PGAs of EuropeProductivity – PGAs of Europe http://www.pgae.com Home of the PGAE Mon, 13 Nov 2017 12:01:26 +0000 en-gb hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.3 How to Keep Your Brain Sharp http://www.pgae.com/ask/how-to-keep-your-brain-sharp/ Wed, 27 Sep 2017 12:43:11 +0000 Coaching4Careers http://www.pgae.com/?p=12215 Coaching 4 Careers reveal 4 ways you can keep your brain sharp to preserve healthy cognitive function and sharpness across all the right areas...]]>

The brain. The body’s most powerful organ. Only a brain surgeon could fully understand its inner workings or how it does what it does. One thing’s for sure, though: you’ll miss it when it’s gone.

With Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia on the rise, ‘brain-training’ is very much in vogue among retirees and younger whippersnappers alike. As game developers have been quick to appreciate, preserving healthy cognitive function means maintaining sharpness across all the right areas, from memory and recall to problem solving and planning. There’s enough there for a bi-annual upgrade and then some.

Video games aside, there are plenty of equally as efficient but less costly ways to keep your grey matter firing on all cylinders. Here are some top tips for successful cerebral conservation:

1. Learn something new

Be it the cello, Ancient Greek or Chinese calligraphy, teaching yourself a new skill is a great way to keep the old brain cells ticking over. A recent study of retirees showed that a challenging mental activity one a week reduced the risk of dementia by 7%.

2. Get physical

Work the rest of your body while you’re at it. Research suggests that 30 minutes of exercise three times each week can reduce dementia by 40% and cognitive impairment by 60%. The secondary benefits should also be obvious.

3. Food for thought

You don’t need a PHD in nutrition to know some foods are better for the brain than others. Indulge in vegetables, nuts and fish – staples of the Mediterranean diet that promote blood-flow to the brain. Drink plenty of water and stay off the junk food!

4. Take a load off

From catching enough ‘Z’s each night to meditative techniques, giving your brain some much-needed down time is essential in reducing wear and tear. It will also help you maintain skills such as problem solving, concentration and memory. Aim for 7.5 to 8.5 hours a night for optimum brain function.

Whether happily retired or gainfully employed, whatever your age, looking after the stuff upstairs should be a top priority. The good news is that keeping your neurotransmitters nimble needn’t cost the earth and can slot fairly easily into your day-to-day lifestyle.


This content appears courtesy of Abintegro, experts in career management, transition technology & e-learning for today’s modern, mobile and technology-savvy workforce – Find out more at www.abintegro.com

Credit: Forbes; NPR.com; Time

Article-Header-Images_Coaching4Careers_Brain-Sharp_01

]]>
How to Keep Your Brain Sharp
Resilience is a Key Career Skill http://www.pgae.com/ask/resilience-is-a-key-career-skill/ Thu, 15 Jun 2017 14:58:51 +0000 PGAs of Europe http://www.pgae.com/?p=19020 Resilience might be way down your 'list of skills to be aware of' if you are job hunting right now, but it is a vital requirement for modern professionals...]]>

Resilience might be way down your ‘list of skills to be aware of’ if you are job hunting right now, but it is a vital requirement for modern professionals.

With job security and a standard career path less and less attainable across many industries, a capacity to handle uncertainty and adversity has never been more important (or in demand).

Such is the case that many employers will try to find out about your resilience through interview questions on how you’ve handled stress, pressure and failure in the past. Additionally, job hunting itself can be an incredibly demoralising experience if you let it. Focussing on building your resilience can make all the difference to your inner confidence and success rate across many areas in your life.

This might be easier said than done though – to achieve resilience means possessing the right blend of self-awareness and inner strength, and the flexibility to adapt to changes in circumstances and surroundings. It’s rather like a palm tree: a strong, firmly rooted base supporting an element that’s far more flexible and able to cope with being blown around by different winds.

Here are three key building blocks that can help you towards developing a resilient professional persona:

1. Positivity

Having a positive view of yourself and the world around you is the basis for developing resilience. Pay attention to the messages you send yourself throughout the day. If you find yourself making negative assumptions about yourself or anything around you, consciously switch to a positive thought. With practice this should become automatic. That will keep you grounded, rooted like a tree, and give you the stability you need for a positive mindset.

2. Commitment

Get to know yourself and recognise what is important to you. Have a clear idea of your future aspirations and where you want to go in your career. You need to be willing to commit to your goals and invest in making them happen. Knowing what is important to you and being committed to your goals strengthens you in your core. Don’t forget however, that even the best-laid plans can sometimes go off course or need to be abandoned altogether. Make like a palm tree and allow yourself flexibility to go with the flow when things don’t go to plan.

3. Control

Control means being aware of the situations or areas in your life you can influence as well as recognising those that you can’t. Being able to distinguish between the two will allow you to focus your energy on the things that are most important or achievable. It will give you the flexibility to prioritise your goals and adapt to different circumstances.

Remember that in order to be resilient you also need to be healthy in mind and body so pay attention to your general well-being, take proper breaks, eat well, and look after the relationships that support you. When it comes to resilience it’s about knowing that you can’t stop the waves, but that you can certainly learn how to surf them.


This content appears courtesy of Abintegro, experts in career management, transition technology & e-learning for today’s modern, mobile and technology-savvy workforce – Find out more at www.abintegro.com

]]>
Resilience is a Key Career Skill
5 Ways to Get MORE Out of Your Work Week w/ Will Robins http://www.pgae.com/ask/5-ways-to-get-more-out-of-your-work-week-w-will-robins/ Thu, 15 Jun 2017 07:03:50 +0000 Golf in the Life of http://www.pgae.com/?p=18943 Will Robins and GolfIntheLifeOf.com discuss some of their favorite mindsets and habits to help you get more out of you day / week / year...]]>

Sometimes it feels like time can just fly by and we’re not really sure what happened or what progress was made. Will Robins and I sat down to talk about some of our favorite mindsets and habits to get more out of a day / week / year.


Subscribe iTunes | Android | RSS

Read the entire story behind this here from James Clear.

Will’s first suggestion – The Ivy Lee Method

  1. At the end of each work day, write down the six most important things you need to accomplish tomorrow. Do not write down more than six tasks.
  2. Prioritize those six items in order of their true importance.
  3. When you arrive tomorrow, concentrate only on the first task. Work until the first task is finished before moving on to the second task.
  4. Approach the rest of your list in the same fashion. At the end of the day, move any unfinished items to a new list of six tasks for the following day.
  5. Repeat this process every working day.

Read the entire story behind this here from James Clear.

The biggest killer of everyone’s day is opening up emails first things in the morning.

Everyone is always asking “how” questions. What really matters is the “why”.

Take some time to improve your business / sales skills if it’s something you struggle with and go outside of the typical education / certifications. Give yourself permission to try some new ideas out with the framing of an experiment or challenge.

3 Morning Questions:

  • What happened yesterday?
  • How do I feel about that?
  • What am I working on today

Will’s past episodes on coaching programs:

Group Coaching Q&A part 1
Group Coaching Q&A part 2
Working with Groups

Links / Resources

Charles M. Schwab productivity story – Ivy Lee Method
2017 Coaching Workshop in Orlando
Will’s Consulting Company RGX
BJ Fogg – Tiny Habits

]]>
5 Ways to Get MORE Out of Your Work Week w/ Will Robins
The Benefits of Teasing Your Brain Regularly http://www.pgae.com/ask/the-benefits-of-teasing-your-brain-regularly/ Thu, 18 May 2017 10:53:47 +0000 Coaching4Careers http://www.pgae.com/?p=18832 Sometimes we need to trip our brains up and remind them to look beyond the obvious patterns, outside of what we already know works and not expect one situation]]>

Do you make assumptions that turn out to be incorrect? Do you miss information that didn’t fit the pattern you expected?

