Ep. 169: Michael Teape - Win Back One Day of Your Time with Productive Work!

Michael Teape, Owner and Lead Trainer of Teape Training International (TTI), joins Count Me In to talk about time management techniques that will allow you and your team to win back one day of your time every week! Michael is a thought leader in people development who enjoys running train-the-trainer events for facilitators globally. He brings over 25 years’ experience across all major business sectors and sizes as a Facilitator, coach & CLO with a reputation for anchoring learning back in the workplace. Michael’s last corporate role was for JPMorgan delivering the Learning and Development strategy for the Investment Bank. Now, his training consulting work spans all industries including: Royal Bank of Sweden, Citi Group, Morgan Stanley, Natixis, BNP Paribas, the International MBA program at Vienna’s University for Business and Technology, United Nations, Taylor & Francis, media publications and Johnson & Johnson. Download and listen now!
Contact Michael Teape: https://www.linkedin.com/in/teapetraining/

Teape Training International (TTI): https://www.teapetraininginternational.com

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FULL EPISODE TRANSCRIPT: 
Adam: (00:04)
 Welcome back to Count Me In, IMA's podcast about all things affecting the accounting and finance world. This is your host, Adam Larson, and you're now listening to episode 169 of our series. Today's featured guest is Michael Teape. Michael is the owner and lead training consultant for Teape Training International. He is a thought leader in people development who brings over 25 years of corporate learning and development experience across multiple industries. He enjoys running the trainer events for facilitators globally, and works with senior leadership teams to improve their working relationships and outward facing impact in the organization. In this episode, Michael focuses on time management and building a culture around working smarter and focusing on productive work. To kick things off Michael addresses, how you can win back one whole day of your time per week. So keep listening to hear more as we head over to the conversation now.
 
 Mitch: (01:07)
 So one of the things that, I know you really talk about is how to win back one day of your team's time every single week. And when I read that at first, I thought that was pretty ambitious. If you break it down, we have accounting listeners, 20% of the week is free.
 
 Michael: (01:25)
 You know, I knew you'd be talking about figures, Mitchell since we got started.
 
 Mitch: (01:27)
 That's right. So, you know, I just want to know your perspective on this. How do you go about achieving such kind of time management?
 
 Michael: (01:36)
 Well, there's multiple streams of how you do that. And yeah, people are like 20%. They always raise their eyebrows when I say that, but truly there's a couple of things you can do. And you know, we work on, first of all, are you actually efficiently working the time you're in the office or the time you're working at home, you know, working on a strategy or, you know, a piece of technical work. In an hour, you know, how effective are you? So I ask everybody, including your listeners. The one question is, how effective are you in that hour? Are you really being productive? And I've got it down to under, I can do in 20 minutes to 30 minutes what you could do in an hour. You can get that down to half that time. If you focus, you know exactly what you're working on and you're in the zone, you're just thinking about this research.
 
 Michael: (02:34)
 You're just looking up the strategy. You're just crafting it. If you're not interrupted by the noise of the world, emails, iPhones, Androids, there's just so much going on. People interrupting you all the time. If you create a bubble, it's amazing what you can write in 30 to 45 minutes. So that's one of the biggest parts of it is can I get more out of an hour? And I guarantee you can. So focus, good planning, prioritizing, knowing what you are doing for that 20 minutes. And then the other part of it is brain chemistry. So is understanding how you work. You've heard the thing you've probably heard before. What's your best time of the day, or people often say, oh, I'm best mid morning, evening. They'll offer that quite freely. So they know they're thinking about it. And it's using those times to do your more difficult work.
 
 Michael: (03:35)
 Your more heavy thinking, research work. And then using the times, you know, you're not sufficient actually doing something that activates your body, something either physical or the boring, easy work, replying to emails. We'll talk, I'm sure we'll talk about emails. Everyone's always got a question about, that's a whole subject on, how do you look at emails? How do you deal with them? You've got a think of it as a strategy. So there's so much you can do even. So if you're working with others as well. So that was individual. If you're working with a team, is how effective are your meetings? Most of the startups that I work with, they never hold a meeting more than 30 minutes. Yeah. So you can imagine, even with their clients, they've got their clients in tune. We get into the conversation. We're 10, 15 minutes in people start getting really serious, real quick.
 
