredo Pareto, (1896) is based on the thought that there is an 80/20 rule. 80% of combined tasks might be resolved using only 20% resources. Find these in your list first to maximise impact and save effort.

If we look at my business example, I have a blog, social media and research. These are three items I want to tackle and by writing this blog item, I effectively cover all three. Coming up with fresh ideas to write about can be hard. Finding value to add for readers also hard. Trying to think up a social media update – not always on the tip of your tongue. However, by looking at what I wanted to achieve, and making a plan of action using research I knew would be helpful has given me a worthy subject. I could effectively tick off everything in my ‘urgent/important’ box in one action. Except for the washing!

As I mentioned earlier in my ‘delegate’ paragraphs, I have also completed the tasks on the original list for ‘Marketing’ and on publishing this blog item, I will update the ‘News’ section on my website showing Google I have new information and my website is active. So, my ‘website’ is receiving attention as well.

Procrastination, Decision Making – Mental Health and using a ‘to do’ List

On my household ‘deferred’ list, I have ‘declutter and recycle’. Now, the chances are I defer this constantly because I can’t see my way around the amount I need to ‘remove’ to make space and appear less cramped. I ‘downsized’ on my last move from a four bedroom semi-detached bungalow with garage and two outhouses. We found a hidden basement – a year and a half after living there. There was also a huge loft and utility room. I now have a four bedroom maisonette without the extras.

I feel very conscious about the amount we as humans waste and put in the landfill. And at the same time, I have held onto things, as you do. “Don’t put that out, it may have a use!” (Even though I might not have looked at it in over 5 years.)

I could also look at my ‘delegate’ list items ‘tidy/hoover’. Perhaps the hoovering and tidying is a bind because of lack of storage? ‘Letting go’ for people like me (sentimental) is hard. But if I look rationally, I could combine all these tasks together and solve many problems and make daily living easier. It all lies in ‘making a decision’. Sometimes when it comes to memories, I find that impossible.

A Positive Plan of Action helps you stay on track

So, making a plan of action, breaking tasks down and setting a scheduled goal date will help! It won’t matter too much if I don’t complete everything by that date, but at least I have set an ideal to work towards.

Probably a better way of looking at this is to check what tasks you have to do and what requires the less amount of time or mental effort. So, if I went back to one long list and didn’t want to separate out the tasks, I can immediately see that hoovering and making coffee are fairly effortless and take very little time – knock off two!

The reason I added a Me – ‘to do’ List

At some point or other statistically according to Mind (2017) “Approximately 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year.”

Sadly, we don’t always recognise when we are slipping under and can live in denial. Mental health stigma doesn’t help people who need to reach out, do so. Often you can reach breaking point before you add a little TLC and self-care into the equation.

I’ve always been extremely sensitive, and struggle with feeling inadequate. I want to make everybody happy and often this leads me to believe if they are not, I must have done something. Or not done something! I know I’m not alone and humans are good at masking emotions or picking up the wrong signals. Signals that don’t even exist. I have also been a mother and carer for many years.

One of the things I have learnt is just how useful it can be to make a ‘to do’ list that helps to distract negative thoughts. This list doesn’t have to be goals, targets and ambitions, but gentle actions, things you enjoy. So, here is my Me – ‘to do’ List today:

Image showing list of positive actions
A positive ‘Me’ ‘to do’ List

How Did I Do?

Well, I’ve had 3 cups of coffee. This morning I visited Twitter and Facebook, catching up on friends photos and news – this made me ‘smile‘. I read the news. Then I made my Plan of Action for today with a blog article decided on. After that, I went downstairs (reward) and watched a YouTube video on ‘Woke Advertising’ with my daughter. Then I caught up with last night’s ‘The Last Leg’. Love that show! And of course, started to work on the list of Actions.

Later, I came back upstairs and meditated on what I had written. It wasn’t an ‘Omm’ moment, just closed eyes, relaxed thoughts on where my writing was going to lead, what to research more on (articles I could link to) and how to construct a satisfactory closure. Now, I am reflecting and considering. I can safely say, I have completed all I had listed in this column and most of what I have prioritised in the first.

Tomorrow is Sunday and a day to give the house some love and appreciation (Although, I did work on some parts).

I could easily have procrastinated more, made no decisions, sunk under the feeling of, ‘there’s too much to do…’ but by organising, at least a little, I feel I achieved. And… I’m still smiling!

Other ways to make your Me ‘to do’ List

Coming back to mental health, one good way to help you get through the day is to put together a box of ‘kindness’. Make a list of things you like to do. ‘Do a crossword’, ‘paint your nails’, ‘play guitar’, ‘take a bubble-bath with candles’, ‘explore YouTube’, ‘go hug your pet’, ‘read a book’, ‘watch a comedy or your favourite show’, ‘go for a walk’, ‘make a list of things that make you smile’, ‘play a game’, ‘learn something new’, ‘write out positive quotes that have inspired you’ … it doesn’t have to be complex or long, just enough to distract you away from the thoughts making you feel isolated, anxious, depressed, fearful or disconnected. Take each idea and write it on a small piece of paper and fold it up. Then place in your ‘kindness’ box to dip into. Keep it nearby.