We all do. It’s the way our brains work. We look for patterns, use our previous experience and rely on what we already know works. It’s an efficient way to work…most of the time.

Sometimes however, we need to trip our brains up and remind them to look beyond the obvious patterns, outside of what we already know works and not expect one situation to turn out pretty much like the last one. If we don’t occasionally abandon our preconceptions there is a chance we may miss opportunities or changes in customer needs or market demands.

For example, what’s your first answer to this question?

Johnny’s mother had three children. The first child was named April. The second child was named May. What was the third child’s name?

Most people will reply June. Be honest. Did you? Of course if you re-read the question you’ll realise the answer is Johnny. But how many times do you make assumptions (that fit a known pattern) like this at work?

Try these three:

  1. Before Mt. Everest was discovered, what was the highest mountain in the world?
  2. How much dirt is there in a hole that measures two feet by three feet by four feet?
  3. If you were running a race and you passed the person in 2nd place, what place would you be in now?

You know by now that these are trick questions so it’s unlikely you assumed the first answer you thought of was correct i.e. K2, 24 cubic metres, 1st place, for example. That’s the first step in realising that what your brain expects to see may not, in fact, be the right answer.

Think about the words that are used: ‘before Mount Everest was DISCOVERED’; ‘How much dirt in the HOLE?’ The third one may require you to actual visualise yourself overtaking the person in SECOND place.

You may face questions like these at an interview because the hiring manager wants to see if you can think calmly, logically and perhaps differently from other people. They may want to see if you will take the time to read the question a little more carefully and think long enough before blurting out the first answer that comes into your head.

There are loads of these questions online to try and even if you’re not going for an interview, it’s good to tease your brain occasionally and get it to look at things differently. These questions are designed to challenge your critical thinking abilities, and to test specific skills like creativity and logic. The more you practise, the better equipped you will be to deal with and find solutions for tricky questions and situations that might come up at work.

P.S. The answers are Mount Everest – it was still there before it was discovered; None – because it’s a hole – and 2nd place – you’re still behind the person in first.


This content appears courtesy of Abintegro, experts in career management, transition technology & e-learning for today’s modern, mobile and technology-savvy workforce – Find out more at www.abintegro.com

Credit: Forbes; The Muse

]]>
The Benefits of Teasing Your Brain Regularly
VIDEO – How to Balance Projects With Jason Glass http://www.pgae.com/ask/video-how-to-balance-projects-with-jason-glass/ Tue, 09 May 2017 14:22:17 +0000 Golf in the Life of http://www.pgae.com/?p=16618 Learn from Jason Glass about how to balance projects and do them all at a very high level. Great info for the entrepreneurial coach...]]>

Learn from Jason Glass about how to balance projects and do them all at a very high level. Great info for the entrepreneurial coach.

]]>
VIDEO – How to Balance Projects With Jason Glass
6 Powerful Hacks to Increase Mental Toughness (No. 3 Is My Favourite) http://www.pgae.com/ask/6-powerful-hacks-to-increase-mental-toughness-no-3-is-my-favourite/ Thu, 02 Mar 2017 16:57:26 +0000 Inc.com http://www.pgae.com/?p=18307 Mental fortitude comes with the territory of being an entrepreneur. Here's how you enhance it.]]>

Mental fortitude comes with the territory of being an entrepreneur. Here’s how you enhance it.

Being mentally strong is one of those personal attributes that everyone could benefit from. Since we all encounter personal challenges and difficulties in our life, the ability to stay psychologically strong is invaluable. But is mental strength something we are just born with? Or can it be developed? Luckily, there are ways to enhance and amplify mental toughness. Here are six of the best.

1. Stay on target.

A major component of mental strength is the capacity to focus in on the pursuit of long-term goals. People who are mentally weak allow the minor hindrances of life to distract them from their objectives, which inevitably leads to underachievement. Surviving the inevitable setbacks and disappointments of life requires focusing on larger goals and plans.

2. Look at adversity as an opportunity.

Tough times aren’t necessarily a bad thing–in fact, they can often be a positive. That’s because you only really learn and grow through overcoming difficulties. The simple act of embracing a challenge can be a massive psychological step forward. Such a change in attitude can alter your whole outlook on life, helping to increase your mental fortitude.

3. Focus only on what you can control (my favorite).

Worry and fear are the enemies of mental stability and strength. While fear and worry may be impossible to totally avoid, many people bring trouble upon themselves by obsessing over things they cannot really control. For example, worrying about how a project will be received once it is submitted is pointless and accomplishes nothing. Focusing on whatever task is at hand–and letting the rest take care of itself–is simply smarter.

4. Develop resiliency.

No matter how much the perfectionists among us might wish otherwise, no individual can completely avoid setbacks and failure. In fact, what’s far more important than avoiding error is developing the mental strength required to bounce back quickly from a mistake. Learning how to get back on your feet, without spending any time malingering or feeling sorry for yourself, is essential. This is the entrepreneur’s armor.

5. Don’t spend too much time thinking about what other people think.

While everyone should be able to accept constructive criticism and other kinds of helpful input, there’s a definite limit to how much attention should be paid to the opinions of others. Ultimately, other people are responsible for their opinions, not you–and there is no point in dwelling on something that isn’t your responsibility.

6.Strive to be emotionally even-keeled.

Getting either too high or too low emotionally is almost always a barrier to true mental strength, something I’m especially guilty of. However, being out of control emotionally makes it impossible to proceed forward in a rational, constructive way. Those who experience excessive emotional turbulence have a hard time dealing with life’s problems. That’s why the ability to keep control of powerful, disruptive feelings is such a crucial aspect of mental discipline.

Whether it’s in sports, career, or another of life’s competitive arenas, mental strength is often more important to success than natural ability. Fortunately, psychological strength is not an innate talent but rather a trait that can be acquired. With the recommendations above, almost everyone should be able to enhance their mental strength.


Tom Popomaronis is a serial entrepreneur, an e-commerce expert, and a proud Baltimore native. He has been recognized for technology and startup leadership by Fast Company, Entrepreneur, The Washington Post, and Forbes. Tom was also named “40 under 40” by the Baltimore Business Journal in 2014.

@tpopomaronis

]]>
6 Powerful Hacks to Increase Mental Toughness (No. 3 Is My Favourite)
Looking In the Mirror – A Coach’s Catalyst for Change http://www.pgae.com/ask/looking-in-the-mirror-a-coachs-catalyst-for-change/ Thu, 16 Feb 2017 15:18:30 +0000 Corey Lundberg & Matt Wilson of Curious Coaches http://www.pgae.com/?p=18144 The team at Curious Coaches explain why self-reflection is an essential activity for coaches who are driven towards continuous learning and improvement...]]>

With the start of a new year it’s natural to use this fresh start as an action to take stock on our annual accomplishments and disappointments.  In the past, we’ve formulated a couple of ways that you can go about formalizing this annual evaluation process.  We see it as an essential activity for coaches who are driven towards continuous learning and improvement.  Looking back at our personal ‘annual reviews’, it’s fun to see how this process has sparked ideas and projects that ended up creating significant results for us.  While we’ve focused on this reflection process in a macro view of our coaching business and development, this year we want to share our thoughts and experiences related specifically to contemplating our coaching skills and how we can improve.

‘Are you getting by, or are you getting better?’  This is a question that we have heard a mentor pose to clients on several occasions.

It’s a seemingly simple question that is inherently complex and thus very difficult to answer.  Why? You have to answer it yourself through reflection. While it’s often uncomfortable to look at oneself from the perspective of the third person (nobody wants to see what they don’t want to), or to question and think about what you’re doing and why you’re doing it– it’s an essential and enlightening process.  It brings us full circle and cuts to the essence of why we are all here: we don’t know what we don’t know– and we have a strong desire to change that.  We are infinitely curious.

Despite the fact that we haven’t been writing, we’ve still been learning – quite a bit, in fact.  How? Reflection.

