The silver bullet…

We would all love to have one. And some of us still believe it exists. How often have I been asked for the right tool: the magic task management tool which will solve all my issues and magically organize my time.

If you know it, please let me know. I am still searching.

If you are like most, you have probably tried many different tools and ways to organize time: Making a ‘to do’ list, writing things down, excel spread sheet, the latest app and so on.

And, if you are like most, you have found out that none of these tools is the silver bullet

Over the past 13 years of working with clients to help them to work smarter live better, I have found that there is no such thing as ‘The Best Tool’. The key is not the tool. It is the PROCESS. A fool with a tool is still a fool.

‘A fool with a tool is still a fool…’ This is how Ian introduced me.

Ian was introducing me to a room full of IT Managers as part of the Modern Workplace Roadshow organized by Microsoft. Microsoft had reached out to me to see if I could be their guest speaker during this roadshow in Australia, to go beyond the tool and discuss the simple process to help people to be more productive.

Here is the interview I did with Ian straight after the session.

Ian Heard:
Hi, everyone. We’ve just concluded our fourth Modern Workplace Event Series event here in Sydney, around the digital revolution. With
that we’ve focused heavily in areas such as intelligent communications, collaboration, and also security, focusing on the great
capability of Microsoft 365. But one thing that we know is that if you can’t work effectively, then you can’t take advantage of these
fantastic innovations. And that’s why we’ve enlisted Cyril to help us.

So, Cyril Peupion works for Work Smarter Live Better, and they are consultants who have been working extensively with Microsoft, and
our partners, and customers over the past weeks, months, and years.

Cyril, it’d be great just to get some of your insight as to what you’ve seen and also what you’re seeing in the modern workplace
because you talk about not being trained to work. What does that actually mean?

Cyril Peupion:
Yes, something that has surprised me over the year. I started the session with something which surprised many people: “most people have never been shown how to work?”. And people say, “What do you mean by that?” Well, if you really think about it, when you go to school and university you learn a qualification. So you become a doctor, an engineer, or an accountant, and one day you start working. I gave some examples and we all had a laugh: let’s look at how you organize yourself, let’s look at your desk, let’s look at the pile of documents on your desk.

Now let’s moved to your computer, let’s look at under your inbox all the folders, how people create folders and sub-folders and sub-sub-folders. And I ask people, “Why, why are you doing it this way? Why did you choose this way of organizing yourself?” Most people say, “I don’t know, I have so much information that I need to keep, that I try to find a system that works for me.” Is that the best way of doing it? Maybe yes, maybe no. I have never been shown how to do this?”.

Ian Heard:
Absolutely and there were certainly some pieces that you make me look in the mirror and feel a bit uncomfortable at times there, in the session today, but that’s great.

Cyril Peupion:
Sometimes I hear people asking “Cyril, do you have a webcam in my office?” I say, “Yes.”

Ian Heard:
You mentioned email, what are some of the big pitfalls you’re seeing people take every single day as they try to become more productive?

Cyril Peupion:
I think there is a confusion between quantity and quality. People think performance is about quantity, it’s about the number of meetings you’re doing, it’s the amount of emails you’re responding, the number of tasks you’re doing. I think performance is about quality. And there’s this big pitfall at the moment where we try to be more collaborative. Don’t get me wrong collaboration is really important, and the tools to support that are very important, but sometimes it comes to the detriment of quality and focus.

Ian Heard:
Yeah, that makes sense. And that ties in to what we’re seeing in the market, where there’s just so much data being created right now. They say that 90% of the total data in the world has been created in the past two years, so it’s just hitting people.

So, for the people watching this, top tip, out of everything you talk about, and I know it’s extensive, what is the one top tip or take away you’d suggest people get on with straight away?

Cyril Peupion:
A hard question, because when we work with a team, we take them through a four months journey. So, top tip on the top of my tongue, I would probably say focus is one, but I will say also prioritize by impact.

What do I mean by this? Everything has accelerated: the number of things we have to do, the number of emails we are receiving, the number of meetings we have to attend. I used to watch my client’s calendar and see what I call the ‘back to back’ calendar. It’s now evolved to something else
I call that the Tetris calendar.

A Tetris calendar is when you have three meetings at once competing for one spot. That’s Tetris. That’s what many calendars look like. The speed of
everything has accelerated dramatically.

Ian Heard:
You’re making me look in the mirror again by the way.

Cyril Peupion:
Yes, and I think we all do. We can all relate to this. With the speed of things, we are pushed with urgency, we are pushed to look at things and say, “I need to do this, I need to respond to this,” and so on.

If I have one tip, one key tip, it will be prioritize by impact. What does that mean? You look at everything you have to do, and most people ask themselves four words: “When is it due?”. So we look at our To Do list, you look at our emails, we look at everything we have to do. And we have this filter at the back of our mind: “when is it due?”. I think you need to fight against that, and you need to put another filter in your brain. And the filter that comes above is not “When is it due?”. The most important question is “What impact long term?”.

You know in the Matrix when Tank download combat training in the brain of Neo. If I could download this to the brain of everyone, this simple filter “What impact long term?” that would have a huge impact on their performance and life.

Every quarter I look at my priorities, and every quarter I choose three priorities based on what impact long term.

Every week I look at my list, and every week I prioritize my list on this logic, what impact long term? Every day I look at what I have to do, and every day I use this logic, what impact long term?

The impact long term is not only your performance. I look at my kids, I look at my wife. “I have so many emails, no darling I don’t have the time to go out with you. No. Mirabelle, Fleur, Cameron, my three kids, I don’t have the time.” And I think, what impact long term? Respond to this email, or spend time with them?

That’s my tip.

Ian Heard:
And look, I want to thank you personally because you’ve had a profound effect on my life and how I prioritize things, and what I see as actually important in my working day, but also in my personal life. And it was really great we had the opportunity to share some of those insights with our customers today. So, really want to thank you.

Cyril Peupion:
And I really resonate with this, because it’s not about habits, it’s not about having a clear inbox, it’s not about having a clear desk, it’s not about having an organized calendar. That’s not what it’s about. It’s about life, it’s about freedom, it’s about control, it’s about the moments that really matter. Living a life where you really put the moments that matter first. That’s what it’s about.

Ian Heard:
Great way to finish.

Cyril Peupion:
Thank you.

Ian Heard:
Thanks so much Cyril.

Cyril Peupion:
You’re welcome.

P.S. Whenever you’re ready… here are 4 ways I can help you be in control

1. Grab a free copy of my weekly plan

It is a simple tool but very important process to spend 2hrs more per day on your business and personal priorities. — Click Here

2. Check my video blogs

For my clients, I record regular tips to keep the momentum on challenging their work habits. I have now made the previous video blogs available to all. — Click Here

3. Get a copy of my book, Work Smarter: Live Better

Pushed by my clients, I wrote a book about practical ways to transform your life by changing your work habits. — Click Here

4. Work with me and my team privately

If you’d like me and my team to work directly with you, your team and your business to transform your life by changing your work habits… just reply to this message and put “Private” in the subject line… tell me a little about your team and business, and what you’d like to work on together, and I’ll personally be in touch!

Cyril is the author of ‘Work Smarter: Live Better’, in the top 10 business books in Australia