Helping Everyone: Four Tips for Delegating Without Hurting Team Productivity

“You may think it is a waste of time to delegate because you feel you can do a better job. But no matter how good you are, you will need your team’s help to get things done effectively on a consistent basis.” – Deena Anreise, American business writer. We all know that delegation is one of the most effective ways to boost your productivity and succeed in your job, whether you're an executive, manager, or non-supervisory team member. Well, we should know this, but when we get caught up in the hustle, it's hard to remember the rules of engagement for the business world. Delegation requires careful handling to achieve true effectiveness. Thoughtless or unwise delegation can hurt team productivity, if for no other reason than that the fabric of interpersonal trust holding together a team … [Read more...]

Solid and Dependable: Four Ways Mindful Consistency Can Make You More Productive

“Success isn't always about greatness. It's about consistency. Consistent hard work leads to success. Greatness will come.” – Dwayne Johnson, a.k.a. "The Rock," American actor.   To some people, doing the same thing day in, day out is the epitome of boredom. It allows no room for spontaneity, and on the face of it, may hinder the growth necessary for you and your organization to thrive. I would disagree to some degree—routine gives comfort. Without consistency, you might never get to work at a predictable hour, maintain exercise routines, or complete all your work in a reasonable amount of time. There’s a big difference between rote, robotic, mindless activity and mindful consistency: productivity using repetition and consistent processes, overseen by thoughtful consideration. At the … [Read more...]

Checked Off: Five Reasons a “Got Done” List is Important

“Happiness does not come from doing easy work, but from the afterglow of satisfaction that comes after the achievement of a difficult task that demanded our best.” – Theodore Isaac Rubin, American psychiatrist and author.   We all love to feel like winners, which may be why the new app "I Done This" has become popular recently. Rather than acting just as an electronic to-do list, it also emphasizes what you’ve already accomplished. This is especially effective on the team level, where it demonstrates the truth of the "many hands make light work" axiom and keeps teammates from accidentally doubling up on the same task. Many workers tend to overestimate what they can do during a work-day, so they make much longer daily to-do lists than they should. This can damage your productivity in … [Read more...]

How Much of Your Work Is Really Busywork? Six Ways to Tell, and What to Do About It

“There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.” – Peter F. Drucker, Austrian-American business expert and productivity guru.   What is productive work? Simple: work that helps you reach your goals. But sometimes, you may wonder if your work is really making a difference. Perhaps minor tasks have overtaken your focus. Perhaps you’re procrastinating. Perhaps you’re living in your inbox. A recent poll of 1,987 U.K. workers revealed they did productive work for about 2.5 hours a day on average. RescueTime's study of 225 million hours of worktime in 2017 produced the same figure for users worldwide. Most of rest of the day was wasted with busywork and other unproductive activities. How can you tell if you're gunning for the global average for … [Read more...]

The Reflective Practitioner: Five Ways Self-Reflection Can Improve Your Productivity

“By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.” – Confucius, Chinese teacher and philosopher, circa 500 B.C.E.   We all have experience with self-reflection, even if we rarely use it at work. Remember when you did something naughty as a child, and your Mom sent you to timeout to think about what you did? That was a kind of reflection, or at least it was intended to be. (Whether it worked or not was up to you.) According to David Boud, Rosemary Keogh, and David Walker in their book Reflection: Turning Experience into Learning, "Reflection is a generic term for those intellectual and affective activities in which individuals engage to explore their experiences, in … [Read more...]

Piercing the Mist: Five Ways to Overcome the “Fog of War” at Work

“Human spirit is the ability to face the uncertainty of the future with curiosity and optimism. It is the belief that problems can be solved, differences resolved. It is a type of confidence.” – Bernard Beckett, New Zealand author.   Writers often compare business to a competition, or to war itself, the ultimate competition. I've done it myself many times, for good reason. In business as in war, you're competing with others for limited resources. If you're able to secure those resources long-term, you can thrive. Business is less rough on its contestants and civilians than war, but it can be just as ruthless in its way. Carving out a market share and then holding it against all comers isn't easy. It requires constant work and a steady resolve, so it's no wonder so many military terms … [Read more...]

A Little Breathing Room: Five Ways to Catch Up and Improve Your Productivity

“All men's miseries derive from not being able to sit in a quiet room alone.” – Blaise Pascal, French mathematician, physicist, and inventor.   The to-do list is a basic tool of time management, and nearly everyone uses one to some extent. We all know they work best when they include fewer than eight or ten items: ideally a couple of high-priority, high-impact tasks supplemented with other "want to do" tasks. Despite our best efforts, however, "task creep" invades our lists, and often we add more and more items, taking on additional projects that require daily allotments of our time. Eight or ten becomes 15 or 16, and suddenly the to-do list becomes impossible to complete. This requires you either to divide your time into ever-finer increments per task, work late to fulfill those … [Read more...]

Too Tired to Decide: Seven Simple Ways to Avoid Decision Fatigue

“I prefer physical exhaustion over mental fatigue any day.” – Clotilde Hesme, French actress.   By some estimates, the average worker makes 35,000 decisions during their work day. They include what to wear and eat, the type of latte to buy at Starbucks, and whether to open a new tab on your browser or check email. Every click is a decision. According to some experts, you start the day with only so much ability to decide. Once you get below a certain level of "ego depletion," you reach "decision fatigue." At first, researchers thought this was purely a mental effect. But as with the candy commercials, where someone turns from a mean grouch into a cool character after eating a Snickers bar, other research has convincingly linked decision fatigue to your level of the brain's favorite … [Read more...]

Prelude to Ashes: Five Signs You’re on the Brink of Burnout

“Burnout occurs when your body and mind can no longer keep up with the tasks you demand of them. Don’t try to force yourself to do the impossible. Delegate time for important tasks, but always be sure to leave time for relaxation and reflection.” – Del Suggs, American author and leadership development speaker.   In our high-stress business world, burnout is always a danger. After overloading on work, life may lose its luster. Things you once enjoyed are becoming dull. You start to wonder if your work matters. You can barely get out of bed in the morning. You're not just exhausted; you can't get unexhausted. Stress isn't the mind-killer most people think it is. It's strain—unrelieved stress—that gets to you. It breaks you emotionally and physically, putting you so deep in a hole of … [Read more...]

Creativity and Innovation: Six Ways to Foster Productive Ideas

“The heart and soul of the company is creativity and innovation.” – American businessman Bob Iger, Chairman and CEO of The Walt Disney Company.   Success depends on working both hard and smart. Hard work gets things done; smart work boosts your productivity and gives you important things to do. Those who can grow a vast crop of ideas tend to reap high productivity, even if the ideas that survive to harvest prove few and far between. It only takes one idea to make you rich—or to save your team and organization a fortune. Consider drive-through windows. Band-Aids. The top-down squeeze bottle. Post-It Notes. My favorite management guru, Peter F. Drucker, wrote a whole book titled Innovation and Entrepreneurship for good reason. He saw plainly that innovation and creativity drive … [Read more...]