Pierre Khawand on Personal Productivity in the Digital Age for People on the Go
Susan Bratton

Episode 128 - Pierre Khawand on Personal Productivity in the Digital Age for People on the Go

Are you a task hopper? Do you have trouble getting your projects done? Have you found a way to integrate your long term goals with your short term priorities? Are you a slave to email, feeling overwhelmed by all of your priorities?

Help his here and his name is Pierre. Learn how to up your personal productivity in the age of social media, 24/7 cell access and email avalanches.

Pierre shares his simple system for accomplishing and collaborating, his filing structures for matching your inbox, desktop and folder systems to stay organized and stress free and how to align your daily activities with your long term goals.

By using simple and emerging tools from countdown timers to written journals to emerging collaboration tools and filters and flags in your inbox, this episode opens a world of possibility for your organized potential.

DishyMix fans get a free autographed copy of "The Accomplishing More With Less Workbook" and a "Free Seat of the Week" when you follow @pierrekhawand.

Tune in and change your ways, you ADD disorganized under deliverer! :)



Susan Bratton: Welcome to DishyMix. I’m your host Susan Bratton, and on today’s show you’re going to get to meet someone who changed my life and I think he might change yours, even in the next half hour. Pierre Khawand - he is the founder of People On The Go. And what he does is teach us about productivity in the digital age. What with our iPods, iPhones, email, multiple accounts – all of the things that we have to manage now – he has really mastered total organization and time management. So let me ask you, could this be you? Imagine that you’re working on a budget projection for the quarter, and you try to think about how much you should allocate for online ads, and then your gaze drifts up as you contemplate what that right number might be. Oh, then your eyes settle on a photo on your desk of you in Paris. “Oh, that was such a great trip last year”, you were thinking. Except for the price of gas. You can remember that gas station you stopped at to fill up and you see the numbers flashing past 90 euros. No question, Hertz should be running hybrids or electrics. Then you start browsing the Internet to see if anyone’s renting hybrids in Europe. So you’ve gone from the photo lying on your desk to browsing the Internet for the next 10 to 20 minutes. It’s not inconceivable that while browsing the internet you notice that new email has arrived in your inbox and you hear the beep and you take a look and then your email message is something that you want to reply to, you start replying. And then you glance at the spam filter and you notice there’s a number of new messages in there, so you have to abandon that email you were starting and you’re going through your spam filter to see if there’s anything important, and then another 10 or 20 minutes go by and suddenly you realize you’re way off track. And then you ask yourself, “What the heck was I working on?” If that’s you, this show and Pierre Khawand are for you. So lets get him on the show and learn more about what he has to teach us about getting results, the results curve, task hopping and productivity. Welcome Pierre.

Pierre Khawand: Thank you Susan. Thank you.

Susan Bratton: Hey, that was fun. I enjoyed reading that little piece. That was actually out of your new book, the Accomplishing More With Less Workbook, and what do you think, do you think that the people who were listening probably identified with that little story?

Pierre Khawand: This is so common, Susan. It’s amazing the new world we live in and just the amount of distractions and the, we find so many exciting things to just go with here and there, and social media comes and I think it’s very, very common, and that’s exactly what we’re dealing with in the workplace.

Susan Bratton: Now Pierre, when I met you, I met you when I was programming the Ad Tech Conferences, and you came and you spoke at one of the sessions for me. And at the time it was really about managing your email inbox. And subsequently I took a number of classes at People On The Go – and for those of you who are interested in this, I’m going to have all of the links on the DishyMix page at Personal Life Media. But if you want to go right to Pierre’s website it’s People-On The Go, people-onthego.com. So you taught me – you have live virtual workshops, you have web self-paced workshops and you have personal coaching all about productivity, total organization, and time management. You taught me something really, really important that changed my life very early on, and that was this idea of filing structures of your inbox, your desktop and your real life folder systems all matching. Can you explain that to us, ‘cause it was such a good thing for me?

