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...]

What You Stand For: Building a Team Philosophy and Code of Conduct

"Success or failure depends more upon attitude than upon capacity. Successful [people] act as though they have accomplished or are enjoying something. Soon it becomes a reality. Act, look, and feel successful, conduct yourself accordingly, and you will be amazed at the positive results." – William James, American philosopher. What makes a team successful? In many ways, building a team is like constructing a building. While most of us aren’t engineers, we understand the basics of their work. We know, for example, that constructing a building requires basic resources, fasteners to hold the pieces together, protective elements, and more—but it’s all built on a foundation, proceeding from the bottom up. A Solid Substrate In my Christian Bible, Jesus Christ once declared to the Apostle Pe … [Read more...]

Productive Technology: Five Must-Have Mobile Apps

Productive Technology: Five Must-Have Mobile Apps by Laura Stack #productivity

"What new technology does is create new opportunities to do a job that customers want done." -- Tim O'Reilly, founder of O'Reilly Media. It's curious how user-friendly and simple the apps have become, especially in the hands of Android and Apple, the providers of the two most popular smartphone platforms. All the new apps require is a basic understanding of electronics—the stuff they teach in grade school these days—and a willingness to jump right in and experiment. This technology has literally revolutionized modern business, and new apps are piling on the bandwagon every day. So in this article, I’d like to share five must-face productivity apps that are shaping the user experience and face of business today. 1. Xerox Mobile Link. Xerox has a habit of making the inevitable mergi … [Read more...]

Guest Post: Setting Parameters

Activate your brain by Scott Halfort

Excerpted from Scott Halford’s new groundbreaking book on success and the brain, Activate Your Brain http://amzn.to/1GVlTbr The happiest people with the healthiest brains are leaving space in their lives to say yes to themselves. We should be saying yes to ourselves every day. In order to do this, we need to set parameters. I often ask participants in my workshops, “how many of you do email or some form of work past eight o’ clock in the evening on a regular basis?” At least half of the class raises their hand every time. It is startling, because these are often the same people who grumble about having no time to spend with their partners and children, no time to do the hobbies they like. And yet, they choose to say yes to work and no to themselves, their family, their friends, and fu … [Read more...]

Timesaving Technology Tools

Timesaving Technology Tools by Laura Stack #productivity

With so many gadgets, applications, software, and devices available to us today, it’s hard to know which ones are truly timesavers, and which ones are a waste of time (technology toys versus tools). Since I’m frequently asked what the Productivity Pro recommends to save time, I wanted to share a few timesaving technology tools for you to explore: 1. Decrease keystrokes with shortkeys. ShortKeys is a Windows text replacement utility designed to help you type faster and more accurately. You basically create abbreviations for words, phrases, and paragraphs you use frequently, and the software types them out automatically. I’d estimate it saves me 15 minutes a day! To use it, you define a “shortkey” in place of a longer text string, such as TVM for Thank you very much. Now instead of typing … [Read more...]

Handle With Care: Avoiding the Dangers of Social Media

Handle With Care: Avoiding the Dangers of Social Media by Laura Stack

Every hiring manager has a story about someone who has botched a job interview or torpedoed a career due to thoughtless comments on social media sites. I know someone whose close friend, a technical writer, lost his job after making negative comments about his company's investment prospects on MySpace (remember them?). Few people think twice about posting embarrassing party pictures on their Facebook pages or casual trash-talk on Twitter. However, your prospective employer or current company also has an online presence, so you are the face of the company. Accordingly, they may keep an eye on you, which is not tough when you voluntarily post content for the world to see. As your mother always taught you: don’t bite the hand that feeds you. Moreover, if you can’t say something nice, don … [Read more...]

Stemming the Email Tide

Stemming the Email Tide by Laura Stack

Email may be the ultimate double-edged sword of the Information Age. It's never been easier or cheaper to communicate, which seems wonderful at first glance. Productivity should come easier than ever, right? In many ways, it does. But ironically, cheap and easy communication also means the signal-to-noise ratio is worse than ever. With email, we have to filter out the productive datapoints from the static of spam, lengthy threads, endless CC strings, single replies of “thank you,” and noisy “Me To” people. On the one hand, we don't need email adding more to the information blast we face daily. On the other, we do need email to receive new tasks, deliver our work, stay informed on developments in our field, maintain contact with coworkers, network with colleagues, serve our customers, … [Read more...]

The Virtual Office as a Versatile Business Tool

The Virtual Office as a Versatile Business Tool by Laura Stack #productivity

With nearly the entire world now accessible by instant, reliable communications, we can access the ideal specialists to fill out our workplace teams almost anywhere on the planet. The virtual office is no longer limited to the realm of science fiction. It has truly come into its own and can offer enormous time management benefits when built and managed properly. Hiring With Purpose  Your first challenge will be finding the right people to staff your virtual office; however, that's an issue with any team, virtual or not. You usually won’t meet candidates face-to-face, which may make it difficult to get a feel for their personality, integrity, and skill-set before you hire them. Body language tells us a great deal—more than most people realize. But again, technology can come to your res … [Read more...]