How Parkinson’s Law Rocked My Schedule

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Time management is boring. It also rarely works.

Why? Because life happens. Our lives aren’t rigid and they don’t happen in 30 minute intervals (even though every digital calendar ever created says so).

Time management feels about as fun as budgeting your entire month’s spending with real dollars and envelopes (yes I know people do this and I don’t mean to offend).  Effective, yes.  Fun, not a chance.  Do you think people continue doing things that aren’t fun?  Some may…most don’t.

So what can you do?

Use Parkinson’s Law to your benefit.

Parkinson’s law is the adage that “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”.

I’m going to distill this down to something you can use immediately after reading this post.  Think of a project or task you have on your “to-do list” but that doesn’t have a due date for a week or two.  What do you do now?

The answer is: Everything but the task due in two weeks!  The reason for this is there is no immediacy or priority associated to completing it today.   So how can we change this?

Get better at starting!

If I have a big presentation, strategy, or concept I’m working on it can feel daunting.  I have the end in mind of where I’d like to go, but the path to getting there is muddled with questions and idea euphoria.  INSERT PARKINSON’S LAW.

Here are my six simple steps to assign Parkinson’s law to your benefit.

  1. Choose to Start.  This is the biggest hurdle.  Choose a time (sooner rather than later) and start.  Don’t be weighed down by the thought of completion, only focus on the start.  The rest can take care of itself.  The key is getting off of zero.
  2.  Limit Time to Focus.  Think about your attention span.  I recommend 25-35 minutes.
  3. Alone Zone.  Find a space where you can be left alone.  This could be a home office, outside, a Starbucks, etc.
  4. Notifications…NOT NOW!!!  Turn your phone off, leave it behind, or put it on airplane mode.  You can’t be truly focused while being bombarded with incoming: snaps, Facebook messages, tweets, #regrams, emails, texts, and the list continues to grow.  You can go without the crack for 30 minutes.
  5. Turn ON the Sound.  For me I typically use Pandora or a white noise app.  Personally I can’t listen to anything with lyrics or a beat I’m familiar with.  My leg starts shaking like a dog ready to go for a walk.  My pandora stations include: Solo Piano, Acoustic Guitar, and Yoga Radio.  Each allows me to dial into my creative channel.
  6. Rock the Time Allowed.  If you get to the end of your 30 minutes and you’re kicking ass, keep going.  The reward is you’ve started.

Now instead of having two weeks to complete a project and investing 12 hours on the last day, you’ll have started your work and can break the project up into smaller and more achievable mini-projects.  Your stress level will be greatly reduced and your finished product will reflect your commitment to start sooner.

ACTION ITEM:  Think about a project you’re working on right now.  Maybe you have a couple of them.  Use Parkinson’s Law to your advantage and start with a short commitment now.


Are You Afraid of Money?


There is so much to learn.

Money can be a taboo topic for many.  I get it.  It’s highly personal and no one can really evaluate the choices of others because we don’t have a great understanding of their: upbringing, family, debts, income, etc.

But none of these factors should stop you from getting educated on the topic of money.  After all, it’s the #1 cause of stress in households in 2015 (by a landslide) says CNBC.

So what can we do about it? Make a choice. Get educated!

To begin, I’ll confirm to all of my readers that I’ve read each of these books.  Each more than one time.  Secondly, I’m recommending these books specifically because they offer contradictory recommendations (what did you think I’d just tell you what to do?).

I want you to be able to use your brain and figure out your own financial path.  It was already expressed that we’re all in different situations financially, so why offer one cookie cutter answer?  Get intelligent, and use this intelligence the rest of your life to evaluate opportunities.  When you complete these five books, you will understand there are guiding principles to create your unique financial foundation.

Five Books About Money

The Total Money Makeover: Classic Edition: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness

Dave offers a very no nonsense approach to money through his book and nationally syndicated radio show.  The foundation revolves around elimination of debt (all debt).  I encourage you to learn Dave’s Seven Baby Steps.   A person has to understand they can’t get ahead by battling a mountain of debt.  Dave also outlines simple strategies to live by a budget and save for retirement.  To put this in my own words, “Stop buying shit you can’t afford!”  I don’t care what the neighbors are driving or wearing.

