A master at building productive leaders, Dave Crenshaw breaks the myth of multitasking and sheds light on how one can truly become an efficient leader.
Do you ever wish you could be a more focused leader, a calmer thinker, a more productive worker? Do you ever get to the end of the day and wonder what you actually accomplished?
This week’s guest on the podcast is productivity and time management expert, Dave Crenshaw. As an author, speaker, and online instructor, Dave has transformed the lives and careers of hundreds of thousands around the world, developing leaders in Fortune 500 companies, universities, and organizations of every size.
In our interview, Dave and I go in-depth on how leaders can maximize their most precious asset—time—leading to higher profits, higher quality of life, more family time, and higher work satisfaction. We discuss:
- The myth of multitasking and its huge costs to our businesses and happiness.
- Why the most successful leaders say NO far more often than they say YES
- Why “tips, tricks, and apps” will do nothing to fix our biggest time-management problem: over-commitment
- The three fundamental ingredients to accountability…and more
This episode may just change the way you think about and spend your time. Listen and enjoy!
Listen to the podcast here:
Download the audio file here.
Breaking The Myth Of Multitasking with Dave Crenshaw [Transcript]
Do you ever wish you could be more focused as a leader, a calmer thinker or even more productive worker and more efficient way to get it all done? If so, it’s your lucky day because I have the opportunity to speak to productivity and time management expert, Dave Crenshaw. Dave’s been a speaker at one of our past Let’s Talk Business summits. He has been one of our most popular speakers to date because he shares practical, no-nonsense advice on how to help you with productivity and time management. In our interview, I discussed with Dave why people confuse busy-ness with productiveness, how he breaks down the difference between switch tasking and back tasking. He speaks about the myth of multitasking and how our culture has prepared ourselves not to be productive and to say yes to everything without saying no to other things. We discussed the difference between importancy and impatiency. Dave shared what was the key to Jeff Bezos’ success building Amazon. Without further ado, here is my interview.
Dave, thank you so much for joining us.
It’s so good to be talking to you.
Dave, you and I have known each other for quite a few years. I did watch some of your videos in the past where you speak about productivity, multitasking, delegation and so on and so forth. I figured when we started doing our Let’s Talk Business Summit, I wanted to give people that no-nonsense advice and I brought you on. Up until now, people will stop me or send me an email here and they’re telling me, “Dave spoke and gave this tip, that piece of advice. I’m still doing it now. You can’t imagine how much it helped me.” That’s how we got to know each other. We stayed connected since. We were able to meet in person and spend some time together. You’re a person that I always admired, bringing very practical information for business owners, which they so desperately need. I figured it’s great to have you. I have some hard-hitting questions that I would love to ask you.
Let’s do it.
For our readers to get a better understanding, it’s not a very exciting topic when you speak about your time management and productivity guru or expert or teacher, whatever you want to call it. Tell me a little bit about your backstory. What brought you to this topic?
First of all, I would say this topic is very exciting for me. Part of the reason for it is I don’t view it just as let’s be more productive, let’s bring more to the bottom line of the business. For me, it’s about changing people’s lives. Most people are struggling with disorganization, they’re struggling with their time management and that’s how I got into it. I started as a business coach. I began in 1998. I hadn’t even graduated from college yet and I started coaching business owners. One of the things that I consistently saw with them was that they were behind, they were struggling with time management. Not only did it make their business less profitable, but it was damaging their quality of life and their ability to spend time with their family, just a whole host of problems. Where I started with the whole focus on time management was saying, “The two biggest problems that business owners have are they want more sales and they want more time.” I chose to target the second issue. I created a training program, first of all, it was for myself. When I heard that my wife was expecting our first child, I thought, “I need to change.” I was very disorganized. I was all over the place.
I met with a psychologist and after giving me a couple of tests, he said, “Has anyone ever talked to you about ADHD?” I said, “That’s not me.” He said, “No, you are off the charts ADHD.” That gave me a target, that gave me a name and a face. I came from the standpoint of systems. I know that you’ve interviewed Michael Gerber who’s a big advocate of systems. I started to develop systems first of all to help myself. What I thought about it was the simplest system to help the craziest, busy, disorganized person in the world, who was me. Once I got that figured out, I started teaching it to these business owners and it changed everything in their world. I used to give them assignments and things to work on their business and I’d say, “I’ll follow up in two weeks,” and then I follow up in two weeks. This was before they went through the training. What do you think happened in two weeks?
