Author Archives: Steph

About delegation

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I was reading “Never Split The Difference” by Chriss Voss which is a pretty good book on negotiation. One thing that he talked about is the idea that we have a finite mental energy. In his book, he describes that open ended questions take a bigger toll on you than simple “yes” or “no” questions.

With regards to delegations, when you are thinking of what you need to delegate, this is an important concept. Certain things are simple, and take a few seconds to do but they do take a bit of your mental energy. As a very simple example, I had to set up an appointment with the dentist. These past few weeks have been very busy for me and frankly, during the day, setting these kinds of appointments is really not something I think about. Having my virtual assistant take care of it is a great way to still have nice teeth while not having to even wonder if the office is open when I call them.

The more of those little things you can delegate, the more you’ll free your mind to really do what you care about. And, the more focused you are, the faster you achieve your goals. Basically, you save time both indirectly and directly through delegation.

So that’s it for my quick observation.

-Steph

Pathogens Chapter Two – Bacteria

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You ever get that feeling when you are at work and suddenly, your stomach decides that it doesn’t want anything to do with you anymore. A day later, you are at home leaking from every pore or orifice thinking about how you must have greatly angered some sort of deity. Viruses can mess you up quite a bit, but so can bacteria.

For this second chapter of the “Pathogens” series, we’ll focus on the bacterial side of microbes.

BTW, if you haven’t yet, you can read our first chapter on viruses here.

Now, let’s get on to chapter 2.

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Pathogens Chapter One – Virus

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Viruses

Picture this: You are working on a project. It’s a big one. You stand to gain a lot for completing this on time: fame, money, you name it. Suddenly, you wake up one morning and you cough. Surely it’s just because the air is dry. No worries right? You try to get up but your muscles move more slowly and your head hurts a bit. Damn, you caught the flu. This will kill your productivity for a week.

I’ve decided to start a series of articles on pathogens and ways to protect yourself (and your team) from them. Obviously, you’ll still get sick from time to time but you can at least lower the incidence of it.

So, to go back to the flu, you are probably hearing about it in the news fairly often. Influenza is a virus and these little alive/non-alive particles are the subject of our chapter 1.

Viruses

Definition

Wikipedia defines viruses as a small infectious agent that replicates only inside the living cells of other organisms.

The cool thing about this is that, since they require a host to grow, it’s still debatable whether or not they can be considered alive. On the one hand, they do replicate, evolve, have DNA, etc. But, on the other hand, they don’t have the necessary machinery to do that on their own.

Another thing that you might not know about viruses is that they can (and do) infect any kind of living organism, from whales to bacteria. In fact, bacteria-infecting viruses, called bacteriophages, can potentially help you have you have a a bacteria infection. You can fight fire with fire.

Bacteriophage injecting genetic material in bacteria

Phages are cool! Image by: Thomas Splettstoesser


 Popular Viruses

I just want to say that by “popular” I don’t mean that there are people cheering on and wearing t-shirt or buying plush toys. I just mean that those are the viruses that most of you would have heard about.

Influenza

That’s the superstar. Everybody gets the flu every now and then. It sucks and keeps you in bed for at least a couple of days. Even when you can get up and do something, you just feel like shit and can’t give your 100%.

Influenza cell cycle

Influenza cycle. Image by YK Times

 

This virus is also the one responsible of some of the worst epidemics and pandemics since the human race came to be. You’ve all heard of the 1918 Spanish Flu and every now and then, scientists go on TV to say that a new big pandemic is coming. We’ll get into this a bit later in the article, but these pandemic warnings are legit. The good thing is that we seem to have gotten good enough at containing the viruses that we have averted catastrophe for the past 35 years.

Modes of transmission
  • Indirect and direct contact through touching contaminated surface such as hands, door handles.
  • Airborne through inhalation or ingestion of aerosol viral particles.

Herpesviridae

The herpes virus family is also pretty well known. HSV-1 and 2, the two genital/oral herpes viruses and the Varicella zoster virus which gives you chickenpox and, later in life shingles are part of this family. 90% of humans on earth have been infected at least once with a virus from this family.

Herpes Simplex Virus Cycle

Herpes Simplex Virus cycle. Image by GrahamColm

 

 

Usually, these don’t really have a significant impact on productivity. Yes, if you get chickenpox as an adult, it sucks. But you only get it once (and maybe shingles later) and you are done.

Mode of transmission
  • Close contact. There are variations throughout the family but usually, you have to touch an infected person.

Norovirus

The name might not be as well known as the others on that list but it’s the leading cause of viral gastroenteritis. This disease can be disastrous in an office environment. Within a few days, 70% of your employees are on sick leave and you don’t know what to do. But, your employees are not alone. The virus infects more than 260 million people every year.

 

 

Modes of transmission
  • Direct and indirect contact through touching infected people or ingesting contaminated food or water. Touching contaminated items can also lead to the spread of the virus

HIV

If you want to define the biological history of the late 20th century, HIV will certainly hold a very large chapter. In terms of workplace productivity however, especially in the western world, it is not an issue. This may be less true if you work in a medical field but this article won’t talk much about HIV.

HIV cycle

HIV cycle. Image by Thomas Splettstoesser

 

Mode of transmission
  • Fluid to fluid contact. This can be through blood transfers, sex, etc.

 Impact on Productivity

That’s the cool part. Or not so cool if you are on the receiving end of it. At any rate, it’s fascinating.

