productivity

Want to Become Successful? Break Away from The Routine!

Five months ago I started a new Journey. One that has taken me far and away from what I was accustomed to do. It has driven me toward such new paths that I stopped writing on this blog to dedicate all my focus and energy to that new endeavor.

Now that we have achieved balance in that new business, it’s time to return to do one of my favorite things, BLOGGING!

What Has Transpired So Far This Year?

With a new thing added to my plate, time has become a very valuable resource.

My Family

The Bisono Family

Soon, I started to find that resource was becoming scarce. I was struggling to complete all the tasks I had on my agenda, swimming training was conflicting with times I had to be at work, I was arriving late at my clients swim classes, and most importantly I was not spending enough quality time with my family.

I was waking up early to get articles finished on time. Start of swim practice had moved from 6:45am to 6:00am. I was rushing through my responsibilities at work, and it started to show on my productivity. Swim classes I previously started at 6:00pm were starting at 7:15pm. Time of arrival at home felt like the start of the graveyard shift!!!

Stop!, Get Your Life on Track!

No one had to hit me over the head with a club for me to wake up. No longer was I willing to sacrifice my sanity. Here’s what I did to get my life under control:

1. I Started to Wake Up at 5:00am to Meditate

wake up early 5amYou will be surprised with what 10 minutes of meditation can do to your motivation and drive. Soon after I started to do this I noticed that I felt more energized to start my morning workout.

I wasn’t dragging my body out of bed anymore… My spirit was lifted as I looked at the day ahead differently, and it showed on the things I did throughout every day.

2. I Began to Schedule my Calls and Email Responses

This one was huge! I was taking calls and answering emails at all times of the day. My stress level skyrocketed and my productivity sank like lead on water.

I became proficient in scheduling when my emails went out, and negotiated with colleagues and providers when I was available for calls. Soon I saw I had plenty of time to get tasks off of my agenda, which opened up time to hold discussions with my team and injected much-needed energy to some projects that were falling behind schedule.

3. I started to Break my Time into Smaller Batches

3030-logo productivityFor this, I picked up an app I had used in the past, that helped me improve my productivity at a time I was managing several projects simultaneously. The app is called 30/30. It allows you to schedule batches of time in increments of 5 minutes. It allows you to schedule productive time as well as rest.

I started using it to schedule time to work on my job responsibilities and my swim clinic business. Now that I’ve found my magic formula, I will also use it to schedule time to publish on this blog again.

4. I Stopped Scheduling Afternoon Meetings that Conflicted with Evening Swim Classes

Meetings are one of the most time-consuming things in the business world. Most of the time, what is discussed at meetings can be resolved over the phone or email. I find that meetings are more productive in the morning, thus I scheduled all my meetings for the morning hours every Monday.

It took some time for my team to adjust, but eventually they did. That opened up a lot of time to go over reports and to make enormous progress on important projects. I even found time to write articles for my swim clinic business blog.

Break Away from the Routine, Conclusions

Becoming a prisoner of time is a trap most adults fall for. A life routine can be so distracting that it may take people years to break away from it.

Don’t fall for this trap yourself. Take a day and think about the things that matter. Find time to get those done, and do them well. Anything that is not creating value for yourself and your loved ones, outcast it from your life.

Only those that find the time to use their heads to break away from routine tasks will ever have the opportunity to manage their time appropriately. Only those will be able to push through the challenging times and eventually reach their milestones and freedom.

The Minimalist Guide to Stretching (Sleep Like a Baby at Night)

The Minimalist Guide to Stretching (Sleep Like a Baby at Night)

It’s mind-boggling how few people stretch their muscles on a daily basis. I’m the first who declares himself guilty. Fortunately, now that I’m in heavy training for a major event next year, I must do my stretches methodically to be able to shield myself from injury. But this post is not about me, is about how you can integrate a short, daily stretching routine to your life to sleep better and rest like a champion.

The Benefits of a Night Stretch

Stretching before bed will keep your joints and muscles loose. It will also speed up your recovery from any physical activity. Stretching before you go to bed will help you feel energized the following day. If you know yoga, then knowing what stretches to execute can be easy.

