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Volkmar Völzke's BLOG


Save an hour each day!

productivity Jun 28, 2020

I while ago, I performed a seminar for the association Executives International in Switzerland. The topic: “How to double your results – in half of the time!” The feedback was outstanding.

Since many people find this topic one of the most important of all (who has too much time?), I’d like to give you three ideas you can apply today to get more done in less time:

  1. Clarify your key result areas. At which subject areas do you create the most value? You can answer this question for your private and your professional life. Then, schedule your tasks in a way that you spend 80 percent of your time on these activities. This requires some habit changes.
  2. Reduce time thieves. These are people, meetings, and events which do not or only contribute a little to the achievement of your goals in the key result areas. As a rule of thumb, most executives can reduce their time in meetings by half. You should at least spend 50 percent of your time under own control.
  3. Work in...
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The power of consistent action

leadership productivity Jun 23, 2020

Consistent steps in the right direction almost always outperform the big moves once in a while. Intellectually, most people know this simple truth. What most people and businesses fail is acting accordingly. 

The key reason is that it can become boring and even demotivating to constantly work in small steps towards a distant goal. And so most people give up (often only in their mind) before they even come close to success.

That’s why progress becomes slow, teams fail, and strategies never get truly executed. 

Here is the good news: This can be changed! You (and your team) can become dramatically more successful, reduce negative stress, generate more “free” time, and achieve substantially bigger goals by applying a simple yet extremely powerful system for 100 days. The science behind is that we are talking about habit changes. And we change habits by practicing new habits over a certain period. 

You need to practice new ways of thinking and...
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Where will you be in 100 days?

mindset productivity Jun 18, 2020

Hey, you can achieve something great in the next 100 days! No, don’t play small:

You, your team, and your organization truly can achieve more than you might currently think is possible. 

I know this is true because I’ve studied success psychology and success methods long enough to tell you: It works! The process is simple. However, the execution is not easy. Big difference. And that’s exactly why most people and business do not even start. 

To help you, I created the unique online program “100 Day Success Challenge”

Here is what you need to do to make the next 100 days the best days ever (even if you don’t purchase my program): 
  1. Accept the fact that you need to change your approaches. When you haven’t achieved substantial progress in the last 100 days (or even longer), the chances are your approach is not working well enough. So, get a new one!
  2. Prepare your mind to be disciplined to advance in small, yet frequent...
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The problem with clarity

leadership productivity Jun 14, 2020

There is one aspect of sustainable success, which is both fundamental and most disregarded by most:

Top performance and outstanding success can only result from absolute clarity.

What many overlook: success without absolute clarity is luck and cannot be repeated or only with high effort.

Yet, the creation of clarity is not difficult, but requires willpower and discipline. I will give you some help here:

There are three areas where you need to create absolute clarity for yourself and your team to increase your success dramatically.

Here they are from my German book “Business Fitness: Escape mediocrity!“:

  1. Clarity in the goals and the ideal future. What do you want for yourself and your team or your company? How does the ideal future look in one, three, five, and ten years?
  2. Clarity in the principles. What are your most important beliefs and principles with which you want to succeed? What are your priorities for your value propositions?
  3. Clarity in implementation. How clear...
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The 3 secrets of productivity

productivity Jun 11, 2020
Basically, it is simple: To become more productive, you must start your day productive, stay productive, and finish your day productive. 

Sounds overly simplistic? Wait a moment: A key reason for mediocre performance is quite often that you violate exactly this simple rule: you start off slow, after lunch you lower productivity, and you slow down towards the end of the day. 

The most successful people (and teams) do it the other way around: 
  1. They start the day fast and with productivity-generating routines, such as lots of water, healthy food, and mental programming.
  2. They keep a high pace during the day (click here to learn how) and accelerate even when energy levels go down.
  3. They finish the day strong. There is no “slowing down”: they go through the finish line at full speed.
The key is: nobody can achieve this each day with pure willpower.

What you need instead, is to install new habits. How? That’s the topic for another memo. Meanwhile, just...