Move the Goal Posts Closer…

Importantly, don’t punish yourself with feelings of guilt or unnecessary over the top, unmanageable tasks. Focus on achieving things on your list one moment at a time, and carry over the things you cannot manage right now. Work on the things needing done that are urgent or necessary. By now we have established it’s not everything today. And reach out for help from others, even if it is only for a few minutes talking over the hurdles you cannot work out yourself for moral support! Sometimes the roundabout feels like there are no exit routes. That could be because we jumped on too fast to notice the signs and we have to go around again to try and see what we missed. That’s okay! Slowing down and trying again will improve your focus and help you on the journey you have begun.

I’ll end by leaving one more really good read. This time from Harvard Business Review “How to Focus on What’s Important, Not Just on What’s Urgent” – Alice Boyes

Business Creativity, … and clouds

Photograph of clouds - creativity
If you look out of your Window, do you ever see the same cloud twice?

Is Business Creativity Fluid?

If you observe the sky you will notice that cloud formations change constantly in extraordinary fashion; giving an image of fast-paced fluid determination and strength. But also consistency in a path. Business creativity, likewise, needs to be reactive like clouds.

So, how and why do you compare Business Creativity with Clouds?

Well, in order to answer this, I have to ask another question – what is the purpose of clouds and how are they created? The first thing I noticed is that clouds are interventionalist and protect stakeholders. Sort of like customer service. The Sun, if you like is a leader providing heat and energy whilst the earth is like consumers who like heat but also don’t want to get burnt or thirsty! If we get too cold, we die. Likewise, if we get too hot, we die. And if we have no water, everything dies!

According to ISCCAP, clouds form “by the motions of the atmosphere that are caused by the warming or cooling of radiation and precipitation.” So, they form fast to cover the areas needed. Their pattern warns of danger coming, provide shelter and nourishment. They have a transient nature.

Business Creativity cannot stand still. It is determined by the economy, digital enhancements, supply and demand. Elasticity! Ownership and teamwork go hand in hand. Being able to predict and foresee where the need is and where the opportunities lie. Being ready to change the path on the emergence of a decline, legislation changes, world trading agreements – you name it! Ready to be on the move. Proving when potential customers view your service or product, that it is a thing of beauty.

Clouds are emotionless; humans are not

Very true! Humans make errors, Businesses make errors. However, every failure or stumbling block gives an opportunity to develop. Businesses, unlike clouds, don’t always listen to the atmosphere and report back. Instead, we can often get stuck looking at the same problem, missing new data created constantly. We also tend to think in timelines. New Year – New Start; Monday, new week, tomorrow – another day. However, there is now. Clouds still move around during the night.

For me, it’s not Monday Morning, did I miss the opportunity to be motivated on Monday? Is there a set time limit to ‘thinking’ outside the box? No, not really. Grasp the moment, observe the clouds; business creativity is about always being open to new insight and building fresh moments regardless of the clock.

You never see the same cloud twice. That’s why you keep looking! There is beauty in fluidity.

Image of the Moon surrounded by clouds at night
Even in the dark, clouds are creative

Brexit or no Brexit?

Dice Roll Brexit European Union
Brexit or not?

The term ‘Brexit’ is the friendly or tedious new name for what we are about to do as in Britain by exiting the EU. When I say ‘about’ to do, it now seems like years ago and we are all tired of this unknown.

The Brexit Referendum

Our once in a lifetime (so they say) opportunity to vote on whether we would like to remain a member country of the European Union was held on 23 June 2016. To be honest, did anyone really know what it meant? It felt like a bungling attempt to be popular with the people before the real implications were understood. Were we all desperately eager to jump on this new alternative power to vote or voting because we knew what was right? Did we know how hard it would be to actually do? There were many incredible promise tactics used by ‘Leave’ supporters (Brexiteers). Including vast sums of additional money saved given to the NHS. And Remoaners (Remain) did their fair share of defence scaremongering as well.

Never as a citizen have I felt and still feel my country so divided, tired and angry.

Change

With all change, there is uncertainty, however, not all change is bad. I remember when we joined the EU back in 1973. I remember ‘decimalisation’ in 1971, how we all wondered how we would manage with only 10 pence and not 12 pennies in a shilling? And how about Litres instead of Pints/Gallons? Inches and Centimetres?

We adapted very well as you can see. Now, we worry about the future again. Decimal currency was simple enough as we knew what it meant in the long term. When we joined the EU, we actually gained many benefits in trading, travelling and education (Eramus+). Human rights gained an extra level of protection and Justice.

Brexit as a change feels far more concerning. It is all the things we do not know, alongside all the things we are trying to hold onto – the Northern Ireland border and Good Friday (or Belfast) Agreement of 1998 after the years of ‘Troubles’ in the 70’s.

