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Success from Anywhere Podcast | Diary Detox, with Paul Holbrook



Karen Mangia

Today on success from anywhere we'll meet a rebel with a cause who's charging toward middle managers with a mission critical message, when managers take care of their people, results take care of themselves. Please welcome to the show, Chief management rebel creator of diary detox and author of the book. What are you doing the uncomfortable truth about how you waste time at work? Paul Holbrook, welcome to the show, Paul.


Paul Holbrook

Thanks, Karen. How are you?


Karen Mangia

I'm doing great because I am energized to find out about how I'm going to spend less time at work or spend my time better. And I know our listeners are as well. And as we start the conversation, I always invite guests to share what was their first paying job and did this job influence your career trajectory?

Paul Holbrook

Do you really want to know this?


Karen Mangia

I really want to know and everybody listening does too. So give it to us.


Paul Holbrook

So, my first paying job - have you ever heard of long boats? We call them narrow boats or barges in the UK. People would hire them out to go on a holiday. One of my first paying jobs was to actually pump poo out of those boats. I kid you not. And when we get into talking about what I do later on, it becomes a little bit irrelevant. I got paid to pump poo out of boats. And it was great. It was a Saturday job. As a kid, I really enjoyed it. It was great being around friends. I mean, in terms of how it informed my life later on, I think that was kind of party write it for me. I actually enjoyed going to work on the weekend, because I knew I was going to be around people that I like to be around. I was going to be with members of the public and you could have some really good fun with them. It was a pretty grubby job. But it was fun. And it didn't matter. And the reason it didn't matter is because it was fun and you have with people who you like being with and you've got to enjoy yourself and meet the odd, famous person and not realize that they were famous and get their autograph and realize they were massively famous later. That's another story. But yeah, that was my first job.


Karen Mangia

I have to ask. Who was the most famous person you met and got their autograph?


Paul Holbrook

It was a guy called David Cronenberg, who you may or may not know. He's a very famous director. He directed The Fly, for example. And there was a program from America that used to be on in the UK, called Hill Street Blues. And there was this big buzz going around that raincoat. This kind of redheaded guy from Hill Street was going to be coming to hire a boat, he was getting really excited. And of course, when this guy arrived for the first time, everybody swarmed around him. And there was this guy that he was with, who was just kind of in the background, and I was just kind of standing back watching what was going on thinking this is crazy. I just got chatting to this guy. And I you know, as we were chatting, I said, so. So what do you do then? And he said, I'm a director. Cool. Are you famous? He said, Yeah, quite famous. So can I have your autograph? And he went, sure. And he said, What shall I write? I said, Write whatever you want. And he said, Okay, here's a quote from The Fly. It basically said, Paul, in quotes, helped me, David Cronenberg. And afterwards I thanks so much, and kind of went our separate ways from The Fly. We used to have video shops where you went to hire video cassettes. And I thought, no, you couldn't have directed that because I knew The Fly was a massive film. I went down there and picked it up off the shelf. it said, The Fly directed by David Cronenberg. And I thought, I've just met the director of The Fly and I didn't even realize it. So yeah, you're not massively famous for some people. But for me, it was a big thing.


Karen Mangia


From humble beginnings, and now you are on a mission. I guess what you're directing in your film, in a sense, is to cast a world in which we have better lead people. How did that become your mission? And really the core question, Is that doable?


Paul Holbrook

It's so easily doable. As Simon Sinek often says, he's embarrassed that he has a job. Because a lot of the stuff that he talks about is common sense, which is not very common. If it was, then we would be doing it right. But I kind of feel the same way. I think it's massively doable. The start to the story really comes from me starting to work in the city of London, which would be a relatively famous, a big financial center. When I started off, I was a coder. I got a degree in mathematics. I started off being what we call a technical associate. So I was a graduate. And I started writing code for banks. And one of the things that kind of struck me when I first came into it was how poor a lot of the managers were. There was one great one who I started my career with and I will never forget him, Jerry Short. He was fantastic. But unfortunately, he was one of very few good managers that I saw when I was in the city. And I saw people miserable. I saw people mistreated. I saw people have their holiday canceled, their training canceled, being taken advantage of, being milked for all they were worth. They seemed to be working for managers that didn't appear to have a huge amount of care for them.


