The first webinar in our BBB Passport to Learning webinar series was a great success, and now we’re looking forward to the rest of the series! In case you need a refresher– BBB this year is offering BBB Accredited Businesses a new series of 13 webinars taught by local experts and business owners.
Our second webinar, on Tuesday, Feb. 25 at noon, will be with Mary Kutheis of RealContentment, a St. Louis firm specializing in speaking engagements and coaching. Mary’s webinar, Getting Things Done: Work Like A Dog/Sleep Like A Baby, will show how to increase productivity, enhance time management skills, overcome procrastination and find contentment in every day while striving for more tomorrow.
We talked with Mary about her career, her life and managing the two. We found her to be a sunny exemplar of everything that she teaches. Read our interview with her below:
BBB: Hi Mary, welcome to BBB! We love the unique career path you’ve carved out for yourself. How did you get interested in teaching about time management?
Mary Kutheis: During 17 years in corporate America I witnessed workloads increase exponentially, which was matched by the expectation that everything be done more and more quickly. I recognized the importance of managing my own time in order to stay productive and happy – and soon realized I could help others do the same for themselves.
BBB: You’ve worked in the corporate world and run your own business. What have you found to be the unique challenges of each?
MK: In the corporate world, you have less control about what you do every day. Other people are having a huge impact on your priorities. I hear frequently that interruptions are one of the most frustrating and productivity-reducing challenges in the office environment. Running your own business means I have a huge amount of flexibility, but success or failure is entirely on my shoulders. You have to be pretty determined and action-oriented to make it as a solo business owner.
BBB: BBB Accredited Business owners will certainly agree with that. Talking of our Accredited Business owners– you’ll get to meet many of them soon! What are you looking forward to most about your webinar?
MK: I believe the message I’m sharing – that serious productivity and peace of mind can be achieved simultaneously – is so important in this time of being overwhelmed. People need real world strategies for getting the right things done, and they also need to experience contentment every day. Both can be done, and it’s not even that difficult. I can’t wait to tell more people how to get there!
BBB: What are some of the most common time management problems you see? Are you ever surprised at the frequency of a certain kind of problem– or the rarity of a certain kind of problem?
MK: One is being constantly connected to technology. Technology can suck up every open minute because it feels productive, but it’s really not. Time needs to be spent thinking, planning, creating innovative client solutions, practicing skills vital to the job, etc.
The other common time management problem is communication skills – or lack thereof. So much time is lost due to overusing (or perhaps hiding behind) email, poorly run meetings, inability to collaborate, unclear ownership of projects, misunderstandings, and people just not getting along, to name just a few. Improving communication skills has an enormous positive impact on time management. Not to mention how it affects peace of mind.
BBB: Well said! That’s a somewhat unexpected message. I bet people come to you often, thinking that you have a single tool for solving their time-management problems, only to discover that you have a much deeper message about communication to teach. What do you wish your clients understood better before they came to you?
MK: That it’s not about doing more, it’s about learning how to choose where to focus energy and attention. People are caught up with being constantly busy, which feels important but is just a recipe for becoming overwhelmed. It’s unlikely that the “to do” list will ever be completely empty so that shouldn’t be the goal. Doing the right things to get you where you want to be is what matters.
Another thing would be that needing help to get things under control isn’t a weakness. The best athletes in the world have coaches to help them take their performance to the next level. Business people should think the same way. If you hire a coach, it just says you’re serious about self-improvement, and there’s nothing weak about that.
BBB: You seem pretty put-together to us, but we know that everyone has their strong points and weak points, especially with organization. What particular time management skills do you struggle with?
MK: For me, it’s like the Thanksgiving buffet where my eyes are bigger than my stomach. I have so many ideas for things I want to accomplish that I have to work hard to rein myself in and focus long enough to make real progress on just a few. I also don’t like detail much, so I delegate what I can and call on my willpower for the rest.
BBB: On a personal note, you seem like a real book person. You’ve written several books, in addition to your career as a speaker. Are you reading anything now?
MK: I love books and am always reading a few at a time – there’s that “buffet” mentaility again! Some I’m reading or re-reading right now are Influence by Robert Cialdini; The Willpower Instinct by Kelly McGonigal, Ph.D., Contented Cows Still Give Better Milk by Bill Catlette and Richard Hadden and Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. I recommend them all!