A Brexit Deal for Deal’s Sake

This week’s news is astonishing. Reading one of the latest Brexit articles on Business Insider it appears that the deal on the table could well be the only deal available. We see protesting and resignations by Conservative MPs on the terms laid out, and the calls for a leadership challenge. There is the notion that Labour MPs could vote for this deal, despite not being in agreement. And this is to avoid no deal, no exit or another referendum!

Further turmoil is read in an update ‘Brexit Won’t Be Easier If I’m Ousted‘. The ‘backstop’ deal on offer could keep things running as normal now, but could it indefinitely mean we have no say when this stops or if it stops?

Is Jeremy Corbyn in favour of a second referendum, another election or does he have another plan? What is it? Jeremy remains honest, he doesn’t know what he would vote if there was a second referendum tomorrow. However, by now we would hope that the leader of the opposition party would act as a leader and have a clearer view. He says the current draft is ‘vague’ and yet he is non-committal.

Would it really be so terrible if a ‘remain’ vote was the decision of a second referendum? A remain could be a stopgap until real insight is available about the benefits. Other than kneejerk proposed control of immigration. That control also having blurred lines.

Originally we were told, ‘No deal is better than a bad deal‘, now we are told, ‘A deal is better than no deal, a second referendum or no Brexit!’

Change Management – Empowering Brexit?

Kurt Lewin’s 3-Step Model – And the missing parts

Burnes (2004) says, Kurt Lewin believed “only by resolving social conflict, whether it be religious, racial, marital or industrial, could the human condition be improved”. Brexit has unearthed great social conflict along with religious intolerance and racial prejudice.

So far with Brexit, we see a simplistic theoretical use of Kurt Lewin’s 3-Step Model. You ‘unfreeze, change and refreeze’, Voilà! Apply that to anything and Bob’s your Uncle!  We’ve seen ‘unfreeze’ with limited scope – the vote. We want the ‘change’ but we’re not sure what the change should be. With positive change not determined and players not empowered, at this stage, there is no hope of a satisfactory ‘refreeze’.

Lewin’s 3-Step Model was designed to be incorporated as part of 4 steps within a plan consisting of “Field Theory, Group Dynamics, Action Research, and the 3-Step model” (Burnes 2004). If you miss out the other steps you fail to understand why and how people act the way they do. The dynamics of Brexit mean you must understand how all groups work.

So, what is Field Theory – or Why we do things the way we do?

Lewin illustrates field theory as the need for a group with a certain set of values to maintain and protect a ‘status quo’ experience in order to survive (Burnes 2004). Therefore, any attempt to change an element will provoke defensiveness and criticism. The modern-day political arena in worldwide debate both on the news and in social media show this. The group’s behaviour can manipulate or modify individual behaviour so that any change attempted on an individual level can be undone/reversed by group peer pressure. It is important that the whole group acts as one with a positive influence upon each other.

Group Dynamics

With Brexit, in the UK., we have two colliding parties, each with divisions that attack their leader.  We also have the SNP and the DUP who all play a significant part in the whole decision. For the SNP the Scottish Electorate voted 68% remain, 32% to leave. The DUP’s interest (55.8% voted remain) lies over the Irish Border. They formed a coalition with the Conservatives giving them the vital majority in the last General Election in 2017. Arlene Foster, the DUP Leader already threatened to vote against the October budget over Brexit. This morning we learn that ‘DUP abstains on government Finance Bill votes‘.

Meanwhile, Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland, (SNP) ponders over the possibility of a second Independence Referendum (Sturgeon Marr interview – The Guardian Politics Live 18 November 2018).

Outside of the UK., there are 27 other countries with a vested interest.

Theresa May continually says she will deliver Brexit, but her party and the opposition have no confidence in her. Likewise, they have no confidence in their own role.

Everything is rigid and obscured. Instead of delivering a positive trade deal, all parties fight among themselves.

Enlightening today, we read Jeremy Corbyn’s ‘sense of urgency’, and ‘it is important to understand why people voted as they did, and to put forward proposals that bring society together.‘ (17.26.) Personally, there you have it. And we have a fairly good idea now with the demographics analysed after the voting. The group has to be extended to the ‘people’, why they voted and does Brexit solve the reasons why they voted? Those reasons, some of them misled will continue after Brexit unless they are tackled now.

Brexit’s Action Research

Only by intense research, feedback and analysis can we find a way forward with the intended split that is Brexit! The Referendum vote was speculative. It is hard to judge the complexities of an outcome without a plan. The first draft has just been made.

However, the complexity that Jeremy Corbyn and Nicola Sturgeon see and agree make offering alternative plans/Independence calls unclear. Therefore, wouldn’t it make sense that this is not a simple Yes/No Leave/Remain, poll? The main bullet points of any proposed plan need putting forward with an itemised Yes/No. Giving a little bit more understanding, it might equally produce a yes where there was a no.

Research being gathered by BMG on behalf of the National/Scottish Government over the last 3 years among SMEs holds vital information on how Brexit will affect services and products. Even though they want to run another year until October, why not use this now? Empower businesses by an additional vote on vital issues this agreement will raise. Consult and empower all voices. Then a workable plan will emerge.