I Will Teach You To Be Rich

Ramit is a Stanford grad educated in personal behavior and his book is great for those starting out.  There is a ton of actionable info in this book.  His six-week action plan will lay a solid strategy for anyone getting started in the money game.  He talks debt reduction, credit cards, 401K/Roth IRAs, asset allocation, and living a truly “rich life”.  Here’s a hint – rich isn’t just a number, it’s a lifestyle choice.  You can also follow Ramit’s blog at I Will Teach You To Be  I get emails from Ramit daily.

Rich Dad’s Guide to Investing: What the Rich Invest in, That the Poor and the Middle Class Do Not!

This book will help you think about money in a very non-traditional “go to work and get paid” linear way.  Earlier, I told you I’d provide contradicting advice in this post to get that noodle of yours working.  Check out what Ramit thought of Rich Dad Poor Dad here on his blog   No book is perfect, but I do love the angles Rich Dad Poor Dad presented to me when I first read it.  It made me think about money differently.  It makes you take a step back and ask yourself, “What am I really doing to improve my financial picture?”

MONEY Master the Game: 7 Simple Steps to Financial Freedom

This book was just released in the latter part of 2014.  I got it for Christmas and it took a while to devour its 600+ pages of material.  You may be thinking, “Tony Robbins? Isn’t he the life-coach/self-help author?”  Yup!  He tapped some of the most unreal relationships anyone could ever imagine to strip down the topic of money.  He takes some of the strategies of the ultra-rich and makes them available to you and I.  If you’re putting this in order, I think this is more of a master’s level book.  Not only is it 600+ pages, it offers many contradicting investment strategies from the world’s most accomplished investors and investment strategists (once again there isn’t only one right answer here folks).  If you’re into audio, I love listening to Tony’s interview with Tim Ferriss on his Four Hour Workweek podcast regarding the release of the book.

Think and Grow Rich: The Landmark Bestseller – Now Revised and Updated for the 21st Century

This book was written nearly 80 years ago.  How could it possibly be relevant today?  Hill’s book helps to answer the question, “What makes a winner?”  The reason I’d like you to read this book is because it creates a spark.  There are hundreds of stories of people retiring rich who didn’t have large incomes to begin with.  I think that’s wonderful.  I also think a little bit of motivation and focus goes a long way to achieving one’s goals and this will help you get started.  I’ve probably picked this book up 20+ times and read it cover to cover three times.

Okay, so I left out a few books.  If you’re hungry for more, there are a few you can dive into:
The Richest Man in Babylon

The Automatic Millionaire: A Powerful One-Step Plan to Live and Finish Rich

The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America’s Wealthy

Secrets of the Millionaire Mind: Mastering the Inner Game of Wealth

ACTION ITEM: The worst choice you can make is to do nothing.  And yes, it is a choice.  Don’t try to eat the whole elephant either.  Choose to pick up one book and start learning.  Pick up another and challenge what you’ve just learned.  Tell me where you are a year from now.

~Here’s to a rich life

Look Twice for Blind Spots Blind Spots

We’ve all been there right?

I’m driving, I’m paying attention (so I think), and I make a move to change lanes. Suddenly, I catch a glimpse of the car I thought I’d checked for, right in my blind spot. I nearly hit them.

My heart races. My mouth gets dry like I just ate 100 crackers. Adrenaline spikes. I immediately check all mirrors and veer back into my lane. Somehow I’m trying to figure out if I apologize with a kind smile or wave to my victim. I didn’t mean it, you were in my blind spot…

  • What if I wasn’t talking about cars?
  • What if the blind spot I’m referencing isn’t a dead zone in our mirrors, but really a personality flaw?

I have a couple blind spots. Everyone does. It’s human nature. I’m going to tell you about mine and how I check my mirrors (when reflecting) to make sure I’m not running anyone over.