Reflection is the primary means through which we grow and evolve. Our practice is informed by our experience, and we need to invest the time and energy to look at said experience with a critical eye.  A thorough examination of our choices and behaviors helps us identify and reinforce the actions that correlate to success, and therefore the things we should keep doing, as well as the actions or choices that led to the opposite result.  As coaches, it is our job to evolve.  Given that 2017 is upon us, we want to dig a little deeper into this topic, and provide you with an example of the result of some of our own reflection, so that the entire coaching community (ok, we digress–any readers that have endured the prolonged break) can hit the ground running in the new year.

Dr. Wade Gilbert, a professor of Kinesiology at Fresno State University (and regular guest lecturer in Matt’s Coaching Effectiveness class at UBC), is one of the world’s leading experts on coaching science.  Much of his research focuses on how coaches develop their expertise.  Through his years of research, he’s identified that informal learning is a primary means through which expert coaches grow and develop.  Much of that informal learning is triggered internally, by reflection.  All coaches think about their experience, but only the experts try to understand why and how they can improve on it.  In other words, experts are curious about their performance, and have a desire to do it better.

We know that having experience and learning from that experience are catalysts for growth.  So, what are the mechanics of the process? How do you process that experience and make adjustments to your behavior?  How do you integrate it into what you do? While, we’re still trying to answer those questions ourselves, we have been following these two practices to help us get improve: Reflective practice and critical reflection.  Yes, they sound similar (which they are), but they are inherently different.

REFLECTIVE PRACTICE V. CRITICAL REFLECTION

When we think about reflective practice and/or reflection, the image that comes to mind is a steady stream of thought on a car ride home.  These are the relatively short, internal conversations that we have with ourselves, daily, that don’t require significant effort.  They’re mental ‘notes’ that often focus on problems we encountered, or about things that went particularly well in a given instance.  Sometimes, these conversations lead us to discover a different way to go about addressing a situation.

Critical reflection, on the other hand, is much more significant.  These are the reflections that force you to take a step back and consider the beliefs that underpin your actions and behaviors. They often represent an internal inventory-taking of your coaching skills and beliefs, and facilitate a deeper dive into self-improvement, often involving interacting with third parties, and other members of your coaching network for answers.  These are critical, evolutionary moments that identify gaps and signal action towards closing them, ultimately leading to relatively permanent change in behavior.

Reflective Practice Critical Reflection
Constant process; daily Event-specific endeavor; not scheduled
Identifies smaller, specific problems Identifies the origin of problems
Develops minor solutions Develops major solutions
Reasoning of behavior Questioning of behavior
Surface learning Deeper learning
Very little behavior change More significant behavior change

The point we want to make is that over the last 6 months, we’ve been thrust into opportunities that have illuminated the shortcomings we have as coaches.  The fleeting thoughts about an occasion that didn’t go as planned are often more frustrating than productive.  Critical reflection elicits more intrigue than frustration, it actually moves the needle.  Through continued reflection – both in the daily and critical sense – we’ve given ourselves a chance to grow and improve.

ACTIONABLES

  • Keep a journal. Logging your days and jotting down your thoughts helps you become aware of any patterns that exist.  The notes serve as an informational foundation for critical analysis and eventually, change.
  • Budget time to be critical. Going deeper into your reflections to create understanding, and ultimately change, takes time and effort.  Ensure that you are setting aside time either monthly or quarterly, to be self-critical, such that you can get a plan in place to close any gaps that you perceive to be apparent.
  • Be vulnerable. Seeing yourself in action is a great way to understand your behavior.  You’ll become aware of a number of great things, as identify a few areas to improve.  Also, it is OK to not know.  Seek the opinions of others, as it’ll help close your knowledge gaps and make you aware of new solutions.  Yes, it is an uncomfortable process, but very much worth it.
  • Remain as objective as possible. It can be far too easy to grade your paper against unrealistic standards. This can be done with film (as you’ll see below), or through a trusted friend/advisor who is invested in your success.  360 degree reviews or anonymous surveys are also helpful tools that can inform you of blind sports in your practice.

AN EXAMPLE FROM MATT

One of my biggest challenges is staying sharp, mentally and physically, day in and day out.  I feel very strongly that my effectiveness, and behavior, is directly related to the amount of energy I have available.  Over the past few weeks, I felt ineffective, but couldn’t quite figure out why.  Physically, I felt fine. And mentally? I thought I was sharp.  Still, something was missing – I was getting by, not getting better.

In the offseason, we do a lot of instructing and a heavy emphasis is placed on refining techniques and building skills.  When doing a lot of ‘teaching’, I find it easy to get into a pattern that is very directive and very generous with the provision of feedback in an effort to guide the learner to the desired outcome as quickly as possible.  It is as if we work extra hard to reduce the amount of mental effort required on behalf of the learner such that we can make the learning process ‘easier’.  In attempting to accelerate and simplify the learning process by reducing the amount of cognitive energy invested by the learner, pre and post movement, we end up having the opposite effect; we severely limit their learning.  They end up relying on our guidance to make corrections rather than making adjustments based on their evaluation of both the intrinsic and extrinsic feedback they receive from the movement, relative to their kinesthetic concept of what they are trying to learn.

I felt ineffective because I had it backwards.  I became overly concerned with WHAT the athletes needed to do, and didn’t place enough energy into HOW those interventions were carried out.  As a result, what needed to happen (their learning), didn’t.

So, what did I do to make the corrections?

To start, I set different goals for the day.  The goals focused on the learning environment we created, as opposed to the specific content that was to be learned.  My aim was for the client to be more cognitively engaged than in sessions past.  My plan to achieve that goal was twofold.  First, I wanted to ensure that I was cultivating the athlete’s capacity to accurately detect error.  The goal was to provide them with the opportunity to contrast what they did vs. what they intended such that they could calibrate their sensory feedback accordingly.  Second, I aimed to optimize the provision of feedback, delaying it until after the athlete had the chance to evaluate their intrinsic feedback, as well as establishing a bandwidth, outside of which prescriptive feedback would be provided.

Next, I wore a GoPro and filmed the day to gauge how successful I was in executing my objectives.  I wanted to see what the environment was actually like.

Below is a video excerpt from a session where we worked with an athlete on developing their control over the speed of their putts.  As stated prior, my objective was to provide the client with a better learning environment; one that challenged them cognitively, technically, and physically.  I structured the activity with the end goal of expanding the capacity of the learner to accurately assess the result of their movement in the absence of feedback, and in improving their ability to detect, and correct, error.  I wanted to help them close the gap that existed between what they think happens, and what actually happens, when they act on a decision.  Check out a brief snippet of the video below to get a better idea for how I ended up delivering feedback in this session.

Was it perfect? No.  But it doesn’t have to be.  I learned more through this critical reflection than I had an any number of traditional educational activities.

What will you do to generate a similar experience?

We’ll give you some time to reflect…

– COREY LUNDBERG & MATT WILSON

]]>
Looking In the Mirror – A Coach’s Catalyst for Change
Business Planning to Grow Your Facility http://www.pgae.com/ask/business-planning-to-grow-your-facility/ Thu, 08 Dec 2016 14:34:49 +0000 Mark Taylor http://www.pgae.com/?p=17487 England Golf's Mark Taylor explains how golf facilities can be more business-minded in their planning and why this is more important than ever...]]>

With the ever changing and evolving golf market, members needs and day to day running of golf facilities, thinking like a business becomes ever more essential.  Golf Facilities need to be in a position to plan not react, this is more significant than ever before-particularly when managing change:

  • Replaces fiction with facts.
  • Maps the future and supports growth.
  • Provides transparency to stakeholders and potential investors.
  • Alignment of staff and volunteers to a clear plan of action.
  • Enables the management team to effectively monitor progress.