That’s correct. They didn’t get it done. They’d go, “This happened and my customer asked me for this and I needed a replacement,” whatever the excuses were. I put them through the time management program, which is now called Time Management Fundamentals on LinkedIn Learning and it changed. They followed through. I’d say, “I want you to complete this in two weeks,” or whatever time and they’d follow up and say, “Dave, here it is. I got it done.” The reason why is it helped them uncover copious amounts of time in their day. From teaching people, that’s where I got into writing my first book, The Myth of Multitasking, creating the training courses on LinkedIn Learning and doing the public speaking that you see now.
I appreciate this backstory because for our readers, it’s a very important factor because of some of us ourselves, we have a certain challenge and certain problem, we fix it for ourselves. Now let’s not be selfish. If we have the solution, we see something working, now let’s teach it to others. It’s amazing to see and especially it’s such an important topic with time management and productivity. We’ll go into a lot of the details of it. You saw that system working for you and then said, “Once I see it working for me, how about I teach it for others?” There are so many of those courses in your books that you put out on this topic. To get started on this, obviously you have so much experience with research and obviously seen it in real life. What would you say is the biggest myth of business owners that get in the way of their productivity?
The biggest myth and it can be stated in a couple of ways and it’s not just business owners, it’s everybody. It’s the title of my first book, which is The Myth of Multitasking. It’s the idea that by doing multiple things at the same time, doing more, I’m going accomplish more. That is false. You actually accomplish more by attempting to do less. We could simply rephrase that as focus. Most business owners, most people lack focus. I am coming from the standpoint as being diagnosed as off the charts ADHD. I know intimately what it’s like to lack focus. When you segment your attention in all these different directions, what happens is things take longer than the aggregate of all of it takes much longer than if you did one thing at a time. If I was trying to do three tasks at a time, those three tasks, if I did them all at once, it might take me an hour, whereas if I did them individually, it might take me fifteen minutes. I have seen that over and over again with doing field experience, working with people, talking with them.
When they do less and they try not to do it all the same time, they get more done. The reason for that is whenever you say yes to one thing, you’re saying no to something else. It’s an equation that you cannot avoid. The person reading this right now, if you think about the commitments that you’ve made to people, the commitments that you’ve made to yourself with your business that you’re going to accomplish in the future. One more person comes along and says, “Could you do this for me?” You cannot say yes to that without saying no to something else. Even if you think you can get it all done at the same time, you’re fooling yourself. You’re not.
I think culture, the society is at fault because take any resume of a person, you’ll see one of the words which are called great multitasker. It’s not a bad thing. It’s just that the definition of multitasking is confusing. I remember when I read your book, it gave me a level of clarity the way you explain it and I want to hear it from you how you explain the real multitasker. I think we got in a culture, especially obviously I’m from New York where do more, hustle on. Basically what happens is that you lose focus. When you lose focus, everything takes a double amount of time but you don’t even do it effectively as you would have done it if you do it the right way. Explain to the readers a little bit about how you define multitasking.
The problem with the word multitasking is that it is using one word to describe multiple complex processes that may be taking place in your brain. When we use that one word, for instance, I’m a good multitasker, we could be referring to being good at delegating, we could be referred to being good at managing lots of people. We also could be referring to trying to do multiple things at the same time. The definition of what you mean changes everything. What I do in my book and in my courses is I redefine multitasking into two different things. It is either switch tasking or it is background tasking. I’ve started shortening and calling back tasking. When you’re switch tasking, you are attempting to do multiple things at the same time.
For instance, if I were trying to listen to a podcast while I was answering email, you’re not doing both at the same time. What you are doing is you’re switching rapidly back and forth because your brain cannot handle multiple active tasks at the same time. There is a preponderance of scientific evidence. I cite some of it in my book and there’s been a whole lot more that’s come out since then. Your brain must switch. Every time you switch, you incur a little thing. In economics it’s called switching costs. Every transition, you have to pay the price for it and the prices that you pay are things take longer, you make more mistakes and you increase your stress levels. That’s why when you try to switch tasks, everything takes longer and you start feeling burnt out. You get to the end of the day and you go, “What did I do?” You can’t think of it. Switch tasking is always ineffective.
