Author Archives: Rhonda Nelson

Businesses Strive for Lean and Continuous Improvement


Cohen Brown President and Co-Chairman, Edward G. Brown and Independent Publisher, Jim Barnes.

Cohen Brown President and Co-Chairman, Edward G. Brown, and Independent Publisher, Jim Barnes.

The Axiom Business Book Awards are the most respected critical guidepost for business books in the publishing industry. These prestigious and competitive awards are presented in 21 categories and serve as the premier forum to help readers discover new and innovative works. Axiom Award-winning books will help them to understand changing trends and technologies affecting the business world and to recognize opportunities in our complicated new economy.

When Cohen Brown Management Group’s president and co-chairman, Edward G. Brown, learned he was the recipient of an Axiom Award for his book, The Time Bandit Solution: Recovering Stolen Time You Never Knew You Had, he was thrilled. The book won in the category of Operations Management, Lean, and Continuous Improvement. The perfect category for a man who, for more than 36 years, has trained and consulted Fortune 500 companies on behavior and culture change. The Time Bandit Solution provides the definitive “how to” for time management. It’s not just a day planner but rather contains specific tools and techniques to assist corporations and individuals who want to learn how to stop unwanted interruptions and gain back their time. The Time Bandit Solution teaches how to put an end to interruptions and maximize the resulting time surplus.

Interruption-Free Mindfulness and Other Tips for Making Tax Time Go Smoothly


“I’m proud to pay my taxes,” the old saw goes. “But I could be just as proud for half the amount.” And half the time, I would add.

A recent study found that it takes the average medium-sized company 264 hours to comply with its tax requirements. Daily Finance reports that the average 1040 filer spends about 16 hours on it.

Most people are already so busy that tax time, besides being a chore, leaves them feeling positively overwhelmed. And when you’re feeling overwhelmed, your obligations feel like an avalanche, instead of separate, doable tasks.

If that describes you when it comes time to “render unto Ceasar,” here are five time management and productivity tips that will turn the avalanche into something you can dispense with efficiently and maybe even pleasantly.

  1. Avoid Interruptions. People tend to underestimate how much harm interruptions inflict.

Remember, it’s not just the interruption itself that throws you off task. There’s the time wasted to reassemble your thoughts and resources, a little staler this time. There’s loss of momentum or physiological shortcuts created to accomplish the task. There’s frustration at having to regroup, which dissipates the energy that work thrives on. There is the distress and fatigue of having to make up for time lost. There’s the likelihood of errors, which take even more time to correct. “When you start to take Vienna, take Vienna,” counseled Napoleon.  When you start to do your taxes, do them.  Get in the tax zone and stay in it without interruption.

  1. Practice Mindfulness. That is, don’t let yourself be distracted by your worst Time Bandit (you).  The data it takes to file your taxes can be revelatory about your financial matters.  You see numbers aggregated for the first time and they make you think:  Maybe I should get out of those investments.  Have rental rates risen since we priced those units?  Might be time to pay off that mortgage.

Do you call up your financial planner about your investments?  Start researching rental rates?  Call your banker about the mortgage?   No.  Distracting yourself causes the same problems as being interrupted by someone else.   If today is the day you planned to do your taxes, then stick to what must be accomplished to meet that goal.  Find all the documents.  Sort and collate them.  Read all the instructions. Run your calculations.

If doing your taxes gives you ideas for your financial future, make note of the ideas but avoid allowing it to be a distraction — finish the task you started.  Otherwise you’ll find yourself sighing a dozen times, Now where WAS  I?  Leveraging mindfulness will make you more productive and let you finish the job faster.

  1. Don’t Let a Negative Attitude Eat Up Time and Energy

Tax filers can waste an incredible amount of time and energy by griping – sometimes verbally, often just mentally. Granted, taxes are a prime source if you want to gripe.  You can get worked up about unfairness, loopholes, rates, the tax code, the impenetrable language, the balky web site, sitting on hold, getting contradictory answers, and being stuck inside when the golf course or garden beckons.

But when you permit your mind to go off task like that, you reap the same time loss and emotional issues that external interruptions cause. Plus you turn an anodyne responsibility into an unpleasant burden.

Instead, practice adopting an attitude of constructive acceptance.  That means accepting gracefully the things that can’t be changed and turning your deliberate acceptance into a constructive tactic.  So it’s not accepting with a sigh, but with newfound eagerness.