Recommended Stretches to Perform Before Bedtime

1. Abductor Stretch

abductor stretchThis stretch will help elongate one of the tighest muscle on adults. Think about it, most of us spend countless hours sitting down, during which the abductors are relaxed but also somewhat contracted. As you stand up from your chair you’ll feel tension on the front side of your hip. That’s the abductors elongating after several hours of being contracted. This stretch will help elongate and relax the top of the quadriceps and the muscles of the hip.

2. Back Stretch

back stretch

Our back is one of the sections of our body that received most of the tension. Start with bad posture as we type or write. Also, as we stand talking with colleagues, it’s easy to adopt an incorrect standing position, thus the back must compensate so as to keep out bodies balanced. This stretch will help you relieve that tension and help relax de muscles of the lower and mid section of the back.

3. Hamstring Stretch

hamstring stretch

The hamstrings are one the great support muscle groups we have on our bodies and although we take them for granted, when we suffer a sprain, it’s painful. They support of quads as we walk, lean down to pick up objects, and sit down. Try to lean down with your legs straight and attempt to touch the ground. If you’re not able to touch it, you need serious hamstring stretch work. This stretch is one of two I’m recommending today. As you start to improve your flexibility, I guarantee a lot of simple movements will become easier to make and you’ll shield yourself from unwanted sprains.

4. Lower back & Hip Stretch

hip stretch

This is one of my favorite stretches. When you get started, you’ll feel as if your hip is about to tear, but the results obtained from this stretch are mind-blowing. Its benefits are countless.

Do the following simple test. Seating at your chair, with both feet planted on the ground, try to turn your body around 90 degrees. Before you get started with this stretch, you’ll feel the pull on the muscles of your hip. As you elongate these muscles, you’ll notice a significant improvement in your mobility and in how easy you’ll be able to make that 90 degree turn.

5. Lower back and Hamstring Stretch

stretch_lowerback_hip_hamstring

This is a different stretch for the hamstring muscles, but this one also works on stretching the muscles of the lower back. It helps alleviate tension from the sides of our lower back and helps in relaxing that section of the body. It’s important that we execute this exercise slowly as to avoid hyperextending the hamstring.

6. Quadricep Stretch

stretch_quadriceps

The Quadriceps are the largest muscles we have in our bodies. They also are the ones that consume the most oxygen as we workout. Given that they are one of the pillars of our physiology, we must have them in top shape, and to stretch them regularly is one of the ways to keep them in shape. The stretch I recommend today is very simple and it must be done with concentration. Make sure you really feel the stretch as you push your front leg down. Do not hyperextend the quadricep.

You should be able to do these six stretching exercises in about 10 minutes. Do them before going to bed and they will help you improve the quality of your sleep. In addition, in a short time you’ll start to feel improvements in mobility and agility. If you practice any sport or have an exercise routine, you’ll notice that the movements you perform will be easier to make. Most importantly, your daily stretching routine will shield your body from painful injuries.

Can’t Keep Up? Mind Map Your Life For Success

Can’t Keep Up? Mind Map Your Life For Success

Much has been said about the virtues of planning. Whether professionally or in your personal life, we must have some sort of plan to be able to reach milestones in time. People always associate planning with business, but so few have a plan for their personal lives.

According to Michael Hyat, author of the New York Times’ bestseller Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World, most people spend more time planning a one-week vacation than they spend planning their life. That’s what I call a mind-blowing statement!

There are many planning tools available, including very interesting ones like Affinity Diagrams or the Root Cause Tree Diagrams. My personal favorite, the one I used to plan the launch of a new venture and to structure my personal training plan, is Mind Maps.

WHAT IS A MIND MAP?

Mind Map Guidlines

A mind map is a planning tool that allows the user to visually outline information. It offers the planner visibility of milestones over time. It is actively used in Project Management, Strategic Planning, and for the execution of launches of products and services over a certain span of time.

I like to use mind maps because of their simple outline that lets you put down a main idea or project, and easily lets you branch out corresponding action items for their effective execution.

What characterizes a mind map?

There are many traits of mind maps, but I consider the following four to be the main ones:

1. The main idea is located at the center of the mind map
2. Branches or tentacles radiate out from the main idea nod
3. A representative key image is included on each branch
4. All the branches compose what is called a nodal structure

My Own Mind Map Example

This past November I started a rigorous training plan with a tough goal in mind. To get my training structured, I used the virtues of mind maps to work with my coaching staff. A mind map gave us a clear idea of the stages we were to follow during training, as well as the competitions I’m scheduled to attend during the course of the year. I thought it would be a good idea to share that mind map with all of you to use as a guideline.