Pierre Khawand: Yeah, so information, knowing that we deal with so much of it, what we try to do is help business professionals be much better at thinking about it and mainly thinking about information the same way. So thinking about what we call an information architecture, which summarizes basically who are the main audiences that we deal with, what main information we deal with and then coming up with a structure that works, and then implementing the structure the same way in our email, as well as on our hard drive and shared drive, as well as on paper. So now when we think about the piece of information we can quickly find it in any of these medians instead of taking a lot of time to do this. But something I want to add here Susan, which is really important, is there is no way we’re going to be able to file and organize all this information that comes across our space. So the idea is to use the 80/20 rule and to really focus on filing the 20 percent that’s going to give us the biggest impact and then really and then really keep that as in what we call (unintelligible) of pieces available only if necessary and when necessary.

Susan Bratton: So what I did when I took your course was put together folders in my email inbox, and I’ve been doing it ever since then. I’ve been doing this Pierre probably for the last five years. It completely de-stressed my email agenda I had where there was always this stuff coming in and I didn’t know what to do with it and I had this huge inbox full of junk. You taught me to keep my inbox at zero and to use the flagging system. So both to have a matching file system on my hard drive for documents that matched my email that matched if I needed to things on my desktop and then the flagging. So talk about the zero inbox and the flagging, ‘cause that was huge for me too.

Pierre Khawand: Yeah, so emails… Email is huge. I mean email has become, over the years has become more and more and is really hard to manage. So what we came up with is specific methodology. First of all, it’s a way of thinking about how to manage the inbox instead of having the inbox be as human as here and as human as there. So when we go to the inbox what we encourage or what the methodology includes is to try to go through all the new messages right away when we go to the inbox, and that may be a 10, 15 minute time, but in that 10 or 15 minutes we’re doing just that and we’re following these simple decisions. The first one is if something is urgent obviously we need to handle it right away, but then get it out of the inbox immediately. The second is if something is easy we also handle it immediately and get it out of the inbox. The third thing – and that’s the crucial thing – if something is not, we’re not going to handle it right away, we immediately think for a few seconds and decide when do we need to get back to it, and then apply the appropriate flag. So if we know that we have to come back to it today, we apply that red flag. If we need to come back to it, if we don’t have to come back to it today it’s okay for it to be handled later, like tomorrow or later, we apply the blue flag. And then if we delegate it someone else, which would be ideal if we can, we apply the yellow flag. And then after this, after we handle those messages then we’re very clear on when to handle those message later. And we have a filter that basically filters the inbox and only shows the unflagged messages. So that’s how the inbox becomes zero.

Susan Bratton: Now you go through painstaking – and I appreciate it – great detail for setting up filters and flags in Outlook in a self-paced workshop. Are there any other email applications…do you do this for Apple Mail as well or is Outlook so predominant that that’s the one that you teach?

Pierre Khawand: Great question Susan, especially in this world where the world is becoming, I would say we’re seeing more and more applications being utilized. So we teach this in almost every application. And we’ve transferred and translated these techniques to work I would say in most of the common applications, including Google Apps where we use the labeling to mimic the similar workflow that can really help us keep track of what is today, what needs to be done today, which emails can wait and which emails are delegated. We used it Lotus Notes, we used it in Eudora, and I think it’s more also about the behavioral part of this and then most applications can be adapted to work with that.

Susan Bratton: Got it. Thank you. Well I sure love it. So we talked about doing your email inbox and the 80/20 rule and how to manage the inflow of that, but that really speaks to what we opened the show with, which was this idea of, you know, your mind starts task hopping and also you start doing 20 things at once and you never get anything accomplished. You have a video on YouTube right now, and this is a real core of your book, The Accomplishing More With Less Workbook, that’s called the results curve, where you can teach us how to accomplish more. So tell us about the results curve.