The other side, back tasking, can be efficient and effective because what you’re doing there is something mindless, mundane or automatic is occurring in the background. You don’t have to focus on it because someone else or something else is taking care of it. That would be more like sending out an email while the printer is doing something or delegating a task to a team member while you work on something else. Back tasking can be very effective. Sometimes when people hear me speak about this, they go, “Dave, is it good if I do this or is it bad if I do that?” What I say is this is not a question of morality. This is a question of mathematics. You are either switch tasking or back tasking. If you’re switch tasking, it is always inefficient. If you’re back tasking, it can very often be efficient and effective.
What would you say to that person? We’re not even going to call a business owner. What will you say to the person that is afraid? I think it’s the fear of missing out, “If I’ll not jump on this opportunity or do this while doing that, I’m not going to get enough things done.” What is it from a psychological perspective that’s putting people into that culture of multitasking not the right way, as you call it, switch tasking?
It stems I believe from this idea that we can accomplish anything. I don’t necessarily disagree with that idea. The problem is that the idea is taken much further. It is the idea that we can accomplish anything at the same time that we do anything else. Part of it comes with the fact that we lionize. We make heroes out of a guy like Mark Cuban or Richard Branson and they’re amazing. They have accomplished amazing things. Let’s take Jeff Bezos. What we fail to realize is that Jeff Bezos became successful because he focused on one thing for a very long time. In the beginning, Amazon only sold one thing: books. They sold that one thing for a few years before they even thought about selling one other product. The fact that they mastered that system of that one thing then opened up the opportunity to do all the other things that Amazon is doing now. What most people do is they start and they go, “In my lifetime, I want to build a rocket. I want to sell a business. I want to own a sports team.” They list out all the things that they see a hero of theirs in business or life does. They try to do all of them at the same time. That’s where the problem occurs. They don’t realize that mastery in one thing leads to a true opportunity in many things.
Even myself, when it comes to focus, because I think a lot of business owners confuse the words busy-ness with productiveness. They are so excited, “I had a very busy day,” but if they cannot match it out with was it a productive day or were you focused on the right things and so on and so forth? When you get them to answer that question, that’s where they basically become quiet because they can’t even continue the conversation on their own.The idea that we're going to accomplish more by doing multiple things at the same time is false. Click To Tweet
One thing that I also like to say is that productivity is more about rhythm than perpetual motion. We think that we must always be doing something, this hustle culture that has become so prominent pushes this idea of, “I’ve always got to be active.” When in fact, what you want to do is have periods of activity in periods of inactivity. You want to find a rhythm and flow that works for you and that also is focused on one or two very important things. In fact, I called it these your Most Valuable Activities. You might be able to do ten or twenty things in your day, but only two of them at most are truly the most valuable. If you think about these two MVAs, let’s assign an arbitrary number. Let’s say MVA number one is worth $500 per hour and MVA number two is worth $250 per hour. When you do those things, you’re driving the value of your business, you’re driving the value of your career upward.
Where do most people spend their time? In their LVAs, their Least Valuable Activities. They’re doing minimum wage work. They’re doing $15 an hour or $20 an hour work. When you do that, you are driving your overall value in the marketplace downward. You are ruining the possibility of your business being successful. When I teach my team, I tell them my MVAs are creating content and delivering content. That means that I should either be doing a podcast that’s delivering or I need to be writing a book. I need to be writing a course or I need to be in front of the camera. If I’m doing anything other than those two things, we are driving the value of the business down. Therefore, it is their responsibility to keep me out of all those other things.
One of the examples I use a lot when I speak to business owners and leaders, it’s the story of the CEO. When you read his book about how he became the CEO of this Fortune 500 company and he starts like, “First, I was sorting the mail and giving everybody their mail and then I became the receptionist to the manager and so on and so forth,” until he became the CEO. What are you doing as CEO? You’re refreshing your inbox every minute. You’re actually sorting the mail. Many years of experience got you to refresh your LinkedIn every minute or checking your email, “Who is disrupting my day next?”
The most successful people that I’ve worked with, coached, consulted, they are ruthless about saying no to low-value things. I think that’s another part of this principle that I’ve been hinting around it, which is you want to say no far more often than you say yes. Yet so many people want to be people pleasers, “I want to be nice. I want to make people happy.” There’s nothing wrong with doing that. The problem is when you try to yes to everybody, you’re diminishing your ability to help anybody. You want to say no politely to others and you want to say no ruthlessly to yourself. When you get that new idea in your head, you want to say, “That’s a great idea. A couple of years from now, I’m going to revisit that idea.” You put an appointment on your calendar to think about it so that you can stay focused on what’s most valuable now.