A fair price for the privilege of being an American. Well, at least I’m in the black. Whatever thought works for you.

  1. Similar Tasks? Batch Them Up. Think ahead: What actions in preparing your taxes will you have to repeat multiple times? Running calculations? Sorting receipts?

Whatever they are, batch them up, and do all of those like tasks at once. Repetition builds up muscle memory. If it’s doing calculations on your computer, and you do all of them at once, you get faster and faster until your fingers are fairly flying. It will feel good. That won’t happen if you intersperse phone calls or form filling between the calculations.

Batching is also useful for the way it keeps your mind focused. Concentration stimulates the brain. Again, it feels good. Okay, not like sinking a hole in one, but so much more positive than the alternative. If you have a pile of receipts to sort through, do it all in one sitting. Don’t break it up with other activities so that you have to ask, “Now where was I?” and try to recall what your sorting system was.

  1. Separate Hard from Easy. Do hard tasks when you have energy or creativity for them. Hold the easy ones for when your energy flags.

Usually each person’s hard/easy is pretty subjective, but deciphering new tax instructions would be hard for Albert Einstein. Don’t crack that instruction manual in the evening when you’re weary. Don’t use up your energetic hours doing mindless tasks such as sorting. If you’re bad at math, doing calculations is stressful. If you’re good at it, it’s a breeze. Schedule accordingly.

I hope these tips make your tax-time a more cheerful and productive effort. But more than that, I hope you use these tips in your daily life, especially when you have duties that are low on the delight scale.  These and many other time management tips are contained in our book The Time Bandit Solution.  When you make these practices a part of your daily life you will, as the book’s subtitle promises, “recover stolen time you never knew you had.”

Are you running a business? Our company’s time management and business productivity solutions have helped corporations save billions in loss productivity for over 30 years through a methodology called structured time and workflow management (STWM). Contact us to learn more about our 45 day fee free pilot.

 

 

Guiding employees toward better time management in the New Year


With a New Year upon management staffs, many of you might be considering following through with some work-related resolutions. Getting your employees to do the same is no easy task and neither is the ability to stay on target with your resolutions.

Helene Segura, a time management strategist, explained at the beginning of every New Year, the majority of Americans choose time management as one of their New Year’s resolutions. Time management is often accompanied with resolutions such as losing weight, going to the gym, eating healthier and quitting smoking.

“As a business leader, it’s important to not only help your employees achieve improved time management strategies, but to give them as many options to get there as well.”

Helping workers achieve their goals
While you might have your own personal resolutions you want to attend to, numerous workers want to improve their work lives with better time management. As a business leader, it’s important to not only help your employees achieve improved time management strategies, but to give them as many options to get there as well.

In a recent Forbes interview with Dan Ariely, an author on human irrationality and professor of psychology and behavior economics at Duke University, the behavioral expert explained people usually choose time management for a resolution because they’re not any good at it and are obsessed with planning their time better with work and other personal things.

“[The] reality is it’s no wonder we are bad at [time management] because it’s a really, really hard thing to do,” Ariely said in the interview with Forbes. “Not only is it hard to manage multiple things, but you also have dynamic changes throughout the day in which you have some hours where you are more alert and have high cognitive capacity and some hours where you are more tired.”

Management taking action on time management
This is where management has to step up and provide employees with a time management strategy to get their New Year off on the right foot. Workplaces depend on time management strategies because in the end, having employees more effective at work will decrease downtime and money wasted due to inefficiency.

According to Self Growth, time management often fails within a business when everyone is not on the same page. As a manager or leader of a group of workers, it’s imperative to make sure every single person has the same agenda and knows the goals of their team.

When employees create their own agendas and lack serious direction from a business leader, a lot of time is wasted on trying to manage time in the first place. Instead, getting professional support for time management resolutions could get all of your workers on track and moving toward a common goal.

Time management has to be addressed immediately or problems could snowball.Time management has to be addressed immediately or problems could snowball.

Fixing time management problems immediately 
Another big issue with handling time management as a business leader is letting things get out of control to the point where it may not be fixable. According to the wellness blog Everyday Faith and Fitness, sometimes people’s biggest problem is not having enough time in the day to get things done. This can work on a personal level if for example you were trying to make it to the gym twice a week, but couldn’t find the time.

