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Last updated on 12/9/20

Manage your time and your motivation

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A few tips for conserving your time and energy

When working in a team, you should know how to organize yourself in order to manage your individual work and the collective phases (meetings, requests from your fellow team-members, from clients, from your N+1, etc.).

Here are a few methods to help you manage your time:

The Pomodoro technique

This technique gets its name from its Italian inventor, who used a kitchen timer in the form of a tomato 🍅 (or pomodoro in Italian 😉).

At one time or another, we’ve all accomplished a task more efficiently because we were short on time (ie a train to catch).

Go about it like this:

  • safeguard your internal and external appointments by synchronizing all your electronic calendars, using alerts so as not to forget any, plan ahead for travelling time using the application Plans (which calculates the time and warns you when you need to leave)

  • in your diary, define work slots of 2 hours at a time

  • break each 2-hour slot down into 4 detailed tasks, listed on a to-do list 🙂

  • complete 4 timed 25-minute sessions (1 session = 1 task), using your smartphone’s timer

  • the sessions are interspersed with 5-minute pauses

  • as you complete each mini-task, cross it proudly off your to-do list

  • at the end of the 4th session, take a 15-minute pause and give yourself a reward 😎

The 2-20-2-2 method

This is the method I recommend for dealing with so-called “urgent” requests from above, from fellow team members or from external partners.

Except where the request immediately and unambiguously specifies the degree of urgency, in all the other cases, it’s your own perception that categorizes it like that. Askers can often wait a certain time, letting you stick to your own work schedule.

Assessment of the time to deal with the request

Action

2 minutes

I’ll do it at once

20 minutes

I’ll do it as soon as I’ve finished

2 hours

I’ll negotiate the deadline or the deliverable

2 days

I’ll inform my manager and/or ask for the priorities to be revised

Know how to say “no” while remaining positive

It’s possible to say “no” in order to respect your own needs, without making the other person feel guilty.

Go about this in three stages:

  1. State the facts: “I’m not going to be able to lunch with you at 12 o’c after all” / “I can’t deal with this call for tenders”.

  2. Talk about your needs, of what this does to you [T2] : “I need to do some sport to unwind” / “I don’t know the field well and I’m liable to make mistakes”.

  3. Look for another option: “… and I’m up for dinner with the whole team any time you like!”  / “Do you think I can get a training course?”  or: “Maybe I can help you with something else?” or: “Can you think of anyone else to take care of it?”

The Jackpot question 

Sometimes requests you receive are not clear and become time-consuming. Or else the enthusiastic asker doesn’t realize they are monopolizing you. You can then launch the “jackpot question”, which may cause a short silence, but will be followed by a rapid clarification.

Manage your motivation

There are phases where working in a team increases your motivation, gives you a boost; and others where it saps your energy. You must learn to manage your motivation, as it’s not just your manager’s responsibility!

To do this, you can work on three levels:

  • increase your personal coherency

  • anchor your resources and know how to bring your positive internal states into play

  • know how to maintain perspective and let go

1) Increase your personal coherency

Take stock of your objectives using your four brains

In order to mobilize your 4 brains:

  1. Describe your objective using words, in terms of steps and processes: it’s the left neocortex (language, logic) that is speaking.

  2. Then draw, or make a collage, using the images and symbols that appear in your vision  of your objective: here, it’s the right neocortex (imagination, analogies, intuition) that is expressing itself.

  3. Now imagine you have achieved your objective; describe what you are feeling in terms of emotions, feelings, and the physical effects of this perception. This is your median brain revealing itself.

  4. Lastly, concentrate on the sensory experience, the gestures, the relationship with space and movement that is involved in accomplishing your objective (I go round all our sales outlets, I smile, I shake hands, I assemble a prototype, etc.). This is the cerebellum, the movement brain, that is working.

Deepen your visions, use “visioning” to get your 4 brains in harmony.

Align yourself with your fundamental values

In the first part of this course, in the chapter “Understand the way you function”, you explored your value system and defined the 7 values that are the most fundamental for you.

In order to align yourself to your values:

  • pick the 4 most important ones (for example: 1. success, 2. sharing, 3. freedom, 4. justice);

  • identify the daily actions and tasks that are in line with each of these values; and

  • assess the time taken up each day by the tasks that are in line with your 4 values.