It’s also prior commitments. Meaning to say if you’re saying yes to something now, in principle it’s saying no to something else. That something else might be something you commit far earlier either for yourself or your family, for your business, for your people. It’s not a matter of when you’re nice to the person now, you might upset the person from yesterday, so to speak. Let’s start with some practical advice. I’m speaking to a person who’s very overwhelmed. Let’s give them that first initial phase. If I want to start owning my time, my productivity, what is the first steps that you would teach a person to do?
I’m going to give you a short answer and then I’m going to give you the best answer. The short answer is you begin by committing to the calendar and that means that we stop playing fast and loose with your time. In fact, I call that spending time on a credit card. When you pay for everything on a credit card with no budget, I’m not talking about paying with the credit card and paying it off every time. I’m talking about the people who are just spending all over the place. When people spend their time all over the place with no accountability, what happens is they go into debt with time, which means things take longer. They make more mistakes, they increase their stress levels and they’re always playing catch up.
If you use your calendar, it’s like using a budget. In fact, I call the calendar your time budget. You make careful conscious choices about how you’re going to spend that time. If you put something in your calendar, you commit to it. When I made this appointment with you to do this, I was committed to it. If I couldn’t 100% commit to it, I would have suggested another time. Yet all too often people say, “Let’s pencil it in. Let’s do lunch next week sometime.” That’s spending time on a credit card. You didn’t make a commitment, you just made a vague promise to the future. The same thing with that project that you’re working on, that article that you need to write, that employee that you need to train. Stop telling yourself I’m going to do it someday and put it into the calendar and make a commitment to it.
Here’s the other thing about living with the budget. You want to live well within your means. This means that we don’t want to spend every single minute that you have. If you’re working an eight-hour day, we only want to spend or commit about six hours of that day. We want to leave room for the unexpected, just like you would save money for a catastrophic emergency. You want to be prepared when something goes wrong with your house, if something goes wrong with your car. You want to make sure that you do not have to take a loan or borrow money or do whatever you have to do, sell things, to get that car fixed. You want to have it saved and ready. The world that we live in right now is going to interrupt you. You must leave buffer space in your schedule to be prepared so that when an employee has an emergency and they say, “I need your help with this right now,” you can just shuffle things around in your calendar rather than feeling like didn’t have enough time to deal with this. It sounds like I’m contradicting myself, but it’s not. I’m committing a certain amount of time and then I’m also committing a certain amount of buffer time so that I can still get things within that day, or perhaps even with that week and not fall behind.Whenever you say yes to one thing, you're saying no to something else. It's an unavoidable equation. Click To Tweet
This is great because you and I had spoken about this in Atlanta when we met. Even just my commitment to the show is the same way. It took me a couple of months to identify could I commit to the audience and to my readership and to my community that I’ll be putting out a show every week? It’s time-consuming. Up until I couldn’t fit it into a schedule in a way how I’m going to do it, I didn’t start it.
That’s smart of you to do that. I mentioned that there’s the best answer and the best answer is honestly to go through my Time Management Fundamentals training. I’m saying that with zero intent of self-promotion and just full intent of reality. The problem people get into with time management is they focus on tips, “I heard this tip. I learned this thing. You need this app on your phone.” Tips do not solve the fundamental issue that faces people, which is you’re over-committed with your time. You’re not living true principles. Your workspace is disorganized. What we have to do is we have to build a strong foundation before we build a house upon it.
What I recommend that people do if they know they need help with time management, is you go to DaveCrenshaw.com/time. That will redirect you and take you to LinkedIn Learning where my Time Management Fundamentals course is. This is the same training that when I first started teaching business owners and I would do it one-on-one in their office, they would pay me thousands of dollars to do it. There is nothing left out of this training. On that site, for whatever they’re charging these days, $30 a month, you can access that and you can even get a 30-day trial for free. It means you can essentially get the same training other people paid thousands to get for a few dollars.
This is something I hear so many times. Even a leader within a team or somebody that manages multiple people that if I’m not accessible, I come across like I don’t care. That’s something probably you heard a thousand times or even more. What would you say to that person?