My first blind spot is the slippery slope of my confidence level. Not sure where it came from, but I’ve always been a fairly confident person. I wouldn’t fault myself or anyone else for this. I believe a person needs an edge to win, and if I can’t believe in myself, who will right?!?

Welcome blind spot!

In the past, I’ve let my confidence pass the line from being confident and humble to cocky. Let me tell you something quick. No one likes the word cocky or the definition of the person it’s labeling. I have written proof of this.

I have unbelievable friends. Friends so committed to looking after me, they will tell me the truth. The BRUTAL truth.  These are my truths from a time in my life I’m not proud of, but I can’t change. The following thoughts came from a great friend of mine via email nearly seven years ago and it addresses one of my blind spots.

Here’s how the message started:

I must first preface this email by saying this: I care about you a lot, you are one of my best friends, and this is why I feel comfortable enough to say the things that you are about to read below.

My friend goes on to describe behaviors of mine that could easily be labeled as arrogant and careless in regard to other people. You may wonder why I keep such a message? I keep it because the feelings were real and it generates real emotion. Every time I read it I get angry at myself. But I, nor you, can change the past. I am, however, comfortable with knowing I have the opportunity not to be this person ever again based on my daily actions and behaviors. Back to the message.

The letter ends with this powerful statement:

The reason I am telling you all of this: Because I am your friend and I want to continue to have you as my friend. I also care about Beth (my wife) and I believe that she deserves the Zac that you used to be. I also know that you can handle this critique because if you couldn’t, I would not send you this email. I also hope that if I ever need a little check on myself, that you will be one of the first ones to call me out.

Every time I read this I stop for a second…

My immediate response is overwhelming. Thank you! Thank you! If my friend is reading this (and I really hope they are), they will know how things turned out for the better, maybe even the BEST! I think it is safe to say this letter may have reset my life into a better direction. A direction I’m proud to say I’m on today.

But, I’m still not perfect.  I have a second blind spot.

The second blind spot I’m aware of is my tendency to over-focus on achievement. I’m a very driven person. I will laser focus on achieving the next thing, the next win, the next big advance (personally and professionally). As you can imagine, at times, this hyper focus will cause me to lose sight of what really matters. Precious time with family, friends, and simply just enjoying life is what really matters.

Good news, I’m getting better. Much better. The birth of my son added a perspective I thought I was ready for, but greatly under appreciated until it actually happened. I believe I’m much better now at focusing on the essential and leaving the trivial to pass. I’ll always be driven, but now I feel I’m more dangerous because I have the power to pursue and let go equally.

So what’s next? How can you address your blind spots?

If you’re tracking on my analogies, blind spots are there for all of us. We just have to take an extra second to see what’s actually going on around us and be willing to see it for what it really is. In my case, I have a wonderful group of very close friends and a wife who sometimes seems to be more interested in taking care of me than I am. They help me see what is out of focus in my life.

ACTION ITEM: Followers know I write from time to time about reflection. I can’t say enough about how valuable it is in seeing the bigger picture at hand. I challenge you to reflect and write down two of your blind spots. It DOES NOT make you a bad person. On the contrary, I believe it adds much needed awareness to your life.

None of Us is as Dumb as All of Us

It was a Sunday morning 2013.  I was in Orlando, FL for the National Automobile Dealer’s Association conference.  It is customary every year to have a Sunday service during the convention and each year there was an inspirational message delivered to a pretty sizable audience.

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I was in that audience the day Mark Kelly NASA Astronaut and husband to Arizona congresswoman Gabby Giffords delivered his inspirational message.  The speech was incredibly moving and filled with incredible amounts of insight.   Gabby’s perseverance toward recovery alone is an incredible story.  Oddly enough, want to know the one thing I remember from his speech?

“None of Us is as Dumb as All of Us”

Yes, a NASA Astronaut shared this simple quote as an axiom to live by.  Why?  Because in a room of arguably the smartest people on the planet NASA team members could all agree to make a horrible decision.   Here is a little more context of the quote,

“A well-meaning team of people can sometimes make horrible decisions that no single individual would make. Groupthink, and an unwillingness to disagree with the bosses, was too often a problem at NASA… None of us is as dumb as all of us.”

