Controlling Your Inner Perfectionist

Laura talks about perfectionism. (C) 2015 Laura Stack. All Rights Reserved. … [Read more...]

Horseshoes and Hand Grenades: Why Good Enough Usually Is Good Enough

Horseshoes and Hand Grenades: Why Good Enough Usually Is Good Enough by Laura Stack #productivity

Perfection is a lofty goal, but it rarely happens in the day-to-day workplace. And why should it? In most things, striving for perfection represents a waste of resources better used elsewhere. No one really expects you and your team to do everything exactly right every single time. Most of the time, good enough really is good enough—as long as you achieve the minimum requirements necessary and maintain your forward momentum. While you do owe yourself, your team, and your organization a consistently high level of performance, there's a certain point in all everyday tasks where attention to detail turns to perfectionism and, worse, to micromanagement. Both practices inevitably stall productivity. Exceptions to the Rule Admittedly, some tasks require a higher standard. When it's t … [Read more...]

Don’t Think Yourself into a Corner!

Don't Think Yourself into a Corner! by Laura Stack #productivity

The human imagination is a wonderful thing. When you throw open the floodgates of creativity and embark on a brainstorming session, you can formulate any number of ways to deal with an unsettling problem. Afterward, you can test your ideas to see which one will work best for your specific situation. This is where some of us run into the brick wall of overthinking. Ironically, creativity can be a drawback if allowed to range too freely, especially if you have trouble evaluating the ideas you've dreamed up. I recently read an article in which the authors criticized "idea monkeys," creative people with so many bright, shiny ideas they can't bear to settle on just one and explore it fully. Until they learn to prioritize and focus on their best ideas, they won’t accomplish much. The other … [Read more...]

Crack That Whip! The Importance of Self-Discipline

Crack That Whip! The Importance of Self-Discipline by Laura Stack #productivity

Do you complete your workplace tasks within the promised timeframes? Or do deadlines ever slip past you, even as you curse your own stupidity? When that happens, it’s hard to focus on anything productive, because a dark cloud hangs over your head, and guilt sucks the energy right out of you. If you ever think, "Maybe I shouldn't be doing this right now," you're probably right. How much time could you save by tightening your self-control? If you arrived at work and didn't stop for coffee, didn't talk to a friend, didn't fall into the email trap for 90 minutes, where could you use the extra time? Instead of wasting your day, start cracking the whip of self-discipline. Several areas to think about include procrastination, tardiness, and perfectionism. Um, Can We Talk About This L … [Read more...]

Productivity vs. Paralysis: On Accepting the Reality of Imperfection

Productivity vs. Paralysis: On Accepting the Reality of Imperfection by Laura Stack

“Practice doesn't make perfect. Practice reduces the imperfection.” -- Toba Beta, Indonesian author. problem of perfectionism. We can become so tightly focused on getting things "just right,” it’s difficult to let anything go. Of course, there's always something you can improve, if you just keep nitpicking at it. But at what point do you hit a point of diminishing returns? Eventually, the improvements you introduce are no longer worth the time you spend on them—and if you keep at it, you'll roll past your deadlines and crash your schedule. Let's face it: perfection rarely occurs in this world, and as Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy pointed out, “If you look for perfection, you will never be content.” Refusing to let go of something until it's perfect is akin to jamming a broomstick into … [Read more...]

Stop Procrastination in Its Tracks!

This week, I'd like to discuss a form of self sabotage that I see all too often: procrastination, the fine art of putting things off. And off, and off, and off... We've all let things slide when we shouldn't have. It's not always about forgetfulness, or overwork, or even laziness. In fact, some of the worst procrastinators are busy professionals who are otherwise successful in the workplace. Ultimately, all procrastination does is generate anxiety and negativity. So why do we hobble ourselves this way? The reasons are rarely clear-cut, but often they consist of some mix of the following: • Lack of self confidence • Uncertainty • Excess perfectionism • Distractions • Fear (of the unknown or a negative outcome) • A perception of the task as difficult and/or time consuming • Time pressure (eit … [Read more...]

How Your Standards Can Slow You Down

"If you look for perfection, you will never be content." -- Leo Tolstoy, Russian novelist (Anna Karenina). "I am careful not to confuse excellence with perfection. Excellence I can reach for; perfection is God's business." ― Michael J. Fox It’s true that as your experience and skills evolve, you should occasionally push the envelope of your personal constraints. But to paraphrase Clint Eastwood in the film Magnum Force, you've got to know your limitations. And you do have limitations—which also means you can't always do everything just right. It’s important to have high standards for your work; in fact, you need them if you expect to achieve consistent productivity. But be aware of the difference between high standards and impossibly high standards. When your standards for yourself and yo … [Read more...]

Get Started Already!

"The secret of getting ahead is getting started." -- Agatha Christie, British mystery novelist. "The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing." -- Walt Disney, American animator. No matter how grandiose your plans or how carefully laid your schemes, they're worthless if you never shift gears from meditation into motion. You may have heard the old platitude, “Dreams are just goals without deadlines.” Yes, it’s true we all need to keep ourselves motivated as we work our way through life, but eventually, you've got to get off your duff and get moving. I'm not telling you to leap immediately into action without considering the consequences. I like to say, “Thoughtless action will benefit you no more than action-less thought.” But once you've gathered your resources, considered e … [Read more...]

Be a Productivity Role Model

Be a Productivity Role Model

Have you ever taken an honest look at how you are perceived around the office?  Your behavior, attitude, and reputation play a huge role in how you interact with coworkers and subordinates.  Others may listen to you because of your job title, but if that's the only reason, you have a serious problem on your hands. I’m not talking about superficial issues like dressing well or keeping a tidy office.  It goes deeper than that—to your attitude towards work and your attitude towards personal productivity. Do you have a reputation of exceptional organization, follow-up, and time management?  Or do people dread sending you an e-mail, because they know there’s a slim chance that they’ll ever hear back? Is your desk a black hole, where papers and requests go in, but never come out?  … [Read more...]