Training Plan

Many hours went into getting this mind map to this stage and although it seems like a simple model to construct, getting all the action items done is yet another thing onto itself.

The advantage of this planning tool is that is very graphic, thus it allows the users to brainstorm how each of the participants is going to execute their part. Milestones are very important in this process, especially if everything has a date of completion .

Planning the purchase of a new house? Use mind maps to set investing and savings goals that will lead you toward the purchase of your dream home by a specified date.

Planning to run a marathon? Mind maps will, as they did for me, visually layout the important aspects of your training, like nutrition and aerobic work. You can review milestones as they become due, and easily layout new ones when you and your coaches come up with them.

Looking to complete a tough project? Use mind maps to brainstorm ideas that will help in laying out the stages of the project and staff responsible for each stage. Once all ideas have been written down, organize them in nods as to get a strong idea on the next steps to take toward the successful completion of that project.

Testimonials

Here are a few testimonials regarding the use of Mind Maps:

“I can’t really grasp the current state of play in my business, and therefore the way ahead, until I get all my thoughts down on a Mind Map. Then I get the whole picture with the solutions staring me in the face.”Dominic O’Brien, Eight Times World Memory Champion

“Mind Maps have provided with me with lifelong tools for planning, organizing and learning together and the self belief to constantly strive to achieve in both sporting and working environments.”Peter Beaumont (Olympic finalist and European Marketing Director)

“Mind Mapping , more than a methodology, is a philosophy of life which leads you toward an excellent organizational culture.” – Alejandro Cristerna, President, Tecmilenio, Mexico

Available Mind Mapping Tools

There are many tools available to get your mind mapping done. User beware, some of these tools are a lot more involved than what you actually need. That being said, here are my three preferences:

1. X-Mind

XMind is a useful open source mind mapping tool for clarifying thinking, managing complex information, organizing and brainstorming. You can gather ideas and craft them in a logical structure to help identify critical information, uncover patterns, relationships, priorities and trends.

2. Mindmeister

MindMeister was built to facilitate collaboration for mind mapping and brainstorming. You can collaborate in real-time, discuss changes over live chat, exchange ideas and even view the change history of a mind map. And, one of its plusses, it’s interface is very easy to use.

3. iMindMap
iMindMap is designed to be visually stimulating, with curved branches, bright colors and sharp images to help unleash your creativity.

Mind Map Your Life for Success – Conclusions

There’s no question about the usefulness of mind maps and what they represent as a tool for brainstorming, planning, increased creativity, layout ideas, structure projects, analyzing patterns, and many more. Amazingly, creating a mind map doesn’t feel like work, even though you’re accomplishing a lot. This is because they are interactive, flexible, easy to use, clear, visually driven and practical, and most importantly they are a blast to build!

SECRETS OF WAKING UP EARLY

SECRETS OF WAKING UP EARLY

wake up early 5amEverybody is conscious about the importance of a good night’s rest. Enjoying a restful sleep is probably as important as to get your day going before everyone else. There are countless theories about how to incorporate waking up early as part of your routine. But before we can answer that question, we must ask what do I do waking up earlier than everyone else? For starters, meditate, exercise, and organize your day.

Here’s what leadership guru Robin Sharma says about the habit of waking up early: “You might say getting up early is not really relevant to you and yet if I look at the best of the best, whether it’s in business, in science, in the arts, in sports, these are people who have trained their brains to show up and discipline. And getting up early is not only an incredible competitive advantage because most of your competitors are asleep, but getting up early is a great gift to give yourself. You get more life”.

I’ve taking Robin’s advise to heart. Although it has taken me a bit of time to get accustomed to become an early riser, I now use the early morning hours to train my body to become the best masters athlete in my sport. Once I get my training done, I can happily move on with my work day. I’ve found that working out first thing in the morning makes me more alert. In addition, my productivity has sky rocketed, and my colleagues have noticed that I’m also much more motivated.