A Sense of Urgency?

How about using John Kotter’s 8 step model to look at Brexit? Creating a sense of urgency to deliver a required outcome. Theresa May is now creating ‘urgency’ to push through a deal. However, the deal being pushed is not necessarily one that will deliver what the United Kingdom requested or needs.

Jeremy Corbyn has never really presented a sense of urgency. As can be seen from the article above regarding the question of a second referendum, ‘it is not an option for today‘. This is probably wise considering he does not know what the question is, nor have an answer. Nicola Sturgeon needs to recognise the majority of Scotland voted to remain. But her hands are tied regarding a second Independence Referendum. She is ‘waiting for the dust to settle‘.

There is a sense of urgency to ‘get out’, but not a sense of urgency to plan, accommodate, and empower.

Building a Team has been exasperating! Admittedly the party in government gets the first chance. Far better would be to involve all parties with key talents and unique voices from the beginning in a non-partisan team. As a group with all views represented, they would then take ownership of the task; ‘focus’. Instead of sitting back waiting to build a wall on offerings. Deliberation on that first offering has taken forever, meaning time is running out for any other. Theresa May seems adamant that it is this or nothing whilst key members of her cabinet ‘feel sure they can get her to make amendments’. There have been numerous resignations within the Conservative party. Including Brexit Secretaries unable to provide adequate communication. The calls for a leadership challenge provide a further distraction for the job at hand.

Vision and Strategy of Brexit

The vision following the vote on 23 June 2016 is to leave the European Union and take back control. The strategy of Brexit, looking at the above is vague at best and falling apart with constant disagreement and lack of commitment. There are complex issues to consider such as the Northern Ireland border – the customs union and single market. This was never going to be an easy task and nobody in honesty would have wanted to oversee it. There are hardliners who want a total break, and those who want to keep single market access. People are not happy or empowered.

It is clear that the draft 585 pages rest uneasily with the UK MPs. Yet it will be voted upon on 25 November by the 27 European Countries on the other side of the table. They may say yes, and then we say no. The feeling at the moment is that the United Kingdom will be giving away more and taking back less in terms of control. A ‘no deal’ result would be catastrophic for Northern Ireland. There needs to be a deal that honours this agreement or no Brexit. There is no clarity in the backstop offered for the United Kingdom having control on deliverance or total withdrawal. In effect, not the Brexit voted for.

Communication

Communication has not been a strong point throughout this whole fiasco. During David Cameron’s years as Prime Minister, he did not manage to a) negotiate with the EU what the United Kingdom wished from membership, and b) on a whim he came up with the notion of offering a Referendum in exchange for election popularity. Hoping to call the UK citizens bluff. The outcome was a shock. Communication since then has down spiralled. People feel hopeless – including those who were for the option of leaving.  Earlier today an update read that Theresa May’s speech with the CBI gave concern that ‘she’s listening but not hearing‘.

If you were to apply the Kübler-Ross Change Curve to the UK’s present situation evident is ‘Denial, Avoidance, Confusion and Fear’. You will still see ‘Anger, Frustration and Anxiety’. There is very little bargaining to be done. Although I’m sure we all feel, if only we could turn back time? The people are powerless and struggling to find meaning and you find ‘Overwhelm’ with depressive inclination after years of austerity.  We feel a long way from removing barriers and acceptance. March 2019 will still shock those in denial.

We often get the ‘carrot of hope’ on a final agreement ‘vote’ before the opportunity is taken away. Then we get confirmation, no. We will do this anyhow. Why aren’t we building on a positive side of either leaving or remaining? We need to build a new culture of acceptance and determination. It feels like a stressful relationship ending; the one who leaves can ultimately end up paying a hefty price. The one left behind will miss you for a while but will rebuild.

Democracy

The Referendum resulted in a very small margin, 51.9% for and 48.1% against. And that was with skewed advice. ‘This was the decision of the People, we will do what the People wished’. However, is this what the People wish for now? A final vote given to the People on the final deal would be the right choice. An informed decision provides clarity. If the choice to leave the EU was a mistake, then people need the right to recognise this before it is too late.

What is at stake for our economy after Brexit? What are the deals and regulations of the global future? How many businesses are already suffering because they do not know what they will have to change to stay on top? These are all questions that still do not appear to have answers. However, we are beginning to see that Brexit especially for business, will be costly.

People who are against a second referendum call it ‘sour grapes’, but it is far more than that. Now we know more about the procedure, difficulties and potential consequences, we can accept if the majority of voters feel the deal on the table is the correct deal, we can work with this. But not having the chance to reassess when it is very clear the sitting government and shadow cabinet cannot agree is shameful.

Retrial Brexit, please?

The democratic vote in 2016 was to leave the EU.  This vote was cast on misguided and incomplete information. In the justice system, a retrial can take place when additional crucial evidence is brought forward. Surely with Brexit, we can say we didn’t know this? Can we reassess our verdict given the new knowledge we now have? After all, change is easier when you are inside the house than shouting outside the door through a letterbox!

