Multi-Tasking Is Not Possible

In his book Brain Rules, John Medina states that it’s not possible to multi-task because the brain can really only focus on one thing at a time. For years, we’ve been led to believe that multi-tasking is not only possible but that it’s a good thing. It personified and typified efficiency. We’ve all done it. But now, if we’re learning that multi-tasking isn’t really possible, what have we actually been doing all this time? Dividing our attention, that’s what! And no where is this more important than in the interactions we have with others.

How many times have you been in the middle of a conversation with someone and meanwhile, in the back of your head, you’re thinking of something completely unrelated pertaining to a task you have to complete or follow up on? By chalking this additional mental activity up to being good multi-tasking efficiency, you’re actually compromising your efficiency, your peace of mind and the relationship you have with the person you’re (supposed to be) communicating with. Instead, consciously decide to listen intently to others and give them your full attention. Don’t let your mind flit from one topic to another at its whim and in the middle of a conversation. Decide to focus on only the interaction you’re in the middle of – with your co-workers, friends and especially, family.

A number of things happen when you do this:
1) Your mind will become clearer
2) You will be more fully present for the other person and the interaction you’re having
3) You will be conveying a non-verbal sense of respect to the other person
4) You will enjoy the interaction more, and likely, so will they
5) Your relationship with the other person will be strengthened
6) You will be able to tap into your feelings and intuition more
7) Your awareness will increase

There are many benefits to gain from simply deciding to focus on being present for others when you’re interacting with them. This very simple approach will calm the stress you would have otherwise taken on by trying to multi-task in the interest of being efficient, in order to keep up with the overwhelming volume of things you have to do, in order to excel in this increasingly faster moving world. Give yourself a break. Slow down. Be there for each other and experience an alternative that is so much more enjoyable. It’s just waiting there for you, and you’re likely to find a more harmonious outcome for everything you do in life.

Laurence Seton, P.Eng., PMP is the President of Projecteze Inc. and the author of On Top Of Everything: Manage Your Projects & Life With Ease. He helps busy people learn the skills to get and stay organized and on top of everything at work, at home and at school using Projecteze: The Ultimate Organizational System. Follow Laurence on Twitter and Facebook.


Why Is Accountability So Important?

Any manager worth their weight in salt will assign authority to match responsibility for tasks they assign to team members. To do less than this only sets the other person up for failure. But along with authority and responsibility comes accountability – the understanding by all that the person assigned the responsibility is accountable for meeting their commitments and producing results. All too often though, and I’ve seen it happen repeatedly in every one of the eight industries I’ve worked in, a task is assigned to someone and they commit to completing the task but then .......nothing happens!

How many of us have seen a commitment made by someone in a meeting without a target date being set for completion? Or a course of action being identified without it being assigned to any one person for ownership and ultimate accountability? My experience has been that, in these situations, the likelihood of the necessary follow up action being taken - as required or as promised - is remote. People are busy and if you aren’t tracking commitments that other people make to you, they may not deem those commitments with as high a priority….and be only too happy to let them slide or possibly not complete them at all. I’m sure you’ve seen commitments being made haphazardly by someone who has no expectation that anyone will actually track what they have committed to. Wally in Scott Adam’s Dilbert cartoon strip has this perfected to a fine art.

In order for a project to move ahead successfully, each task or action must be assigned so that one person is given ownership of it, along with a target date for completion and the appropriate responsibility, authority, and accountability. This is the first step. After a task has been assigned (by a manager or a group), there must be some form of follow up to confirm that the work is actually being done. This is where I’ve seen countless repeated occurrences of issues being dropped – because they are forgotten or outright ignored.

It never ceases to amaze me how often a lack of accountability comes up in a business day. Quality output and the successful completion of any project depends on people living up to their commitments. That’s the grease that makes a team work well together. When people fulfill their commitments, they are showing everyone else that they’re reliable and that they respect the person they’ve made the commitment to.

Why an I writing about this? Because it rests at the heart of success on any project. If your team members are all conscientious and focused on getting their tasks done, a lack of accountability will be a minor issue. But occasionally I’ve seen people make shallow promises that they know no one else will actually keep track of. That would entail someone else having to manage them - which they know - we’re all too busy to do. Enter Projecteze.