According to Harvard biologist Christoph Randler, early risers are happier and more proactive. In his research, published the Journal of Applied Social Psychology, he states: “early risers tend to get better grades in school, which gets them into better colleges which then leads to better job opportunities. Morning people also anticipate problems and try to minimize them. They’re proactive”.

HOW TO WAKE UP EARLY

As I stated at the beginning of this article, there are many theories that suggest how to create the habit of waking up early. Going back to Robin Sharma, on his blog, he has shared 5 tips on how to wake up early. These are:

1. Get Fit

2. Every Single Week Get A Massage

3. Eat Less Food – Don’t Eat After 8pm

4. In The Morning Write In A Journal

5. Learn to Find Ways To Love Your Current Job

I’ve also learnt to give this list my personal touch. That being said, here’s what I added to Robin’s list:

A) Pray

B) Stretch Your Body to Improve Circulation

C) Visualize To Achieve Your Life Goals

Secrets of Waking Up Early – Conclusions

In this day and age, we all are very busy with matters of work, family, friends. It’s important to get your day going early to open up time, later in the day, to dedicate to our significant others. The suggestions expressed on this article I have personally incorporated into my life. They have greatly contributed to the successes I have been experiencing in my personal and professional lives. Become and early riser, it will be one of the best decisions you make for success and having a great life.

As a parting gift, I’d like to share with you a short video of Robin Sharma, where he speaks about the benefits of waking up early. I wish you much success and a wonderful productive life.

Get Rid of Your Egocentric Management Style Once and For All

Get Rid of Your Egocentric Management Style Once and For All

decisions and consensusIt’s a common theme in the corporate world to sit on meetings to hear the head of a department or division speak about the course he wants to take his team on. In many of these interactions, if you can call them that, there’s more consensus than constructive interaction.

That’s the perfect moment to speak up to help the team avoid a derailment into a cliff. You see, if everybody agrees with what the head honcho says, there’s no progression toward the creation of an unbiased organization.

megaphone-yelling-at-employeeMany successful executives, specially extroverts, like their people to agree to their every single demand. This can turn what may be a high performing team into a team of puppets following an egomaniac leader that only cares about taking all the credit for the successes of his team.

I remember the President of a company I used to work for, talking down to all his direct reports as if his reign was a feud. This was the same gentleman that, when asked his opinion about how I was doing my job, replied he didn’t have time to mind what a line manager was doing in his day-to-day. No wonder he eventually ended up being sued for illegal business practices.

amazonRemember one thing, people come in and out of jobs. Frequently, no one is remembered for what his contributions where, unless those contributions transcended the limitations of space and time. Do you think Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, will be forgotten? I didn’t think so.

Your impact in the life of people who work by your side must propel them into greatness. It’s not and it should never be about you. The steps that propel you forward are only partially attributed to you. The bulk of the actions that characterize a highly successful group of people can be split almost evenly between the members of the group.

Only when you comprehend this fact will you be able to let go of the control syndrome. Trying to control everything will only bring you sorrow and heartache. Learn to trust your colleagues and open up to their ideas, maybe then you’ll learn what each of them considers most important in their lives.

Being at the top is a rewarding feeling, but being there alone is an awful, lonely place to be.

HOW TO LOSE WEIGHT WHILE EATING WHAT YOU LOVE

HOW TO LOSE WEIGHT WHILE EATING WHAT YOU LOVE

2013 is officially winding down. People are gearing up for the Holidays and all the excess weight that comes with them. With two weeks left until Thanksgiving, no one is thinking about their New Year’s resolutions, but make no mistake, come December everyone will have them.

new years resolutionNew Year’s resolutions are a dime a dozen. Health Clubs are famous for capitalizing on people’s low self-esteem and excess weight they put on during the last month of each year. They are very savvy in putting together promos to draw customers in, even though 67% of people who purchase a gym membership never use it. (Statistic Brain)

With all the misleading diet plans available, it’s easy to fall for the trap of the fad diet that leaves you starving and depressed. I ask you, what’s the purpose of losing weight if you can’t keep it off?

Sure, easier said than done! Is it?

Which one of the following statements would you find easier to comply with?

A. This year I will lose 25 Lbs
B. I will lose 2 Lbs every month by cutting down on sugar and carbohydrates

Do you realize the end result on both statements is almost the same, yet each takes an entirely different approach?
Many experts say you can lose weight without going on a diet. Instead, they profess a message of simplification; make simple changes to your lifestyle to drop weight quickly and effectively.

