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...]

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...]

Managing UP: Four Things Never to Do

"One who controls others is masterful, but one who has mastered himself is mightier still." – Lao-Tzu, Ancient Chinese philosopher. I'm a firm believer in managing up, the process of striving to learn and meet your manager's needs without he or she even having to ask. Despite what it may sound like, managing up isn't about control; it's about anticipation and deliberate action designed to benefit both parties in the relationship. Your leaders need to know that you are always on top of the key items and that you properly communicate your progress without overwhelming them. A wise leader doesn't resent direct reports managing up, because he or she knows that it helps everyone. Remember the TV show M.A.S.H.? Company Clerk Radar O'Reilly not only knew when the choppers were coming, he a … [Read more...]

Four Paths to Lean Office Productivity: Can the Just-In-Time Concept Work for You?

"The most dangerous kind of waste is the waste we do not recognize." — Shigeo Shingo, Japanese industrial engineer. Ever since Toyota invented lean manufacturing, much has been made of its application to all professions, including “desk” jobs. The lean philosophy boils down to this: cut anything in the work process that fails to add value to the end-user. The end-user may be a consumer, one's supervisor, or the group in the organizational structure to which you deliver your final product. Side note: Speaking of things that don't add value to the end user, check out this short clip of how I learned the hard way that my newsletters weren't hitting home, and what I did to fix it: Video - Eliminating Low Value Business Activities A central tenet of lean is "Just In Time" or "JIT" produ … [Read more...]

Four Ways to Avoid Complacency: NEVER Hit Pause on Your Career

"Success breeds complacency. Complacency breeds failure. Only the paranoid survive."—Andrew Grove, Hungarian-American businessman and engineer. After finally accomplishing a tough task or achieving a long-term goal, it's human nature to want to sit back and take a breather. “I deserve a little down time,” you might think. The Romans called it "resting on your laurels," because back then a laurel-leaf crown was a common reward for winning an athletic or political contest. The problem? You might feel satisfied because you’ve gotten where you want to be or hit your numbers and rest on your laurels too long. When you’ve achieved a massive goal, I think it’s indeed cause for a celebration. However, getting through a long day of meetings isn’t cause for a mindless day the following. When rest … [Read more...]

Three Myths to Ignore About Millennial Colleagues: Stop Blinding Yourself with Sound Bites

"Millennials don't just want to read the news anymore. They want to know what they can do about it." – Ian Somerhalder, Actor and entrepreneur. You’ve probably heard some negative press about Millennials, the current generation taking the workforce by storm. These young people, born between 1980 and 2000, are hitting the ground running straight from college and business school, and they will represent 75% of the workforce by 2025. Critics of the Millennial Generation call them disloyal, overly ambitious, entitled, and even lazy. Nonsense (←Click to Tweet). While of course there are always individual bad apples, I've found none of those labels to be true as a rule. All three of my children are Millennials. I also love working with Millennials in my client organizations when given the opp … [Read more...]

Four Ways to Intensify Your Focus: Maximizing the Value of the Time You Have

  "You will never reach your destination if you stop and throw stones at every dog that barks."—Winston Churchill, British statesman. One of the characteristics of high achievers is their intensity of focus. (←Click to Tweet) High achievers know how to bury themselves in their work to such an extent that nothing can easily pull them away. It's like they're in a productivity trance. Fortunately, you CAN learn to be more focused, even if you believe you’re one of the worst multi-taskers on the planet. Here are four effective ways to tighten up your concentration and intensify your focus. 1. Keep a distraction list open. An active mind works on many levels, some of them subconscious. Your brain may suddenly come up with an idea or reminder that threatens to derail you from your task while … [Read more...]

Four Ways to Get Better at Your Job Right Away: Stepping Up to Boost Your Productivity

"Have patience. All things are difficult before they become easy."–Saadi, ancient Persian poet. It should go without saying that one of your primary goals as an employee is to improve at your job, and most of us set out to build toward peak performance using time-tested, long-term methods that produce over time. We've all heard about the 10,000-hour rule, and how it gradually lifts us toward expert status; and you've probably seen it at work in your own career. I certainly have. Most improvements are gradual like this. That said, there are things you can do today that will noticeably improve your productivity within 24 hours, if not right away (← click to tweet). They're not magic---just common-sense ideas you may have lost track of as you hustled to get your job done. And while these t … [Read more...]