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You are weak!

productivity Jun 09, 2020

The problem with all execution of good intentions is that we all are weak. Our willpower is very limited. Since we have known this for thousands of years (that’s why we have been obliged to follow the 10 commandments, for instance), we know since a couple of years that this weakness is physical. 

To force the brain to make choices consciously consumes plenty of energy.

That’s why many leaders feel decision fatigue after half of the day. Again, this is no “soft fact”, but brutal physical reality. 

So, what’s the solution to execute on plans and strategies, considering our limited willpower? Three things: 
  1. Eliminate all unimportant decisions. Remember: each decision needs energy. So, better to keep this energy for the truly important stuff. How? Simply stop thinking about things that don’t matter. Most of us need a coach to remind us of this habit constantly.
  2. Install success routines that you do automatically without thinking about...
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Your personal success brakes

leadership productivity Jun 07, 2020

In one of my latest blog posts, I wrote that productivity is a habit and many have learned to be unproductive without realizing it – even and foremost senior managers. 

I received some questions regarding this provocative conclusion, because it is a rather uncomfortable idea for most of us:

We are consciously unproductive! Who wants this? The answer: In principle, we all do. Because productivity means that we produce results. And thus also bad results. 

In other words, higher productivity means more mistakes.

Since no one wants those, our brain has mechanisms that limit our productivity. 

Here are three ideas on how to release your productivity brakes: 
  1. Force yourself to “imperfection”. Very often speed is more important than perfection. Rapid prototyping and other methods have taken up this idea. However, many people have not yet.
  2. Beware Pareto: 20% of your activities generate 80% of your results. Surely you know that, but this...
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Amazing facts

mindset productivity May 26, 2020

Did you know that the average car is only 6 km/h fast? Or that each email costs about 1 dollar? Or that certain computer software massively reduces productivity in ways you probably don’t even think about? You can read all of this in this article, which was published recently in a renowned Swiss newspaper (in German). 

So are we lost? Are we unable to increase productivity after all? Are we condemned to work harder and harder? 

Not at all! Let’s be serious: if you want to create more results and at the same time reduce your negative stress and uncertainty, there are three important levers. What is striking is that these are often neglected in so-called “productivity programs”. 

  1. Mindset. You need to become serious about productivity! Don’t laugh – many have trouble with it, since this means simultaneously taking more responsibility for their own time. How much more convenient it is to sit for an hour in the next meeting!
  2. Value...
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4-day week: An unpleasant truth

productivity Feb 27, 2020

Lately I've been reading more and more about the idea of the 4-day work week and its positive effect on productivity: people manage more in 4 days than they did in 5 days before.

I find the reasoning behind this fascinating: you focus better when you have less time available.

So, I ask myself a very simple question: What does that have to do with 4 or 5 days? Why not switch to the 2-day week for the same reason?

Let's be serious: If we can focus better in 4 days, we can also do it in 5 days.

Our performance has very little to do with external circumstances and a great deal to do with our internal desire for high productivity.

Here are three ideas on how you and your team can become significantly more productive, whether you work 3, 4, 5 or 6 days a week:

  1. Tight deadlines. Set tight time horizons. For example, I write these impulses in the 10 minutes I spend waiting for my next train at the station. Works like a charm! Others read Facebook while I'm producing.
  2. Standards. Most of us...
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The very simple things

leadership productivity Feb 13, 2020

I proudly announce that I recently became an author for the renowned Swiss business publication, "HANDELSZEITUNG."

My first article is entitled, "Back to the Basics" (just send me an email if you want a pdf of it, in German).

I chose this title deliberately because most companies focus too much on the big programs, the next big strategy, the introduction of new IT systems, the latest employee development program and so on.

These are not in themselves the wrong topics. But often the focus is lost on the huge effects of often very simple changes - the "basics."

Here are a few examples:

  1. Responsibility. If everyone in the company takes full responsibility for and accepts the consequences of his/her own actions, we no longer have to track various projects and can eliminate numerous checkpoints, which also speeds up the activities.
  2. Vision. If there is a clear, unambiguous and emotionally compelling vision, you can avoid many discussions in leadership. The question is then quite...
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