The Projecteze organizational system that I describe in my book “On Top Of Everything” is all about helping people like you and me - who are relying on others to come through on their commitments - to be able to track, monitor and follow up with others on their commitments in a diplomatic and friendly way. This process really helps to reinforce accountability and it’s done in a simple, non-confrontational way that prevents anything from slipping between the cracks.

Under the assumption that most of us are well meaning, the ball can get dropped simply because of the overwhelming volume of things we each have to do in a day. As a manager who has assigned tasks and received commitments, I want to help foster success for everyone on my team and I can do that by simply touching base with my people regularly for updates on their deliverables and by proactively helping them stay on top of the tasks and target dates they’ve committed to. The Projecteze system allows me to do that very easily and very effectively.

It is up to everyone on a project team to meet their obligations, but it is also up to everyone on a team to hold each other accountable in a manner that fosters strong relationships within a supportive, congenial and productive working environment that everyone can be proud of. This combination can be dynamite!

Laurence Seton, P.Eng., PMP is the President of Projecteze Inc. and is the author of On Top Of Everything: Manage Your Projects & Life With Ease. He helps busy people learn the skills to get and stay organized and on top of everything at work, at home and at school using Projecteze: The Ultimate Organizational System. Follow Laurence on Twitter and Facebook.


Just What Is A Fighter-Bomber Pilot?

In my book “On Top of Everything”, I briefly mention that my father, Hugh W. Seton, was a fighter-bomber pilot in WW II and that he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. Dad passed away in 1992 but I remember him sharing many stories about his experiences during the war. Arriving back at the airstrip only to find his aircraft littered with bullet holes. Using skip-bombs to break a hole into the wall of a fortress that held allied prisoner of war, and hearing that many successfully escaped. Flying toward a target at tree top level and at top speed in order to maintain the element of surprise. Or the night the squadron burned down the mess hall during a party.

It was only several years after his death, when I came across his flight log books, that I really took a deeper interest and began a long research project which taught me a lot. One of the things I learned was that there were fighter pilots. They flew the single engine fighter aircraft such as the Spitfire or the Mustang. Then there were the bomber pilots who flew the large, two or four engine bombers such as the Lancaster or Liberator. What I learned was that dad was a fighter-bomber pilot. These guys flew single engine dive bombers. Two aircraft my father flew were the Vultee Vengeance (1700 HP) and the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt (turbo-charged to 2500 HP). To put this into perspective, today’s average single engine aircraft operates using a 150 to 350 HP engine.

I will always remember how dad described being suspended in his harness as he dove straight down, and how highly he spoke of the Thunderbolt. It really was a well built aircraft. The Thunderbolt could reach speeds of 435 mph flying horizontally and could break the sound barrier in a dive. Known as the Jug because of its shape, it could take a real beating and still bring most of its pilots home safely. The Thunderbolt was a dive bomber but it was also a fighter that engaged in many a dog-fight. And that is why the men who flew them were called “fighter-bomber pilots”.

Dad flew 125 missions over enemy territory through 1944 and 1945. I can only imagine what it was like to have gone through that. He didn’t say much about the really bad times. For his contribution to our freedom and as an inspiration in my life, I will be eternally grateful.

Laurence Seton, P.Eng., PMP is the President of Projecteze Inc. and is the author of On Top Of Everything: Manage Your Projects & Life With Ease. He helps busy people learn the skills to get and stay organized and on top of everything at work, at home and at school using Projecteze: The Ultimate Organizational System. Follow Laurence on Twitter and Facebook.


Professionals Bring Their Stress Home, Study Finds

More money, power make things worse

“First you get the money, then you get the power, then you get the problems at home.”

“Well-educated professionals, even those who have control over the hours they work, are likelier to say their jobs interfere with their personal lives. According to a new study, it's the stress of higher status."

A recent Globe & Mail article written by Siri Agrell describes a survey of 1,800 American workers conducted by Professor Scott Schieman, a sociology professor at the University of Toronto. The survey “When Work Interferes with Life: Work-Nonwork Interference and the Influence of Work-Related Demands and Resources” appeared in the December 2009 issue of the American Sociological Review.