2) Anchor your resources: bring positive internal states into play

Identify your energy reserves

The energy reserves on which you draw are fed by your fundamental needs being satisfied.

Go back to the detailed Maslow pyramid in the very first chapter of this course and assess your levels of satisfaction.

As soon as certain levels are insufficient, begin more or less long-term measures, and while waiting, balance with out-of-work activities.

Get rid of interference
  • make a list of 10 situations, attitudes (your own, other people’s), thoughts that generate interference for you;

  • assess the cost/benefit ratio of keeping these sources of “interference”; and

  • decide to rid yourself of the interference by eliminating or changing.

Anchor

You’ve done your troubleshooting and decide to change your habits.

Then, you choose to anchor your resource states, for example “being calm and serene during an oral presentation”, “being assertive in sales negotiations”. To do this:

  • imagine and rehearse the situation

  • go through the gestures, speak the words, adapt your posture and your breathing in accordance with the state you want

  • repeat this anchoring 3 times, then regularly: your 4 brains will remember this when you are in the real situation! 

3) Maintain perspective and let go

Because it confronts the unknown and creates an interdependency between the fellow team members, working in a team can generate stress in those who have a need for security that expresses itself as a desire for maximum control. You must be able to maintain perspective, in order to preserve your own well-being and motivation.

Stress is a phenomenon that is distinct from the emotions. It is a reaction to the feeling of not being in charge, of losing control, and not having the means for the performance expected. It aggravates emotional over-sensitivity; but while an emotion is triggered by an event, a current situation, and hence a real detonator, stress,however, concerns the future and is most often based on the anticipation of unpleasantness to come.

If you think back over the irritations of your day at work when you go home in the evening, if you go back the next morning in the same mood, if you find yourself increasingly bearing grudges, it means you’re dwelling on things too much: you need to learn to let go.

Each time your are dwelling on something, ask yourself these questions:

Does this situation really justify my getting myself into this state?

Will I lose face if I give up my own proposal and adopt someone else’s?

What if today I allowed myself to say to a fellow team-member: “You’re right”?

The two exercises I’m suggesting to you below will enable you to start letting go and gain the serenity needed for the relations with your fellow team members. They are preventive as much as curative. In the case of chronic stress with psychosomatic symptoms (backache, pain, headaches, dizziness), don’t be afraid to consult a specialist in order to pursue a more systematic anti-stress plan: serenity is possible!

Exercise 1: “cardiac coherence” (3 min): Train yourself, sitting comfortably, your back well supported. Breathe in and out deeply, 6 times per minute, i.e. breathe in over 5 seconds and out over 5 seconds. Set a stopwatch for 3 min. With a little practice, you’ll be able to do it without even thinking. To help you stay concentrated on your breathing rather than on counting the seconds, close your eyes and draw oscillations at the rhythm of your breathing (upwards for breathing in, downwards for breathing out) on a piece of paper. When the alarm goes, check you are getting gradually closer to 6 oscillations/min, i.e. 18 oscillations for the whole exercise. This slow rhythm is the one that allows your heart rate to be in sync with your breathing.

Exercise 2: “full consciousness” (3 min): Concentrate on your breathing, deep and calm. Be in the present moment and awaken your sensory perceptions (sight, hearing, smell, touch, taste). Multiple thoughts will present themselves. Don’t try and hold them back; welcome them in and observe what they provoke in you physically and in your physical posture. Note the movements that escape you. Don’t stop concentrating on your breathing. The more you practise this so-called “full consciousness” meditation, the more the endless film of your spurious thoughts will be appeased.

As a conclusion : choose the serendipity option

Have you heard of serendipity?

Serendipity means the faculty of making unexpected discoveries by chance. The scientific adventure is full of this type of fortuitous discovery. This applies to our mental attitude too. It’s an optimistic attitude of being open to unexpected events and an ability to find opportunities and pleasure in change.

Serendipity is also a way of feeding one’s motivation: knowing that by your open attitude, you will be able to make the most of unforeseen events!

This Work effectively in a team course is coming to an end. I hope you’ve found in it some techniques, some methods, and some tips that will be helpful to you in your onward journey as a super team player. Don’t hesitate to send me any comments or questions via the internal messaging service!

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