After about a couple of years of doing that, I felt that I was more interested in how people worked than I was in how computers worked. That naturally saw me go up the management hierarchy rather than the technical hierarchy. One thing that struck me, which was quite odd, and maybe it was just my character, was that when I became a manager for the first time, I saw my role no longer as doing what I used to do. For the first time, I saw my role as making it as simple as possible for my people to do their job. That was it for me is the essence of becoming a manager. It’s putting away what you used to do, focusing on your people. And by all means, if you have extra time in the background, and you want to do a little bit of what you used to do, then fine, do it. But we have too many managers who do it the wrong way around. They carry on doing what they want to do under the guise that they're going to get more money, or they're going to get career progression. And they would just manage a few people on the side when they have spare time. The problem is you never have spare time. And so what tends to happen is you spend all your time doing that stuff you used to love to do and you never ever spend any time with your people. And they're the ones that really needed the manager. That's the real problem that we suffered from. And I didn't see it that way. I spent my time looking after people. I wanted to get the most out of them. And it stood me in good stead. 20 years later, I was running a division of 350 people for a bank, but still seeing those kinds of murmurings under the covers of other managers that just didn't get it. I sometimes look around and that's where the title of the book came from, what are you doing? What are you doing? That is not what you're paid to do in terms of managers. And eventually, my wife turned around to me and said,” Look, you're not going to be happy unless you do something about this. You could be one person in a massive company trying to make a little bit of a difference. Or you could have your own company, and you could make a massive difference. So why don't I look after us for a while, and you go start a business. And let's see where we get to.” That was five years ago. And that was the kind of journey that led me to then start what ultimately and led to me accidentally finding the diary detox.


Karen Mangia

The premise and the promise of your new book is to give managers back one full day per week. Everyone listening has one question, how?


Paul Holbrook

By removing all the stuff you don't need to do. What is interesting is that we've been doing what we do at work for so long, that we've kind of almost fallen into the trap of believing that everything we do is what we should be doing. And that we shouldn't question it. And it's like we've always done it this way. Why would we change it? So when this really came from was that I would often have people working for me who would say they didn't have enough time to do the things that I needed them to do as their boss. And I would often sit there and think, Paul, I gave you your job. I know what your job is. There's no reason you shouldn't have enough time to do these things. What is it that you're doing? And what was really fascinating is that one day there's just one guy ( I won't name him because you'll know who he is) who was sitting with me in my office, and I said, look just out of interest there's a board over there. In 5% blocks or bigger, just tell me what it is you actually spend your time doing in an average week. And he said, I spend about 5% of my time doing this, about 10% of my time doing this and about 40% of my time is on this. And then No, no, whoa, rewind. I said, What's that? 40%? Because I don't recognize it. I gave you your job. I don't know what that is. And he said, Well, that's this project that has to be done. But again, it has to be done but why are you doing it? Well, okay, no, I don't, it shouldn't be me doing it. But somebody else who should be doing it isn't doing it. And therefore it's in my way, therefore, I have to do it to get out the worst. No, your job is to make sure that they do it. And that isn't by you jumping in and doing it yourself.


What's interesting is that, when I then found it detox, and people kind of said one of the biggest challenges is they have no time to do the stuff that we need managers to do. When you actually ask them to look at what they're doing using a different lens, look at it through a different lens, and I use the lens of color. And you ask them just slightly different questions. It's amazing how often some of the things that they're doing are things that either add no value whatsoever, or are things that they themselves, they probably do add value, but they themselves shouldn't be doing them. And when you can open people's eyes to that. It's almost like with that particular guy, he just said, so I don't have to do that thing. So I basically just got 40% of my time back, because this person will do it. So he got two days back in a week that he no longer had to do. It's that changing people's perceptions are the things they do to either remove stuff that adds no value, or make sure they understand that some of the stuff they're doing isn't theirs to do. And they put it in the right place. And that is how managers can get on average of a day back in their week.



Karen Mangia

You mentioned asking different questions may be choosing to challenge what's on our calendars and our to do list. What are some of the questions we should all be asking of ourselves and of the people that we lead when it comes to how we spend our time?