What can we learn from this as leaders of teams and companies?

I had a wonderful client a few years ago in Eastern Pennsylvania.  I’ll leave his name to be anonymous, but I can tell you he was a Georgetown grad and a very sharp business man.  I learned early on about his unique management style and engagement with his team and myself.  I admire him and will never forget what he taught me about leadership.

“Challenge my thinking,” he used to say in our meetings.

“Help me poke holes in my ideas so that we may come to a better solution.”

I loved it.  Notice the careful wording he would use.  Challenge my thinking, instead of, I don’t agree with you.  Help me poke holes in my idea..

I’ve met many leaders.  Very few have the confidence in their teams to openly warrant disagreement and discussion.  Many talk about it as the “right thing to do” but few deliver because their teams are either afraid or leader won’t listen to them either way.  These are not strong team.s

The Difference Between Disagreement and Alignment

Disagreement can be healthy so long as the team remains focused on the goal at hand and nothing gets personal.  It is healthy to disagree.  But don’t just stop at disagreement.  The next step, or bookend to the conversation is alignment.

Michael Hyatt said in a great blog post to disagree but always align.  What terrific advice.  Make your argument, state your case, but there comes to a point where decisions need to be made and teams need to align again when the leader does make a decision.  This will send all team members in a positive direction with one single focus (goal) in mind of achieving.

Never forget, “None of Us, is as Dumb, as All of Us!”

ACTION ITEM: This action item is two-fold based on who you may be as a reader.  If you are a leader, ask for those around you to challenge what you’re doing.  Challenge the “same old same old” way of doing things.  Beg your team to push back but remain solutions focused in your pursuit of getting better.

If you’re the team member, offer up suggestions to your boss.  Deliver them in box wrapped in positive outcomes and solutions to make the team or business better.  If your boss won’t allow it.  Update your resume and run like hell.

What Stands In the Way of Massive 2015 Success?


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We’re at a crucial point in 2015.

We’re at the decision point where New Year’s resolutions and BIG goals for the year are at the mercy of becoming extinct. We’re only a little over one month into the year, but that’s all it takes to set a person back on the path to a mediocre lifestyle and redundant boredom.

Kind of sad isn’t it?

All it takes is 30 days of inactivity or lack of focus to set our hopes and dreams back into the basement.  I believe the key to obtaining what you want is very simple, and sometimes painfully easy if you will follow three steps.

These three steps require two equal parts of commitment: honest reflection and simple straightforward answers. Here is an exercise I challenge you to go through with your goals.  I use it for every goal I set.

1. What is the goal? – Is this specific?
2. Why do I want to achieve it? – Do I have a burning desire to achieve it?  If your honest answer is no, the chances of you pursuing it through thick and thin are extremely slim.

PAUSE. If you have specific answers to questions one and two, the third question and resulting answers should be painfully easy to answer. IF…if you’re willing to get to the simplest answer possible.   No bullshit.

3. What is standing in your way of achieving this goal?






Rewind back to this statement, “IF…if you’re willing to get to the simplest answer possible.   No bullshit.”  This answer to this question is what keeps people from getting what they want.  They’re not brutally honest and in search of the simple answer.  Simple answers yield simple action plans.

Instead what do most people do?

We lie to ourselves.  We tend make our hurdles, struggles, or challenges bigger than they really are.  We worry about hundreds of things that could happen.  Tony Robbins says most people really struggle to see things exactly as they are.  Instead most see them worse than they really are.   Seeing things as they really are allow us to see the path to achievement much easier.  No Bullshit.  No one’s fault but our own.

  • Where do I want to go?
  • What’s keeping me from getting there?

Once the dirt, lies, and pain of failure are washed away, a roadmap to your goal will appear.

Are you committed to follow it?

Action Item: I spent about an hour this weekend reviewing my targets for 2015 and doing a brutal self assessment of where I stood.  Side note: Honesty doesn’t require a personal mental beating.  I challenge you to review your goals and reset the roadmap if you’re off course.  There is too much year left not to make an enormous impact and CRUSH IT!