Being CEO of Real World Associates while also providing business coaching to more than thirty CEOs on an ongoing basis through Vistage.
By digitizing his daily task management, Rob has significantly reduced his stress and saved time – so he can be more productive and valuable to his client base.
Rob Whittaker is a Group Chair and expert speaker for Vistage, the world’s leading organisation for MD’s and Chief Executives wishing to grow their businesses and personally develop as a leader.
Rob also runs Real World Associates, a specialist business development consultancy which works with PLC and SME clients across a wide range of sectors, helping develop world class sales lead leaders.
Hi Rob, can you give us some background?
I chair two groups of Chief Executives, each consisting of sixteen people.
I give each of them two-hour one-to-one coaching throughout the month, every month. Each group also meets for one day a month for a full day which I facilitate. Alongside this I also run a sales management consultancy, completing projects for clients aimed at improving the effectiveness of their sales teams.
Some of the tasks required to run the business include organising meetings, coordinating with speakers, sending reminders to attendees, preparing exercises, and determining the best processes to deal with various issues and challenges.
How did you manage work, before beSlick?
Before beSlick, work was very chaotic.
I had been through a few different approaches; for example, I had an exercise book where I wrote everything I needed to do. I carried this book with me everywhere – and was always scared of what would happen if I lost it!
Although it worked, one of the issues I had with it was that every time I opened it, I would see pages and pages of things I needed to do. At the end of the day, I only had lists of things I hadn’t completed, so I never got that feeling of satisfaction when I finished work.
I also noticed that I had begun writing things on post-it notes when I didn’t have my book. Then I had a different problem; my desk always ended up covered in them. I had to scan each to determine which were important.
How easy was it to get stared?
I had always been a little weary of task management systems; I’ve never been IT-friendly, so I found them quite cumbersome.
So I was skeptical at first, but I found it was extremely easy to set up and use.
The sign up process was easy and once in I began turning my post-it notes into tasks.
I actually found this somewhat cathartic because as soon as I was done with a note, I would throw it in the bin…
I got this huge sense of relief like a weight being lifted off my shoulders.
I also liked that I could put a due date on the tasks, so I knew they would pop up when I needed to deal with them and not before. Even though I had set aside some time to do this conversion, I ended up really enjoying the process and found it very satisfying.
How have things changed?
The most significant change I have noticed is at a mental level.
I used to get depressed by all the tasks I had in my exercise book or post-it notes. The key reason was that I had this huge number of tasks and I was storing them in my head and worrying all the time about them all. But most of those tasks either were not something to worry about today or were not that important. beSlick has taken those away from me and just left me with the handful of achievable tasks I can do today.
Every morning I open the app on my phone and I see what I need to do that day,
and I can tick things off as I complete them. At the end of the day, I know I’ve done everything I had for that day. I no longer have those other tasks in the back of my mind. They used to pop up all the time, but now I don’t have to worry.
This has really helped with my stress management, and it’s also changed the way I operate.
I put a task in, I determine when I will do it by looking at spaces in my diary, and I don’t have to deal with the unrealistic expectations of having to deal with everything at the same time.
beSlick has also given me more discipline. For example, when I was in a meeting and I told someone I would send them something or do something, there was always a risk that I might forget.
Now I just add the task into beSlick using my phone and I know I won’t forget about it.
Have you noticed any measurable results?
I think the main measurable benefit, aside from significant stress relief, has been time management.
beSlick has saved me time; not in terms of tasks; I still have to do those. But I used to spend so long reviewing everything I had to do, looking at post-it notes and deciding what was more important. And I used to do this many times a day. I don’t need to anymore.
Now I have my daily tasks, and I crack on with them.
Would you recommend beSlick?
I have recommended it to many of my group members and will continue to do so. On the surface, it might look like all I was doing was replacing post-it notes with an IT system. But because of the snooze function and putting a date on tasks, you end up organising things in categories and know that you only need to work on the things that come up on that day.
Then, it registered in my mind how much time I was spending going through my pending tasks and, what’s worse, constantly thinking about my to-dos. I don’t do that anymore. Things are not in the back of my head, and lists are not getting longer every time I look at them. I can organise my dates better, and I have the security that things will show up when I need to deal with them and not before.