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January 2011
Ann Latham
Clearly Speaking

Why SMART Goals Aren't So Smart and How to Add SANITY at the MassMutual Conference Center

Giving and Extracting Effective Feedback March 11th at UMass Family Business Center

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You can with Clarity On-call!
 
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Greetings!

Happy New Year and welcome to the Clear Thoughts™ newsletter from Uncommon Clarity!  If you like what you see here, visit our website, which is loaded with value - over 70 helpful articles, audio seminars and books, free tools and tips, videos, and more.

Today's Clear Thoughts
Uncommon Clarity in the New Year
Defogging the Indecisive
Create Energy with Clarity
Ann's Parting Thoughts - It Takes a Company
Uncommon Clarity in the New Year      

Get your year off to a great start with these 10 tips for creating the clarity that can speed and improve results in 2011:
  1. If you want different results in the new year, you, and those with whom you work, must behave differently. Business as usual won't magically produce increased revenue, greater profits, better products, fewer problems, less confusion, more productive employees, and happier customers. Get clear about what you and others will do differently to make this new year different.
  2. Make your top priorities clear. It is better to catapult 3 - 5 priorities into the next county than to slog up the mountain inch by inch with dozens.
  3. Decide what to stop doing. If you have too many priorities, you have no priorities. Make a clear decision to abandon, postpone, outsource, or cut corners. Don't leave such decisions to chance.
  4. Be clear about the assumptions that provide the foundation for your strategy and plans. If those assumptions prove false, you are riding on luck alone.
  5. Every initiative has at least one concrete next step. Find it and take action or schedule action today. An amorphous blob with no clear next step will slide into the future without progress.
  6. Clarify expectations and responsibilities. In an emergency, you will be helped faster by pointing to an individual and saying, "You! Call 911!" Achieve that level of clarity and motivation daily, though try to do it without alarm and finger pointing!
  7. At the end of each day, spend 5 minutes thinking about how you spent your time and distinguishing between those activities that produce value for which customers are willing to pay and those that don't. Establish a time for reviewing this growing list and seeking opportunities to reduce or eliminate the unproductive activities.
  8. Maintain a clear distinction between ends and means. Keep your focus on results and encourage creativity as to how those results are achieved.
  9. Distinguish between cause and effect. Too many problems induce action to address the effects of the problem and nothing to eliminate the cause.
  10. Think big. But not in a nebulous, grandiose manner. Be specific. What would you like to achieve?
     
Unsure how to implement any of these suggestions to maximize your potential for a great year? Wish you could boost the effectiveness of your organization right away? We can help. Contact us at info@uncommonclarity.com today.

Defogging the Indecisive 

If you work with or for someone who is indecisive, it can be frustrating. Even worse, it can be extremely wasteful if you routinely start down a path only to have a decision flipped and your progress erased.

What can you do to clear the fog and keep things moving forward?

Practice asking these six helpful questions and you will reduce the back-tracking while simultaneously improving the decisions and developing clear thinking skills for all involved:
  1. What specifically are we trying to accomplish?
  2. What criteria and priorities are most important in making this decision?
  3. Are there other alternatives that we should be considering?
  4. Why is this alternative the best given the criteria and priorities we discussed?
  5. What might go wrong if we choose this alternative?
  6. How serious and likely are these potential problems?

Would you like all of your employees to develop these fog clearing capabilities? Call 800-527-0087 today.

 Create Energy with Clarity                              

Ask yourself which items on your To Do list are energizing and which are draining. An energizing task is not necessarily important, but it is likely to be done well and is often done quickly. The more energizing tasks on your list, the better for you, your company, and your life.

Tasks that drain your energy are never good because they detract from your ability to accomplish other things. The fewer draining tasks on your list, the better. While I suspect few people can avoid all draining tasks, my advice is to do the best you can. Identify them and do one of the following:
  • Ignore them
  • Delegate them
  • Outsource them
  • Manage them
We are energized when we believe we are doing something valuable and drained when we believe we are wasting time. If something doesn't add value, find out if you can ignore it. If you are "supposed to do it" but think it is a waste, start asking questions. Maybe it is a waste and deserves to be ignored. Or maybe someone will help you understand the value, which should boost your energy level!

We are also energized by tasks that are a good fit for our talents. Talents vary tremendously. One person's pain is another's pleasure. Some people want to be mentally challenged while others want to hone a process to make it as efficient as possible. Some are attuned to details while others won't notice the details even if they trip over them. Some are keen on developing relationships while others ignore the people at the other end of a transaction. A mismatch between task and natural inclinations can be a huge drain. When you identify a mismatch, look for ways to delegate, reassign, or outsource.

When you absolutely must do draining tasks, manage them to minimize the damage:
  • Establish time boundaries so draining tasks can't expand to fill all available time
  • Schedule them for a time when you have the energy and patience to dispatch them quickly
  • Get them out of the way, perhaps in the morning, so they don't hang over your head
  • Reward yourself when you've finished
  • Find the silver lining that will make them more interesting, more challenging, or more rewarding

Strive for the day when every task on your To Do list is energizing.


This is the fourth in our series of Uncommon Productivity Boosters that help you take control of your time, feel great about each week, and watch those weeks add up to impressive results. Enjoy the previous tips on our website:
Ann's Parting Thoughts - It Takes a Company

It takes a company, if not a village, to successfully and profitably provide value to your customers. Honor your employees, suppliers, shareholders, customers, and community for the role they play by showing respect and appreciation and by sharing the rewards you have reaped.

Wishing you health, happiness, and prosperity for 2011!

Best regards,

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Ann Latham
800-527-0087
info@uncommonclarity.com

* Creating the Clarity that Speeds and Improves Results *


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2011 Ann Latham. All rights reserved.