Pierre Khawand: Yeah. The results curve is actually the core of this methodology and my findings over the last ten years of working in this topic extensively. So basically the results curve tries to draw a diagram of how our results change with time when we are working on a task. Imagine an axis, an X/Y axis and then one is the results and then one is time. And then what we find out is that as we start to work on a task we start to get results, and then we continue to get more and more until at some point the results level off and then they diminish because we probably get tired or exhausted or we did what we could and now we need someone else to complete their part. But in reality what’s been determined or what we’ve found out is this never happens because every, as soon as we start to work on a task we get interrupted by email or by IM or someone stopping by or our mind going to places, and then our results drop down to zero, and then we start this thing again in a few minutes and then as soon as we start to make some progress, results drop down to zero again when we get interrupted again. And this, in the results curve when people look at it, they get immediately a revelation because now we’re stopping and we’re trying to understand what’s going on. And as a solution to this problem we designed a working methodology that will alternate between focused sessions and collaborative sessions. And the focused - and they can be short, they can be 15 minutes, half an hour, whatever makes sense to the task that we’re working on - we stay completely focused, and there are many ways to help us accomplish this. And then after the focus session we switch and we become fully collaborative and we communicate to the world, we get on social media, we do whatever else, we take a break, we incorporate a play time, which I promote tremendously in the workplace, having that play time, and then get back to another focus session. So that’s what the results curve is about.

Susan Bratton: Well since I read The Accomplishing More With Less Workbook and I watched the results curve video, I have been putting my task list together and then I have been allocating 40 minutes for some of the key projects that I have, ‘cause in your results curve you say that 30 minutes is good but that extra ten minutes where your brain is actually fully engaged is kind of the sweet spot where you accomplish the most is that ten extra minutes where you’re fully engaged, and I have to say that I have become so ADD in my approach to work that it’s really been challenging for me - and I’ve only been doing this for the last three or four days – it’s been challenging for me Pierre to stop and only do one thing. And clearly 40 minutes isn’t even long enough to do some of the projects that need to get done, but I go week after week without really getting them done because I can’t focus for 40 minutes. I mean I feel like I am retraining my brain right now to this new results curve, and I believe in it Pierre. Everything you have ever taught me has completely panned out, but it’s a physical system, it’s like a system wide all the way into my body behavior change. It’s hard. It’s really hard to focus.

Pierre Khawand: Yeah.

Susan Bratton: The countdown timer is brilliant. You say use a countdown timer for the 40 minutes so you can watch how much you have left and it focuses you and it gets you going. Today I just thought to myself, “I’ve got to get a countdown timer”, and then I realized, “Uh, hello”, I have a countdown timer on my iPhone. So I’m going to start using that. Already last night and this morning I could feel that I was accomplishing more by focusing, and now I think with the countdown timer that’ll really, really help me… It’s kind of competitive; you’re competitive with the clock and getting something done before you run out of time. I think that’s a great tool.

Pierre Khawand: Thank you. Yeah, I think actually that the time Susan is so powerful. It’s very simple – and this is the beauty of it actually – it’s very simple and yet very powerful. And I, the way I describe it, I think it’s very psychological, because what happens is as soon as we hit that button of that countdown timer basically we’re, one thing is we’re telling our self that we’re now accountable. We’re going to know in 30 minutes if we did make progress on what we said we were going to do or not; that’s number one. Number two that is something that we see quite often, which I call task hopping… Have you heard of it?

Susan Bratton: I even mentioned it before, yeah.

Pierre Khawand: Okay, yeah. So task hopping is something we’re all guilty of. We start to do something and then it gets a little difficult so we switch. Or we have this brilliant idea and then we switch and then we switch again. So we keep switching from one task to the next – that’s why the name task hopping – and that’s what the timer stops us from doing because it is, it is a definite point in time where we’re starting on a task we’re no longer testing different tasks. And I think just a natural thing, our mind; our awareness of time heightens when the timer isn’t running. We don’t need to do anything, it just happens. The timer is running and then our awareness of time heightens and we become, we notice more when we drift away and we’re likely to come back much sooner.

Susan Bratton: It makes a difference. Before we go to a break – when we come back I want to talk about how you align your daily activities with your long-term goals…

Pierre Khawand: Mm hmm.

Susan Bratton: But before we go on a break you give away a free Seat of the Week, which is awesome. So someone could come in and they could be part of your live virtual or your web self-paced program with this free Seat of the Week, right?

Pierre Khawand: Yeah, that’s correct. They would be on Twitter, @pierrekhawand, and people who follow me on Twitter, they will see the announcement of the free seat and which one, and they can just reply and it’s first come, first serve and someone will get it.

Susan Bratton: That’s awesome. And you also have two personally autographed copies of The Accomplishing More With Less Workbook for us, right?

Pierre Khawand: Yes.

