Your Greatest Networking Challenges: Solved

shutterstock_sarah presenting

Join us for a complimentary teleseminar TODAYTuesday, September 1, 1:45-2:30 pm on networking challenges and their solutions. We will address the common obstacles and benefits of networking, including:

  • Trouble finding time
  • Discomfort with social aspects of networking
  • Lack of clarity on networking process
  • Networking burnout
  • Using email to network or get back in touch
  • How to “keep the ball rolling” on leads
  • Your own challenges! (email me ahead at or ask a question during the teleseminar)

Networking is not a numbers game. Learn an easier and more effective way to network to meet your goals.

The link to register for this special presentation is here. There is a PowerPoint presentation that you can download upon registration. Replays will be available if you cannot attend the live event. Please email me if you would like a copy of the replay. See you at the webinar!

The 80/20 Rule for Faster and Better Results

shutterstock_242496637Whether it is how to network more effectively, advance in one’s career, or reach any other important goal, I often suggest the 80/20 Rule to clients and colleagues as a way to streamline processes, save time and achieve better results.

Originally created by Vilfredo Pareto in 1906 as a way to quantify the distribution of wealth in his native Italy, the Pareto Principle (or 80/20 Rule) has been applied to (and become better known for) its use in other areas capable of measurement, including time and business management, as a means to increase effectiveness in those areas.

Put simply, 80/20 means that 80% of the rewards in your life, however defined, generally come from 20% of your efforts. The key to utilizing the 80/20 Rule is to focus a greater proportion of your efforts on the 20% that is most fruitful rather than spreading your efforts across areas that do not correlate to results.

We don’t always intuitively know what are the most effective uses of our time, although we can often identify those that are time-sucks. If you are in a client-interfacing business, for example, this could be a client who pays bills late or complains about fees, saps your energy and is unlikely to give you additional work or a referral. If you tolerate this type of client (or worse yet, invite these clients into your life), you will consistently be disappointed and deprive yourself of the opportunity to shine in front of those clients who will grow you and your business. Yet often, because we fail to plan ahead, we get sucked into spending our best hours of the day (or even vacations), servicing those same clients that yield the slimmest results.

If you are in a client-interfacing business, for example, a time-suck might be a client who pays bills late or complains about fees, saps your energy and is unlikely to give you additional work or a referral. A client that, in other words, is a headline (not a footnote) in the 80% of your efforts that are the least rewarding.

With a mentor or coach, or by using metrics to approximate the return on your investment of time and energy, you can refine the 20% and your approach to leverage it for greater results.

As you can imagine or may already know, you can apply this same approach to many areas of your life, improving how you allocate time at a job, in your writing, with your spouse and children, etc. Focus on the activities, tasks and moments that create the most value, enthusiasm and joy. Delegate or eliminate those that create little value, enthusiasm or joy yet require great efforts. In some ways, the 80/20 Rule is a more refined variation of just saying no to things that don’t serve you and people who don’t enrich your personal and professional life.

80/20. Try it. You may be hooked for good.

Originally published as Get Results Faster with the 80/20 Rule on LinkedIn Pulse. Shutterstock image.

Summer Vacations Make Us Stronger. Here’s Why.

Summer vacations make us stronger. Period. Why?

Let’s cut to the chase. In ten short days, you’ll have a summer to enjoy.


Say that your goal numero uno this summer is landing a new gig (a new job, new client, etc.). Now let’s look at two other goals, or maybe you call them plans, that could be on your list:

2.  Visit the Taj Mahal
3.  Hang out with family at the beach for a week

We are tempted (in the wisdom of our modern society) to say that goals #2 and 3 are a distraction from goal #1. How can you play when you are supposed to be doing something more important? But if you look at the facts, visiting the Taj Mahal and finding a new gig have a lot in common. How so? Each one requires you to envision, plan, execute and move out of your comfort zone in a big way.

It’s not just the precious downtime of vacation that makes you stronger, it’s the mindset of creativity, openness, goal-setting and action. It’s also the stimulus and satisfaction that come from achieving what you set out to do.