Another way that people were just an open-door policy, “I want to be magnanimous. I want it to be available.” The problem with the open-door policy is it perpetuates switch tasking. What I mean by that is you’re working on something and then someone interrupts you at any time and now you’re going to have to switch and pay attention to them. What often happens is you’re talking to one person and then someone else comes in and now you’re going to have to switch on those people and you’re making your employees wait for it. It’s a very inefficient way to do it. Here’s how you can be available and open without causing yourself to switch tasks. That is closed-door, open calendar policy. You shut your door when you need to focus but you give people the opportunity to schedule themselves into certain pockets in their calendar. I recommend pockets of 25 minutes apiece. Google Calendar calls these speedy meetings, but it’s basically leaving a five-minute buffer between appointments. Then anyone can come during those office hours. You’ve got to clearly designate when they are and they can schedule themselves in.
Now you’re making yourself available but what you’re doing is you’re sitting down and you’re focusing on that person. You’re giving them your full attention. Nothing is going to interrupt because you made a commitment to them on the calendar. If someone else needs to talk to you, they come in in their scheduled time and you talk to them. I’m going to pause and handle an objection that I can hear some of you voicing which is, “What about emergencies?” The answer is you’ve got to take care of an emergency. If it’s an emergency, it’s an emergency. You’ve got to deal with it. The problem is what mostly happens in business are not emergencies. They are impatiencies. When we allow impatiencies to dictate the flow of our business, we constantly switch tasks. We become busy and we get far less done.
This is so important to understand because it’s not importancy, it’s impatiency. I will go even a step further when we speak to leaders about this topic is anytime a business owner or leader or somebody that has some authority within the team would walk through their office, they’ll get stopped by different people. What I teach and similar to what you said is I have a buffer time. Let’s say at the end of the day, which I know I have a level of flexibility in my calendar. I would say, “Let’s discuss this at 4:00.” Then 4:00 comes around and they don’t show up and I ask them, “Is everything taken care of?” They say yes. What happened? Basically they didn’t want to make that decision on their own, so it was easier for them to have you make the decision for them. When you basically ask them, “Could it wait until 4:00?” and they said yes, obviously you gave them the support. You gave them the time to come in to speak to you. Ultimately, they took care of it themselves. When people have this open-door policy, not only are they doing a disservice to themselves because they can’t focus. I would argue and say they’re doing even a disservice to their people because they’re not teaching them to take ownership of what they need to do.
I see too many situations where people allow themselves to be treated like human vending machines. You put in a question, you get an answer. I had an issue with that with my son. He asked me a question and he wanted me to answer it for him right then. I said, “Did you look up an answer on Google?” He thought about it and he said, “No, I didn’t. I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have asked you that.” It’s not that I don’t want to be available as a father. I am probably one of the most available fathers there is. I also want my children, and if you’re a manager, you want your employees, your team members to learn to think for themselves.The problem with the open door policy is it perpetuates switch tasking. Click To Tweet
Let’s move on to a different topic. Your book is called The Result and that’s something that you make available with the eBook for free. Thank you for that. I want to go through where you arrived at that destination and then how you break it down with the SAM analogy, which is Systems, Accountability, Motivation. Let’s discuss the overall concept of the results and then a little bit about those three pillars of it.
Part of it is this is my answer to the idea of goal setting. What happens with goals is they become wishes, things that we want to accomplish sometimes. In business and in our careers, it’s not enough to just set a goal. We must get the result. Part of the thing that I ask people when I first start working with them is, “What is the result that you want that you’re not getting right now?” It begins with defining that, quantifying that. If someone says, “I want to increase sales.” By how much? By what percent? By what date? We want to establish clear boundaries for that result. Then we have that, we can start moving into the reason why people accomplish things and why they don’t, which goes to the SAM Cycle, which is Systems, Accountability and Motivation. It probably would be helpful to go through the book. You can get that for free at DaveGift.com.
Basically, the idea is systems is a process or procedure that people need to follow. You want to find somebody who’s been successful in getting that result before and as much as possible copy their system. Second, you need to have accountability. We did the word definition for multitasking. This is a very important word definition. Sometimes people say, “I’m going to be accountable to myself,” and that is not going to work. When I say accountability, I mean making yourself answerable to a third-party like a business coach, a mentor, a manager, someone like that and they follow up with you and keep you on track. You must have a third-party to get you results. Last is motivation. You understand the underlying reasons, the underlying values that are driving you to get that. If you look at people who have accomplished anything, whether or not they’ve known it, they’ve followed Systems, Accountability and Motivation to get the results.
