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Deeper Weekend 2014

Posts Categorized:

Management and Operations

Choose your favorite writer

  • Adrian Simmons
    Adrian Simmons
  • Bryan Coleman
    Bryan Coleman
  • Greg Kyte
    Greg Kyte
  • guestblogger
  • Jason Blumer
    Jason Blumer
  • Jennifer Blumer
    Jennifer Blumer
  • Scott Kregel
    Scott Kregel
REFM -  Adrian Photo Square - CATOBSystems are so important as enabling mechanisms. Sometimes I like to call them “structures of freedom.” I’m reminded of a quote from Tim Williams at Thriveal’s Deeper Weekend last fall, “Process is the architecture for getting things done.” Even creative processes, like transforming your firm, require some level of scaffolding to help you see it through from concept to realization.

 

Systems can compete with each other too. The system you know and use now will almost always beat out the one that’s fledgling or undefined. This is why it’s almost always easier to spend hours replying to e-mails than to change your firm. There’s a system for e-mail, but not for transformation.

 

So our goal is to develop a creative system for our firm, shield it during its fledgling stage, and then let it grow to become part of our way of doing things, that stands its ground and evidences its value as part of our firm’s operations.

 

Cracking this nut is not easy. But I feel like I took another step earlier this year in my own personal system.

 

–I’ve chatted before about how I use Evernote to capture ideas.

 

–Last year at some point, I also started using Evernote to create an overview of my week, including both personal and business items (this came from the “aha” moment that I couldn’t have a separate system to manage the two — things were getting lost in the shuffle).

 

–Earlier this year I ran across a blog post on the Evernote site by Michael Hyatt on how to use Evernote to achieve your long-term goals. There, he describes a system of creating a master note of your goals for the year. Then linking them to sub-notes that contain your key motivations for that goal, the next actions, progress reports to yourself, and random notes you might collect along the way of accomplishing it.

 

–Add to that the smartphone app, Swipes, and I was cooking. Swipes is a daily productivity app that “helps you collect, organize, and take action on the right tasks at the right time.” Swipes also has a basic Evernote integration, which is a nice bonus.

 

So my process became:

 

  1. At the beginning of the year, I laid out my big 3 goals for the year. I made a master note in Evernote, and linked those to sub-notes which contained a checklist of the items I needed to accomplish to complete that goal.
  2. Each week, I laid out the next seven days in my weekly Evernote template, with a focus on managing my personal energy wave, not just listing to-do items. If that week I was going to accomplish one of the strategic items from my big 3 goals, I’d include that too.
  3. At the beginning of each day, I typed that day’s items into my Swipes app and used its slick interface to prioritize, clear, remind, and/or schedule them. If one of the days included a strategic item from my big 3 goals, I used the Swipes integration to link it to the related Evernote note so the additional information was at my fingertips.
  4. And during the day, I used Swipes to manage the ebbs and flows. I really appreciated its adaptability, and how its design aided in keeping me focused.

 

The thing I learned (or re-learned from the above, is that we’re managing multiple time zones, and we need a system for each. We’re managing the long-term, the medium-term, and the today-term. My big 3 goals are my long-term. My weekly overview are my medium-term. And my daily tasks are my today-term. I finally had a system for each, and they were becoming enabling mechanisms. Structures of freedom.

 

And then one of the first TED Talks I had seen came back to me: The Psychology of Time by Philip Zimbardo. A fascinating talk, if you have the time to watch.
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Adrian G. Simmons is a CPA innovating ways to put money in its place. After working as an auditor out of college for KPMG, he joined his father in public practice in 2002, and now acts as the Chief Creative Designer there. With the team, he looks for ways to help their customers become financially strong, so that they can focus on what truly matters in life. Adrian likes tech, uses a fountain pen, successfully attempted a half-marathon (and may try another), and prefers dark over milk chocolate.

REFM -  Adrian Photo Square - CATOBAs a small business owner, you have one foot in the future and one foot in the the present: building your firm for the future, while serving the needs of the present. The difference between the two worlds is the gap: the space between where you are and where you’ll be. If you let that gap grow too big while your feet are straddling it…well, I think you get the picture. 😉

In some ways, that gap is what defines an entrepreneur. They see the difference between the world how it is and how it can be. It’s an internal cognitive dissonance, a type of itch, that they reach out to scratch.

