Happy New Year!

As we enter into 2013, what are your leadership goals for the year?  Any leadership related resolutions?

How will you improve your own leadership prowess?

How will you help others?

We have big plans for the Leader’s Locker this year.  It’s time to kick things up a notch.

So much to do, and only 364 days left to make it all happen this year!

Let’s get a move on!  Lead strong!

 

Thanks for a Great 2011!

Thank you everyone for a great 2011!

This was the first year of the Leader’s Locker! And its been a great time!

After plenty of posts, thousands of views, tweets on Twitter, followers on Facebook, and links to LinkedIn – I can honestly say…we’re just getting started!  There are big plans in store for 2012 to help you be a more insightful, impactful, and audacious leader!

As a quick recap – the top 5 posts of the year were:

  1. Are You Wasting My Time?  – March
  2. Is That the Best You Can Do?  – July
  3. How Do They Describe You?  – July
  4. When a Great Leader Leaves  – April
  5. Calling an Audible  – November

Thank you for taking time to read and contribute to the Leader’s Locker!  I wish you successful leading in 2012!

Happy New Year!

~Jason

I Conquered My Inbox Anxiety!

For years now, my email inbox has been a source of frustration, stress, and anxiety.

I receive lots of email.  But I’m horrible at managing my inbox!

I’ve tried all kinds of email tips, tricks and filing techniques.  I’ve tried unsubscribing to unimportant subscription emails.  Reduced the number of distribution lists I’m on.  I’ve tried auto-rules.  I’ve tried scheduling “email time” early in my work morning to keep up.  I’ve even tried just dumping things in to one big folder.

But nothing has seemed to work.  Until now.

I have found something that works for me.  And believe it or not… it’s simple.  So, here it is.

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I’ve taken my personal folders and turned them in to “years”.  Then I create sub-folders that are “months”.

I did this both for received emails and for sent emails.

Then when I’m done with my emails – I simply move them over to the proper month.  It’s fast.  It’s efficient.  It’s easy!

I told a few people about this, but they challenged me saying, “How will you ever find an archived email if you don’t file them by name, topic, project, etc.”?

First, I took a good hard look at how often I actually go back and pull up or need an old email.  Survey says?  Very rarely.

Second, I learned that most of the emails I do look for are things that have been sent to me within the last 4-6 weeks.  So, that means only looking in 1-3 sub-folders max.
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Third, searching sub-folders is easy.  I can sort by name, topic, or date.  I can also use key word searches.  And quite honestly, because the sub-folders are relatively small, the search doesn’t take very long to complete and I spot things quickly.
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This method may not be for everyone, but after one month – I am pretty happy with it!
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Now, there are no silver bullets when it comes to email management.  I do still delete unnecessary emails, unsubscribe, limit the distributions I’m on, and use auto-rules.  However, this new filing system has given me back time in my day and lowered my stress level.

If you try it, let me know if it worked for you too.

How do you keep your inbox clean?

Return from a Short Hiatus

If you’ve wondered why there hasn’t been any new content posted on The Leaders Locker or new emails in the last couple weeks, it’s because I was away on vacation.  And the kind that doesn’t allow you much contact back with the digital and social world.  While this is always a shock to my system for the first few days, it starts to become kind of nice when you detox a bit because you lose connection with the outside world (namely the workplace).

Going away for a bit is always a great idea.  It’s always good to let your batteries recharge a little.

While I was hanging out on the deck of the cruise ship, my mind went to a place where it could free flow ideas. This “place” was mainly due to relaxation and not caused by some artificial state of induced euphoria – in case you were wondering.  It was that state where your worries and stress just seem to melt away.  Fortunately, I had my iPhone close by to take notes and jot down thoughts and ideas for future posts and articles.

I thought this would be a fitting first article upon my return, because it highlights a key (yet often forgotten) tenet of being a leader.  What is this great piece of wisdom you ask?  It’s not so much great wisdom as it is common sense – and here it is:  Leaders need to take breaks.  If nothing else, to refresh the mind.  However, there are many benefits of vacations or “time away” from the daily grind.