 Michael: (04:27)
 They get to the point. And if we need to book some more time, what's it about we're going to do that. So rather than letting a meeting roll on and on and on, I don't recommend that if your first meeting a client, you know, from this strategic point of view, but once you've got to know a client, they will appreciate the fact. You can get things done in half an hour instead of an hour. So you you're shaving time by getting more done in the time. And where does your team spend the time together? You don't need to attend an update meeting. It's just a waste of time An update meeting is just somebody else reading out what you could have read on a document and in an email. It's what are we going to do with it? Let's cut that. Did you all get the update?
 
 Michael: (05:10)
 Yes. Great. What are your thoughts on it? Boom. I've just shaved 15 minutes of time off your meeting, right? So there are so many different aspects to it. And I, you know, the overarching piece, I would say there's three things to consider. One is your mindset. So knowing what's going on here, how you approach work, you've heard growth mindset and fixed mindset. So that working on that piece. So you're connected as quickly as possible to your work. Secondly, is choosing goals, productivity tools, organization, tools that work for you for your work. And you personally, there is no point using tools that you is hard work for you, or you don't get, feel excited to be using. I know I used, excited and organizational tools in the same sentence, but without that, you've got to pick tools that gonna work for the work you do and suit you personally.
 
 Michael: (06:09)
 And, and lastly, get good about your time and your rituals is rituals and routines are fantastic. If you can set them up to you rather than let them happen. So if you finish a piece of work today, all of your listeners, next piece of work, you finish, focus on what you're doing afterwards. What are you doing? Do you just sit back? Do you look at the phone or are you actually okay. I'm physically taking a couple of minutes, then I'm going to get into my next piece. I am going to get up, walk around the desk, grab a coffee, change my mood, get some energy going and boom, straight back into it. Cause I guarantee once you finish one piece of work, oh, yeah. You're like, oh good. That's over. And then you waste a good amount of time, relaxing, pat yourself on the back, subconsciously looking at your emails before you get into to the next piece. And before you know it, you've lost time as well. So do you see from that, just that alone, you're able to save 20% of your time and your team's time. Yeah. Just in those areas there.
 
 Mitch: (07:12)
 That's, it's very interesting. And you mentioned a lot of things that I did want to bring up, through this conversation, but it kind of all ties back to this, you know, this old phrase and everybody's heard it, everybody's used it, you know, you want to work smarter, not harder. And it sounds so cliche, so much easier, you know, said than done for many people, I believe when it comes to time management. So as far as working smarter, you know, you mentioned some tools potentially, or just mindset, but you know, best practices, you know, maybe just going a little bit deeper into what you talked about, how can people really work smarter and not harder to be this, you know, to save this 20%?
 
 Michael: (07:54)
 Yeah, Mitchell, working smarter, not harder is a cliche and everyone goes, oh yeah, work smarter not harder. And then they nod their heads and then they walk off and have no idea what you meant. It's like, OK. And they go back to doing what they did before. So you need something that's going to stop you from going back to just randomly looking your email. Cause you've got the email flashed up, you know, a notification came in, a notification from your calendar. So you need some kind of planner, really. You need, a planner for your mindset at the beginning of the day. I use the one I recommend to get you in the right mindset of really wanting to drive a business forward. You know, if you're designing strategy of your business, right, you're a business partner, you're building a business.
 