Paul Holbrook

There's a number of them that you ask. We could go through the colors of diary detox, but that would be quite long for us to do here. And actually, the one of the first questions, we are one of the first colors we talk about. But basically what we do is we use color as a way of figuring out whether our time is spent making things better. So that's the green stuff, the growth, whether it's kind of making sure things are okay, so that's like risk management. And that's amber stuff. There's the hands on doing the productivity, the delivery, and that's red stuff, that we've got this, I'll leave the funny one to last, the looking after our personal wellbeing. And that's the blue stuff. And this is a really important thing that we're not doing anywhere near enough of. And actually, that's the first question we normally ask is the one around the blue stuff. But there's one other one, which is what is what we call brown stuff. And it's brown. And we use names for these things. And the brown stuff is called floating. And the reason it's brown and it's floating is because brown stuff that floats is well hidden from the rest of the


Karen Mangia

Reminiscent of your first paid job?


Paul Holbrook

And exactly where I was going with that. Thank you very much for picking that up. What we're basically trying to do is get people to find the brown stuff in their diary as quickly as possible, ideally, before they've done it. But at least after they've done it so that they can spot it in future and never do it again. That's kind of what we're looking to do. Many people's brown stuff usually comes from meetings. It's not all from meetings, but a lot of it is from meetings. And in the early days of the diary detox, when I first created it, I actually sat down with a CIO Chief, Chief Information Officer for a very large bank in the UK. They were an ex-colleague of mine from my previous days, when I was working in the city. He was somebody that was quite busy, very busy in fact. We went through this kind of process. And what was interesting is that about 5% of his time was spent on brown stuff. And what was interesting is that when I asked him, I won't tell you what it is yet, but when we asked him about this thing that he was doing originally, I asked him what color he thought that would be and he said it was green. It's definitely green. It's full of growth. That's the green stuff. That's the lead in. And then I asked him another question straight afterwards. And then he changed. I said So those things that you're talking about in a meeting that you're having every week, I want you to assume that that meeting got canceled, and it never got rearranged. What would you have lost? And he said, nothing. And I said, that is the definition of brown. It's a meeting that you have with somebody that you go, well, actually, if that meeting got canceled, I never had it. I wouldn't have lost anything anyway. What's interesting is that you've got somebody who would have sworn that a meeting they were having every week that was taking up 5% of their time was green growth related behavior, but by just asking one very, very simple question, they flipped it completely to saying that that would be brown. And when you look at what that meeting was about, then you probably understand where this problem is coming from. And you'll say, how can people find this? Because often, we don't want to see what's right in front of us. That time that was spent that they swore was green was in meetings with their boss. The meetings they were having with their boss, every week, they were swearing was about green growth. But just by asking that question, if that meeting with your boss got canceled, it never got rebooked. What would you have lost? And he said nothing. I said, that's brown and he said but then you're saying that meeting is a waste of time? I said, I'm not saying it's a waste of time. You're saying it's a waste of time? I've just asked you what would happen if we cancel it? And you've said nothing? So would you want to change your answer? And he said, Well, no. But what do I do about that? And it was like, well, there you go, right. There's a large part of your week. You can claim that right? Now, if you can just find the right technique to have a better conversation. And for him, you know, he was very worried that he was going to have to go to his boss and say, this meeting is a waste of time. I don't want to come anymore. And it's like, no, no, no, no, we're not saying you have to do that. What we are saying is that you have to question why it's a waste. What is it that he's hoping to get out of it? And what is it you're hoping to get out of it? And why did they not match up? Start to have that conversation. And let's either make it not brown, make it a green meeting by questioning why it's not been green so far, or have a better conversation about why you're not seeing any value out of it. And maybe your boss might say, “well, we don't have to have the conversation anymore”. It's a win win. You can then just just claim some time back. So it could be some times that you claim it back by stopping doing stuff that doesn't add value. Or it could be that you make the stuff that doesn't have value start to add value. And so you have kind of claimed it back, but you've got more value out of it. That's basically what this is about. And that's just one of the questions, you could ask somebody around


Karen Mangia

Color coding your calendar creates a pattern interrupt, right, it gives you a reason to step back and evaluate with data, how you're spending your time, then you shared some questions we can choose to challenge. How much value is any one of these activities truly adding? What would happen if it went away? So how do we either stop this activity or make it more valuable? You're highlighting an important fact of the human condition though, which is when we start something and we feel we own it, we get attached to it. Sometimes, even with all the data in the world,, it still is difficult for us to address our own emotion of being afraid of losing something if this goes away. How do you help people navigate that feeling of I'm losing something, or maybe this secretly is really important or I don't know who I would be without this work. I might not be as busy and we love to talk about busy as the badge of being a great employer and a great leader.