Susan Bratton: Thank you for that. And if you’re a new DishyMix listener, the way that you get all this free goodness for the show and our great guests, is that you go to dishymixfan.com – that’s the Face Book fan page for DishyMix – and you just post your desire, “Hey, I’d like to get one of Pierre’s The Accomplishing More With Less Workbook. Send it to me, send it to me”, and Pierre and I will pick two people who post and we’ll personally autograph and mail you a copy of The Accomplishing More With Less Workbook. And if you follow Pierre on Twitter, @pierrekhawand – that’s p-i-e-r-r-e-k-h-a-w-a-n-d, you can Google it or you can come to the DishyMix Page, I’ll have it linked there – you can get a free Seat of the Week and try one of these courses out, Total Organization, Time Management, Effective Meetings, you’ve got Excel, Word, Project, PowerPoint, techniques, all kinds of good stuff. So lets go to a break and thank our sponsors who let us have this much fun, and when we come back lets talk about aligning daily activities and long-term goals and a little bit more about Pierre. I’m your host Susan Bratton. We’re with Pierre Khawand, People-On The Go, People-On The Go. Hang on and we’ll be right back.

Susan Bratton: We’re back and we’re with Pierre Khawand. Now Pierre, we were talking before the break about this idea of, in your book – The Accomplishing More With Less Workbook – you teach us to keep a journal, essentially a list of to-do’s. It’s much more complex than that; not complex in a bad way, but much more organized than that, but for brevities sake I’ll just say we have a list of the daily things and the daily priorities that are constantly being prioritized. How are we rationalizing that with our long-term goals?

Pierre Khawand: Great question Susan, and that is one of the big challenges we see today among business professionals is that balancing between short-term and long-term. So one of the tools that we encourage business professionals to use – there are two actually tools of our very complimentary, I’ll describe each one of them very briefly and then you can feel free to let me know if you want me to expand on one of them. So one is called Immediate Priorities Matrix, which is basically for those times when things are going really crazy around us and we just feel too many competing priorities are attacking our time and there’s no easy way to manage. That’s when the Immediate Priorities Matrix comes into play, helps us break things down into smaller components, figure out the deadlines and then organize what we need to do in the very short-term to manage. Now then there is what we call the End Results Matrix, which is a tool that would ask us to think about the next three to six months and start at a high level by defining what would be the three to five key results that we want to see accomplished in the next three to six months, and then starting this process of breaking that down into some specific steps, projects, initiatives that we need to do to get that, to get those results done. And this is the big revelation is right here when people compare the Immediate Priorities Matrix, which is the main things that are keeping them busy on the very short-term, the next few days or next couple of weeks. With the longer-term activities that they would need to do if they were to accomplish these great results, they find out that these two don’t match. Basically if they continue to be busy with the stuff that’s keeping them busy today they’ll never meet those end results. So what we do, we start to think about can we start to incorporate those end results, those activities that will lead to the end results, into the schedule on the calendar, maybe not this week and next week because we’re completely overbooked, but maybe two weeks from now or four weeks from now so we can start to make that alignment happen, and that’s when things start to appear in that daily journal after this effort.

Susan Bratton: It’s exactly what we need to be doing, and it’s funny because, you know, I launched this book publishing division this year and one of our first titles out was a title called Speak Up With Power and Influence, and it’s really, it teaches you first to understand what your long-term goals are, what you want out of your life. Not the big picture, but, you know, reasonably short-term, like in the next year, what do you want to have accomplished, and it helps you through visualization to not only visualize them and envision what would make you the most happy, but to get really succinct about what the steps are that you need to take to do it. And I have this, this list, right, which is the things that I want to get done over the course of the year – like the big fun things in my life that are going to make me happy and accomplished on every facet of my life, whether it’s, you know, physical, mental, emotional, family, health, whatever, and then professional. Then I’ve been reading another book we have coming out called The Meaning Solution, which is about what you can do in your life, what you value, what your values are and how you create a meaningful life, that you live a deliberate life. And then at the same time – like, I’m driving myself crazy Pierre – because at the same time I’ve been reading this book by Robert Kay Cooper - now I’ve invited him onto DishyMix and I’m waiting to hear back - he’s written this marvelous book called Getting Out Of Your Own Way, and he essentially has studied brain science and he’s looking at what we, what our brains do to undermine our forward momentum because our brains are built to keep us safe and doing repetitive tasks like Twittering and playing on Face Book and answering our email instead of actually turning on that countdown timer, looking out into the future, turning on that countdown timer and accomplishing something we really want to get done. And so adding in your results curve has actually been really helpful for me because I’ve got my short-term triage list, I’ve got my Immediate Priorities Matrix and I’ve got my longer term, what I want to get done in the year, but I haven’t yet made it a matrix of those two things, so that’s kind of where I’m going. But at the same time learning what it is that I need to do to snap my brain out of the repetitive way that it would prefer to live its life rather than focusing on the big picture of what I want. And so I’ve got this stuff coming in from every angle, and I can tell you that the way you teach how to create this priorities matrix in your Accomplishing More With Less Workbook was exactly what I needed right now to get to the next level. That wasn’t even a question, that was a…