 

 

Further Reading and Sources:

Burnes, B., (2004). Kurt Lewin and the Planned Approach to Change: A Re‐appraisal. Journal of Management Studies, 41(6), pp.977–1002. [Online] Available from: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1467-6486.2004.00463.x [Accessed on 18 November 2018]

Grief.com: Kübler-Ross (The Five Stages of Grief) – information surrounding grief modified to become the Kübler-Ross Transition Curve in Change Management. [Online] Available from: https://grief.com/the-five-stages-of-grief/ [Accessed on 20 November 2018]

Harvard Business School (2008). YouTube A Sense of Urgency – John Cotter [Accessed on 20 November 2018]

Institute For Government (2018). The November Draft Withdrawal Agreement. [Online] Available from: https://www.instituteforgovernment.org.uk/explainers/draft-brexit-withdrawal-agreement-november  [Accessed on 20 November 2018]

Kotterinc.com: (no date). Kotter – 8-Step Process. [Online] Available from: https://www.kotterinc.com/8-steps-process-for-leading-change/ [Accessed on 20 November 2018]

 

 

 

Please watch out for the Homeless…

I went to Edinburgh on Tuesday, it’s my favourite city. Near 7pm we dropped into McDonalds – yeah, I know. Outside sat a young homeless man, (probably around 19-20), calling out for spare change. He was very loud, to the point of awkward.

As we were just going in, I had decided, I would drop by him when I came out if still there. It is the charity most closest to my heart… and I usually do watch for one homeless person on any trip. It’s not hard to do.

Later…

When I came out, I handed him ‘a little help’. He was very quiet, and then I observed his face. I tend to like eye contact – the eyes are the windows of the soul. He was sitting, holding up a cardboard sign, his face was scrunched in pain. I’m guilty of not reading what was written. My concern was with his body language. I asked the obvious ‘stupid’ question. “Are you okay?”

He said, “not really.” I did venture to ask him what was wrong. Again, pretty stupid, but I didn’t want to leave him, because… he was crying.

His reply was, “I haven’t slept in 3 days, I’ve been here 5 hours. I just want to be able to go to a hostel and sleep. I’m sorry.” “I’m too scared to go to sleep in case I get attacked on the streets.”

His woolly hat had about £2.50 including my contribution.

I asked him how much the hostel was – £18.

Seriously, this is just so heartbreaking…

He didn’t need to apologise, and whilst our conversation wasn’t long, I felt both his fear and knew this wasn’t an act. Most of the homeless I’ve ever met, manage to mask stuff. This was sheer exhaustion and breaking point.

What we don’t notice but would if we were homeless

Earlier on, I’d spent half an hour at 2.45 sitting on a picnic bench outside a small converted garage, whilst my daughter was attending an appointment. I noticed the lovely cyclamen in containers outside the door. I managed to half-heartedly read a page or two on my phone – a kindle book. Then, my butt felt damp, my back ached, my knees pained and my hands were freezing. I had no more concentration (and inside I was screaming for warmth and time to pass). So, I escaped for a walk along a street to find a cosy gift shop full of beautiful things to gaze upon.

Back to where I was now and our young homeless

He didn’t really have that option, did he? I did what I could to help him further towards his goal. He had time to find a few extra quid. Richard, it still plays on my mind, I hope you found somewhere safe Tuesday night (and last night). And possibly a few more strangers willing to help you.

All I’m really trying to say is, please watch out for homeless folks… it’s freezing out there. It could easily be you or I.

Think on the ‘any spare change’ thing, cos honestly, you can’t buy a chocolate bar for much less than a pound these days, so 20p won’t even buy YOU a treat. If you can spare more, think on that.

That’s it really… thanks for reading.

A little information on how we might be able to help

WHAT IS YOUTH HOMELESSNESS?

Retracing steps finding Inspiration

Inspiration hits and excitement grows when ‘re-vision’ means opening your eyes. Not just to ‘go over’ what you have learnt, but to gain insight from a different angle.

As someone who can identify with panic and overwhelm leading to absolute procrastination and further panic, Adam Grant captures everything I wanted to hear and more. I like to play! It’s okay, the endorsement of an organisational psychologist is good.

I have to admit I have lots of ‘bad ideas’ that seem brilliant at the beginning.  My master plan for this week was, it’s a ‘holiday’! I will go back over ALL my last 5 weeks lectures/tutorials and ‘do it again’ – transcribe, re-read etc. If I break it down into ‘bite-sized chunks’, I can creatively draw a plan for each subject. Thus, giving immediate recall on content. Well, I’ve managed one lecture and it was an introduction… and it’s Friday already.

Inspiration to roll with it

The thing is, I’m being side-tracked all the time. And not just the phone, work, life ‘things’, it’s discoveries like this. There is just so much out there to be explored.