Paul Holbrook

The first part is about beginning self-awareness. Because I've worked with managers in the past who have sworn that they are great leaders. A lot of the activity that they are doing is leading activity by definition. What's interesting is that for me and the pattern interrupt, I love that. I usually use the analogy of a mirror. It's like turning your calendar into a mirror that reflects back at you what it is you're actually doing. And ideally, a really good manager should have a mix of those colors. And ideally, the more senior you are, the more green it should be and the less red it should be and vice versa. The first part of it is about getting people to see it, and at least to start to consider the idea. Because up until this point, if people do use the ability to color code their calendar, they will usually color code it based on what they're doing. They'll say I'm in a meeting therefore, it's black, or I'm traveling and therefore it's blue. I'm doing a one to one therefore it's black or whatever else it would be right. But the point is that the moment that you get somebody to change that from color coding what you're doing, versus the value you're getting from what you're doing, that's when the conversation starts. For some, they'll look at it and want to change that completely. They're the really easy ones to work with. The ones that you're talking about, they're the more challenging ones who won't really want to consider it, they'll go yeah, but that doesn't make sense. Because if I'm not doing this myself, then people will start to question what my role is. And it's like, well, what is your role? You know, it actually becomes a coaching conversation, the question what is your role? What do you see yourself as? Are you a coach? Are you a manager? Are you actually frustrated, who just wants to do stuff and doesn't want to manage? And that can be an equally valid conversation. I think the first point of it is to actually get people to start questioning. And like I said, I've worked with people who have sworn that they spend a lot of their time leading but actually, more often than not, their diary is very amber. The amber stuff is more about supervising. It's not about leading at all. It's about delegating stuff, telling people what to do, giving them instructions and saying, I want you to do this, I want you to do that, or going in and finding out if things are happening the way they should be. Now, that is certainly about what supervision is, but it's not about leading in any way, you're not giving people a vision and asking people to follow you, you're just telling them what to do. The problem with that is that the moment you go on holiday, and this can sometimes be helpful, you find that everything that worked while you were there falls apart. And what will happen is that they will end up on the phone all the time, or they'll end up getting called into meetings, even though they're on holiday. And so what you tend to do then is you tend to hear about this, you see this color, and I can make a pretty good guess right now to say, okay, it's quite amber. So therefore, what happens when you go on holiday? And they'll say, Oh, well, this happens. Or you can say, Do you tend to get caught in a lot of meetings? Do you tend to find that things don't go so well, when you go and look? Their response: actually how did you know that? Because that's how you spend your time. A lot of techs that look at this stuff tend to be what we call lag indicators. You can look at them after the fact. Profits are a lagging indicator, right? If you do the right things, you don't find out till later whether or not they were the right things because your profits go up. What we really need from a management and a leadership point of view is a lead indicator. We need to know before it happens, whether or not it's the right thing to do so that we know we're doing the right things. Colors tend to become a lead indicator. I know that if you are spending quite a lot of your time on the amber stuff right now, chances are you're going to be building a dependency on you, so that when you're away from the office, everything falls apart. Whereas if you're doing a lot of the green stuff, chances are you're building the people around you who can take things on when you walk away. There are a number of ways in which these colors can work with people. But often the biggest thing is about showing that value and giving people almost anecdotal stories about how what I'm now seeing plays out in their day to day and as soon as they recognize that they are doing well, that's exactly what's happening. So how do I change it? And that's hopefully when things start to change. You know that we will say the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem. And giving them that sense of the color is the first step to finding out whether there's a problem. And even if they don't want to accept it. That in itself is a great conversation with people to see why they don't accept it.


Karen Mangia

Your recent research reveals the average employee globally wastes 11 hours per week and you're showing us how to diagnose those 11 hours for people who are listening that want the four day workweek for example here it is. You can reclaim this and be a higher value leader and work less. When you and I met for our authority magazine interview you revealed a concept I thought was profound called the foundation week. Tell us what a foundation week is and based on what we've been talking about how would we all design a foundation week?