Pierre Khawand: I think this is a good commentary and I enjoy hearing about the books you mentioned, you mentioned Susan. I’m going to add one more book to that list….

Susan Bratton: Okay, go ahead. Why not? I’m already on overload. Who cares?

Pierre Khawand: The Mindset…

Susan Bratton: Right.

Pierre Khawand: Yeah, Mindset is the book by Carol Dweck from Stanford, she’s a psychologist and (unintelligible), and it also would be a great addition to those books about how the mind works and how we can really make changes as opposed to feeling challenged when these tasks that we don’t know or something new that we’re encountered with. And then another comment I want to make is I think what’s really interesting, what I really like about our work with different groups and business professionals is they’re seeing the value of stopping. And that’s also what’s very untraditional about the methodology, the Accomplishing More With Less methodology. Traditionally everyone tells us to set goals and to manage this time this way, etcetera, and in the Accomplishing More With Less and the results curve what we try to do is say first of all before we do anything we need to learn to stop and stop and create that stool for us to think strategically and start to have a new behavior in the way we approach work. And that is what I mentioned earlier about alternating between focused sessions and collaborative sessions and for instance using the timer, as you mentioned Susan. And that is the prerequisite, to do any thinking that would be about priorities and results and also to think strategically so we can then know where we’re going from there. So I think it’s this stopping that’s so crucial, and that’s where we always start is stopping and finding a new behavior, focusing and then having the room to do the strategic thinking.

Susan Bratton: Just seizing the immediate time wasting tasks and pulling your head up and looking out on the horizon, right?

Pierre Khawand: Exactly.

Susan Bratton: Yeah.

Pierre Khawand: But I think it’s no longer that simple like it used to be. We all know, you know, we need to stop and not be distracted by all these kinds of things, but today the demands are so high and the stakes are so high in our work environment that it takes much more to do that, and this is where that understanding of that results curve makes sense. And teams who talk about this together – and this is what I encourage teams to really talk about this together, how can they communicate to each other that they are focused? Some teams find really playful ways of having a flag and they would put a flag up to tell somebody else that now they’re focused. Other teams do it via IM so it doesn’t really matter, but that communication is so important. And also teams who discuss how do we escalate issues when critical issues come up during a focus session and how do we actually interrupt each other but that would be a legitimate interruption.

Susan Bratton: Yeah, I like that. You had that whole system in the workbook, which is great. So I have two more questions for you, and I’m sensitive on the time so we’ll be terse on these, but I had asked you what books that you read and recommend and one of them was Mindset – you brought that up – by Carol Dweck, and I think I actually have that book, I’m going to go dig it out. The other two were Wherever You Go There You Are and Own Your Own Shadow. What are those two books about and why do you recommend them?

Pierre Khawand: Okay. So the second one, the Wherever You Go There You Are, it is about stopping and it is about being in the present…

Susan Bratton: Yeah.

Pierre Khawand: cleaning our mind to be noticing what’s going on now. It does, the author is actually, is a Buddhist, but the book is not about Buddhism, it’s more about mindfulness in general terms for everyday living. Very interesting point of view. The other one, the Own Your Own Shadow, is more about the subconscious mind and what happens in it that really has a lot of impact on what we do in the conscious, in our conscious effort. And I believe that a lot of our inefficiencies sometimes really are based on fear and probably unresolved or unspoken factors and the more we become more aware of what’s going on behind this theme the more likely we can turn things around. And that’s why in my thinking about accomplishments and accomplishing more is really not just process – I think process is apart of it – but it’s much more about behavior and I think it’s much more about awareness of what is interfering with our mission or our journey into where we want to be.

