Last month, we started 2018 with a residential Partner Retreat. We (and our guests) liked it so much that we’re already planning the next one for May.
We know that some our clients, colleagues and readers organise their own team retreats regularly, so we thought we’d share with you which ingredients helped us most to make it such a rewarding and inspiring experience.
1. A Beautiful Place
We know that space matters. We know it well enough to have a designated role that takes care of it. And yet, we were once again surprised to see how very much it matters.
Eibenhof, which hosted us for the five days of the Partner Retreat, was absolutely lovely. A cozy house on a family estate right by the lake, with our own fire place, a spacious country kitchen, various naptime spots and lovely walking routes right outside the door.
While staying at the Obenaus Community in Southern Styria this week, I tracked my day: I wanted to observe how I spend my time, so that I can harvest insights on a balanced work day structure.
I share it here for inspiration and exchange: I am curious how others structure their day to find balance, health and productivity in their work day.
“Work” for me was office work on this day – mostly on the computer.
0700 Meditation & self-care
0800 Breakfast (about 45 minutes, then set up for work)
0900 Work (online meeting with the team of Structure & Process)
1030 Break / personal social time (spent in the garden, speaking on the phone with a friend)
1100 Break / Community time
1125 Work continues (computer, phone, paper)
1415 Nap & self-care
1900 End Work
This schedule felt just right for me, except for the last work period, which was too long. If this became my proper schedule, I would experiment ending work at 1830.
This would net three work periods of 1.5 hours and one of 1 hour: 5.5 net work hours (which seems plenty). I could see the work periods dedicated for other purposes (community time, study, outside travels, more rest) depending on situational need.
My personal highlights:
Early wakeup. I enjoy waking up early. I often go to bed late though, which then impacts on everything else. On this day, I had committed to a shared meditation at 0700, so I knew I would get up at a fixed time.
Dedicated meditation time.
Regular meals. Early-ish breakfast. Long lunch break.
Dedicated time for personal connections and community during the day (not pushed aside by work, not pushed into the evening)
Scheduled Nap Time! Every day becomes better with a nap for me. I have never regretted a single nap I took, ever. Note to self: take more naps.
Dedicated personal care time during the day (while I am awake and energetic, not pushed into the evening when I am often tired)
Work periods have 90 minutes max, then a break follows.
I have yet to see how I can apply this in my daily life, which often involves travels and changes in location. I could see an expansion for the week too, using this from Monday to Thursday, relaxing on Friday and taking a break on Saturday and Sunday.
What structures do you use to go through your day? What has worked for you and what not? I am curious to hear about others’ schedules or interesting pieces of structure that help you find balance, health, productivity and peace of mind during your work day!
The Structure & Process Partner Meeting is one of our favourite formats for joyful, meaningful collaboration.
The main ingredients have remained mostly the same for the past few years: an agile agenda, a dedicated meeting facilitator, clarity on work modes, space and time for personal exchange, the pile of success, good food… – you can find details about all these elements here.
More recently, we have been increasingly inviting external guests, which lead to Open Partner Meetings: In these, we collaborate with clients, colleagues, applicants, friends and other interested (and interesting!) people.
The actual application or use of an idea, belief, or method, as opposed to theories relating to it.
The customary, habitual, or expected procedure or way of doing of something.
Repeated exercise in or performance of an activity or skill so as to acquire or maintain proficiency in it. (Source)
We noticed that the practices at Structure & Process can basically be summarised in three categories: personal organization/productivity, community building and governance.
Our personal productivity practices enable us to do good work in the first place: host yourself first, to make yourself available for collaboration.
Then we come together and form a community: We build personal relationships and discover our shared interests as the basis for co-creation. We refine our purpose as an organisation, grounded in community.
And then, to function smoothly as collaborators, we buildgovernance systems/practices that allow us to orchestrate and focus our efforts.
Here is how some of our practices showed up at the last Open Partner Meeting:
“What do I need?” – Our favourite starting point for solving problems and getting stuff done. Turns out that asking this question is a practice in and of itself. The answers become part of the agenda.
We ask “What do I need?” (or, when facilitated: “what do you need?”), not: “what do we need? What should we do?” We make our work personal.
Capture, process, do – whenever a meeting or session leads to actionable items, the habit is to capture those items, process them to a place that makes sense (personal todo list, shared Trello board) and then do it when the time is right. Things don’t get lost, and action happens at the right place and time.
Knowing that you and your partners run on some version of this system builds trust and allows being present in the moment.
Circles – every morning we check in together as one coherent group of individuals. At the end of the day we check out again, sharing whatever moves us at that particular time.
We prioritize relationships and quality of life – during Partner Meetings there’s plenty of time for food, music and good conversation :-)
Whenever we go into planning mode (“what is the next thing to do now?”) there is no consensus building on the agenda point that everyone wants to do, but rather taking the initiative to host a session and then seeing who shows up (open-space-style).
We are very clear on our individual roles and accountabilities, which makes task assignment easy, efficient and relaxed.
One of our Holacratic Governance Meetings took place during this week. Guests could watch and ask questions about the process afterwards.
Practice with us!
The next Open Partner Meeting will happen on October 24-26 2017, again in Dresden. Our guests typically get more clarity on their questions related to organisational development, collaboration, personal path in business/life and generally have a good time… They explore their own projects, or collaborating with Structure & Process. Some have found jobs and love! ;-)
At Structure & Process we value a good online infrastructure for collaboration. Since we often work together virtually, the online environment is important for us. We need good tools that help us get stuff done and are enjoyable to use at the same time.
We think we’ve got this figured out pretty well and we always like to share our practices. And so today we’ll show you how we use Trello as our main tool for online collaboration on projects and how it serves as our digital office.
The goal? To show you how to use Trello to make your project successful!
What is Trello?
Trello is an online tool, which you can use in your browser or as an app for mobile devices. It’s main purpose is organising information in a visual and flexible way. It can be used for organising stuff individually and organising work as a team or company. In this blogpost we’ll focus on using Trello for collaboration.
What’s so great about it?
There are probably a few hundred applications and tools out there that can be used to organise and coordinate work. Here are some of the reasons why we are sticking to Trello:
Working with Trello is like having a huge office with a lot of walls, unlimited sticky notes, coloured pens, markers and everything else you need to create organised overviews.
Once your project or business gets bigger, moving to a new office is a lot of work. Opening a new board in Trello, however, is a breeze. As you grow, Trello can grow alongside of you.
Do you have your own definitions for concepts or do you use whatever is in the dictionary?
I love having my own definitions. Depending on how you define something, you experience life differently.
Take success for example. What is success? There are infinite ways to define it. Examples are “earning a lot of money”, “having a lot of fun” or “being healthy”. Can you see how choosing one of these definitions over the other would shape the choices you make for yourself?
So it is for productivity.
Since one of the things I do is help people become more productive, I have been asking myself how to define this concept.