 Michael: (08:42)
 You really have to be like, right. I'm here for a purpose. And I use the, High Performance Planner by a gentleman called Brendan Brushard. He's one of those life coaches. He's like Tony Robbins level, can be a little bit too enthusiastic. I'm just kidding. But his tools are fantastic. And I have it right here on the desk behind me, my planner, and what it is is, it's an old fashioned planner. You open it up, but it gives you some focus around, you know, what your mindset for the day, my purpose. You know, I can actually just give you an example, I suppose, just right here. Why not? You wanted practical - morning mindset. You know, what's a one thing I can get excited about today. Those kind of things. Thinking about someone who needs me to be on the A game today. One bold action I could take today. To see these are all getting your mindset into a, doing forward state, ready to challenge the day.
 
 Michael: (09:45)
 And you know, in that you should really be looking at that before you start any of your work. So if you know, you're going to be busy at nine, I've got some bad news for you. You need to up before that, if your meetings start at nine, you need to be starting a little bit earlier to get yourself right, ready to go at nine o'clock. So that's one of the things, or whatever time of day you start. And then at the end of the day, you need to create some kind of ritual because you can't be on all the time. You know, we get stress, you hear burn out, particularly during COVID. You know, we don't have enough people now working for us. There's a recruitment disaster around the corner. Using strong words here. But at the end of the day, is that okay?
 
 Michael: (10:30)
 How do I switch off quickly? In order to get to my own personal work or whatever I need to do, fitness, whatever it is, and you need something that's going to close it off. So a reflection tool is what you need and the high performance planner has that built into it. And, that talks about, well, what look back on the day, just for five minutes, what's a task that I handled really well, who benefited from a discussion with me? Who did I get energy from? And there's a scorecard and productivity and all those wonderful things. So I do this myself. And I'll be honest. I don't do it every day, but I do it at least three times a week. And the energy I get, gives you that that mindset, but then you've got to use a practical tool. So that's a mindset tool, and there's lots of them out there.
 
 Michael: (11:24)
 You can look up if you just Google them, mindset tools, and daily set up, you'll find those. But the other one is, actually the work you're going to do. And you need some kind of one pager, like a productivity planner. And that will list out quite simply what the main things that I need to get done strategically. And then you can work on the next steps, like, okay, what are the five key things I need to do in order to achieve that overall objective? Because these are what they call big, hairy goals. They're like, Ooh, you look at it and go, oh yes, I must do my business strategy. And on my five year target and increase business by 50% next year. Sounds lovely. I'm going to go and get a cup of coffee. Thank you. And then I'll look at my emails and I'll do something tactical.
 
 Michael: (12:10)
 Because I have no idea how I'm going to achieve that. So productivity planner allows you to break it down into tasks, chunk it down, and then you can prioritize what you're going to do today. Put it on a planner, put it on your calendar as if it was a meeting. So this half an hour, I'm going to be working on X because I know that's an action plan to get my big goal achieved and not overloading yourself. There's so many tips in here, Mitchell, that I'm thinking of, but that's the thing, not overloading yourself with 50 things to do. Pick five solid things that will make a big difference to your strategies that you're trying to build for the organization and leave time for the personal stuff as well. So they're the two things I would work on.
 
 Mitch: (12:57)
 That's really interesting. And thank you for sharing the names of the tools. I think that's certainly helpful. You know, I do some similar things, but you're giving me a lot to think about as far as how I can improve and take that to the next level. You know, one of the things we've talked about already, and we're all guilty of it, but as far as you know, just some of this busy work, you know, we see these emails come in and it's got to be important. I have to answer it right now. When in reality, it's kind of taking away from that productive work that you were just probably in the midst of doing so as far as that problem goes, how do you go about implementing some kind of solution to really chunking the time? And you know, we can address the email dilemma or really, you know, I think a lot of it is as you said the iPhones and the different social media and the things that are always at our fingertips. So how do we solve that problem?
 