Susan Bratton: The subconscious mind and its impact on you, the shadow work. I’m familiar with Debbie Ford. She’s really famous for helping you through your shadow, your shadow self and to overcome those limiting subconscious issues. We’ve had her on one of the shows on Personal Life Media; it’s called Just For Women, but I’ll tell you that 50 percent of the audience is men who want to know what women think. And she’s done some really good interviews on that show, so you can listen to her by just going on Personal Life Media and searching for Debbie Ford and you’ll find the episodes where she’s talked about that shadow work, it’s great. And then the Wherever You Go There You Are, the idea of being present, I’ve learned a lot about being present during these interviews, being completely present to what’s happening with you and not focusing on myself, which has been a great training. The other book that is coming out is called Getting Real Confidence: 21 Days to Self Esteem. And I think a lot of people have trouble in the workplace kind of standing up for himself or herself or asking for what they want or feeling like what they need is worth establishing in the workplace. And so this Wherever You Go There You Are or Getting Real Confidence, these are interesting parts of what we need to know about ourselves to navigate both our work life and our personal life. So I like the, I like the same things you do Pierre. Last question before we go: I wanted to, I asked you about where you though social network was evolving, and you told me that enterprise social nets and 3D networks were two places on the horizon that were happening. And it was funny because a couple of weeks ago I had a DishyMix with a wonderful man named Ted Shelton. He’s with The Conversation Group, and he’s written a white paper that I think you would like to read. It’s called Open Management, and essentially he’s talking about the kind of multi dimensional collaboration tools that corporations can use at an enterprise level, whether they’re custom soft nets or API’s or prediction markets or ideagoras. They were all of these ways that the enterprise, any business – small, medium, large, extra large – can use this next generation of open management or collaborative tools. And I noticed that you have a new course on people on the go called Emerging Collaboration Tools. Tell us about that, ‘cause I think it just fits right in that vein.

Pierre Khawand: Mm hmm. So this is, we took the workshop that we do in person and using web conferencing, and we said how can we create the same level of engagement and bring people together who otherwise would not get the opportunity to come together – and I’m referring here to virtual teams who work mostly remotely and don’t get those opportunities to talk socially and to really get engaged. And after a lot of research and working with the 3D space and social media we decided to go into second life, and now this workshop is called Accomplishing More Virtually and it is in second life for virtual teams, and it’s amazing the results we get because of that feel of presence. So unlike a web conference where people are, they’re basically not well represented and they can easily get distracted by that picture of Paris and then suddenly start getting into email and all the other things, they stay engaged in this median, they participate, they are much more present and engaged, and they were able to socialize and do things that normally would be impossible to bring in a virtual environment.

Susan Bratton: You know, I so appreciate how you touch and help so many people. You take the stress out of so many peoples lives. And I love how you kind of artfully balance human behavior with the digital chaos that is our working world today. Thank you so much for coming on the show Pierre.

Pierre Khawand: Thank you Susan. It’s always a pleasure and I really enjoy your, all your updates and shows and everything that I seen on social media, so I look forward to more.

Susan Bratton: Me too. You and I are two birds of a feather, aren’t we? That’s great. Well I hope that you have enjoyed learning more about how you can have a better results curve and subdued your email inbox with Pierre Khawand of People-On The Go. I’ll make sure I put all the links up to everything we talked about on the DishyMix page for this episode. Don’t forget that if you’d like to have one of the personally autographed workbooks, The Accomplishing More With Less Workbook, go to dishymixfan.com and register your desire and we’ll possibly pick you. And don’t be shy; people are always posting “Maybe I’m too late to get this.” It’s never too late. You’d be surprised how much good shwagalicious stuff we give away to DishyMix fans. And don’t forget to follow Pierre Khawand at Twitter because you could get one of these fun free Seats of the Week.  I’m your host Susan Bratton. I hope you have a great day and you’ll tune in again to DishyMix next week. Take care.