By shaving 500 calories every day, using a combination of a balanced diet and exercise, you can easily lose more than 2 Lbs per month. This method is so effective that in order to maintain your weight, you only need to cut 100 calories a day.

HOW DO I GET STARTED?

I can go on and on about what to consider first. I can even tell you to go see your physician so you can get your blood pressure taken and blood work done, but I would be telling you what you already know.

Use these five simple steps to lose the excess weight without dieting:

1. Eat whole grain foods

Substitute all your white flour foods for whole grain foods. By taking this step you’ll add more fiber to your diet, while filling up faster. This is turn will make you eat more reasonable portions.

Experts recommend we should eat three servings of wholegrain foods a day. Examples: One serving of a medium slice of wholemeal bread, a small wholemeal roll, 2 cereal biscuits, 3tbsp wholegrain cereal, 3 heaped tbsp wholewheat pasta, 2 heaped tbsp boiled brown rice or ½ wholemeal pitta bread.

2. Have Breakfast

Personally, I cannot step a foot outside my house without having a hearty breakfast. Having breakfast is one of the habits mayo clinic logopeople are, more than ever, skipping before heading out to work. They do so thinking is a way to cut calories. What ends up happening is that they end up eating more throughout the day.

According to the Mayo Clinic, eating a healthy breakfast may help you lose excess weight by reducing hunger, help you make more healthy choices, and providing you with more energy. So, don’t consider skipping breakfast. It’s not a smart weight loss strategy.

3. Have Supper before 8:00 p.m Every Night

0800Of all the weight loss strategies I’ve ever tried, this one, by far has been the most effective. Note that by eating past eight o’clock every night you may be exceeding your daily caloric intake. Thus, it’s imperative you don’t eat after 8:00 p.m to avoid caving to snacking into the late night hours.

Having said that, if you do eat after 8:00 p.m., it’s key to pay attention to what you are actually eating. Avoid consuming any type of carbohydrates, as they convert into glycogen and thus, into fat.

After you eat your last meal of the day, immediately brush your teeth. This way you become less likely to eat or drink anything else that night.

4. Reduce the Size of Your Portions

Second to only not eating past 8:00 p.m., trimming the size of the portions I eat has yielded the most weight loss. I usually sat down to finish a plate of food. Recently, I eat until I feel satisfied. No more.

It’s no secret that portions served at restaurants are a lot bigger than you need. A good rule of thumb you can use while eating at most restaurants is to eat half of what you are served. If you are accompanied by a significant other, then the recommendation is to share the meal with them.

5. Exercise

This almost sounds cliché, but in terms of weight loss, nothing beats the power punch that a sensible meal plan and exercise can offer.

Exercising doesn’t have to be strenuous, although I do recommend some kind of intensity workout to improve the cardiovascular output. You can start with going for a 20-minute walk every morning, before going to work. Anything you can do, like marching in front to the TV while watching your favorite show, is better than not doing anything.

SwimmingMy favorite exercise is swimming. I like swimming because it works your cardiovascular system, your muscles, your respiratory system, even your posture. There’s a lot of debate whether swimming is the best exercise for your body or not. One thing I can tell you is that when I swim, I feel I’ve worked out all of my body’s muscle groups.

According to fitday.com, “swimming is a great workout for your body. It works your lungs, heart, and the muscles of your entire body. It is not the ideal activity if your goal is to bulk up or strengthen your bones. It is, however, a fun fitness activity that you can do alone or with others. You may also enjoy the meditative aspect of exercising in water.”

Whatever your course of action, you must become active now. Just as in business, as far as body weight is concerned, the success stories come from the folks who take immediate action and take control of what they eat. A sensible meal plan doesn’t have to be torture. You can eat everything you like to eat in smaller portions. Your health is in your own hands, thus you are the only responsible of having excellent or poor health. Don’t become the latter.

THE 5 LAWS OF GOAL SETTING

THE 5 LAWS OF GOAL SETTING

Goal SettingAs years of experience continue to amass I’ve noticed that if I deter focus from the goals I have set for myself and my teams I start to feel as if I’m off course. Everyone, at some point of another, starts to go about their days in a monotonous routine. It’s like every day is exactly like the previous. Remember the movie “Groundhog Day”?