The article by Agrell, with quotes from Howard Eisenberg (a Toronto-area psychologist), included the following statements:

  1. Well-educated professionals (those with college or postgraduate degrees), are more likely to say their jobs interfere with their personal lives - even those who have control over the hours they work.

  2. Job authority, skill level, decision-making latitude and personal earnings also predicted trouble outside of the office.

  3. Those who succeed at work seem to have it worse.

  4. Professionals with the most control over their own schedule had the highest levels of stress.

  5. BlackBerrys and other technology keep professionals constantly connected to the office, and the resulting pressure can lead to anger, depression, or drug or alcohol dependence.

  6. People who excel at their jobs are often incapable of switching off their work mode.

  7. The biggest mistake that people make in positions of leadership is not having a conscious strategy to leave your work problems at work and mentally carve out space for your personal life.

  8. It's usually a health scare that causes people to re-think their approach to work. The warning sign can also be a spouse saying they've had it.
It was items 6 and 7 above that really came close to home for me. The ability to leave work at work was one of the primary reasons I developed Projecteze: The Ultimate Organizational System. I needed a way to capture and keep track of everything I had to stay on top of during my busy days as a project manager. Projecteze allowed me to do that and, of equal importance, it allowed me to turn it all off when I left the office at the end of the day. Projecteze lets me free my mind of all of the work related details that would normally be circling in my head throughout the evening because I know everything is captured and waiting for me in my Projecteze table. I can let it all go. And it is especially helpful for people who have difficulty changing gears from the workplace to home.

I encourage you to try Projecteze for all of the reasons identified in Schieman’s survey and Agrell’s article. Don’t wait for a health scare or for your personal relationships to fall apart. Projecteze allows you to perform at the higher levels associated with succeeding in today’s world while also providing you with the ability to step away from it all when you go home at night or on the weekend. This provides more freedom and time for yourself and your family which, in turn, creates a more balanced and less stressful life.

If you are a busy professional and are experiencing any of the negative symptoms described in this article, you can make a conscious choice to change that. Everything you need is at

The complete Globe & Mail article can be found at:

Reference: “When Work Interferes with Life: Work-Nonwork Interference and the Influence of Work-Related Demands and Resources” (Scott Schieman, University of Toronto, Melissa A. Milkie, University of Maryland, and Paul Glavin, University of Toronto).

Laurence Seton, P.Eng., PMP is the President of Projecteze Inc. and is the author of On Top Of Everything: Manage Your Projects & Life With Ease. He helps busy people learn the skills to get and stay organized and on top of everything at work, at home and at school using Projecteze: The Ultimate Organizational System. Follow Laurence on Twitter and Facebook.


Are You Setting Yourself Up For A Balanced Life

Time To Make A Choice

Even if 2009 was a particularly stressful year for you, you could choose to continue living your life in the same manner with the hope that someday it will all change. In effect, you are not choosing when you take this approach. Like the frog in a pot of water that gets increasingly warmer, the tendency might be to stay where you are because it’s something you’re familiar with. But this is the beginning of a new year and, if you’re not living the life you want, this is the perfect time to make a change.

What does it take to change this pattern and reduce those stress levels? Balance is usually a key factor....balance between work life and personal life, and it's being seen as more and more important by more and more people. If you want more balance in your life, the first thing you need to do is choose that, and then back it up with determination and focus. In this way, you will be defining and honoring your own personal boundaries. How many hours a week are you willing to devote to work? What is the minimum time commitment you want to have available for your family? Your friends? Your hobbies? Or any other personal endeavors that are important to you. How do you want to spend the time you have available?

By taking stock of where you are currently spending your time and comparing it to where you want to spend your time, you will see where you can make adjustments that will likely be personally very rewarding.

Fulfilling the commitment of earning an income so you can pay the bills may take up a good portion of your week. How you use your remaining time basically comes down an issue of time management. Being well organized is one of the best ways to get the most out of the time you do have. It provides many benefits. Being well organized enables you to prioritize what has to be done, fulfill your obligations and still carve time out of your week and year to devote to the things you want to have more of in your life.

Set up a system or adopt an existing system like Projecteze that can help you get and stay well organized so you can be more efficient with your time. Then consciously make the choice to include “me” time and “family” time in your week. Schedule them right into your week. Make the choice and take the steps to live the life you really want. This will bring more balance into your life and you're going to love the after effects.

