Self-Sabotage: Five Ways to Kill Your Own Productivity

"Whether you think you can or you think you can't, you're right." – Henry Ford, pioneering American automaker. In some ways, you may be your own worst enemy—even when you don't realize it. Self-sabotage is a very real problem in corporate America, and I've seen many people and organizations fall prey to it (← click to tweet).  It's almost never deliberate; it's typically either due to subconscious beliefs or compulsive activities that take control of your good sense. It can happen even to those of you who consider yourself a top producer, if you let your guard down. Self-sabotage can even feed on contentment; it's one of the more destructive aspects of our subconscious minds, which can otherwise serve us so well on the productivity front. Paralysis analysis may be the most famous for … [Read more...]

Four Tips to Encourage You to Grab for the Gold Ring: Incentivizing Yourself to Higher Productivity

"I always felt that I hadn't achieved what I wanted to achieve. I always felt I could get better. That's the whole incentive."— Dame Virginia Wade, OBE, British former professional tennis player Incentivization may be a buzzword in business circles, but it's a buzzword for good reasons. Researchers have known for years that most employees aren't fully engaged with their work; some never engage at all. Even the best of us sometimes see our jobs as little more than guaranteed paychecks—a means to the end of a comfortable lifestyle or, in more troubled times, fiscal survival. Hence the need for motivators not to just do better work, but to bother to work hard at all. Motivation has always been a prime worry of management, and will continue to be for the foreseeable future. (← click to twee … [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...]

Six Ways to Prepare to Excel: the Connection Between Groundwork and Productivity

 "Be prepared."—Boy Scout Motto. According to legend, Albert Einstein shared this characteristic with the late Steve Jobs, Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, and U.S. President Barack Obama: he pared his wardrobe down to a few simple outfits, so he didn't have to worry about what to wear every morning. Whether it's true or apocryphal for the great physicist remains uncertain, but it's an established fact for the three aforementioned leaders. Simple routines represent a great way to triage your schedule and save time for what really matters. If you think about it, that's one way that advance preparation can improve your life. What other routines can you establish to prepare in advance and heighten productivity? 1. Marshal your resources the evening before. If you know you'll need certain f … [Read more...]

Three Simple Family Routines to Make You More Productive at Work: Striking the Ideal Work-Life Balance

"The most important work you will ever do will be within the walls of your own home." – Harold B. Lee, American religious leader and educator. I find it amusing that some of my colleagues claim the concept of work/life balance is dead. It's not that they all believe you should give up on having a personal life if you want to get ahead at work, though this sometimes seems to be the subtext. Most simply believe work and the rest of life have become so intertwined we can't pull them apart, so we have no choice but to respond to email and Facebook requests on the beach or while doing laundry or dining with the family. Hogwash. Having boundaries and balancing work and the rest of life is absolutely crucial for your sanity, especially when you want to have a life once you retire. Besides, … [Read more...]

Seven Tips for Sick Days: Producing Even When You’re Under the Weather

"I see sick parents and kids every day. I also know many people who go to work sick because they don't have paid sick days. Having paid sick days would prevent the spread of illness and make sure people are not penalized for staying home when they are sick." — Dr. Ben Danielson, Seattle pediatrician. Although it would be awesome to actually stay home sick whenever you feel bad, it's not always possible. PTO tends to be limited in even the best of companies, and it takes just one bout of the flu to wipe it out. Many supervisors also look askance at people calling in sick, suspicious of faking, resulting in a chilling effect on the truly ill. And many people simply have no choice but to go in no matter how we feel, because our teams depend on us—and there's always some deadline bearing do … [Read more...]

The Twelve Steps to Activity-Goal Alignment; Or, How to Get Where You Want to Go

"When it is obvious that a goal cannot be reached, do not adjust the goal; adjust your course."—attributed to Confucius, ancient Chinese philosopher. When available, I enjoy watching the TV screens on the seat back in front of me, showing the plane’s current location and route, including the dozen subtle adjustments the pilot made along the way. The road to achieving any goal is like that airplane's flight. Activity-goal alignment requires you to constantly monitor your goals and repeatedly make adjustments to your course. Of course, this assumes you know what your goals are. Hitting your work goals isn't necessarily a complex process, but it does break down into a surprising number of steps you need to take into account before you can make any real headway. Just jumping in and ins … [Read more...]

Five Interruptions NOT to Avoid: Why Some Distractions Are Important

Five Interruptions NOT to Avoid: Why Some Distractions Are Important

"One way to boost our will power and focus is to manage our distractions instead of letting them manage us."—Daniel Goleman, American author and psychologist Imagine a completely distraction-free office, where you can focus totally and productively, where no one ever calls you, chats outside your office in the hallway, plays their music too loudly, or pops in for a quick question. Imagine a place where you could spend hours upon hours single-tasking to your heart's content, churning out work by the barrel-load. Wouldn't that be heaven? I’m thinking NO. Oh maybe for a time, but it gets old. Unless you're a solitary worker with no communications with others (a rare occurrence in this era), social interaction remains a must. Although I'm a big believer in warding off most dis … [Read more...]

The Increasing Demands Of Work

TRANSCRIPT The bar keeps going up. Customers are more demanding, we found that out. Your internal customers are a little more demanding now. Remember when we were in hotel rooms and there didn’t used to be coffee makers. Do you remember those days? Remember the first time you went to a hotel room and there was a coffee maker! I remember the first time this happened to me. I didn’t even drink coffee but I made it because it was so cool. Look at that, coffee. Now, if you go to a hotel today, and there is not a coffee maker, now what do you think? What is wrong with this place? I can’t believe they don’t have a coffee maker. So, the bar used to be here, no coffee maker. And, then you got a coffee maker. What’s this called? Perceived satisfaction. Now, here’s the bar, coffee maker. You go to … [Read more...]

Five Reasons to Set Impossible Goals: Don’t Be Afraid to Push Yourself Too Hard

Five Reasons to Set Impossible Goals by Laura Stack #productivity

"The only way to discover the limits of the possible is to go beyond them into the impossible."— Sir Arthur C. Clarke, British science and science fiction writer. If you never dare to dream the impossible dream, you'll never know how much you can achieve. We all know this in our hearts, but many of us never apply it to our work lives. There's a saying that goals are just dreams with deadlines; so why should you ever hesitate to set impossible goals?  (<-- Click to Tweet.) No matter how impossible they may seem, goals offer solid targets for you to shoot at. They also stitch together intention, planning, ability, talent, execution, process, teamwork and more into a fabric of productivity you can constantly and consistently tweak higher, through the application of more and newer go … [Read more...]