What can happen nowadays, though, is that so much innovation comes at us, that the volume of cognitive dissonance grows too loud (anyone out there felt it?). There’s a difference between a music level that’s motivating, and a music level that’s inhibiting, or even downright crushing.

That’s why I’d like to suggest that the way to drink from the proverbial firehose is to not: the truth is, we can only drink from a stream. We either choose our stream, or we get pummeled and disoriented by the firehose.

The key is honing in on the signal within the noise, adjusting our tuners. Before, we were limited by the amount of data we could gather — data was the limiting constraint. But nowadays we’re limited by our attention capacity — data is abundant, and attention is the limiting constraint. As a result, we begin to discover the fallacy of the principle that more data will produce a better decision. In reality, there’s a point after which more data, is just more data.

The signal we’re looking to hone in on is the one related to the next step we’re trying to take. And just like drinking from a firehose, the reality of taking steps, is that you can only take one at a time. We’re gonna have to accept that — you don’t get to take two steps at a time, just one.

So identify that step, gather data, stop gathering data, take that step, and here’s the important part: ignore everything else. Everything else will stop you from taking that step. Everything else will flood your brain and paralyze it. Everything else will zap your attention so none is left for the step. Everything else is just noise and not signal, excess cognitive dissonance and not flow — choose flow.

Flow comes from creating small gaps, then closing them. Be aware of your cognitive dissonance, and use it to your advantage, and not disadvantage: let it surround one step at a time, and no more.

Adrian G. Simmons is a CPA innovating ways to put money in its place. After working as an auditor out of college for KPMG, he joined his father in public practice in 2002, and now acts as the Chief Creative Designer there. With the team, he looks for ways to help their customers become financially strong, so that they can focus on what truly matters in life. Adrian likes tech, uses a fountain pen, successfully attempted a half-marathon (and may try another), and prefers dark over milk chocolate. 

REFM -  Adrian Photo Square - CATOBWhen I’m reading for content, I’m all about the marginalia: underlines, questions in the borders, even one­ sided hand­written debates with the author. Which is why I was much relieved that the Kindle allows you to digitally underline text and add notes too — you can even export them to a PDF to save and search, a way cool feature that I’ve taken advantage of many a time.

But what if the text in a book went from edge to edge? No spaces between the lines, no space on either side of the page, none at the top, none at the bottom: a page littered with letters. Hard to read, cramped with lines blurring, and eyes crossing… Read more

Category:
Management and Operations
Comments:
6

Jennifer BlumerAs a business owner, you have a lot going on. And maybe you are trying to please a lot of people AND keep the lights on. That’s a lot of pressure. These rights are basic and maybe a little obvious, but a reminder never hurt. Maybe the reminder will help you remember to take care of yourself.

You have:

The right to say no – You don’t have to serve people whose numbers on caller ID make you cringe. You have the right to say no to a lunch appointment “just to catch up.” You have the right to say no to offering services you hate. You can say no with class, but sometimes you need to just say no.

The right to be paid for the value you provide – Your customers want access to you. Sometimes they really do have a quick questions. (And sometimes they say they have a quick question that is anything but quick.) I am not suggesting you send a bill for every phone call. I am suggesting you price in a way that makes you less frustrated when you get those kinds of calls. And that you stop working for free. Is your client paying for a tax return? Then why are you also cleaning up their accounting for the whole year? Get paid for the value you are providing. Read more

Jennifer BlumerMore and more firms are making the move to virtual or will in the coming months. Having made the transition from an a traditional office culture to a virtual one, I hope to be able to share some of our experience so you can think through the possible pitfalls and avoid them in your transition.

First, let me define the word virtual as I mean it for this post. Virtual firms do not have a home office. Everyone on the team works in their own space, usually from their homes. I do not mean you have an office but you have the ability to work elsewhere because you use cloud software. That is really cool, but just not what I mean by virtual in this post.

With that out of the way, let’s look at four areas where you could run into a problem. Read more

Category:
Management and Operations
Comments:
2