Compare that to procrastinating at your desk, or letting your body leave the office while your brain stays virtually trapped there. How is that improving your mindset?

Even goal #3 of the beach, admittedly much less dramatic than a trip to the Taj Mahal, requires vision, planning and execution. It will also take you out of your comfort zone, unless you are fortunate to live at the shore or your business card currently reads “beach bum.” A trip to the beach requires focus and action, and it exposes you to a whole new set of information and challenges that you will never find at the office.

Hmmm, a day at the beach…. It’s not just hot sand and folding chairs. You may find something washed up on the shore that makes you say “what the heck is that?” And while your mind races through its catalog of information trying to make a match, the other problem you were looking to solve (your new gig) gets a hit in your brain, and your eureka moment arrives. You have figured out the missing piece to make real progress.

Compare again to procrastinating at your desk. No synapses firing wild. No catalog of information activated in your brain. Nope. Guilt for not being productive. Boredom. More guilt. Repeat pattern.

Maybe you can even make a new connection at the beach, someone who can answer the question of what that thing you saw actually is. (Eureka again?) And just maybe, in the way that fate and coincidence often play their hands, she might be exactly the right person to introduce you to the right person.

Need I mention this would not happen at your desk? Or if you miss the weird sea life thing and connection because you are mentally checked out?

Reframe summer: less guilt, more possibilities. Stay in the moment. Vacation strong.

Ten Ways to Beat Procrastination

shutterstock_leaning over desk

Have a lot to do today? This week? This lifetime?

So why aren’t you finishing that little task that should take 10 minutes (two hours later) or that looming project that should take 10 hours (back-burnered for two months)? And what can you do about it?

There are many different motivation killers, and you could be suffering from one or more of them. Are you bored? Ambivalent? Out of your comfort zone? Here are ten common reasons you may procrastinate, and how to get going:

1) You are tired. It happens. We have high-energy days and low-energy days. So what do you do? Finish the small tasks that will make you feel that you’ve accomplished something on the days that you are dragging, and save the bigger tasks for the days (and times of day) when your energy is at its peak.

If there is a day you can get more done, schedule some time to relax on another day, such as on a Friday afternoon. Procrastinating is time-wasting, and it is non-productive. Reprioritizing your time is taking advantage of your normal highs and lows, and catching yourself at your best. Nap or have downtime if you are tired, and later make it up. Or finish your memo or report first, then get an hour of reward time. And don’t squander it on Facebook or mindless web searches, you earned that hour!

If you know you’ll be tired this Friday (your deadline) because you plan to be out late Thursday night, let your motivation be enjoying Thursday night because you’re finishing the project by Wednesday.

If you are consistently tired, of course, get more sleep and nutrition. You have to keep yourself running well to do good work, and a tired brain or body can’t go the extra mile when needed.

2) You are hungry. In the modern world, we put off lunches and dinners because we think we will be more efficient. In the long run, we are racing to finish things but not being more effective over the course of a month or a year.

Eat when you are hungry. Have an apple with some almond butter. Or whatever suits your fancy and fuels you up.

I don’t keep it a secret that I have food with me at all times and stash the storable variety in desk drawers at my office. If your workplace does not have a refrigerator, consider investing in a mini-fridge for yourself or with a group.

3) You are bored. Boring tasks are hard to finish. It’s just a fact of life. The worst part is when they take over half a day or more because they are SOOO boring that they rain on your happy-parade. (Yes, I did say that.) I have two solutions for making boring tasks less tedious: get creative and drum up a deadline.

Make a boring task less brain-draining, and keep your focus, by using brightly colored pens or highlighters or crossing out lines on the page as you complete each one. In other words, dress up the task to make it more interesting.

You can also create a deadline, even if one doesn’t exist. I often set a timer on my phone and bet myself how quickly I can finish something. This doesn’t mean you do everything on ASAP mode or ignore important details. It does mean, however, that you get the hard parts done with the momentum of adrenaline. Sometimes, it works even better if you have someone else who can be your designated “taskmaster” on the task. For example, bet that you will pay a friend $1 (or $10) if you don’t finish the super-boring-thing by noon. Or more, if that’s not enough to motivate.