Beyond the issue of getting and staying well organized, how well you define and honor your personal boundaries is the bigger and much more important issue. It really is the foundation for living the life you want.

If you’ve got a stack of papers sitting on your desk calling for your attention. I can almost guarantee that no matter how much of that stack you get through today or this week, there will always be more work to take its place. It’s great to impress everyone around by showing them how dedicated, efficient and valuable you are but all too often a penchant for continually taking on more can lead to higher stress levels, loss of balance and simply filling any time you do free up with more work.

Now, step away from the Smartphone, especially if you’re using it at the dinner table, and decide to make 2010 your most personally rewarding year ever.

Laurence Seton, P.Eng., PMP is the President of Projecteze Inc. and is the author of On Top Of Everything: Manage Your Projects & Life With Ease. He helps busy people learn the skills to get and stay organized and on top of everything at work, at home and at school using Projecteze: The Ultimate Organizational System. Follow Laurence on Twitter and Facebook.


Lists, Clutter, Interruptions, E-mail ... Arrrrgh!

Getting Organized Has Big Pay-offs

The Globe & Mail recently published an article I found to be particularly pertinent to the increasing challenge of keeping up in this busy world. January 17 is seen by many to be annual “Give Up My New Year’s Resolutions Day” but with a little determination, anyone can decide to make choices, take action and stick with it to make a very real and beneficial difference in their life. Getting organized has big pay-offs in creating and maintaining a balance between your work life and personal life.

The Globe and Mail article is well done. It provided statistics on just how big an impact being disorganized can have in our lives, from lost productivity to the exhaustion we feel from the volume of tasks we have to deal with.

As a step toward getting organized, Canada, Italy and the United States lead all other countries in percentage of citizens who keep at least one to-do list to stay organized. All three are above the 75% mark. If only there was a better way to work with our to-do lists. Projecteze is not only a better solution, it is a fantastic solution…and one that the citizens of these three countries could stand to benefit from.

Whether it’s finding the motivation at this pivotal time of the year to clear the clutter in your life or just plain get more organized on all fronts, I encourage you to read this well written article by Jennifer Myers called “Lists, clutter, interruptions, e-mail ... Arrrrgh!” She provides some excellent suggestions.

Myers also directs you to Tennessee-based DME Consulting & Training where you can complete a "cost of disorganization" calculator.

Surviving and, in fact, thriving in today’s busy world can be made so much easier with a good, simple system that helps you stay on top of everything. Once you get there, the overwhelm subsides and you can create space to truly enjoy the life you were meant to live. But it all depends on where you set your own personal boundaries and just how determined you are to honor them which will be the topic in a future blog.

Laurence Seton, P.Eng., PMP is the President of Projecteze Inc. and is the author of On Top Of Everything: Manage Your Projects & Life With Ease. He helps busy people learn the skills to get and stay organized and on top of everything at work, at home and at school using Projecteze: The Ultimate Organizational System. Follow Laurence on Twitter and Facebook.



Hear what others are saying about On Top Of Everything™ and the Projecteze system:

"Your ability to plan and complete projects - multi-task jobs - is essential to your income, success and productivity, and Projecteze shows you exactly how to do it."
Brian Tracy, Bestselling Author & Professional Speaker

"The title says it all.....what a great book! An easy, enjoyable and entertaining read. Laurence Seton presents a simple but highly effective project management system that in my 28 year career is among one of the easiest, most effective I have come across. Laurence's use of family, humour and real world examples make this book an enjoyable and valuable read for anyone wanting to put more balance and organization into their lives and stay on top of everything in today's busy world."
Brian Milloy, President, Eligeo IT

"The Projecteze system is awesome! The book On Top Of Everything had me up and running with it in only three days. Almost immediately, I went from flipping back through pages and pages in my project notebook and facing an inbox with hundreds of active emails to having everything together in my Projecteze Table...... and an empty inbox. It has definitely taken the weight off. Instead of second guessing myself and wondering what I might have forgotten, now I spend my time proactively directing my projects and staying on top of everything."
Al Massicotte, Projects Coordinator, Canadian Natural Resources Limited

"The power of Projecteze lies in its simplicity and flexibility! Using software I already have, Projecteze is tremendously helpful for me…..and my clients (busy people with lots to do). I no longer feel overwhelmed, my mind is free of mental clutter and I’m accomplishing what is most important each day. For the first time ever I feel “on top of everything” both professionally and personally. Professionally, I achieve more in less time and I no longer worry about dropping the ball. Personally, I’m calling the day registration opens for summer camps and swimming lessons for my children and getting them into the best classes available. I love the Projecteze system and every week I’m thinking of new ways to use it. The applications are endless!"
Laura Watson, President, Venture Coaching Inc.