Paul Holbrook

A little bit on the context of that. So remember asked about the colors and we talked about the green leading the amber supervising the red doing and then the brown floating. There's this other color blue, which was living. And about two years ago, it became clear to me that spending our time looking at how we spend our time at work is important. It's eye opening. And in some respects, it's profound. What became quite clear, though, especially with the global pandemic that came up is that people started to work more and more. And lots of people used to use the excuse that I'm commuting. So I have to do all this. And there were lots of excuses that came up that justified why we work the way we did. And of course, when we then had to commute no longer, that theoretically should have given us so much time back to look after our own personal well being. But what happened, we worked even longer. So what was really going on, and it told me that there was something missing, that there was a need to look at another dimension. And that was where the blue color came in for living. And it was clear to me that we've grown accustomed to living in the gaps between work. There's this thing called Parkinson's Law. Parkinson's Law says that if you give yourself three hours to do a task, chances are it will take three hours because we'll probably spend one or two of them procrastinating and thinking I've got three hours. I'll go look at my internet or go look at LinkedIn or go look at my email. And then at the moment where you actually have no more time left, you go, Oh, I should probably focus on it now. And then you do it. So it actually takes three hours to do something that should have been you probably have taken an hour. It's kind of the same with work. What tends to happen is we get up, we go to work, we do our thing. People, hijackers, we go to lots of meetings that we don't really need to go to. We're interrupted God knows how many times a day. And also we're spending a lot of time in email. But then it gets to kind of the end of the day when everybody then goes home and everything quiets down, and we realize, we've got all this work to do. And so what did we do? Well, we just worked longer hours, and then we just fit in all that work that we should have been doing. Part of the reason that happens is because in our day, we have loads of gaps. We use our calendars as a repository for meetings. When somebody comes, interrupts us and says, you got a moment to help me, we look at our diary and we go, yeah, got loads of time. There's a gap there. We haven't got a gap. It's just we haven't put anything in it that's more useful. And so what we do is fill it with other stuff. Then when we actually get to the end of the day we've got loads of times and we actually start doing our job. So what was key for me is that we need to get people to start thinking at the moment when they're interrupted, or at the moment where they'd like to be procrastinating or whatever else, to make sure they've got a true view of what's really going on. And so what I decided to do was to start creating a real view of what's happening in our life. And so I created blue behavior, which is called Living. And what I started doing for myself, is I started to plan in the time that I needed for my personal well-being. Okay, so, up until recently, people have made that the last thing they planned. I'll do all my work. And then I've got some time left for the family, or I've got time left to do a hobby, or I've got time left for whatever else. What I decided to do was to turn the whole thing on its head and make it so that the first thing that you plan into your diary is the blue stuff, planning your living first. If you want to get a life, you need to plan a life. And that was what the foundation week became. So what I tend to do is part of the diary detox method. The very first thing that you do is you put in your foundation week. So what this is, sitting down and thinking, what are all the things that I need to do, or that I need to put in my life, in order for me to stay on top of my mental, physical, spiritual or emotional well-being? And it can be really simple things. It could be like having a lunch break. It's amazing how many people just don't have a lunch break? They'll go to a meeting, and they'll carry the sandwich in them. And they'll be eating as they're meeting.. Just having some downtime. So having a lunch break, having breakfast with a loved one, or with a colleague or somebody you like to talk to, taking the dogs for a walk, exercising, taking a break twice a day. How many times have you gone to another meeting and said, “ do you mind if I just go to the toilet?” And it's like, why are we starting off a meeting with demand to go to the toilet. We just don't plan this stuff in. We don't plan. And we know we're going to need to do it. Because we need it every day. We always need to eat. We always need to get to the loo. We need to sleep. We just need to spend some time on ourselves. So for me creating the foundation week was about saying if you were given carte blanche what would you love to have in your week that makes sure that you stay balanced? And that's the thing that you get people to plan first. Now, what's interesting about that, is that when you then plan it in, you find that the amount of time that you have left over for actual work is a lot smaller than it is when you look at it without it there. Normally, without that stuff there, you just have a whole week with loads of time to work, but as soon as you start putting in that blue stuff, you go, actually there isn't really a lot of time left over. I mean, there's enough time, but not as much time. And what that tends to do is that tends to fight your procrastination because it's kind of like flipping Parkinson's Law on its head. Because what now happens is you go, well, I've only got an hour to do that piece of work. And guess what? It takes an hour. And guess what, if you gave yourself two hours, it would have taken two or three. So by putting in your foundation week, you are not living in the gaps between work, you are working in the gaps between life. And just by doing that you are giving yourself a much better shot at having a physical, mental, spiritual, emotional well-being that is going to make you better when you actually go to work.


