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 Ways to Discover What’s Not in The Handbook: Unearthing Your Company’s Unwritten Rules

Five Ways to Discover What's Not in The Handbook: Unearthing Your Company's Unwritten Rules by Laura Stack #productivity

"The unwritten rule when it comes to salary is this: whoever proposes a number first loses." – Travis Bradberry, American author on emotional intelligence. If you’ve “been around the block” for a while, you may have had to take Total Quality Management (TQM) courses. One of TQM's tenets is that you should always feel free to make suggestions you think will profit the company. A colleague told me a story about raising his hand in a meeting and making a suggestion his previous company had profited from—and was soundly ignored. As it turned out, the department VP considered TQM a total waste of time. When he was ridiculed for making a suggestion to one of the department's managers, it became clear those in power didn't appreciate employee suggestions, no matter how logical. He stopped bothe … [Read more...]

Six Signs It’s Time to Quit: How to Know When to Move On

Six Signs It's Time to Quit: How to Know When to Move On by Laura Stack #productivity

"I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: 'If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?' And whenever the answer has been 'No' for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something."—Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple Computers. Quitters never win. Winners never quit. We've had it drummed into us a thousand times to keep trying, to fail forward, to fail fast, that you really only fail when you quit, and that Thomas Edison never failed—he just found 10,000 ways that didn't work, etc. etc. I've said those things to my children myself, and for most business decisions, they're sound advice. When you quit trying, you disengage from your job. When that causes you to let productivity go into the toilet, then you really have fai … [Read more...]

Announcing the next course in Laura Stack’s Productivity University Series!

Become a Microsoft Outlook Email Cracker-Jack with Laura Stack! Managing Your Workflow and Keeping Your Inbox Empty Start 2017 with an empty inbox! Participate in five one-hour training sessions with Laura and then complete assignments in between. You’ll receive a detailed workbook for each session with screen shots and step-by-step instructions, as well as a recording of the session to review again and again. Don’t worry if you can’t attend the sessions live or miss one, because you can watch the recording any time you wish. Five Mondays starting 11/14 at 10:00 to 11:00 AM mountain (i.e., 9:00 Pacific, 10:00 Mountain, 11:00 Central, 12:00 Eastern) 11/14 11/21 11/28 12/5 12/12 You need this course if you currently: Put things to do on your calendar Use your … [Read more...]