All good business planning enables the business to evaluate:

  1. Where the business is now?
  2. Where is the business going?
  3. How will we get there?
    1. Who is responsible?
    2. How will you keep score?
      1. Developing a strategic planning framework
      2. Help create an outline of an effective business plan

Keep it Simple…

Where you are now + Where you are going

= Your Strategy

How you are going to get there

+

Who is responsible and How you will keep score

= Your Business Plan

article-header-images_mark-taylor_facility-business-planning_04

5 key tools for a Situational Analysis

‘Situational analysis is critical to be able to make informed decisions based on data and evidence not emotion’.

Your internal landscape – What’s happening within the club?

  • Compile a SWOT analysis – Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats
  • Collate an Operational Analysis – Financial, Food & Beverage etc.
  • Conduct a regular Member Analysis – Internal Environment

Your external landscape – What’s happening around your club?

  • PEST – Political, Economic, Social & Technological
  • Competitor Analysis – External Environment

Operational Analysis

Most facilities cover the following core areas of work, with each facet requiring structured analysis on:

  • Governance
  • Golf Course
  • Finance
  • Food & Beverage
  • Members

article-header-images_mark-taylor_facility-business-planning_02

Member Analysis

Know your club data!!

Understand your members…deliver:

  • Member Forums – prepared sessions use SWOT
  • Member Surveys
    • Key questions – short & concise
  • Research your Market – tools & insight reports
    • Continually review the profile of your existing members

P.E.S.T Analysis

Political factors:

  • Government regulations regarding health, hygiene, food regulations, and food standards.
  • Equality legislation.
  • Government policies, these may include licenses, inspections by environmental health.

Economic factors:

  • Interest rates.
  • Rate of inflation determines the rate of remuneration for employees and directly affects the price of products.
  • Economic trends act as an indicator of the sustainability and profitability of your business in the chosen region.

Social factors:

  • Eating habits of the people in your chosen business environment may, and certainly will, affect your marketing decisions.
  • Ratio of people preferring to eat out regularly, changing attitude to volunteering and pressures on family timetable.

Technological factors:

  • Effective technology may be a decisive factor for business marketing (social media, apps).
  • Tee time bookings.

article-header-images_mark-taylor_facility-business-planning_03

Competitor Analysis

  • Who are your direct competitors?
  • What are their products and prices?
  • How do their facilities compare?
  • What is their unique selling point?
  • Research your Market – tools & reports
    • Map the local competition – Understand the local potential

Mission and Vision

Once the club have identified insight and data..it’s now time to think about the ‘WHY’

Mission –

A one sentence statement that describes why you exist – your purpose

  • The best mission statements are clear and concise
  • Ideally no more than 15 words

Vision –

A one sentence statement describing what your club would like to achieve or accomplish

  • The best vision statements are inspirational and memorable
  • Ideally no more than 20 words

Values

Develop beliefs that are shared by the stakeholders of the golf club.

Values drive the golf clubs culture and priorities and provide a framework in which decisions are made.

article-header-images_mark-taylor_facility-business-planning_05

Formulate your Aims

  • Look at your list of core areas of work
  • Identify what you want to achieve in each of those core areas:
    • Core Area = Membership
    • Strategic Aim = Increase the number of members

YOU NOW HAVE A STRATEGIC FRAMEWORK…

  • Mission
  • Vision
  • Values
  • Core areas of work
  • Aims

Plan for Business!!

  • More than financial spreadsheets
  • A clear link between a shared vision for the club and actions
  • Written for real people using everyday language
  • Customer focussed
  • Sincere and meaningful
  • Clear roles and responsibilities to ensure involvement and ownership
  • SMART objectives that are regularly reviewed

Thriving clubs recognise they are better served with a professional team, which is held accountable to run the operation and have the authority to do so.

Accountability needs to be driven down to all levels-including the volunteer committee members/directors of the board

Top Tips…

  • Set a clear time frame to get it done
  • Work as a team – empower your professionals
  • Focus on creating the future – separates the thrivers from the survivors
  • State out how long your plans are for

Make your goals SMART…

  • Aim: More Members
  • Smart Goal: Recruit 20 new members
  • Initiatives to achieve that goal:
    • Create a recruitment plan
    • Arrange a member sales training day with our staff
    • Promote a member get member campaign
    • Host a family fun day and invite the local community
    • Run a 9 hole promotion throughout the winter on a Sunday afternoon
    • Start a Learn Golf 6 wk programme

Brainstorm different initiatives but then make sure you:

  • Consider the cost of pursuing them within annual operating budgets.
  • Consider HR implications, staffing levels and the return on investment.
  • Be selective – don’t try to do everything at once

Keeping Score

It is Vital to keep score – Your business plan is your future!

Set key performance indicators (KPI’s) for each aim

Benchmark against your chosen KPI’s

  • A lot of this data will be in your ‘where are we now’ situational analysis

Agree when you going to monitor progress

  • Ideally this should be every committee/board meeting
  • The business plan should be the main content of your meetings

Decide timeframes for reviewing strategy & plans

article-header-images_mark-taylor_facility-business-planning_06

Business Plan Structure

Keep it simple…

  1. Cover & Contents
  2. Executive Summary
  3. Background/Context
  4. Situational Analysis – including financial
  5. Strategic Summary – Mission, Vision, Values, Aims
  6. Operational Plan – for each aim:
    1. SMART Goals
    2. Initiatives
    3. Accountability
    4. Measurement

And Finally…

‘Schedule time to work on your golf business, rather than in your business’

]]>
Business Planning to Grow Your Facility
[PODCAST] Work Walking Into Your Schedule http://www.pgae.com/ask/work-walking-into-your-schedule/ Wed, 30 Nov 2016 02:25:23 +0000 Coaching4Careers http://www.pgae.com/?p=11024 Walking rarely gets the recognition it deserves, especially when it comes to the world of business and management.]]>

Walking rarely gets the recognition it deserves, especially when it comes to the world of business and management.

Unlike its publicity-courting cousin, running, walking is rarely associated with leadership and success. There are relatively few examples of Fortune 500 CEOs ‘powering through’ a 20k stroll on their way to work, nor prime-time comedians ‘sauntering’ through the Sahara Desert for their latest charity/publicity drive. Walking is an also-ran in more ways than one.

And yet, a quick flick through the history books reveals enough famous walkers to more than rival their more fleet-footed counterparts.

From Beethoven to Steve Jobs and the Queen, walking has helped many a historic heavyweight to achieve success in their chosen field, even if they haven’t yet felt the need to brag about it to their favourite financial journal.

Article-Header-Images_Coaching4Careers_Walking_02

As scientists will attest, walking offers an array of benefits for regular practitioners.  Aside from the obvious physical perks of regular exercise, there are the various mental benefits to consider.

Walkers tend to enjoy lower stress levels, as well as increased cognitive function.  To add to this, a recent study by Stanford University found moving around led to an increase in creativity in 81% of participants who had previously been seated.

The only area where walking really falls short (aside from the crummy PR team behind it) is the obvious time commitment involved.  This may explain why it’s rarely the activity of choice among time-pressured modern professionals.

The flipside to this is that, contrary to more aerobically challenging activities, it can be crow-barred relatively easily into the working day.  As well as being the perfect option for a reinvigorating, yet sweat-free lunch break, it is a great way to put a new angle on interviews, one-on-one meetings, and brainstorming sessions.

The most potent pro-ambulatory argument, however, is perhaps the fact that walking is what we humans are originally designed to do.  Not pounding the pavement clad in lycra or expensive running shoes, or – worse still – wedged in behind a computer screen for 10 hours straight.

Walking may not win you any awards in the image stakes, but your body (and possibly career) will thank you for it.


