Author Archive

• Friday, February 17th, 2017

focusProcrastinating? 30 Minutes Can Change Your Day.

We all have more to do and yet ironically we seem to be spinning our wheels now more than ever. Have you noticed that people are procrastinating more and more despite ever-increasing workloads?

When we are overloaded, we actually tend to procrastinate more. This is called the Paradox of Choice: with too many decisions to make, we tend to do nothing, or at the very least, we do the easiest thing. The Easiest Thing is rarely the best decision. We all know it will just put us under pressure down the track, when that deadline is finally looming. But we keep doing those easy things anyway.

That is, until there’s some urgency.


Urgency forces us to switch into the performance zone. It makes us switch out of auto-pilot mode and switch on the part of the brain that controls our behaviours. It also gives us a little shot of adrenalin, which narrows our focus.

But usually people wait for something or someone else to make this happen:

Someone else gives us a deadline

Or I am all of a sudden so far behind my budget or project timeline that I need to switch on.

This is a hallmark of being overwhelmed in the 21st Century. I will do easy things until someone else forces me to do something more productive. We wait to that external impetus to really get us moving.

The minute we create our own urgency, we start being more productive. We take control of our own performances and we are not held to the whims of deadlines and controlling managers.


Here’s a tip:

Build Blocks Of Focus into your day

Plan 30min blocks where all you do is work on the things that are most important. No email, no distractions, no daydreaming about the things that aren’t getting done. Be deliberate and set specific tasks to complete during this time. And if you can control your environment by closing your door or finding a meeting room to work in – even better.

I know 30 minutes doesn’t seem like much, but it is sometimes all we need to get us going. That 30 minutes quickly turns into an hour, but the original 30min block is long enough to get us started and short enough to create some urgency.

Now this takes some practice, so don’t give up if it doesn’t work the first time. We can actually train ourselves to work in these blocks of focus. Again, 30min may not seem like much, but you’ll find it amazing how much you get done in this small space of time, with better focus.



** Tony Wilson is a Workplace Performance Expert focussed on helping leaders build the environment for high performance. His insights into performance science and it’s application in the workplace will make you re-think the way that you approach leadership, culture change, high performance and productivity. Tony has an MBA and a BSc majoring in physiology and combines the two for a different perspective. He is also the author of Jack and the Team that Couldn’t See and delivers workshops and keynote presentations around the globe.

• Tuesday, February 07th, 2017

broad focus narrow focus think big act small


To lead a team well is really quite hard. The concepts are easy, but the execution is often difficult. One of the things that is exceedingly difficult is getting people to focus on the things that really make a difference.

If you want to build a high performing team, you need to help narrow their focus down to the things that make a really big difference. This is especially true in the 21st Century. When all the other teams in the world are scrambling to do more. The way to get people focussed is to do less and focus on execution. In my keynote speaking engagement and workshops, this is what people want to hear about a lot. They want to know how to build high performance culture by honing in on the big ticket items.

But sometimes we need to broaden that focus. In the planning stage of the year, we need to look outside of what we are doing and just gather as much information as possible. This is where we find ideas that might cause the next great shift in our performance. In doing this, most people just look at what their competitors and their industry are doing, but here are some other ideas:

If you want to engage customers, look at some of the social media platforms that are getting massive engagement. Why are people getting addicted and what can you learn from that?

If you want your people to be more productive, then take a look at what some start-ups are doing – how are they making things work on a shoestring budget?

If you want your people to produce better quality, look at some QA-heavy industries like foods and manufacturing to see what process they put in place to make sure their quality is of the highest level.

This is a great exercise to get people to brainstorm and think outside the box for new initiatives and strategies that just might help your team find the next level. It’s also a great exercise in innovation that can stimulate thinking and help people start challenging the status quo.


Once you pick the initiatives, it comes back to narrow focus for the rest of the year. Spending a couple months with broad focus and brainstorming is a great stimulus. But if you want to really execute – you have to narrow your teams focus and make sure the behaviours they choose are affecting the things that really matter.


• Thursday, February 02nd, 2017


vive la france

The French have got it right! Their new laws mean that any organisation with more than 50 employees needs to determine hours when their employees should not send or reply to emails.