 Michael: (13:52)
 Well, there is an addiction problem with having your phone tell you whenever you've got an email, tell you whenever you've got a meeting and what next on your calendar. So you've got all of these messages coming in. I challenge people to switch them all off. Switch it all off. Yeah. Don't have notifications coming in instead set times when you're going to check your email. Yeah. You don't need to check your calendar every five seconds. Yeah. If you're thinking, oh, what have I got this, check at lunchtime. What have I got this afternoon? Next three hours. Yeah. Check in the morning. What have I got coming up? You should, it's in there. You don't need to know it every time one of your meetings pings up, it just interrupts your thought process and emails are the same. So I, whenever I suggest particularly email to executives, switch off the notification, they're like, well, what if somebody wants to get hold of me?
 
 Michael: (14:48)
 They go straight to this panic stage of like, whoa, whoa, whoa. It's very important. Yes. I know it's important. And I know business is very important. However, we don't need to give an instant response. So a way of dealing with this saying, okay, I will check email at certain times throughout the day. And start small, you know, start like write down. Okay. time now for arguments sake. It's 2:00 PM now, right at the top, 2:20 email on top of whatever your notes, you got tiny little thing at 2:20, I'm going to check the email, switch it up, close it down, switch off notifications. And that's how we stop getting the busy. What are it is, is email is nothing more than a place for other people to put their priorities on you. That's all it is. We should be using email for two things.
 
 Michael: (15:42)
 And two things only. One is looking for who we are waiting for information on to help us complete our work. So if I'm waiting for someone, you know, I go into email just to check if I heard back from this person, this person, this point. No. Okay. Do they need a chase? Send them a quick chaser. Done. That's one use of email and the second is to see when new work comes in or updates come in. So when new pieces of work come in, you put them on your prioritization planner, you look at how you're going to fit it in. You're booking some time to look at it, if it's a big project. Yeah. And there's some great work by, for that kind of stuff, by Dave Allen, have you heard of, Getting Work Done? He's been around for many decades.
 
 Michael: (16:28)
 Yeah. And, he's got some really good tools I have to say. And I'll use a lot of those executive tools and all different levels in that, but you've got to be prepared to make a process. Your day has to turn into a process. So, you know, email's a real problem. Because you just start answering an email and then you're answering the next email and you get tired and you're like, oh, look, there's a special offer for a case of wine or a golfing adventure, you know, whatever. Oh, and then you look at it and you click on the link. You look at the page and before, you know, it, you're dreaming about going to California pebble beach or something on this all inclusive resort, and play some golf next summer. You know, you wasted, your focus is completely gone and you've also wasted physical time. So you see where I'm going with that? It's, you got to make it a process. Otherwise it doesn't work.
 
 Mitch: (17:27)
 Absolutely. It makes total sense. And like I said, posing the question. I think we're all guilty of it. I think we can all relate to similar situations probably sometime this week, if not today, but you know, just kind of taking a step back, everything you're talking about, as far as an individual goes, it certainly makes a lot of sense. And I think you can improve a lot of your own personal time management using some of the strategies you've shared, but I think there's also a team component to this that needs to be addressed. Right. You know, if one person is making progress, but no one else is respecting that progress. You're going to be fighting a little battle here. So what is your recommendation as far as, you know, maybe as a leader or as an individual contributor, who's trying to shift the culture of the team to, you know, support these initiatives. How do you go about doing something like that?
 
 Michael: (18:20)
 I think that the culture is hugely important across the team. Hugely important. Because with, like you said, if only one or two people are not doing this well, then it all falls in. So one of the techniques a leader should do is to bring the team together and agree what, prioritization tools or communication tools we're going to use on a project, or, getting a list of clients together. You know, this is the systems we're going to use. This is how we're going to go about it. And another thing is to get them to brainstorm together, ask them about, in order to achieve whatever it is the strategy is we need to have done X, Y, and Z. So we need to have worked out whether this real issue for our clients, what the competition is doing, updating our lists, getting a communication message.
 
 Michael: (19:14)
 So all of those tasks, but what I asked you to do as a leader to get the team together, to brainstorm and think, well, these are all the stages we need to do. Get some kind of ownership on a bigger project that everyone has a part to play. And they understand this is our process. And we are going to put, times and dates and people's names to it. You know, there's Racy is one example of a project management tool. You put people's responsibility, who's accountable for it. Who's responsible for getting it done, just to get them all on the same page. Now it may seem your wasting time to start with, but what you're doing, you're setting up to save time through the rest of that six months, where you're trying to build a business. Where you're trying to get more partners involved, a new system in place, a new marketing approach.
 