Let’s dive in a little bit about the accountability part. I want to ask you a follow-up question. A lot of times people get very motivated and maybe some of the readers now will get motivated, “I think I need somebody for accountability.” A lot of times they’ll start, but it will fizzle out. What is a process for a business owner to have accountability and making sure that they’re actually held accountable? The same with employees, sometimes you’ll have that great conversation with an employee. You’re holding them accountable, “Let me check in with you every week if we see progress,” but then it fizzles out. We see this so many times in businesses and then ultimately goes back to the norm. What do you want to see from that accountability? How do you measure it if this accountability is effective?
The first thing I would say is if you’re a business owner, the best way to get true accountability is to work with a business coach because a business coach is hired for the specific purpose of creating accountability, at least the good ones. If you’re trying to get it from a mentor or a third-party, they’re not going to be as committed. If you’re an employee, try to get that accountability from your manager because that is their job. The basics of accountability are broken down into three parts: trust, training and follow-up. Trust means you’re working with someone that you trust and they trust you and you believe that they are someone that can help you succeed. There’s no point in getting accountability from someone that you’re unsure about. Training in the schedule, there’s that word again, creating a commitment in the calendar where we’re going to meet together and you’re going to give me some training.
For instance, I have a business coach. I coach other people, but I believe in this so much that I have someone that I’ve hired and he trains me and we work and we have a consistent schedule. Many of the clients that I work with, we meet once or twice per month and we both have committed to that time. The follow-up is in between. There are lots of quick little follow-ups. I’m a big believer in quick emails with just a few questions that can be answered numerically. How many items do you have in your inbox? How many LinkedIn followers do you have? How many speaking leads did you get? You quickly report and then that allows that coach to continually follow-up with you. It is the schedule, it is the consistency and it is the simplicity that makes accountability work.
I think I’ll go back to how you started this part of the conversation, which is as a manager or somebody leading a team and they have to hold their people accountable, start with the results. What do you want to get out of that person’s productivity value and so on and so forth? Set that results properly and we call it in our company key results areas. Every team member should have the key results areas. When you hold people accountable, create those metrics where you could give very specific advice or feedback on those conversations where they’re making progress. It’s measured against something versus just having a calendar, “Let’s meet every month to hold you accountable,” but then it becomes very much based on my mood and how do I feel and maybe we had a good week versus a good month. That’s the conversation.
Versus if you have that outcome that you’re expecting, then you move that into actionable accountability pieces. I think that will give you the real proper accountability. Let’s move in and let’s close a little bit with the motivation part. I think there’s a lot of confusion out there and people think motivation is all about motivational quotes on your wall or on your desk and so on and so forth. You are putting this as a very important piece of your system, which is called motivation. Are you referring to the motivation that’s out there on social media to get at those every day or is this something even deeper than that?In business and in our careers, it's not enough to just set a goal. We must get the result. Click To Tweet
It’s much deeper. The other thing I would add to the list of what people think of is a motivational speaker. Some person is going to come in and get you excited to go to work and capture your dreams. What I define motivation as is something that is internal that drives you forward. Every person is motivated. Sometimes you hear business owners saying, “I need to get employees who are self-motivated.” Let me tell you, every person is self-motivated. Even the drug addict is motivated. They’re motivated to get their next fix. It’s not a question of motivation. What it is a question of is whether or not your values align with the values of the organization or whether or not you are clear about the vision that you have for your life and whether or not that thing helps you get the vision. That’s how I break down motivation is vision, values and cause.
Not only does the business want to have a vision and values, which Meny, when I was in your office in Brooklyn, but you also showed me that and it was wonderful. We also want each individual working in the company to have defined their values. It doesn’t have to be complex. It can just be three things, friendship, love or whatever it is. They can use those to drive them. What managers need to start doing when they’re working with their employees is not try to motivate them, but rather find out what already motivates the person and then show a connection between the work that they do each day and that motivation.
I’ll give you an example. Let’s say you have an employee that has told you in the past they want to become a leader. They want to become a manager, but they show up late consistently. You can go to that employee and say, “I’m concerned. I want to help you. You’ve mentioned to me in the past that you want to become a manager. That’s a vision that you have for your life. Yet when you show up late, you’re moving away from that vision. What can I do to help you?” Do you see the power behind that? You’re not kicking them in the rear. You’re trying to get them to shape. You are now a helpful resource. You’re coaching them and you’re saying, “I’m here for you.” That’s what motivation is all about.