In doing a little research, I pulled these thoughts from an article written by Elizabeth Scott on the importance of vacations for stress relief, productivity, and health.

  • Vacations Promote Creativity: A good vacation can help us to reconnect with ourselves, operating as a vehicle for self-discovery and helping us get back to feeling our best.
  • Vacations Stave Off Burnout: Workers who take regular time to relax are less likely to experience burnout, making them more creative and productive than their overworked, under-rested counterparts.
  • Vacations Can Keep Us Healthy: Taking regular time off to ‘recharge your batteries’, thereby keeping stress levels lower, can keep you healthier.
  • Vacations Promote Overall Well Being: One study found that three days after vacation, subjects’ physical complaints, their quality of sleep and mood had improved as compared to before vacation. These gains were still present five weeks later, especially in those who had more personal time and overall satisfaction during their vacations.
  • Vacations Can Strengthen Bonds: Spending time enjoying life with loved ones can keep relationships strong, helping you enjoy the good times more and helping you through the stress of the hard times. In fact, a study by the Arizona Department of Health and Human Services found that women who took vacations were more satisfied with their marriages.
  • Vacations Can Help With Your Job Performance: As the authors of the above study suggest, the psychological benefits that come with more frequent vacations lead to increased quality of life, and that can lead to increased quality of work on the job.
  • Vacations Relieve Stress in Lasting Ways: It should come as no surprise that vacations that include plenty of free time bring stress relief, but research shows that a good vacation can lead to the experience of fewer stressful days at least five weeks later! That means that vacations are the gift to yourself that keeps on giving
There are two things that I would like to add to this post about vacation.
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The first is that of duration.  One of my mentors told me once that while the short 3 or 4 day weekends are great to help give you a little extra rest, extended vacations (week or more) help you really relax.  While I am sure that this is different for everyone, I must admit that my experiences support my mentor’s comment.  It seems like its usually day 3 or 4 on my vacation before I can truly start to relax.  Its the right amount of time for me to get past the anxiety of having to know whats happening at work.  And while I usually don’t take my company Blackberry on vacation anymore, there is still that nagging voice in my head that wants to know what’s happening at work.  He goes away after 2-3 days, which is when I really start to relax.
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The second is that of perspective.  While vacations hopefully allow your mind, body, and spirit the opportunity to relax a little, I always find that my mind becomes less noisy.  And when there is less noise, I have clearer perspective on life.  Things that may have had me wound up at work, just don’t seem as important any more.  It allows me time to help assess my current priorities and reprioritize if necessary.  I know I did a little of that in this last trip.
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So, with the vacation season upon us, I hope that you are able to slip away and enjoy some nice quite relaxing time that allows you to enjoy family and friends and lets you shed the worry and stress of the daily grind.  Hopefully, those quiet moments will also grant you clarity and perspective as well.
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Now that I’m back, I’ll probably get back in the regular cadence of weekly posts and articles.   This week, we’ll also be closing out our series on Mentoring Basics, so make sure to keep a watch out for that.
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I’ll close by borrowing a Swahili phrase made popular by Disney:
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Hakuna Matata (there are no worries)
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~Jason

It’s Just the Beginning!

Today is DAY ONE of The Leader’s Locker.

As you can tell, I’ve already started populating it with lessons, articles, and stories that have previously been written.

Some of the categories haven’t been filled yet, but I’ve got some good ideas as to the type of content that will go in there.  Now, it’s just a matter of putting pen to paper….or however that works out on a computer.

What I am most interested in though is what YOU think.  I’d love your comments. Either here, through email, Facebook, Twitter, carrier pigeon, or whatever means.  This blog will only be successful if it’s used, read, and shared.

So tell me, what are you interested in hearing about?

Thanks for stopping by!  Come back often!

~Jason

The Leader’s Locker is LIVE!

The Leader’s Locker is now live!

What an exciting time!

This blog has been a long time coming and will hopefully be a fantastic resource for emerging and growing leaders!

For more information, check out the About section of the blog.

Expect great things from this blog. After all, it’s for leaders like you.  So, you are the one that will make it great!

Make sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter!

….and away we go!

Enjoy!

~Jason

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