 Michael: (20:05)
 You can imagine that if you don't have the team on the same page, so that's one thing highly recommend that you do. The other thing is that is making sure that if you are not the only person doing work on yourself, about how you stay productive mindset, manage your time is share that with everybody. If you are leaders, share, look, this is what I'm doing. And talk about expectations. My expectation of you is to also look at your work and how you're performing. So you don't have people sitting in jobs thinking, well, it's okay. I just do the standard set needed, as a management, as an accountant, you know, those, I don't just do that. I know that my expectation is to contribute and grow this business, make it more efficient, easier, automation. There's so much automation out there, for this type of industry, as well as how we communicate emails, you know, how you can get a VIP list so that people you're waiting for it highlights and tells you that.
 
 Speaker 3: (21:09)
 But he won't tell you about all the other rubbish that comes into your email box. So sharing those ideas and asking the others, well, what are you trying? What are you doing in order to be as productive as possible? Sharing the thought, I thought about cutting meetings down to half an hour. What do you think? You know? So yeah, if you're gonna have a team meeting anyway, cut out the updates. I expect people to read the update, comment on that and then spend some productive time how we're going to work together to be more efficient. So, yeah, and I do a lot of training bringing teams together. Lots of models on this and the thing is, do they have clarity? Do you have a consistent tool they're using? And do they have a consistent expectation that they know that the expectations then is to drive things forward, not just do the X number of clients in front of me and then do it again next, next year.
 
 Mitch: (22:08)
 You know, I'm at this point, just thinking of everything that goes into time management and prioritization and everything we've talked about. And I feel like the conversation can go on and on, different strategies and solutions. But, you know, I do want to bring this conversation to a close and I'm just thinking about other challenges that I know our listeners are facing. And really just everybody in the world at this point, anybody who has had to adapt to this hybrid workplace, right? Whether it's working, fully remote or back and forth, and you know, that work life balance with your personal lives right behind you during office hours. So everything we've talked about so far now add in that personal side of things, you know, what are the expectations that we really should have and how do we, what kind of solutions or best practices are there for really balancing to make sure that we stay productive or utilizing our time wisely? But we're not dismissing, you know, some of the other priorities that we have as well.
 
 Michael: (23:11)
 Look, in the olden days, I say in the olden days, you used to go on a commute, right? We used to go into Boston on the train or New York or whichever city it is, right? We'd have time to disconnect between personal and work. Okay? Now we are remote. Now that has huge benefits and I'll mentions some in a minute, but the worst thing is there is no commute. There's you open the door and there's the dog, there's the family. Hi. And if you're like me, I've got an 8 and a 10 year old, they tend to come in, knock on the door. If they have something, they need something. And they're working in a virtual classroom, as one of my kids is this week. They'll just open the door and come in. You're like, ah, okay, so what I talk about really a lot is, building in a switch off.
 
 Michael: (24:00)
 And what that means is you don't have the commute anymore, 30 minutes, hour commute. So you have to build a fake commute. And that is three things. That's the, we're closing the closed list, the closed off and the rituals. You need three things. So my recommendation is when you're coming to an an end right, I'm done is to write down five things that you must do tomorrow. That will go on your productivity planner that I talked about earlier, the, as your priorities, what's the five things I must do tomorrow. And there are five things. It's a closed list because once I've written that down, that has to be done tomorrow. Okay. So it gets you focused on what it really helps you focus the mind on what the priority is. If you get to tomorrow and that close list, something comes up as urgent.
 