By the time I turned 8, my swimming coach started to teach me about how to set goals, and although more than three decades have past, what I learned during childhood continues to apply.

Goals are the things that keep us moving forward. They help us aspire to something grander; something that makes us feel fulfilled. Goal setting is a great step to shoot for, but how do we go about setting those goals?

THE 5 LAWS UNCHAINED

During this time of the year many people start to think about what they want to achieve in 2014, myself included. Without a clear path, many of those goals will end up as wishes, washed away by the unexpected day-to-day events that always come up. It’s just human nature.

The one undeniable aspect of goal setting, regardless of your goal’s level of difficulty, is that you must get yourself to write them down on a piece of paper; make them more tangible.

Once you’ve written them down, it’s time to give yourself the absolute best chance at achieving them. To access that possibility you must follow these 5 steps:

1. Be Specific

There’s no basis to a goal such as “I want to look thinner” or “I will change careers this year”. You must be very specific about what you want to obtain. Michael Phelps is famous for writing down the times he wanted to swim in his races, down to a 1-hundred of a second. Talking about being specific!

I take a similar approach. I concentrate on what I’m not doing today that requires effort and dedication to get me past procrastination. Anything that’s creating a wall between myself and my goals I tackle head on.

In addition, I convince myself of the importance of achieving the goals I’ve written down. I tell myself affirmations to motivated me to get started and keep going. The rewards at the end of the season will be worth it. I Get deep into the details. No broad statements here; they leave too many doors opened for distractions.

2. Set measurable goals

I’m sure you’ll agree with me that if you start on a path to achieve a goal, and there are no ways you can measure your progress, there is a very high chance you will quit. You see, without the reinforcement measurable goals bring, there’s no point to just continue to travel without a horizon.

As an athlete, I always set a number of short-term goals throughout the swimming season. These goals, once put together, give me a reference point as the season moves toward the big event that usually takes place at the end of the season. Every time I race, I compare what I swam with my goal to see if I’m on track. By doing this I can make the adjustments in training so I can improve, giving myself a better chance next time I compete.

Make a habit to jot down the challenges you face as you progress toward your goals, so next time you face a challenge you draw upon the lessons learned so you can move pass it quickly.

3. Make your goals attainable

Once you have pinpointed what you want to achieve, it’s time to search for ways to make those goals a reality. Setting attainable goals is a critical factor for success. If you set goals that are too difficult to reach, what’s most likely to happen is that your level of commitment will be extinguished.

Imagine you want to buy a new car. Saying to yourself you’ll get that done in six months will likely yield disappointment when the six months elapse. In turn, if you plan to save $300 per month for a period of 24 months, the amount you save by the end of that period will yield the down payment to a sparkling new ride. That is truly an achievable goal, and by reaching it you’ll keep yourself motivated.

4. Be Realistic

Here’s where a lot of colleagues and fellow athletes get confused. In goal setting, a key attribute to consider is that you may already have the skills needed to reach the goal. This gives you the upper hand on the planning stage, and a head start on the competition.

The easiest way to make your goals realistic is to make them incremental. Setting up a plan to lose 25 Lbs in one year may be unrealistic if you like to binge on football Sunday. But, if you set a goal to lose 2 Lbs every month by controlling what you eat every weekday, it is likely you’ll lose the excess weight in 12 months.

5. Set a timeframe for the goal

By giving your goals a finite timeframe, you will subconsciously put a slight pressure on yourself to get done what is needed. If you leave this open, your level of commitment will diminish. How many times have you said to yourself “I’m going to start working out next month”? Say instead, I’m working out today. By putting on your tennis shoes to go for a walk or jog, you would have taken massive action toward an end result.

THE 5 LAWS OF GOAL SETTING – CONCLUSIONS

We all need to have improvements to shoot for. Human beings are made to always be striving for something better. Today’s society looks up to high achievers because of some of the unbelievable things they attain. What the majority of people don’t understand is that with hard work and impeccable planning, they can also become one of those high achievers.

Follow the five laws to set yourself a course toward high achievement. These principles will institute a methodology within yourself that, with practice, will give you a level of expertise others will find impressive. Once you have a proven method, there’s not much you set your sight to that you cannot attain.