Earlier today I was drawn in by Edward de Bono and the Marmite tale I had heard in class (and I had forgotten). So, I researched a little more –  De Bono’s Marmite plan for peace in Middle Yeast  (and other snippets). Ended up getting yet another two books for my Kindle – Six Thinking Hats and How to have Creative Ideas… more reading??? I need six thinking heads to multi-task books!

Adam Grant and this TED talk has really made my evening. Watching this little gem has given me another strategy. And courage to keep on plodding and probing innovative ideas to make it all ‘sticky’.

and so, the key to being original is just a simple thing of avoiding the leap from step three to step four. Instead of saying, “I’m crap,” you say, “The first few drafts are always crap, and I’m not just there yet.” “…the greatest originals are the ones who fail the most, because they’re the ones that try the most.” … “If we want to be more original, we have to generate more ideas.

I will cut out the ‘I am crap’ thoughts (for at least the next hour) and recognise that even if ‘I am crap’ it doesn’t matter. Concentrate on being an original and creative thinker by not admonishing my creativity sparks! And instead, follow positive inspiration. Enjoy the journey… even if I am under tall in a forest of overgrown green things with no idea how to be left handed and swing a billhook in the right direction, the pathway IS in there somewhere.

General Election, 8 June 2017 – Vote!

Image "Vote" wood blocks - General Election 2017
“image by Wokandapix – Pixabay.com”
General Election! Please vote 8th June, 2017

Please Vote!

Good Morning, UK!  I hope you wake up greeted with more glorious sunshine wherever you are. It doesn’t seem that long ago we were voting on local council elections. Prior to that, we were asked to vote ‘remain’ or ‘leave’ for BREXIT. Before this, the last General Election and just before then, the Scottish Referendum for those of us in Scotland. Many people rightly feel, it’s all too much. However, I can’t emphasise strongly enough, your vote is important!

What’s the point?

I want more than ever to appeal to our younger voters.  You may already feel the frustration of your voice not being heard. You are our future, this election looks to be closing in by the polls and you could very well swing it to ‘all change’.   Never feel you can’t make a difference so why bother? Those who fought to give us the right to vote, could have felt the same. But they didn’t give up! They gave us a democratic right to express our ‘yes’ or ‘no’. The trouble is when we don’t all come out and use it. We can’t blame anyone other than ourselves.

‘You have to be in it to win it’

Someone I once worked for used this phrase about winning the lottery. ‘You have to be in it to win it’. In other words, if you don’t buy the ticket you can’t expect to win.  Yes, it’s not quite the same satisfaction or as life changing overnight, but, it still can mean quite a lot.  If you are not happy with the way things are now, don’t be complacent, join in, be heard – support those who are standing for what you would wish to see done both locally and nationally. If you think the party you really like does not have a chance where you live, no one standing, vote tactfully, choose the next best.

Tactical Voting Guide – The Guardian

By not voting you give those whom you are not happy with the ‘go ahead’ to stay right there. So, please vote! It takes very little time out of your day and even if you don’t feel anything, the rest of us will be grateful that you tried.

At the end of the day, we are all accountable for the way things turn out. And blaming is not the intention, it is about being aware, becoming more involved in your community – the more you join in, the more you gain a sense of belonging.

I’m looking forward to watching the results come in!

Finishing School… Pondering Thoughts

Photo of OwlBecause I’ve had a little more time to ponder today, I realise I’ve had some very strange ones this afternoon.

I was reading an article about crime rates in Scotland – Most crime in Scotland is property related, 11,500 people survey reveals – BBC Scotland News It was interesting in relating how we imagine crime to the actual statistics.

This in turn strangely led me to thinking about very successful companies and individuals – top marketing, top entrepreneurs – and it’s a strange thought I admit it, but it occurred to me, criminals probably have an untapped wariness/eye equal to those of Entrepreneurs. Both are successful when they know the loopholes, the way people think, what people need and want, and how to exploit the market.

Just to balance those books, earlier today, on waking I was reading an article about entrepreneurs 8 Things Entrepreneurial People Do Differently – Huffington Post Now, the reason I say ‘balance the books’. I have been privileged enough to work for some very inspiringly people during my own very small contribution to the world of being an entrepreneur. I’m not raking in the millions and I don’t have that totally unique niche in the market, but, I do aspire to provide the very best service – one that looks at the client’s needs and not my own. One that responds in as many ways as possible to make others lives better – and this I am proud to say I continue within my life outside of work. I like to ‘serve’ and make others smile, it makes me feel accomplished and whole. These values I am sure were instilled in me by my parents and I thank them for that.

I am aware that I am adding a fair few links here relating to my thoughts, and I would urge you, if you have time to visit any, the above Huffington Post one I recommend. I would quote so many things from this if time permitted. I know these things to be true in the people I have admired in my business world. Maybe the strongest I want to bring out is the sense of inclusiveness and enabling services those at the very top reach out in spirit to others no matter their status. They want a better world for us as they know the generations that follow will succeed and grow through this inheritance to be all they can and look out equally for their fellow citizens in life. They will be inspired. Inspiration brings with it gratitude, comfort, strength, hope, teamwork, encouragement, and dare I say ‘love’? This is what I feel and see through their eyes. Yes, many are rich, but they don’t use this to bring others down. They use it to create wealth for all – many philanthropic acts are quiet but create huge opportunities, and I feel a sense of real gratitude for these people and how they use their own success.