"Laurence Seton’s book On Top of Everything is a very timely, well thought out, and well written addition to the field of time management literature. He has done an excellent job of drawing from the current experts and his own personal experiences to present a cross-platform solution called Projecteze that is both simple and sophisticated. Knowledge workers can build a very flexible and customizable time and project management system quickly by utilizing a common piece of software they already know and use regularly. Anyone who has made the decision to get control of their commitments and who has the will power to systematize their time management process can surely gain from adopting and customizing Projecteze to their needs. I can also see how the productivity of a team of people could be improved by consistent use of this tool."
Dr Janice Thomas, Program Director, MBA in Project Management, Athabasca University

"Now that I've been exposed to Projecteze I can't imagine performing my job without it. The more I use it, the less things get missed on my projects. I don't leave the office with the stress of wondering what has to be done at work the next day. I just come in, open up my Projecteze Table and start working."
Brian Celaire, Project Engineer, EnCana Corporation

"When I was introduced to the Projecteze system, I was amazed at how simple but powerful it is. It allows one to control and filter all the demands and requests that are placed on us daily. When I have drifted away from the system, I have consistently come back to it for that sense of calm and control over my time, and the satisfaction of knowing the work that I do is more effective."
Tom Fransham, VP Engineering & Design, IMV Projects

"Laurence has written a phenomenal book that is easy to read and provides clear, concise instructions on how to use the Projecteze system. He gets to the point quickly and keeps you engaged. The explicit examples from so many different areas of life (work, home, school, vacations) are enhanced by real life stories from Laurence’s own experiences. This book is a gold mine! People who want to get and stay organized will love it!"
Sheila Artus, Manager PM Office, Shaw Communications Inc.

"I use the Projecteze system for all my projects. Projecteze allows me to clear my mind and avoid being overwhelmed by details. It ensures I get everything done and that nothing slips between the cracks."
Ron McCracken, Senior Project Engineer, Colt Engineering

"The Projecteze system is so simple that it borders on brilliance."
George Roberts, George Roberts & Co.

"Projecteze is without a doubt one of the best project management tools that I have ever come across. From the moment I first picked up the book, I couldn't help myself from starting up my laptop and creating my own Projecteze Table. It is definitely a book that has inspired me to take my project management skills to a whole new level. I recommend this book for newbies as well as seasoned professionals who are looking to find a way to get more time out of their days."
Derek Major, Founder & CEO, Eligeo IT

"I have been using Projecteze for a few weeks now and wow, what a difference it has made in my world! I had previously tried using several different systems ranging from a To-Do list on a piece of paper, to specific industry based solutions to Outlook and found that none of them really gave me an overview of what was truly on my plate. Projecteze is easy to use, it helps me stay on top of all my work and I find myself breathing more easily because of it."
Jennifer Chipperfield, Chipperfield Photography


Is Projecteze For Me

Whether for work, home or school, if you are a busy person with many diverse projects who uses a computer daily (Mac, PC or both), the Projecteze system and book On Top of Everything™ is for you.

On Top of Everything™ – Workshop

As a compliment to the book and for organizations that want to introduce the Projecteze system to groups of their staff, this half day workshop gets to the point quickly and shows your people how to be up and running with the system in very little time. This practical hands-on workshop focuses on implementation with real life examples.

On Top of Everything™ - Webinar

You have not read the book yet but you like the idea of being on top of everything. You think that it might be worth your time but you’re not sure. Either way, you would prefer to learn from a seminar. This session is for you. With this on-line seminar, we’ll introduce you to the Projecteze system step by step. While this program is not a complete book replacement, you will learn enough to implement the system on your own.

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