This content appears courtesy of Abintegro, experts in career management, transition technology & e-learning for today’s modern, mobile and technology-savvy workforce – Find out more at www.abintegro.com

Credit: LinkedIn; Design School; Inc.com

]]>
[PODCAST] Work Walking Into Your Schedule
14 Amazing Social Media Customer Service Examples (And What You Can Learn From Them) http://www.pgae.com/ask/14-amazing-social-media-customer-service-examples-and-what-you-can-learn-from-them/ Wed, 16 Nov 2016 14:34:04 +0000 Buffer http://www.pgae.com/?p=13781 How important is customer service via social media? According to J.D. Power, 67% of consumers have used a company’s social media channel for customer service.]]>

How important is customer service via social media?

According to J.D. Power, 67% of consumers have used a company’s social media channel for customer service.

And when they do, they expect a fast response. Research cited by Jay Baer tells us that 42% of consumers expect a response with 60 minutes.

So, how’s your social media customer service?

For this post I was excited to research a set of 14 amazing examples of customer service using social media.

Let’s get started!


1. Samsung: A Unicycling Kangaroo and a Dragon Phone

As a loyal Samsung customer, Canadian Shane Bennett asked for a free unit of their latest, soon-to-launch phone. To sweeten his offer, he included a drawing of a roaring dragon.

Not surprisingly, Samsung said “no”. But to say thanks, they sent him their drawing of a unicycle-riding kangaroo.

samsung-canada

Shane then shared both messages (and drawings) to Reddit where it went viral. In response, Samsung Canada sent him the phone he asked for – and customized it with his fire-breathing dragon artwork.

Samsung-canada-2

Takeaway: Have fun with customer interactions. Don’t take yourself too seriously.

2. Morton’s Steakhouse: Airport Delivery

While waiting for takeoff in Tampa, Florida, Peter Shankman jokingly asked Morton’s Steakhouse to deliver a porterhouse steak when he landed at Newark airport.

mortons

While departing the Newark airport to meet his driver, he was greeted by a Morton’s server with a 24 oz. Porterhouse steak, shrimp, potatoes, bread – the works. A full meal and no bill.

When you think of the logistics of pulling this off, it becomes even more impressive. The Community Manager needed to get approval and place the order. It needed to be prepared and then driven by the server to the airport, to the correct location and at the right time. All in less than three hours.

mortons-steakhouse

Some of the comments on Peter’s post suggest that this isn’t an anomaly. Another reader shares his experience of ordering a baked potato and getting a full steak meal – delivered and for free.

Takeaway: Do something unexpected for a loyal customer – when they want it most.

3. Gaylord Opryland: Sleep-Inducing Clock Radio

After numerous stays at Nashville’s Opryland Resort, Christina McMenemy wanted her own spa-sound clock radio that comes standard in each room. The sound helped her sleep better than ever, and she couldn’t find that model anywhere. So she asked the hotel for help finding it.

gaylord-hotels

Turns out, that model was exclusive to the Gaylord hotels. She thought that was the end of it, and went to her conference.

Upon returning to her room that evening, she found a gift waiting: the spa clock and a handwritten card. The staff had given her the product she was unable to find. Not only did they make a long term customer very happy, they also received significant media coverage for their act of kindness.

gaylord-hotels-2

Takeaway: Make customers happy one at a time.

A quick note on these first three examples

While it’s great to give away phones, steak dinners, and clock radios, this might not be sustainable customer service.

Why not? When other, loyal customers hear what these companies did, they might expect the same treatment. Can Morton’s deliver a free steak dinner to the airport for every customer who asks? Can Gaylord hotels give every loyal guest a free clock radio?

A more sustainable approach is to provide outstanding customer service on a daily basis. These next examples have lessons that can be implemented right away and on a consistent basis.

4. JetBlue: Feeling the Customer’s Pain

During a four-hour flight, Esaí Vélez’s seatback TV gave him nothing but static – while the rest of the passengers had normally functioning screens. How did he respond? He tweeted a complaint to JetBlue. Nothing inflammatory, but he was clearly disappointed.

jetblue

How did JetBlue respond? While they could have made an excuse or even ignored his tweet, they didn’t. They took his side and empathized with him.

“Oh no! That’s not what we like to hear! Are all the TVs out on the plane or is it just yours?”

After he confirms that it was just his TV that was out, they respond:

“We always hate it when that happens. Send us a DM with your confirmation code to get you a credit for the non-working TV.”

Not only do they imagine his frustration, but they also offer him a credit for his trouble.

What was the result? Just 23 minutes after his complaint, he tweets: “One of the fastest and better Customer Service: @JetBlue! Thanks and Happy Thanksgiving”

jetblue2

Takeaway: Put yourself in your customer’s shoes when responding to complaints.

5. Delta Hotels: Room With an Ugly View

While attending the #PSEWEB conference in Vancouver, Mike McCready tweeted that, while he liked his room at the Delta, the view wasn’t so nice. He didn’t tag the hotel, and he wasn’t asking for anything.

Within an hour, Delta responded – offering a room with a better view. And when Mike returned to his room after the conference, he found a dish of sweets and a handwritten card from the staff at his hotel. It made such an impact that he wrote a post about it – the very same day.

Screen Shot 2015-12-29 at 10.43.44

Takeaway: Set up a social listening strategy to listen to all customer conversations.

6. Waterstones: Man Locked in London Bookstore

While every customer comment is important, some are going to be a little more urgent than others. Like locking a customer in your store.

This happened to David Willis last year at Waterstones Trafalgar Square store. He tweeted:

waterstones

Not surprisingly, this tweet went viral, with 16,000+ retweets and 12,000+ likes. Because someone was monitoring Waterstones Twitter account, they were able to tweet 80 minutes later that they had freed their previously captive customer. Imagine how this could have turned out, if Waterstones customer service had stopped listening for the day.

waterstones2

Takeaway: Always listen to customer conversations.

7. Contextly: Customer Onboarding

Before I do business with a new company, I like to see if anyone is listening. It gives me confidence that they’ll be there if I have a problem or question.

When I was looking for a premium related-content service, I signed up for a free trial account with Contextly. The process was smooth, and I was excited about the app, so I tweeted about it. They responded with a positive, helpful tweet.

contextly

As a result, I’m confident that they are interested in me and will help me if I have a question with the app.

Takeaway: Use social media to streamline customer onboarding.

8. Xbox Support: Elite Tweet Fleet

Back in 2010, Xbox added a dedicated Twitter account. Since then, their Elite Tweet Fleet has posted more than two million support tweets. In fact, when I visited their account page, they were averaging two tweets per minute! And they have a team of 27 support experts.

Screen Shot 2015-12-29 at 11.57.41

Any company that assigns a dedicated Twitter account (and 27 people to manage it) is amazing to me. Check out some of their interactions:

Takeaway: Be committed to your social media customer service.

9. Nike: Respond Kindly to Confused Customers

Nike Support is one of the strongest customer service accounts on Twitter. They feature a dedicated Twitter account, support seven days a week and in seven languages (English, Spanish, French, Dutch, Italian, German & Japanese.)

An example of their approach is here in this customer interaction: A customer contacts them to ask for help finding an order number. Although the question was unclear Nike’s customer support made the customer feel cared for. And when the customer realized they had the information all along, their response is super supportive.

Screen Shot 2015-12-29 at 11.05.28

Takeaway: Be kind, even when it’s not your fault.

10. Seamless: Pay Attention to Every Comment

Seamless is an online service for ordering food from local restaurants. Food orders are full of variables and when you add in time frame and delivery – it has the potential to be a nightmare. To manage customer service, they have an active Twitter account where customers can share their love and voice their complaints.

In a recent comment, a customer tells Seamless that on his recent order he received white rice, instead of brown. He wasn’t upset – he said: “Don’t mind terribly, just FYI.”

Screen Shot 2015-12-29 at 11.07.04

In response, Seamless asks for the order number so they can check into it. In response, the customer tweets:

Screen Shot 2015-12-29 at 11.07.21

Takeaway: Pay attention to all customer service issues. Passive complaints that are left unaddressed can easily cause a rift between the vendor and customer.