“It’s your responsibility as a coach and leader of the team to get your workers feeling like they aren’t time constrained each day.”

However, on a work-related level, your employees might not be succeeding because their management strategies have turned so sour that they don’t feel like they can get a full-day’s work completed in one day. To nip this in the bud, it’s your responsibility as a coach and leader of the team to get your workers feeling like they aren’t time constrained each day.

Biting off more than you can chew 
Several workers and managers often try to fix time management problems by taking on more than they can handle. To successfully manage your time, try to realize that taking on too much as a leader could put you even further behind.

“If you were a farmer and worked from sunrise to sunset, and farming includes very basic things to do with no real questions, life would be very simple,” Ariely added in the Forbes interview. “But we live in an incredibly wonderful age with lots of things vying for our time, more than we can handle, and on top of that we aren’t limited to sunrise to sunset.”

According to Pep Worldwide, one of the best ways to address time management is to act smarter and to not work harder to achieve better time management. When work is completed more efficiently and without additional work, employees will feel less stressed about how they manage each day. Time management is not an easy task, but with the right help, downtime could turn into a thing of the past.

– See more at: http://cohenbrown.com/guiding-employees-toward-better-time-management-in-the-new-year/#sthash.XC6hwoGd.dpuf

Are your office meetings driving down productivity?


Meetings can be a serious time waster and lower productivity.

There are many obstacles that you have to deal with each workday, but to keep your staff on the right path, you need to make sure unnecessary interruptions are severely limited or eliminated all together.

Throughout a typical workday, some of you might think you spend the majority of your time in meetings. Unplanned interruptions that come from last-minute meetings can significantly impact your productivity and the staff beneath you. You have to control your staff’s and your own time to be a successful leader, but if you don’t take a hold of this, you cannot control unplanned interruptions.

According to a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report, approximately $37 billion is wasted in the U.S. each year due to unnecessary meetings. One of the fastest ways to tell if you’re spending too much time in meetings is if you have ever used an auto-reply saying “I’m in meetings all day,” Entrepreneur reported.

To know if meetings are driving down your productivity, here are a few questions you should be asking:

Do they really need to be here?
One question you should ask is who really needs to be on the attendance list for specific meetings. According to Entrepreneur, keep the attendance list short to make sure other’s time isn’t wasted. Productivity can be significantly affected when workers are constantly going to meetings they don’t need to attend.

When workers begin to feel overwhelmed by the amount of meetings each day, it can slowly manifest into lowered job satisfaction, self-esteem and confidence. Drop the meeting’s roster by as much as possible, so worker momentum is not lost with unnecessary and unimportant gatherings.

Can you move meetings to the phone or Internet?
If the meeting is a simple announcement, these interruptions should be moved to email, Time Management Ninja reported. However, if the meeting is necessary but doesn’t  require some attendees to fully participate, move the meeting to the phone or Internet by chat or webcam.

This will allow workers to attend but work on other things while in the meeting. Phone meetings are a great way for some of your workers to discreetly multitask. Again, being able to work partially is much better than getting to do nothing at all because employees’ momentum is lost when they are removed from their standard daily duties.

Do people take your meetings seriously?
If half the appropriate people show up to your meeting, you’re working within an unorganized system. If you take some of these helpful steps to clearly enforce time wasting prevention and the necessity of meetings, each gathering will be deemed essential.

According to Fast Company, you have to be prepared when you schedule a meeting because sometimes you end up with 20 people in a room talking loudly while you try to hook up your laptop to the large screen. Make sure equipment is ready to go for meetings to cut unnecessary and wasteful time.

Additionally, if you work in a smaller office, the meeting rooms are likely limited. Make sure rooms are appropriately scheduled to avoid interruptions from other employees.

Is the meeting trying to do too much?
Time limits on meetings are a good way to prevent them from going on too long. However, you should focus on whether everyone is on topic. According to USA Today, when meetings try to tackle multiple issues, original points get off subject and lost in the overall importance of the meeting.

Instead, keep meetings concise and to the point. If there are any other topics that could relate to the subject, have your workers email you their concerns to prevent wasting other employees’ time.

We Live in an Interruption Culture


Focus, interruptions, distress, productivityYour office phone rings nonstop with sales pitches while Girl Scouts interrupt you at home to sell those delicious cookies that are only available once a year.