I think I need to repeat it because I’m making sure that people got this golden nugget, which is sometimes we try to motivate them from what motivates us. What you said is find what’s already motivating them and ultimately build upon it, show them the connection. I want to leave another piece of practical advice for our readers. I think this is something you also teach a lot within your books and your courses. If you’re speaking about calendars, one of the things most people use the calendars for is meetings, corporate meetings, conversations internally, externally. Many people waste so much time by not having productive meetings. Let’s leave our readers with some practical advice on what they could do to have more productive meetings in basically less amount of time.
It’s a course that I also teach on LinkedIn Learning. The first problem that people have with meetings or that I have is we call meetings too often. Meetings are not the most productive way to get things done. They can be a real drain on time and keep people from doing their Most Valuable Activities. What we want to do instead is ask the question, “Can we take care of this without holding a meeting?” If we’re just coordinating calendars, we don’t need to get everybody together. If we’re just asking a quick question that everyone can weigh in on quickly with email, we don’t need to hold a meeting. Meetings are only valuable when we’re trying to collaborate with each other, where we’re trying to get the value of everyone sharing things and getting the perspective of every attendee. Most of the time it doesn’t need to happen. Let’s try to find a way without it.
If you’re going to hold it, first of all, begin and end on time. If you don’t respect the time of other people, they’re not going to respect your time. That means even if one person is there, you begin the meeting on time. Other people are going to start learning about it. Within the meeting, start budgeting time. Making sure that if there are twenty minutes left to discuss things and we have four people, then we want to make sure that there are five minutes for each person. As much as you might not be comfortable with it, that involves using a timer and letting people know, “You’ve got one minute left,” and we stick to that timer so that everyone feels that their time is respected.
This is something also that we have implemented internally when it comes to meetings. There is a clear understanding of when we set the agenda, will this be a discussion or a decision? I think a lot of people come into meetings thinking they’re going have a decision made and all of a sudden one of the decision-makers didn’t even show up and nobody took the effort of canceling the meeting.
I’m going to toss this one in too, which is most important probably. Make sure that the meeting ends with action. That is probably the biggest culprit in meetings where we get everyone together, we talk about things and then there’s no clear next step. Even if that next step is we’re going to think about it for a day, we want to define that, we want to put that on the calendar because meetings without action are a waste of time.
This has been so valuable. Part of it is tactical stuff, but a lot of it is what you teach. A lot of what you teach is the mindset. I think a lot of the things, once you get to the mindset, you understand the mindset. A lot of that tactical stuff will come what works for you as a person, but the mindset still needs to be in place. I appreciate the information that you shared with us. Let’s close with the four rapid-fire questions. What is a book that changed your life?
I’m going to give you a weird one because you’re probably used to hearing some of the same. Getting Rich Your Own Way by Srully Blotnick. It’s out of print but if you can find it, it’s a gem.
A piece of advice you got that you’ll never forget?
I tend to learn more from example than from words, but I once got a perspective from The Joy of Painting host, Bob Ross. I happened to hear it at just the moment when I needed it and I use it almost every day. Every time you devote time to practice, you haven’t lost. You’re always a winner.
Anything you wish you could go back and do it differently?
It’s easy to see the mistakes that you’ve made in the business. I had one opportunity to share the stage with the Dalai Lama and Richard Branson. I was so young in my career that I completely mishandled it and I missed out that opportunity. I wish I could get that one back.
Last but not least, what’s still on your bucket list to achieve?
I’m not a big fan of bucket lists in general, but I get the point of the question. I would like to speak professionally on every continent, of course, excluding Antarctica. I still need to speak in South America. That’s the last one left.
Dave, thank you so much. I know your time is valuable and that is why in the name of our readers, we will forever be grateful for sharing some of your time.
It was a pleasure, Meny.
- Dave Crenshaw
- Michael Gerber – past episode
- Time Management Fundamentals
- The Myth of Multitasking
- The Result
- Getting Rich Your Own Way
- Dave’s Linkedin Learning Course is available for free for any Brooklyn Public Library member on Lynda.com: https://www.lynda.com/portal/Patron?org=bklynlibrary.org
About Dave Crenshaw
Dave Crenshaw is the master of building productive leaders. He has appeared in Time magazine, USA Today, FastCompany, and the BBC News. His courses on LinkedIn Learning have received over fifteen million views.
He has written five books that have been published in eight languages, the most popular of which is The Myth of Multitasking—a time management bestseller.
As an author, speaker, and online instructor, Dave has transformed hundreds of thousands of business leaders worldwide.