11. My Starbucks Idea: Listen and Harvest Ideas

As a way to listen to customers – and get tons of great new ideas – Starbucks created My Starbucks Idea. To date, customers have submitted more than 210,000 unique ideas. To support this program, they have a dedicated Twitter account. It is a great place for users to share their observations and coffee wishes.

A couple of the recent ideas include solar cell equipped umbrellas for device charging and morning coffee delivery (looks like it’s going to happen).

Screen Shot 2015-12-29 at 11.09.48

Takeaway: Make it easy for customers to tell you what they want. Listen to everyone and implement the winning ideas.

12. Sainsburys: Fishy Exchange

Sainsbury’s is one of the largest supermarkets in the UK. They’ve got a pretty active Twitter feed with lots of customer questions about products and sale prices. The tone of the account is helpful and positive.

There are lots of good examples of interactions. But none better than Fishy Sainsburys. This fishy exchange took place over a three hour period, between David (Sainsbury’s Twitter manager) and Marty (a customer). The puns will make you groan – many made me laugh out loud. Remember, this interaction was not a marketing play but a real conversation between the company and a customer.

Screen Shot 2015-12-29 at 11.11.08

Takeaway: Let your customer service team have fun.

13. Hubspot: Every Day of the Year

Holidays can be challenging times for customer service. When customer service closes for the observance of a holiday in one country, users from other countries will still have questions.

This recently happened with a HubSpot customer in London. She had workflow issues and couldn’t contact anyone at the US-based call center because it was closed for American Thanksgiving. When she took her concern to Twitter, she found a customer service representative in Ireland.

Screen Shot 2015-12-29 at 11.31.51

Like many companies in this list, HubSpot has a dedicated customer service Twitter account. To manage international schedules and time zones, they have two Dublin-based representatives and another three in Cambridge, MA.

Takeaway: Be available for your customers.

14. Buffer: Personal and Kind

If you take a quick look at Buffer’s Tweets & replies feed you’ll see how engaging their customer service is. Responses are personal and friendly. And they are usually signed by the team member you’re chatting with.

Screen Shot 2015-12-29 at 11.32.59

For example, my wife has been impressed that when she mentions them in a tweet, they acknowledge it, even using her name in their response.

Takeaway: Treat each person with respect. Use your name (and theirs) when interacting with customers online.

What we can learn from these customer service examples

Here are some key takeaways:

  1. Choose a primary channel for customer service (many use Twitter) and assign staff to manage it.
  2. Decide on your schedule of availability (set hours and days) and post it on your profile.
  3. Have each tweet/post signed by the person who sent it. This is done well by Xbox Support, Sainsbury’s, and Buffer.
  4. Remember that customers might contact you any number of ways – not necessarily on the channel you chose. Make sure you monitor other social channels for questions and conversations about your brand.
  5. Establish a tone for your social media conversations. Generally speaking, you’ll want first to empathize with your customers problem. Stephen Covey said it best: “Seek first to understand…”

I recommend following a few of these companies on Twitter. Watch how they handle customer complaints and comments. I’ve learned so much doing this.

What to do next: Review these points with your customer service team. Decide which apply to your business right now and assign a team member to implement them.

Over to you

Have you had an amazing customer service experience via social media? How are you using social media to provide customer service? I would love to hear both in the comments!

]]>
14 Amazing Social Media Customer Service Examples (And What You Can Learn From Them)
Help! I Don’t Know How to Achieve My Goals http://www.pgae.com/ask/help-i-dont-know-how-to-achieve-my-goals/ Fri, 09 Sep 2016 10:44:10 +0000 Coaching4Careers http://www.pgae.com/?p=16590 Decades of research on achievement suggests successful people reach their goals not simply because of who they are, but more often because of what they do...]]>

You may find that you’re really good at reaching certain goals, but not so good at achieving others. And you may have accepted that. You may have assumed that the people who seem to be good at everything just are, intuitively, like that.

However decades of research on achievement suggests that successful people reach their goals not simply because of who they are, but more often because of what they do.

These are some of the things you should do if you want to achieve your goals:

1. Be specific when you set your goals

Knowing exactly what you want to achieve keeps you motivated until you get there. Having a goal to ‘lose some weight’ is not nearly as helpful as ‘lose 5 pounds’ because you know exactly what you’re aiming for. Giving yourself specific actions, such as ‘be in bed by 10pm on weeknights’ to reach your goal of ‘sleep more’ is useful too. It leaves no room for doubt about what you need to do, and whether or not you’ve actually done it.

2. Seize the moment to act on your goals

How many new year’s resolutions did you break and then ‘not have time’ to go through with them? Change is never very convenient in a busy life, but studies have shown that if you plan when you’re going to take action to achieve a goal your chances of actually achieving that goal increases by about 300%! Seize the moment by deciding when and where you will take each action you want to take, in advance. Again, be as specific as possible (e.g., “If it’s Monday, Wednesday, or Friday, I’ll work out for 30 minutes before work.”)

3. Know exactly how far you have left to go

Achieving any goal also requires honest and regular monitoring of your progress, if not by others, then by you yourself. If you don’t know how well you are doing, you can’t adjust your behaviour or your strategies accordingly. Check your progress frequently — weekly, or even daily, depending on the goal.

4. Be a realistic optimist

Most goals worth achieving require time, planning, effort, and persistence so don’t underestimate how difficult it will be to reach it. Do engage in lots of positive thinking, but make sure you’re prepared for the journey ahead. By thinking ‘it’s just going to happen’ (studies have shown) you are significantly increasing your chance of failure.

5. Focus on getting better, rather than being good

Believing you have the ability to reach your goals is important, but so is believing you can get the ability. Many of us believe that our intelligence, our personality, and our physical aptitudes are fixed and that no matter what we do, we won’t improve. As a result, we focus on goals that are all about proving ourselves, rather than developing and acquiring new skills.

Fortunately, research suggest that the belief in fixed ability is completely wrong; abilities of all kinds are profoundly malleable. Embracing the fact that you can change will allow you to make better choices, and reach your fullest potential. People whose goals are about getting better, rather than being good, take difficulty in their stride, and appreciate the journey as much as the destination.

6. Be determined

Those that have a willingness to commit to long-term goals, and to persist in the face of difficulty achieve more in their lifetime than those that don’t. If you believe that you just don’t have the innate abilities that successful people do then you are wrong: effort, planning, persistence, and good strategies are what it really takes to succeed. Embracing this knowledge will help you see yourself and your goals more clearly and give you the determination you need.

You are more capable than you think of achieving your goals. It just takes preparation, perspective and a willingness to act along with a huge dollop of self-belief. So start believing.


This content appears courtesy of Abintegro, experts in career management, transition technology & e-learning for today’s modern, mobile and technology-savvy workforce – Find out more at www.abintegro.com

Credit: Abintegro.com

]]>
Help! I Don’t Know How to Achieve My Goals
4 Tips for Working Across Time Zones http://www.pgae.com/ask/4-tips-for-working-across-time-zones/ Wed, 24 Aug 2016 12:17:03 +0000 Coaching4Careers http://www.pgae.com/?p=11837 With all the recent technological advances society has to offer, working across different time zones has become a relatively accepted and manageable practice.]]>

With all the recent technological advances society has to offer, working across different time zones has become a relatively accepted and manageable practice.

This doesn’t mean there isn’t potential for confusion and dissatisfaction, however, and so excellent project management is needed. Here are our top tips for making all those disparate circadian rhythms work in unison.

1. Plan accordingly

Clear communication is one of the pillars of successful teamwork, but what happens when opportunity for regular discussion is limited? One solution is to try to have individuals or teams in separate locations work on self-contained activities. This means assigning clearly defined responsibilities prior to the project’s get-go.