Betting yourself you can finish early doesn’t mean you do everything on ASAP mode or ignore important details. It does mean, however, that you get the hard parts done with the momentum of adrenaline. 

4) You need to move. Maybe you are procrastinating because your muscles feel as stiff as hard as the chair you are sitting in. Get up from your desk. Stretch. Walk around. Oh, and make a plan to go to the gym this week, or get outside and run, walk or swim in the sunshine.

5) You are distracted. Distractions abound, and you need to find ways to get around them. Sometimes they are physical distractions, like conversations you can’t help overhearing that drown out your own thoughts in your head. Can you take action to create a more peaceful atmosphere? Or can you relocate?

Sometimes distractions are emotional, like expecting an important phone call or being upset. Take a moment to recognize the feeling and, if possible, address whatever come up. If it is a phone call, for example, and you are worried about what you’ll say, write down five speaking points for the conversation. If you are upset, maybe the priority for you in that moment is to work out what is going on (or, if you are on a deadline, take at least take five minutes to honor the feeling, rather than trying to bury it). Then you can go back to complete the other task that you have been distracted from.

For the five procrastination triggers above, the key is being aware of yourself and your surroundings. For the five below, beat the procrastination game with tactical strategies and your own priorities.

6) You haven’t broken a large project into smaller tasks. Create a chart or list to map out what you need to do, then cross off each task as it is completed. You will feel a sense of accomplishment to have 6 out of 10 parts done, rather than a sense of defeat that you still have not finished the project. Consider breaking it down by function or mini-deliverable (even if the only recipient is yourself) rather than a step-by-step list.

7) You are out of your comfort zone. Sometimes you may not have the skills or information to tackle what is expected of you, or what you have designated as a new area that you would like to master. Where can you get it? Who can you ask? Or can you start first and fill in the details later? For example, can your first task be to familiarize yourself with the process? Cross that off your list, and you are one step closer to your goal of completion.

8) You have forgotten your priorities. Next time a work project or task is taking more time than it needs, ask yourself what you could be doing with the time if you were more efficient. What’s your big picture, based on your own values and priorities? Chances are that you’ll have lots of good answers about how you could be using that extra time.

At the same time, sometimes we focus more on a smaller task because we don’t want to get to the larger one that is really the priority. It’s fine to do that if you are really getting things out of the way to have a clean slate to concentrate, but not if the lower-priority items weigh you down or are time-wasters masquerading as helpful tasks.

If you looked back on your life a month or a year from now, would you be thankful for how your spent your time. Does it fit into your big picture?

9) You are ambivalent about whether you want to do it. This point is similar to the one above. If you are consistently late responding to someone or deciding whether to commit to a project, maybe you are uncertain whether it is the best use of your time or resources, or if you can make the emotional commitment to see it through. This can manifest as procrastination, but really it’s your gut talking to you. Can you hear it?

Take the time to sort out your thoughts and feelings. How does this person or project fit into your bigger plan? Will you have more energy, move yourself further toward a life or professional goal, do important work and enjoy it? I used to think that at least one of these had to be true to make the commitment. Now I look for all four.

(Note: the” important work” from time to time may only be keeping your job, but if it often feels like that’s the only importance of your work and time spent, maybe a life change is in order?)

10) You want it to be perfectLife is a process, and so is work. Deadlines require that we complete things before they are perfect. And frankly, what may be “perfect” to one person may be only “pretty good” to another, or even to your future self!

You will get more points for getting something done, on time, when you are fresh, than belaboring it through to a long and bitter end, where the big thought could get lost in the polishing of details. Take satisfaction not from perfection, but from valuing yourself and each moment of your time on this planet.

You only get one life, after all. How do you want to spend it?

Anne Marie Segal is a business and career coach to attorneys, executives and entrepreneurs. She writes a blog on career and business issues and often posts on LinkedIn Pulse. You can find her website here.

If you have any more tips to get motivated and beat procrastination at its own game, please leave them in the comments. Thanks!

Copyright 2015 Segal Coaching. Originally published on LinkedIn here.