Karen Mangia

That is a profound shift in thought process and priorities. And so many leaders I work with, and I'm sure the same is true for you, are concerned about the degree of burnout their employees are either surfacing through some kind of a survey, perhaps, or sharing it one on one or it's just observable, right? I mean, you can see burnout on someone's face, even in a Zoom meeting. And what I'm wondering is, how does the system that you've created help managers have any kind of leading indicators, as we were talking about earlier, as opposed to lagging indicators of this burnout? You know, someone quits, they have to take a leave of absence? I mean, is there a way to have leading indicators of burnout and prompt managers to intervene before it becomes a serious issue?


Paul Holbrook

Don't get me wrong I don't think it's going to detect all indications of potential burnout because I think burnout comes from many different places. But the one around overwork and not paying enough attention to your personal life, I think that there's definitely a part to play in that. I created diary detox as a tool to help individuals better prioritize and focus and plan their time to get the things that they need to get done. That's what it was originally about. As time has gone on, and with that original vision of creating better lead people, what I wanted to do is actually take managers on a journey. So first of all, they start to use this method for them to help themselves out, but also then to help their people out. So, let's just start with where they are right now. So the detox diary has two main parts.. There's this thing called a weekly detox, and something called a spot detox. The weekly detox is just a weekly process in about 30 minutes where a manager will sit down, look at what they've done for their past week, look in the mirror, look at those colors and say, “Was that what I intended to do? And if it wasn't, why not what changed? What happened? What could I do differently next time? What does go well? What are my priorities going forward? And how do I want to plan my week going forward to achieve the things that I want to achieve?" That's what the weekly detoxes look like. Now, to make it easier to go through that, I incorporated the method into an app. And what happens is, when you are going through your weekly detox, you press the top button, and I talk you through each of the steps that will take you through the diary detox. Now, what's interesting is that at various points, I'll say, look at your diary now and put in how many hours you have of each of the colors. And as you start putting in the hours, it then will create a percentage and it will show you how much of your time is spent on the green, the amber, the red, the brown, and the blue. And what happens is that if you spend too much of your time and in the settings, you get to define how many hours is a good number of hours for you to work in a week. For me, it's 35 hours, a fairly arbitrary number. But what will happen is that based on how many hours you put into there, it will then say, well, this is how many hours you're spending on what you're doing versus what you wanted to do. And the key one there for the lead indicator on burnout is the blue one. What will happen is, if you are working the number you intended or less than the number, then your blue indicator will show you 100% It's like a battery. You're getting 100% of your recharge versus 100% of what you want. But as soon as you start working above that number of hours, that number starts to come. Now you're getting 95% versus 100%, you're getting 90% versus 100%. That's your lead indicator for you to then start as a manager, for you to look at it yourself and think that doesn't look good. So why is that happening? Why am I having to work more hours than I think I should have to work. And of course, it's all there in your diary; you can figure out where all this time is going. Right. So that's the way the manager themselves can have a lead indicator. But part of the whole ecosystem of diary detox is this program called Time to Lead. First of all, it's about getting managers to start using this to help themselves become better managers. But then laterally, it's about helping them become better leaders. And when they come into that realm, the idea is that their people start to use the app for their own Weekly detox. And the manager has a portal in which they can look in and it doesn't tell them how many hours that people are working. That's not what's important, because everybody has a different view about how many hours is good for them. But what the manager does get to see is the percentage they get to see their battery. And if they get to see that one of their people, their battery is at like 80% versus 100%. That's an early indicator to the manager to go in and go, Hey, look, part of our One to One, I'm seeing that your battery's down at 85. But what's going on? Why are you having to work so many more hours than you think you should? And again, it doesn't tell you how many hours because that would be a bit Big Brother. Why are you having to work so many more hours, and it opens up a conversation, a proper management conversation about Is everything okay? And it could be that they say, Well, you know, there's a lot going on at home, you know, having problems in my marriage, which is basically causing me more stress, I'm not getting as much done, my mind is elsewhere, I'm having to work more hours. And these are just conversations that most managers just aren't having with their people. It's almost like we're telling our managers that you shouldn't care about your people. It's like your job is just to check up on whether people are getting results. And it's almost like when you have a one to one, we're almost teaching our managers that the first question they should be asking them is, what are you doing, rather than how you doing? And actually really meaning it. So that lead indicator for me is the blue stuff. It's about creating that lead indicator, understanding what's really going on in your personal life, so you can start having the conversation around it. It's not happening anywhere near enough.