Look at this article from the CDC. It estimates the impact of the seasonal flu on loss productivity for US businesses to be more than $10 billion annually. If you add the total costs of illnesses, including loss of productivity, you end up with the astronomical number of $576B every year, in the US alone. To put it in perspective, this study estimates that 10-12% of missed workdays in the US are due to Influenza. That’s only one virus and doesn’t include other diseases like the common cold or gastroenteritis. If you are business owner or a manager, this is an important statistic because it can make the difference between meeting your objectives and not.

As an individual, while a sick day (or three) is not necessarily that big a deal, the loss of productivity can last for much longer than that. While your body is mopping up the rest of the virus, you aren’t at peak performance to do what you should be doing. You are in a worst mood than normal and can’t think straight. You aren’t a top performing individual.


 Protect Yourself

You feel awesome right now and don’t want to lose it. You don’t want to become a sniveling mess and don’t want your team members to stop showing up for work. What do you do?

Well, like all battles, it’s better if you can avoid it completely. Use these tricks to protect yourself or others

  • Wash/Disinfect your hands often. BTW, you don’t need to be anal about this, the idea is that during flu season, you should wash your hands often, mostly after interactions with other humans. Outside of flu season, it’s still a good idea to do it but you can dial back a bit on the frequency.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Ask your employees to go home if they are sick, even if they feel like they can work. Better lose one employee’s productivity than the whole team’s.
  • Ask your cleaning team to make sure to wipe and disinfect areas that see a lot of different human contact. This would be door handle, telephones and computers in conference rooms, cafeteria chairs, light switches, etc.
  • If you feel like sneezing or coughing, either use a tissue or the inside of your elbow. Don’t sneeze in your hands, since you’ll probably touch something or someone later on.
  • Vitamin C helps in prevention.
  • Vaccines also help. The flu vaccine is not effective against all strains so you might still get it. The severity of your symptoms might be decreased.
  • And of course, try to avoid contact with visibly sick people.

You’ve done all this and still got invaded by a viral army. What do you do?

  • Stay HOME. Don’t spread the virus to your employees or coworkers.
  • Follow what your body tells you to do, which is, mainly, rest.
  • If, at any time, you feel that you can’t take it, don’t hesitate to call a doctor (if you are in Canada, like me, that’s free!)

 Action Items

  1. Meet with your employees and team members and outline your sick day or flu policy. If they are sick they should NOT be at work.
  2. Make sure you get 100% vitamin C in your diet
  3. Meet with your cleaning team or maids and ensure that they clean potentially contaminated areas regularly
  4. Wash your hands often

 Further Resources – Want to learn more about the topic?

Here are a few articles that discuss the same subject


Now you know more about viruses. I’ll post the next chapter in a month or so. Next time we’ll look at the evil (or not) bacteria!

As always, if you want to receive my blog posts directly in your email, sign up for the Newsletter here.

Productivity Challenge Chapter Seven – Outsourcing

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This is the end. This is the last of the productivity challenges. You first started by learning about email management. Then, you went through an automation phase. Afterwards, it was calendar management, then phone management, then automation (again) and finally delegation.

After these 6 challenges, you have saved a total of 9h15 per DAY. That’s already pretty cool since you are more than twice as productive as the regular person.

Now, for the grand finale, we are going to add an extra day, a full 7 hours. The equation will look like this:

You = 3 people.

Simple. Now, let’s get started. Continue reading

Productivity Challenge Chapter Six – Delegation

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How much did the previous automation challenge blow your mind?

Have you picked up the pieces enough to get to next step in your journey? By now, you’ve saved more than 6h15 per DAY! Most people work 8 hours per day and you are nearly double their productivity. How do you feel? like a demi-god? Are you laughing at your coworkers saying they are overworked while you handle 2 times their load? (don’t do that, it’s rude…)

The next step in this tremendous adventure makes things even more interesting, especially if you have are a business owner or a manager.

Before we get started, let me remind you that you can find chapter one on email management here, chapter two on automation here, chapter three on calendar management here, chapter four on phone management here and chapter five on automation (reloaded)here.

Now, let’s get it on with challenge no.6! Continue reading

Productivity Challenge Chapter Five – Automation Reloaded

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Remember the robots ? We talked about them in chapter two. To jog your memory, chapter one was email management, chapter two was about automation, chapter three was calendar management while chapter four was phone management.

Well today, you’ll learn how to make the robots help you even more. You’ll be like those Robot Wars guys only even more badass. In terms of time, this really takes it to the next level.

Before we do that, let’s recap: you have so far won at least 3h15 per day. Not too shabby uh?

I’ve also asked you to complete your list of tasks. If you’ve been wondering, this list is actually Chris Ducker’s 3 lists to freedom. He uses them to know which tasks to delegate or outsource.

So, now, let’s start Challenge No.5 where you delegate work to the robots.

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Productivity Challenge Chapter Four – Phone Management

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Now , where were we?

Oh yea, we have completed some email management in chapter one, automation in chapter two and calendar management in chapter three.

With these three challenges, you’ve saved 2h45 so far. If you work 10 hours a day, well, that’s close to a 30% increase in productivity. Because let’s face it, you are probably not going to work less, just better.

Now, we are on challenge no.4. Let’s get going shall we?

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Productivity Challenge Chapter Three – Calendar Management

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Hi friend,

This is the third chapter of the Productivity Challenge Series. You can find chapter one on email management here and chapter two on automation here.

Now, if you’ve completed the tasks assigned in the previous two challenges, you’ve saved 1h45 minutes but that’s not enough, not nearly enough. We need to go deeper!

Today, this is what we are doing with our challenge no.3. Today, we tackle Time Management directly!
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