Ban Interruptions! Six Ways to Limit Drop-Ins

            Many of the most creative, productive conversations I’ve ever had started as spontaneous, unplanned interruptions. Sometimes we need to interrupt others if we have a customer on the line and need a fast response. If there’s an emergency, your team members must interrupt you; in fact, there are many instances that you want to be interrupted. If you’re a manager, you want your team members to feel welcome to talk with you about anything, and so you unwittingly institute an “open door” policy. Unfortunately, interruptions usually aren’t any of these forms—they are unimportant, extraneous, or simply a way for people not to forget something they are thinking about. If you say to yourself, “I can’t remember the name of that restaurant … [Read more...]

Instant Productivity: Five Ways to Be Immediately Productive in the Morning

Instant Productivity: Just Add Coffee. – Humorous sign, author unknown Short of caffeine, there's no magic elixir you can take to make you productive, or we would all surely be addicted to it. But there are plenty of things you can do to ensure you start making money for the business in minutes after sitting down at your computer, rather than slowly getting up to speed. They range from the imminently practical to the slightly New Ageish, from background preparation to immediate action, but they all work—if you're willing to put them into action. And to borrow from Shakespeare: "Aye, there's the rub." 1. Take care of your health. This one may seem so obvious that it's not even useful. So why, then, do most of us fail so miserably at it? We know we feel better when we take care of our … [Read more...]

My Top 8 Features of the Galaxy S8!

This post Sponsored by Samsung. "One of the great challenges of our age, in which the tools of our productivityare also the tools of our leisure, is to figure out how to make more useful those moments of procrastination when we're idling in front of our computer screens."—Joshua Foer, American Journalist I was thrilled to be in attendance as a Samsung Ambassador at the #Unpacked event at the Lincoln Center in NYC on March 29, when Samsung unveiled its new Galaxy S8! And lucky me, I was given a shiny new silver S8+ to test. As background, you should understand I have ALWAYS been a Samsung Galaxy owner since the very beginning (remember the slide-out keyboards?). I have never owned any other smartphone by any other manufacturer. And if you’ve never owned a Galaxy, even if you are a die … [Read more...]

Just Doing the Work Isn’t Enough: Four Ways Creativity Matters to Productivity

Whenever you have no blueprint to tell you in detail what to do, you must work artfully. – Rob Austin and Lee Devin, authors of Artful Making: What Managers Need to Know About How Artist Work Though most workers let it slip their minds—if they ever think about it at all—Creativity and Productivity have more in common than the six letters both words end with. While the bottom line in the workplace is almost always profit, and you ­can ­achieve productivity without creativity in some cases, your final products are worth far more when you blend creativity with productivity as you work. It goes without saying that in some fields of endeavor, creativity and productivity inextricably intertwine. But even in the most business-oriented venture, creativity should form part of the recipe (← Click … [Read more...]

Leap Before You Look! Four Times When It’s Best to Get Started Without Overthinking

Don't let perfection become an excuse for never getting started. – Marilu Henner, American actress Have you ever felt paralyzed when facing a work project or task, to the point where you just can't seem to make a decision or get started? This can happen for a variety of reasons. You may suffer from perfectionism, from classic over-analysis, or from what I call the tyranny of choice: Sometimes you just have so many options you can't easily choose. And then there's the fable about the donkey between two mangers, who starved to death because the hay in both mangers looked so delicious he couldn't decide which to eat. Animals are too practical to let that happen in real life, but I see similar situations with people all the time. Sometimes I think too much talent and intelligence are a c … [Read more...]

Learning New Tricks: Five Productive Practices Millennials Instinctively Grasp

Millennials don't just want to read the news anymore. They want to know what they can do about it. – Ian Somerhalder, American actor and entrepreneur. In recent years, I've heard managers gripe that Millennials are lazy, needy, entitled narcissists, non-team players with no sense of loyalty. From what I’ve observed in my client organizations, in my personal interactions, and with my own three Millennial children, none of these labels are true. Millennials do indeed have a sense of loyalty—to the causes and the people they care about. Businesses look out for themselves first—why shouldn’t people? More people should have this outlook! You can't expect loyalty when you offer none. The truth in some of the other claims lies in practices Millennials instinctively grasp because of their pe … [Read more...]

The Evenhanded Manager at Work: Four Characteristics of Fairness

"Fairness is not an attitude. It's a professional skill that must be developed and exercised." – Brit Hume, American journalist. Too often, those who rise to positions of power in the white-collar workplace are more concerned with holding tightly to their limited power, rather than liberally sharing trust, responsibility, and empowerment in order to boost that power. They fail to understand a basic reality: that while some people will take advantage of you if you're a laissez-faire manager, most will try harder than ever to prove they've earned what you've willingly offered. Wherever you fall on the managerial scale, realize that fairness and the perception of it are a very big deal to your employees (←click to tweet), determining in large part how willing they are to engage with their … [Read more...]

The Sunny Side of the Street: Four Ways to Rewire Your Brain for Positivity

"For as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he." Proverbs 23:7, Holy Bible. Let's talk about brainwashing yourself. Okay, I'll admit that sounds a little strange; but when you get right down to it, brainwashing is a kind of pounded-in, acquired training you find very difficult to break. That's not always bad. I'm not talking about Manchurian Candidate-level conditioning, just self-teaching that helps you succeed. This involves simple, practical ways of rewiring your subconscious mind from negativity to positivity, so instead of being what a colleague of mine calls a "PITA negatron," you automatically look for the best side of any situation. Every affirmation you tell yourself each morning, every photo you look at to motivate yourself, every mantra you consider, every firm belief in … [Read more...]

When Good is Good Enough: Five Situations When Perfection Is Counterproductive

Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.— Antoine de Saint-Exupery, Author of The Little Prince Ever heard the term "Good enough for government work?" I heard that a lot growing up in a military family. Despite how it may sound, it's neither a low-bidder type of comment, nor an excuse for poor work: It just means you've done the work to the required specifications and can move on. This is crucial when you've got a lot of non-critical tasks on your plate. There really are times when good enough is good enough—when perfection just gets in your way. You don’t always have to do a job perfectly! In this blog, we'll consider a few common cases where perfection is a waste of time and becomes the enemy of good. You don't want to … [Read more...]

Four Long Term Productivity Strategies: The Positive Side of Performance Improvement

"Don't lower your expectations to meet your performance. Raise your level of performance to meet your expectations."—Ralph Marston, American writer and motivational speaker. Mention the term "performance improvement" to another office worker, especially if you're in management or human resources, and they're likely to fall silent or turn pale. No matter how it's presented, most workers associate performance improvement with the "performance improvement plan," a common method of putting workers on probation and collecting evidence against them before they're terminated. Fair or not, the concept of performance improvement has become connected with that sort of sting. But let’s think about it another way! Ambitious, progressive workers who are truly engaged with their work are always eag … [Read more...]