Another thing that is key and again quoted in the article is that “they never stop learning” – they are open to new and old ideas and evolving. They scrutinise what works and what doesn’t work – I have to say I haven’t learnt to embrace failure yet but, these people turn failure into success. They move the goal posts, they change the team tactics.

Of course, there are some people who reach the top of the food chain via other methods, they are not criminals, but they are very clever on marketing techniques, reading the minds of the people and adding to wealth, they know how to exploit loopholes and evade taxes legitimately. They know how to use people to their best advantage ie increase their profit margin, reduce their overheads, do their ‘spin’. They offer ‘false promises’. They pull you in taking advantage of your disadvantage with words that make you think there is a ‘quick fix’. They don’t appear to have a ‘social conscience’.

In our political world, it’s quite easy to see this in action as well – so the next time you go to vote, bear this in mind – whether it be a Referendum as we in Europe face, or a top Presidential Election as our friends over the seas will soon see and are already making decisions towards. Will the people or yes/no decision you face make a better world for all at the end of the day? Are they offering you their responsible hand on heart stewardship or are they buying your frustrations and insecurity?

I know this is long, but my closing thoughts are on another article I read on our BBC News A look inside China’s first finishing school – BBC News I admit that the BBC lured me in with that wonderful photo they have of ‘The ‘polite’ way to eat an orange’. This had me smiling and I can honestly say I’m not sure I can look at an orange the same way ever again. All my life I’ve been doing it wrong! Although, I confess to knowing that wonderful skill of scouring the skin with a knife across the middle and then from top down in to four segments to make them very easy to peel.

Why am I sharing this? Surely finishing school is for the elite and a bit snobby? I believe not only in ‘serving’ but also in ‘elegance’. It does not hurt for a woman to know etiquette. Although, I think whilst it is important to keep eye contact with those you come through a door to, I would worry deeply about closing it behind me without looking. What if someone else was about to enter? So many times in shopping centres I’ve seen doors swung with no regard to who is behind. It doesn’t hurt to acknowledge a 360° awareness of your surroundings. And that 360° awareness applies to all aspects of your life. Do not close the door for others, because you failed to look behind you once you have successfully navigated your own way through.

What I like about this article is the sense of empowerment for women, as well as wanting to better their environment of being a wife, mother etc. “It’s about your character, and the feeling you give to others,” “You should make people feel you are confident – a person you can trust.” – these sort of statements tie in with leadership thoughts earlier on. Service and leadership go hand in hand.

My last thought was one of intrigue. I couldn’t help noticing at this school of elegance a white board. Now, I’d love to be a fly on the wall and know what they are teaching here? What I did notice in my fly’s eye is that there appears to be some awkwardness in the writing on the wall. Obama has a line drawn to Michelle, she is a woman in her own right and not shown to have a subservient status – but what about Mrs Trump? Wouldn’t she also be a woman worthy of equality and a first name? I leave you with a smile. You can make up your own mind on that one!

As to the title of my blog article – you never finish school, there is always something to be learnt! So continue to be open, continue to grow and continue to share your wisdom for the better of all mankind.

How do successful people spend the first hour of their day? Eating Frogs!

Green Frog - cc Stephen Michael Barnett
Green Tree Frog – Creative Commons
Stephen M Barnett

Mark Twain quote:

Eat a live frog first thing in the morning, and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.

 

 

A business forum I belong to (Quora) allows people to post and answer questions.  Some are amusing, some are very helpful/insightful and people are encouraged to use their expertise and experience to help others.  I confess I haven’t visited it as often as I had hoped I would but have recently been taking the odd look.

The title to this article is based on a question I found there.  I guess one of the first things we must ask ourselves is ‘what is considered success?’ To me it comes in several measures and it isn’t all financial, although many would argue, that’s the main reason we do what we do.

So, presuming ‘success’ can be related to any one of us, I thought it interesting to see how we can relate or put into action things in our lives that help us get the most out of our working/creative/living day.

I don’t know about you, but eating the above fella to me is not something I desire.  One he is far too cute, and two, er.  I’d rather not – frogs are an acquired taste, as I supposed ‘success’ can be!

I have to confess I haven’t heard of this term before – but as laid out in one of the answers

“In the morning, right after getting up, you complete the most unwanted task you can think of for that day (= the frog). Ideally you’ve defined this task in the evening of the previous day.

Completing an uncomfortable or difficult task not only moves it out of your way, but it gives you great energy because you get the feeling you’ve accomplished something worthwhile.”

 

The thought of doing ‘unwanted tasks’ often make me procrastinate. But I have mentioned making lists before and I can see I certainly have a few frogs that could be had for breakfast!  I do know this also makes sense as I had a session of doing just this the other day, and completing just two ‘put off’ tasks before my working day did make me feel good. And work light-heartedly (some stress removal) and focused.