Emails are a constant drain on our attention in the workplace and need to be managed better. But now they have become a constant drain on our attention outside of the workplace as well. Like it or not, many managers expect their people to answer emails immediately. Wherever they are. And it also seems that we, as workers just can’t help ourselves from picking up that smart phone when the email ping is calling.

I spoke about it on radio here: Click Here to Listen

And this must be impacting relationships, work-life balance and stress in general. I wrote an article earlier about how 80% of kids notice that their parents bring work stress home with them.

What do you think? Good or bad? Should we have to implement a law for this or should we just be more understanding or people’s personal time?


• Tuesday, January 24th, 2017

procrastinationThis year, stop procrastinating and start doing

What’s going to stop you from achieving those New Year’s Goals? If you’re like most people – the answer is procrastination. And it is never helpful. Research shows that procrastinators end up with higher stress, more illness and lower grades at university. In my workshops and keynote engagements, this is one of the topics that consistently pops up.

Why do we procrastinate?

People procrastinate for many reasons. The main ones are that a) a task is too difficult, so they make themselves feel good by doing things that give them an immediate reward, or b) the reward or consequence of not doing the task is too far away – there is actually not enough stress to get them motivated.

To sum it up very simply, when we procrastinate, we are doing it because we would rather have something right now, than wait for something in the future. We opt for a smaller, sooner reward, instead of doing something that will deliver a larger, later reward.

What does the smaller sooner reward look like?

Let’s say you should really get started on a project that’s due in four weeks’ time. But instead, you decide to check facebook and answer some emails that aren’t particularly urgent. What just happened?

Now, you could have a bigger reward later in the future. If you did some work on that project, then you may not get stressed out down the track when the deadline comes around. Or you will probably do a better job because you won’t be so rushed, and this might lead to a promotion or at least making your life a lot easier.

But you didn’t do that. You took the smaller, sooner reward.

You opted for something that you could get right now. You got some social connection (facebook) or maybe a sense of achievement (answered some emails…. tick!), or maybe you just got to do something easy, which made you feel comfortable. Either way you got a little reward right now.

And it’s not just you. A lot of people do this. We are actually hard-wired to believe that something we can get right now is more important than something we can get in the future. It’s evolutionary biology. Scientists call it Temporal Discounting

What to do about it:

But there are some simple ways to beat procrastination, and boost performance:

1)    Connect with your ‘future self’ more clearly

Simply try to imagine yourself in the future, having NOT worked on the project and being under enormous pressure because of the deadline. Imagine your boss getting angry at you, or those sleepless nights. Then maybe also imagine how good you’ll feel if you actually do a great job, with a bunch of time to spare.

2)    Manufacturing self-imposed deadlines

Set a timer for no more than 30 minutes. Ask yourself ‘what could I get done in the next 30 mins that will help me get closer to getting this project done. It doesn’t matter how small the task, but if you just get started, you might find that you continue to work on it once you build some momentum. The key is don’t get started on the simple task – get started on the harder task.

Try these things to beat procrastination in 2017. They’re simple but they are very effective at tricking our hard-wiring.


* Tony Wilson is a workplace performance expert focussed on helping leaders build the environment for high performance. His insights into performance science and it’s application in the workplace will make you re-think the way that you approach leadership and culture change. Tony has an MBA and a BSc majoring in physiology and combines the two for a different perspective. He is also the author of Jack and the Team that Couldn’t See, and is highly sought after for workshops, programs and keynotes around the Asia Pacific Region.


• Monday, July 27th, 2015


Think you can slow down on Friday and take it easy? Think again.

Being unproductive on Friday might be impacting your weekend more than you think.

Rumination…. the scourge of performance

Rumination can be a killjoy. Rumination is when we constantly think about things that are going on in our lives. Those things that have happened during the day that left us frustrated, or the things that are coming up that are making us anxious.

It affects our stress levels, because we can’t stop thinking about the source of our distress, and it impairs our quality (and sometimes quantity) of sleep.