Emails clutter your inboxes, and you send them to the trash while the FedEx package on your desk screams, “Open Me!”

Interruption repeats. Distress manifests. Productivity diminishes.

It’s easy to interrupt people. You’ve been doing it for years. Given the trend over the past two decades, Basex research predicts interruptions will increase at a rate of 5% per year and suggests if the problem is left unchecked, interruptions will occupy the entire workday by 2031.

Don’t think for a minute that other people account for all of our interruptions. If we are honest with ourselves, we would acknowledge that we too are Time Bandits. It’s true. Our minds wander and we actually welcome interruptions.

This much is clear—despite living in an interruption culture, work must go on. But how? You know the problem, but what’s the solution? You invest in time-management tools, but do they show you how to eliminate interruptions or do they simply teach you how to organize your task list?

One effective solution is Focal Locking, which requires you to focus on the task at hand and resist the temptation of distractions. In order to successfully Focal Lock, you must commit to not interrupt yourself. After all, we are our worse interrupter. Consider the financial and productivity benefits of eliminating interruptions from your life. What would you do with 3–5 extra hours per day? Accomplish more at work? Spend more time with family? Or maybe some “me” time?

I promise you, Focal Locking is doable. Learn more about interruptions and Focal Locking at www.stwm.com.

Rhonda Nelson is Senior Vice President of Marketing for Cohen Brown Management Group.

Cohen Brown Management Group Named Top 2014 Sales Training Company To Watch


Los Angeles, CA — March 6, 2014

WatchList-logo2Cohen Brown Management, a global leader in sales and service training, sales and service management and leadership training, culture and behavior change has been named one of the top 2014 Sales Training Companies to watch by Training Industry.com. This top 20 list is part of TrainingIndustry.com’s mission to continually monitor the training marketplace for the best providers of training services and technologies.

This is the first time Cohen Brown has been named to the list. The top 20 companies are recognized for being strong players in the evolution of corporate sales training. Criteria for the Top Sales Training Companies watch list include:

  • Industry recognition and impact on the sales training industry
  • Innovation in the sales training market
  • Company size and growth potential
  • Breadth of service offering
  • Strength of clients served
  • Geographic reach

“It is truly a honor to be acknowledged as a Top Sales Training Companies Watch List,” said Edward G. Brown, President and Co-Chairman. “We take pride in working closely with our clients to evoke permanent behavior change that lead to long-term sustainable results.” It is imperative for leaders in organizations to embrace behavior change as it is the foundation for longevity and success.”

Cohen Brown is recognized for the following:

  • Extensive library of leader-led courseware designed to transform organizations from the top down
  • Courseware that develops a strong sales-and-service culture.
  • Courseware customized for each business unit and delivery channel.
  • Virtual delivery options for training.
  • Leader-led, management supported approach to maximize accountability.
  • Full-management process that is supported by results consulting, training, performance coaching, and comprehensive management roadmaps.

Cohen Brown’s newest program, Structured Time and Workflow Management (STWM), is providing organizations “how to” solutions to eliminate interruptions. Learn more about STWM and attend an upcoming webinar at http://www.stwm.com/webinar.

Increasing Cross-Sales at New Account Openings (NAOs) with Brand New Customers (The NAO Process) is one of our blended solutions for behavioral change that results in dramatically increased sales of products and services at the new account opening. The NAO Process is one example of our customer-centric technologies in sales and service support.

“Innovation and delivery methods are critical to the long-term success of any sales training program. Cohen Brown demonstrates a commitment to innovation and a focus on providing their clients sustained improvement in performance,” said Ken Taylor, Chief Operating Officer, Training Industry, Inc.

cb-logo125x125

About Cohen Brown

For more than 30 years, Cohen Brown (www.cohenbrown.com) has earned acclaim for providing organizations dramatic and profitable bottom-line results with solutions that increase and sustain key behavioral skills. Our internationally recognized training programs—which include behavioral embedding, sales leadership and management, sales, service, structured time and workflow management, motivation, effective communication, and performance coaching—have been customized and proven to be effective in a variety of industries. Our consulting services and courseware build upon existing organizational cultures and surpass the highest sales-and-service expectations.

Image

Fact of life!


Fact of life!

Pareto’s Principle is a fact of life that applies across the board from business to your personal life.