I’m interested though, what do you do to help you become in tune and ready for action?

 

Sometimes when you think the chips are down…

Photo of pond and scenery between Lochgelly and Cowdenbeath
Marked on Google Maps as… ‘Unknown Pond’ between Lochgelly and Cowdenbeath

Ever had days/weeks when absolutely everything you think you are getting on top of suddenly turns belly-up? You can start to feel panic and a creeping sense of how on earth can I change all this? When are things ever going to improve?

After your initial shock and disappointment, rational thought can start to transcend and a re look at all in front of you allows some alternative options to appear. The options you wanted to choose in the first place might have needed co-operation for them to work. If life’s route changes and these options have then to be disregarded, there is always something else, another way – it’s not always one step forward, two steps back. You can’t be one step forward if it wasn’t an absolute.  And often the dancing happens because we cannot predict what lies ahead or how others will interact, or indeed how we will react, as much as we can try to plan.

Remember, you can’t really undo all the good you did, history doesn’t change, although it can easily be forgotten.  Especially when it comes to our own self-esteem. You are still moving forward, even if right now, you feel you’re not in your own eyes.

So, bearing this in mind, instead of lacking faith in you, take a sideways step, you might even need to sit on a bench for a wee while.  When feeling calmer, check the traffic – when you feel safe to cross or proceed, give yourself a break, breathe deep, move the goal posts, break up the task/fear and then, you may see the options you didn’t know were there because you were busily focused on the one direction.

Most of all, don’t punish yourself if things aren’t running smoothly, open your mind and thoughts to how you can sometimes take a scenic route and still get where you want to be at the end of the day, even if it takes a little longer. And likewise, when you reflect on scenic routes, remember that hidden cafe/view that suddenly appeared as you rounded the corner? Life is just like that. And you will find your hidden moments in these diversions you never intended to take but for a tree in the road, you needed to.

That Early Morning Moment – Writing with Intent

And so another school/college year opens after a rather sweet Summer.  I am hoping you have all enjoyed plenty of sunshine wherever you are in the world. Now we get back down to business and learning.

For me, I’m going back to the Bowhill Flexible Learning Unit, right on my doorstep to brush up and learn new skills (Access).  Last year I felt after all these years, my SHND in Secretarial Studies was a little outdated.  A self-taught Microsoft Office user since 1998, long gone are the days of using an *electronic typewriter – software is amazing! Computers are amazing!  What a great world we live in whereby we have such tools that take around 90% of the thinking out of what we do as we can now click buttons and voilà, instant calculation, spellcheck, etc. etc. No more carbon paper and Typex.  Not that Typex was ever really allowed.  Practice Perfection! Eye for detail. Dedication.

Even as I write, right now, above me I see a whole array of special ‘gifts’ to allow me to embolden, italicise, number, quote, left, centre or right adjust, link, change colour, and really handy just now, symbolize.

Where was I?  Ah yes, it seemed right for me to put my self taught skills into practice and gain certification for doing the things I love to do. And so I gained my ECDL in Word, Excel, Powerpoint and Improving Productivity just studying 2 1/2 hours, 2 days per week last academic year. I enjoyed the small class, learning at my own rate, meeting new people, atmosphere. I do want to do the Advanced Level but sadly funding isn’t available and this course isn’t run anywhere in Fife, although, I now know where I can obtain the training materials to home study.

Now, I am not a morning person of a natural nature.  I love my nights and can often be found working through them.  I am at peace with the world and the phone doesn’t ring. So, getting up with my daughter for her induction day at college was a bit of a shock to the system. And my thinking head isn’t quite on.

At these points I have random images and sentences as I look out of my window sipping coffee on a sunny day.  Today it was, “I can’t believe it’s not butter…” Nothing wrong with that? Only I wasn’t sure, should it be ‘it’s’ or does the butter belong to itself? I ask myself, a moment of self doubt.  And indeed moments like that have me searching online to check, because I care.

So often I see the Grammar Nazis on Facebook, as they are endearingly termed pointing out mistakes, and mistooks ‘appen.  I find mistakes funny, but of course professionally, it is important to write well, and proof read.

To me though, I never like a condescending attitude towards those who have problems with spelling and grammar. I believe in a world of communication and equality, and for whatever reasons people have, sometimes writing and spelling isn’t the best of their talents due to learning difficulties and missed opportunities, but they can tell a good story and run a business.

So today, for me, finding this website is something I want to share. Instead of pointing out how wrong it is when people get confused with its/it’s, they’re, their, and there, why not bookmark this page? Improve Your Writing. Here you will see the practice of ‘it’s and its’. To the left, a whole list of other examples and exercises to help understand when best to use words and how to correctly spell them.

Learning is fun!  At any age. Playing, as I have said before, is vital, at any age. Put the two together and you have a relaxed way of taking in things that aren’t always easy to remember/grasp.

* I still have my A3 wide format Electronic Typewriter if anyone needs a double page paper application typing out.