In fact, it often does both at the same time. Ever lay awake at night annoyed about that argument you had with your manager, or obsess and worry about the presentation you have to give to a client the following day? Chances are you found it hard to drift off to sleep, and your night was frustratingly restless.

The Trouble with Fridays…

Recent research shows that people who have unfinished tasks on Friday afternoon tend to ruminate more on the weekend, and have impaired sleep. It seems that those unfinished tasks tend to play on our mind, even subconsciously, causing us to re-think the week that’s been, the week ahead, and prevent us from getting the sleep we need.

So don’t take Friday lightly. Here are three tips to turbo-charge your Friday

Turbo-Charge Your Friday:

1) Narrow your focus 

Write a list of the things you need to accomplish. Prioritise it so that the absolute most urgent and important tasks are at the top. Now rule a line under the top three things . There are your non-negotiables. Say to yourself “if these are the only things that get done today, it will be a successful day”

2) Make the morning count 

People make one big mistake:they do low priority, easy things first. Not only are they easing into their weekend…. they’re easing into Friday as well! The trouble is, so many interruptions and distractions pop up during the day that those things we leave until ‘later’ get trumped by something else.

Do yourself a favour and do the most important things first.

3) Park things for Monday 

Lets face it: not everything on that list is getting done despite your best intentions.

To ease the burden of unfinished business, spend the final 10 minutes of your work day allocating a time on Monday for those unfinished things to get done. When you ‘park’ your taks for a definite time in the future, our bodies and brains seem willing to forget them and accept that they’re taken care of.

Don’t ease into the weekend. Instead, finish the week with a bang


• Thursday, July 16th, 2015

goalslineWhen i speak at conferences, I often ask the audience to answer two very simple questions by raising their hands:

  1. Put your hand up if you work in a team that has goals.  Everyone puts their hand up.
  2. Leave your hand up if you can tell me what they are.

At this point only 5% of people leave their hand in the air

This will be astonishing to most leaders. But it is a pervasive element in teams all around the world.

There are a few key reasons, but the most simple one to explain – but possibly the most difficult to execute – is the shear fact that most people don’t care about them.  And we tend to pay attention to what’s important to us.

The Two Reasons We Have Goals

You see, goals need to do two things:

Firstly, they need to guide people’s behaviours. This means there needs to be a clear objective, but more than that, the goal should send a signal to people about what is most important to work on each day.

Secondly, they need to inspire people. People need to WANT to engage in the tasks that are most important. And to do this consistently, they need to be inspired to do so. Why? Because unless your goals are asking people to turn up and go through the motions, then chances are that the things you want them to do are slightly out of their comfort zone – and that’s how they’re going to achieve those goals. And you, me and most other humans need some inspiration to do the uncomfortable thing, rather than going through the motions.

What Inspires You Might Not Inspire Them

When we look at the majority of goals, they are based around hitting targets and numbers. Acquiring customers, making budget, being more efficient. Those things probably inspire you as a manager – because those are parts of the business that interest you – but chances are the average person in your team really doesn’t care.  If you ask them they might toe the line and give you the response they think you want to hear – why wouldn’t they?

Go Out On a Limb – find out what’s really important

Your team’s goals don’t necessarily have to be the goals that were handed down from Head Office. Sure, they obviously need to achieve those things, but maybe you can set some other, higher level goals that would mean that those things get accomplished anyway. If your target is to hit a certain budget, then maybe your goal could be to be the highest performing division in the state. Maybe that sense of status and achievement is something that appeals to your people.

And the goals don’t always have to be outcome-driven, they can also be culturally-driven. I worked with a football team once whose goal was to ‘Be the team that everyone wants to play for’. Part of this was winning titles, but you can be sure it wasn’t the only thing.

These things might sound fluffy to your average manager, but this is really why most teams don’t have inspirational goals – because it requires you to take a risk, and maybe to be a little vulnerable.

Whatever you think an inspirational goal might be, I urge you to go ahead and find out what really inspires your people. Ask them straight out, but also observe their behaviours and see what drives them.

The Challenge is pretty simple. Create goals that really inspire people. When I ask that question next time I’m at a conference, I hope it’s one of your staff members that leaves their hand up.