2. Have a common clock

Switching between different time zones in your correspondence is a sure-fire path to confusion. Agree on a master time zone for everyone to work from (e.g. Central European Time) and stick to it. Some people still like to note their colleague’s local time alongside the master, which is fine as long as you get the time difference right. Use a reliable site like timeanddate.com to avoid slip-ups.

3. Be reasonable

5 a.m. briefings or midnight emails are likely to grate if experienced repeatedly so make sure communication and deadlines are organised on a fair and/or alternating basis. If a meeting or call needs to be at a set time each week, make sure it’s arranged for a time that’s mutually acceptable, even if that means some people having to divert from their usual routine.

Article-Header-Images_Coaching4Careers_Timezones_02

4. Use it to your advantage

If managed well, dovetailing between different time zones can be an effective strategy for stretching out the workday. For example a team working on a draft or project outline in London are well placed to hand over to someone five hours behind in New York for reviewing or final touches. Again, it all rests on strong planning and organisation.

While splitting teams or organisation between time zones may feel like a challenge at times, remember there is help at hand. From DropBox, to Google Plus, Skype and various project management tools, there is technology out there designed specifically for this type of work environment, so don’t be afraid to use it.


This content appears courtesy of Abintegro, experts in career management, transition technology & e-learning for today’s modern, mobile and technology-savvy workforce – Find out more at www.abintegro.com

Credit: Forbes; The Guardian; LinkedIn

]]>
4 Tips for Working Across Time Zones
Are You Addicted to Interruptions? http://www.pgae.com/ask/are-you-addicted-to-interruptions/ Tue, 05 Jul 2016 19:06:31 +0000 Coaching4Careers http://www.pgae.com/?p=12923 It's really hard to ignore the beep/ring/bark of an incoming message. It's almost like an addiction.]]>

It’s really hard to ignore the beep/ring/bark of an incoming message. It’s almost like an addiction. In fact, the side effects of constantly being distracted by emails, phone calls and texts are similar to drug addiction.

A study by the Institute of Psychiatry for Hewlett Packard found that constant distractions resulted in a 10-point drop in the IQ of workers. That’s twice the impact of marijuana!

According to another study of Microsoft workers it took them 10 minutes to deal with a distraction, caused by an alert, and then another 10-15 minutes to get back into their primary task. Many workers also used the alert of an incoming message as an opportunity not only to check their messages, but then to look at several other applications, which sometimes resulted in a two-hour gap before the primary task was resumed.

Sound familiar?

How often do you get to the end of the day having achieved a tiny percentage of what you set out to do because you’ve been ‘multitasking’ all day? Did you realise that the effect on your mind of these constant distractions is equivalent to missing a night’s sleep? So to top a frustrating day’s worth of unproductiveness you’re probably damaging your brain cells too.

If you recognise that maybe you’re just a bit addicted to the beep, then you can deal with it. Switch the sound off, cover your phone up or just use good old fashioned will power and finish what you’re doing before you check your messages. It’s probably just an email offering you 10% off your next airport transfer anyway.


This content appears courtesy of Abintegro, experts in career management, transition technology & e-learning for today’s modern, mobile and technology-savvy workforce – Find out more at www.abintegro.com

Credit: HBR; MicrosoftBBC

]]>
Are You Addicted to Interruptions?
How I Became a Morning Person, Learned a New Language, and Read 5x More Books in 2015 http://www.pgae.com/ask/how-i-became-a-morning-person-learned-a-new-language-and-read-5x-more-books-in-2015/ Fri, 15 Apr 2016 07:02:05 +0000 Buffer http://www.pgae.com/?p=14144 These are the 4 principles I try to stick by whenever I’m building a new habit: start small, one at a time, remove barriers and stack habits.]]>

You’ll notice that I made the title of this post sound quite impressive (at least I hope I did!).

But the great thing about this story is that anyone can have such an impressive outcome, and it’s not at all as daunting as it might sound.

In fact, all these outcomes came from doing small things every day over a long period.

I’m a big fan of working smarter, not harder and finding small ways to make my work more efficient. As Buffer’s first Content Crafter about two years ago, I got the chance to explore these topics quite a lot.

Now I’m excited to be back to show you exactly how I came by these wins in 2015.

  • From a habit of practicing French for just 5 minutes a day, I can now read, write, and speak basic French.
  • From a habit of reading just a page every night, I managed to increase my reading list by five times over the past couple of years.

building habits

Basically, I used small, everyday habits to build up into big, long-term outcomes.

There are four principles I try to stick by whenever I’m building a new habit. Through everything I’ve tried, these are the principles that seem to work every time.

1. Start small: Repeat a tiny habit daily

When I first started focusing on building more healthy habits a few years ago, one of the biggest mistakes I made was to ask too much of myself.

I would go from reading hardly ever to attempting to read one book per week. Or from getting up at 9 a.m. most days to trying to roll out of bed before 6 a.m. every morning.

The distance between where I was starting and where I wanted to be was so great that I would fail a lot. And each failure made it harder to succeed the next day.

At their heart, as James Clear explains, habits are about routines.

habit formation

And what I really needed was small wins and visible progress to help me create new routines I could keep at every day.

Finally, I came across this idea of starting small. The point is to focus on repeating the habit every day, but not worrying about how effective that habit is. In other words, quantity first; quality later.

A great example is flossing. Say you want to floss every night, but you haven’t flossed for years. If you take up flossing out of the blue and expect to spend 10 minutes doing it every night, you probably won’t last more than a week. It’s a very big ask.

But starting small is so effective, it’s almost like a super power. Here’s how it would work for flossing: you take the tiniest part of the habit you can work with—in this case, it would be to floss just one tooth. It’s still considered flossing, but you won’t make huge leaps in dental hygiene this way.

But here’s where it gets powerful: at first, you focus on just flossing one tooth every night. And you stick with it for more than a week. Then, more than two. Then three, four weeks. You can stick with this habit because it’s so easy. There’s barely any effort involved with flossing one tooth, so it’s hard to make an excuse not to do it. And once it’s become easy and automatic to floss one tooth, you start flossing two.

For a while, you floss two teeth every night. Then, you increase to three. And slowly you work your way up, never taking such a big leap that it becomes a chore.

By starting small you focus on making the behavior automatic, before you worry about making the behavior big enough that it produces a useful outcome.

As Scott H. Young says, we tend to overestimate how much we can get done—especially when we’re stepping into the unknown. Scott suggests planning as if you can only commit 20% of the time and energy you’d like to, in order to be more realistic.

Here’s how I applied the “start small” process to my habits in 2015:

Reading: One page a night

I started by reading just one page of a book every night before bed. Often I would read more, but if all I could manage was one page, I would count that as a win.

Later, when the habit was already strong, I would put on a timer and read for 15 minutes, and eventually I was reading for 30 minutes before bed and another 30 minutes most mornings.

Just starting with one page added up: In 2013 I read 7 books. In 2014, 22. In 2015, 33. That’s almost five times what I read in 2013.

I worked on this habit over about a year and a half. That probably sounds like a long time, but it only seems that way in retrospect.

When I’m working my habit, all I think about is how much I need to read today to count a win. It’s always a small, daily effort that I focus on. But when I look back on my progress, I realise what big achievements those daily habits have developed into.

French: One lesson every morning

I had dabbled in French with before, but I wasn’t very good at sticking with it. When I decided I really wanted to improve my French, I started by building a habit of doing just one Duolingo lesson every morning while I drank my coffee. (If you haven’t tried it, Duolingo is a free web and mobile app to help you learn lots of languages.)

One lesson takes around five minutes, so it’s a tiny commitment, and quite easy to do when I’m sitting around drinking coffee anyway. Eventually I started doing more than one lesson—two, three, sometimes even four or five, if I was enjoying it.

I did as many as I felt like, but I always did at least one.

Only one lesson was required to check off that habit for the day, so it was easy to stick to, even when I didn’t feel like doing any more than that. These days I also use Babbel (a paid web and mobile app for language learning) to get a better idea of the grammatical rules and structures of French, and I’ve finished the whole French section in Duolingo.