 Michael: (24:51)
 That's fine. But you have to take one of the five items off of your close list and put the new one on. Okay. Don't increase to 5, 6, 7, 8 list. That's burnout. So five is a lot of things you need to check. So it's called the close list. I've written down this list, it's closed. That's what I'm going to do tomorrow. Fine. It helps close it in the mind. The second thing is to close off and the close off is to switch off all the lights in your little, whether you've got a closet is your office. You know, you've converted a closet or you're actually using guest bedroom. You're lucky enough to have your own office space like mine, is to go around, right? Switch the lights off, turn off the printer. If you've got one, anything electronic, physically switch things off, close down windows on your laptop.
 
 Michael: (25:43)
 I know this is crazy, right? My wife and I, we've got very used to it, working together. Just leaving stuff up that we're going to come back to. But no, no. Now we close it all down. Close everything down. Close that laptop. Lid shut. Yeah. So you're getting a thing. Everything's closed down, put everything set up. Things files away, filed away. Okay, I'm ready. I've got what I need for the first thing tomorrow. I've got my closed list. I open that door. I close that door. My mind is now free. Now the last of those three was rituals and rituals either own you or they work for you. So rituals and routines, right? We've all got our own little routine. Our way we like to go set in place. We go for a coffee. Are you a Dunkin Donuts person, or you a Starbucks person, whatever's in town because now you're at home.
 
 Michael: (26:34)
 So there's a different set of you don't have it around the street corner anymore. You have to go downtown for it. and it's they can own you. They suck up time routines like, oh, I'm just going to go and do this that, before you know it, half an hour's gone. But what if you owned your routines and they became rituals. So if you had, you finished your work. One of my recommendations is when you go to virtual work is you put on a shirt or something that you wouldn't be wearing just to lounge around the house. So there's so you can change that shirt and put your Netflix clothes on. Yeah. Or your Hulu clothes, whatever is something a bit more comfortable, more relaxing. But the mistake, a lot of people is they get up, they put on their just home clothes and go and sit in front.
 
 Michael: (27:24)
 It doesn't feel different. And even people who have got big meetings, virtually tend to go and put their shoes on. Again. Don't walk around in your carpet slippers, put your shoes on because it gives you that feeling different. Imagine that at the end of the day, you're changing your clothes. You would do that anyway. If you came home from the office, so I'm recreating these, become rituals and a ritual is something your routine you do regularly. So going to the gym is not a ritual. If you're only doing it once or twice a week and you might not do it next week, all right. It's ritual because it's consistent and walking the dog is a ritual. Do you, when you finish your work, what do you do? Well, I'm going to walk the dog or I'm going to walk around the neighborhood or I'm going to go and talk to my better half, partner in life, friend, family, and make something specific.
 
 Michael: (28:19)
 Whatever that ritual is. Doesn't matter. If something that's important to you do it, but do it every time. Yeah. And, and make time to read something that you are interested in. Preferably, a paper version, like a book, a proper book. You know, we heard of those. We use Kindles now, we use electronics. But what I'm trying to do is close down the minds as quickly as possible. So if there is something you can read physically, or you printed out something, you wanted to read a personal article, spend five minutes, reading that, boom, your mind's out of it. So out into the next world, OK. Equally in the morning, you've got a startup routine that I talked about earlier. You know, the high performance planner is one I use, you can use whichever one you want to get you in, but you need to get out as well.
 
 Michael: (29:04)
 So when you walk down the stairs, you are not worrying about where am I going to find all this money? You know, these big projects that didn't go so well. Because you had a switch off routine. So that's a closed list. Write a closed list. closed down, physically close down the electronics lights, tidy up your, your work station area. And then a ritual. Something like walking the dog, getting your Netflix clothes. You can play a bit of music. It could be anything you want it to be, but it has to be done every time. And that's how you get in and out really quickly from work to personal. And then back again.
 
 Closing: (29:46)
 This has been Count Me In IMA's podcast, providing you with the latest perspectives of thought leaders from the accounting and finance profession. If you like what you heard, and you'd like to be counted in for more relevant accounting and finance education, visit IMA's web at www.imanet.org.

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