Karen Mangia

Speaking of conversations and life, I like to do a segment in the show that is a virtual water cooler. Everyone says they miss spontaneous conversation in the office where you get to know each other. I'd like to transition into kind of our lightning round. Imagine we're making a cup of tea together. And I'm just going to ask you five quick questions, say the first answer that comes to your mind. Are you ready?


Paul Holbrook

I'm ready, go.


Karen Mangia

What time of day do you do your best work?


Paul Holbrook

First thing in the morning? Eight 910 o'clock.


Karen Mangia

If there were no dress code for work, how would you dress?


Paul Holbrook

I would wear shorts. And I'd wear thongs or flip flops or sandals, whatever you want to call them. And I would usually always wear the same color of the thing I'm doing so right now I'm doing a communicating. So this is green. So I would wear whatever color I would be doing at that moment. Hopefully lots of green.


Karen Mangia

You color coded your couture. Sure. I love it. Yes. So what part of your daily routine do you most look forward to each day?


Paul Holbrook

If we ignore, I don't often ignore my wife. But if we ignore my wife for a moment, because I love spending time with her. It would be exercise,probably. it's a really great bit of blue behavior for mental well being. I mean, I do my best non thinking at that time.


Karen Mangia 38:50

If you could have her do any job in the world, what would it be? Mine. That's awesome. Now, and I'm expecting greatness here. Now imagine there are 25 hours in the day instead of 24. How do you spend your extra hour?


Paul Holbrook

I definitely spend it on more blue stuff. I think work gets enough of us. I don't think it needs any more of us. So I think it would definitely be something blue. Do you know what I would probably do? One of the two things I absolutely love doing and the two things I don't get enough time to do. Ironically, one of them is playing the piano. So I play the piano. I love doing that. And my wife loves hearing me play the piano. And every time I do it, she'll say play the piano more because I really love listening to you play. So that's probably one of the things I do. And then the other thing but this is slightly more expensive is I love to fly planes. So I would probably fly more as well.


Karen Mangia

What fun and when I think about your concept of giving every person, every working person one day, per week back, several of your concepts really resonated: color code your calendar, look at what that data is telling you. Ask your calendar, if this meeting went away and never got rescheduled, what would happen? Most of us challenge the concept of if you go away on holiday, what happens to your team or your working environment. Great clues about how you're leading and creating a foundation week, so that you are living your life and working in the gaps as opposed to the opposite. Paul, where can people find you to stay connected?


Paul Holbrook

So a number of places, you can either go on to LinkedIn, I'm there, it's Paul Holbrook, F LPI. That's basically its Fellow of the Learning and Performance Institute. It's there for no other reason that people that want to speak to F to fellows of Learning and Performance Institute will search for F LPI. So that's the only reason for that. There is also going to diary detox.com. And then you'll find more about what's going on there. There's the book on Amazon, which is What are you Doing? And the pronunciation for is, what are you doing? I mean, seriously, what are you doing? Those are the three main places that you can find me but also if you want to get a bit of a taste, as to some of the colors and examples in life that give rise to those colors, then I've also got a YouTube channel called diary detox as well. And you'll find that every single one of those videos, I'm wearing a different color t- shirt, and it's usually related to the thing I'm talking about at that time


Karen Mangia

Last question, as we close, what is one step every listener can take as soon as this podcast concludes, to start their own diary detox.


Paul Holbrook

I've got to say it's the foundation week, just go and get a calendar. Just draw your Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday out from whatever times or whatever time and just draw out the things that you know you need in order to make sure that your mental, physical, spiritual and emotional well being is taken care of. Think about your lunch, your breaks, your breakfast, your shower, your exercise, walking the dogs, spending time with your loved ones, playing the piano, flying, doing lots of things. Put all that stuff in there and then put it straight into your diary and then make it repeating. If you look at my diary, in seven years time, you will see a whole bunch of blue things in there which are recurring meetings with myself to do the thing that I know are going to look after my mental well being. That is honestly, the most significant way you can make a difference right now because it will mean you'll spend less time procrastinating and wasting time on other stuff at work that you simply don't need to do.


Karen Mangia

Thank you to Paul Holbrook for revealing how to take our time back by changing our relationship with time today on Success from Anywhere because success is not a destination. Success is not a location. Success is available to anyone, anywhere, anytime. Thanks for joining us.




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