According to Duo, that means I know about 41% of French! That’s a big achievement from just five minutes a day!

2. Focus on one habit at a time

One of the hardest things for me when it comes to building new habits is to not take on too many at once. I always have such grand plans for the things I want to get better at, and so much enthusiasm when I first start out, that I want to build several habits at once.

Every time I’ve tried that approach, I end up failing. Usually a few of the habits don’t stick, but sometimes none of them do. It’s just too much to focus on at once—a bit like multitasking, where your brain has to switch contexts constantly, because you really can’t focus on multiple things at once.

So my new rule is to work on just one habit at a time. Only when that habit is so automatic I can do it every day easily do I start on a new habit.

With the example above, I was reading every night before I started focusing on French. And I was easily doing a French lesson every day before I started focusing on getting up early.

one habit

Sometimes building a habit can take a long time. Getting up early was one I really struggled to do consistently. I spent around four months focused on that same habit: trying different approaches, tracking my progress, and reporting in to friends who helped keep me accountable. I was determined to make it a consistent habit, but that meant not building any other habits for months.

These days I’m glad I committed to building that habit for so long, because I get up early almost every day without even trying. It didn’t come easy, but it was worth the effort.

How long it takes you to build a habit will vary, so four months might be longer or shorter than you need. We often hear the idea that it takes 21 days to build a habit, but studies have shown we all take different lengths of time to build new habits. In one study, the average time it took to build a new habit was 66 days—about two months.

The lesson I’ve learned is to treat each habit differently, depending on how hard you find it to stick to consistently, but also to focus on just one habit at a time so it gets your full attention and energy.

3. Remove barriers: Have everything you need at hand

I find it much easier to complete my habits when the equipment I need is at hand. For instance, having my phone in my hand already while drinking coffee made it easier to build a habit of doing a quick French lesson at that time. Reading a page of a book every night became a lot easier when I kept the book by my bed.

Malcolm Gladwell calls this the tipping point. It’s that small change that tips you over from making excuses to taking action. One great example of the power of a tipping point comes from a study of tetanus education at a university. The study tested whether trying to induce higher levels of fear about tetanus would encourage more students to get vaccinated against it. The fear level of the education program didn’t seem to make any difference, but one surprising change did: adding a map of the university campus showing the health center and the times vaccinations were available increased the vaccination rate from 3% to 28%.

The tipping point is that tiny change that makes it easy enough to take action that you’ll actually follow through. I like to think of it as removing any barriers that make it easy to not follow through on my habits.

One habit I want to build in 2016 is to play piano more often. Right now I play whenever the mood strikes me, which isn’t often enough to get a lot better. But I have noticed that I tend to play more often when the piano is easily accessible. Right now it’s in a corner of our lounge/dining/kitchen area, so I can easily sit down and play a little while waiting for something to cook or when I visit the kitchen for an afternoon snack.

Another habit I want to focus on this year is exercising more regularly. I’ve noticed that once I put on my exercise clothes, it’s pretty much certain that I’ll go outside for a run, but until those clothes are on it’s a lot easier to think of excuses for not going out. Getting out my exercise clothes the night before and putting them on quickly in the morning before I can think of excuses tends to help me get out the door faster. This is something I plan to do more regularly when I’m focusing on building this habit.

4. Stack habits: Build new routines onto existing ones

One of my favorite ways to build new habits is to stack them onto existing habits. This builds up several habits into a routine, and each habit acts as a trigger for the next one.

The cool part about this is you already have lots of habits you probably don’t realise. Brushing your teeth before bed, getting out of bed in the morning, making coffee at the same time every day—these are all existing habits. So long as you do something at the same time every day without thinking about it, it’s a habit you can stack others onto.

If you do your new habit after completing an existing one, you can rely on the strength of your existing habit to help keep your new habit on track. For example, when I get out of bed, the first thing I do is go downstairs to make a coffee. When my coffee is made, I start my French lesson. My existing habit of making coffee acts as a trigger to complete my French lesson.

And when I go to bed at night, I open the book sitting by my bed. Getting into bed and seeing the book act as a trigger to do my nightly reading.

habit stack

Research has shown a cue to work on your new habit may be the most effective way to ensure you stick to the habit long-term. When you stack habits, you use the existing ones as cues for each new habit you want to build.

Over time you can keep stacking new habits onto your existing ones to take advantage of automatic behaviors you’re already doing.


Building new habits has become something of a hobby for me. It’s exciting to think of all the skills I can gain and improve over time, just by building tiny habits that I repeat every day. It makes huge accomplishments seem much more achievable.

If you’d like to learn more about how I build habits that help me work smarter, not harder, you can sign up for my course, Productive Habits.

—————————–

Written by Belle Beth Cooper (@bellebcooper)

]]>
How I Became a Morning Person, Learned a New Language, and Read 5x More Books in 2015
PGA PROductivity – Using Tech to Stay on Top http://www.pgae.com/ask/pga-productivity/ Mon, 02 Mar 2015 14:05:08 +0000 Mel Kirk http://www.pgae.com/?p=10321 The key to staying on top of things in any business is organisation and productivity - be it with your day-to-day tasks or with larger projects, using the appro]]>

The key to staying on top of things in any business is organisation and productivity – be it with your day-to-day tasks or with larger projects, using the appropriate tools for the job is vital if you want to make the most of your time and be succesful in your professional life.

This is something Tribal Media‘s Mel Kirk faces on a daily basis as her business goes through rapid expansion, and being a self-confessed geek, Mel understands how technology can help people in any business, so we asked her to share some of her favourite digital tools that she uses on a daily basis to ensure she stays ahead of the game…

Google Drive

This allows me to collaborate on documents with my team, which is great as it’s updated in real-time and because it’s saved on the cloud can be accessed on any device in any location, which really speeds up the process when multiple people are working on one document.

Google.com/Drive

Feedly

A great tool for consuming content from your favorite news sites and blogs, particularly with the recent death of Google Reader. With the ability to read articles offline, this is really handy for catching up on news during the morning commute.

Feedly.com/Drive

Tweetdeck

Handy for managing multiple social media presences from one location, scheduling future updates, but also keeping on top of mentions of brands/organisations that you manage.

Tweetdeck.com

iPhone Screen_Pocket

Pocket

A beautifully designed bookmarking service that allows you to save articles offline to go back to read at a later date.

GetPocket.com

Salesforce

We use this to manage all of our contacts, as it can be accessed by any member of the team, is automatically updated and allows us to save every piece of correspondence that we have with our contacts. In turn this means that any one of the team can pick up a conversation with a contact should someone be out of the office sick, for example. What’s great is that it’s also stored in the cloud and therefore accessible from any location.

Salesforce.com

Storify

The best tool out there for collating tweets, blog posts, Instagram pictures, YouTube videos etc. into one simple story. We use this to showcase our work and the coverage that we’ve gained for our clients/campaigns all in one place, and then we can access and share it to anyone at any time.

Storify.com

Pinterest

We use this less conventionally than most. We use this as a way of visualising campaign ideas, especially creating mood boards for events. This makes it much easier for our clients to imagine what could be produced and takes less time and effort than a traditional mood board.

Pinterest.com

Computer Screen_Evernote_m

Evernote

This has a few uses – you can save articles or links for viewing on any device at any time a bit like Pocket, but it also lets you save notes, images, and almost anything else to different notebooks based on personal or business use, or for different projects or subject matter. I know the PGAs of Europe team use this one a lot in their day-to-day work.

Evernote.com

EasilyDo

Great little iPhone app for putting all of your “handy stuff” together. It will proactively check traffic before you drive somewhere, warn you of bad weather, organise contacts, merge duplicates, file receipts, remind you of conference calls with all of the details – It’s like my digital PA!

EasilyDo.com

]]>
PGA PROductivity – Using Tech to Stay on Top