Keep Moving Forward: Four Office Technologies To Consider Letting Go Of

“Once a new technology rolls over you, if you're not part of the steamroller, you're part of the road.” – Steward Brand, American writer and entrepreneur. I have a colleague who, until several years ago, tracked most of his projects on a large chalkboard rather than using project-tracking software. The same colleague was using an older version of Microsoft Word that produced old-style DOC files, rather than the more compact DOCX files. He still doesn't use much HTML-based mail. Why is he so resistant to change? Because when he's comfortable with a technology, it's a pain to change. He's seen lots of change over the course of his career. First he had to learn to use an electric typewriter, then a word processor, then computers of various kinds starting with Mac IIs and DOS, before … [Read more...]

Raising the Bar: Four Value-Added Activities That Can Make You More Productive

“If you don't know your own value, someone will tell you your value, and it'll be less than what you're worth.” – Bernard Hopkins, American middleweight and light heavyweight boxing champion. Every time you make a task, product, or service cheaper or easier, you've added value to your organization. The same is true if you invent something new, creatively solve a problem, or find a way to do something more efficiently. Every gain boosts your productivity, and enough of these gains improve the organization's bottom line. Some researchers put a heavy emphasis on focusing on value-added activities at the expense of all else, so you can keep pushing your productivity higher. Others de-emphasize an aggressive focus on value-added activities, because let's face facts: in most jobs, you … [Read more...]

Motivating Until It Hurts: Four Subconscious Motivators That Can Damage Productivity

“Motivation is great. It’s nature's reward for achievement, but it can easily become your drug of choice if it’s misused.” – Lewis Howes, American business writer. We talk a lot about motivation in productivity circles, for good reason: it works very well. Little things like promising yourself some coffee when you finish the next page of your report will keep you on point and producing; and when you get back to work, that cup of coffee will likely help you produce more. Big motivators, like the promise of a promotion if you end the year in the black, or a free trip to Hawaii if your team hits a huge deliverable, can keep you focused and fierce. The result is often greater engagement and higher productivity. Motivation works so well because it produces a natural high that makes you feel … [Read more...]

Stop Drinking From the Firehose: Five Easy Cures for Information Overload

“Our brains would melt if they tried to process and store even a fraction of the information they are exposed to.” – Tim Pollard, American communications professional. Face it: we're drowning in information. There's too much to do and see every day. Our brains are already busy in the background, filtering mundane sensory information; few take it into account, but in the modern world, even that's already in overload. There's so much more to experience in a modern town, in a modern nation, than there was when we lived in rural or woodland environments. Worse, we still react the same way to the unexpected as we did then. A water hose in the grass or a stick rustling in a leaf-pile can have your senses screaming "Snake!" These constant warnings result in adrenaline-fueled reactions that … [Read more...]

Evolving Beyond the Neanderthals: Four Ways of Handling Business as Usual at Work

“My way or the highway.” – Common American expression among the inflexible. I have family and friends in South Texas, and recently, I've learned that a remarkable little creature has taken up residence there. It's called the giant cicada. These aren't the ordinary "locusts" that fill Southern days with their gentle oscillating churr; no, la chicharra gigante has an extremely loud, strident call loud, strident call some have compared to a steam whistle—for good reason. Some of your co-workers may be like this. They whine and wail any time you attempt to change a process for the better. They often cite best practice for their inflexibility, refusing to admit that best practices evolve along with work culture and technology. Best practices in the 1990s are not the best practices on the … [Read more...]

Mis-Measuring the New Economy: Three Ways We’re Measuring Modern Productivity Wrong

“The sky is falling! The sky is falling!” – Chicken Little in the ancient children' fable. Whenever the government posts its annual productivity numbers, media pundits immediately start wringing their hands over our "stagnating" national productivity. What they don't tell you is that productivity actually rises every year. It's productivity growth that worries them. But if productivity is rising, doesn't it lift productivity growth too? Well... yes. But not as much as the establishment thinks it should. At the risk of oversimplifying a complex topic: decades ago, economists decided a healthy economy should grow at least 3% annually. Recently, we've averaged less than 2%. Their concern would be reasonable if the economy were static, but in the last 30 years, global trade and the IT … [Read more...]

Chasing the Shiny Thing: Four Hints You May Have Adult ADD, and What to Do About It

“Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid.” – Ryan Jenkins, American business writer. After spending so many years working with productive people, and helping others become more productive, I've learned that some of us aren't like the other of us. To some extent, all of us become distracted, at times, by new ideas suddenly appearing in the peripheries of our imaginations, often growing with prominence as they're examined and prove intriguing. I've advised against allowing the new shiny things to overcome your focus, dragging you down the path of unproductivity. But you can't just ignore those shiny things, because they're gifts of the subconscious and may represent solutions to challenges you're … [Read more...]

The New Kids on the Cube Block: Five Things You Can Expect of Generation Z

“Generation Z only knows a world that is hyper-connected, where by the tap of a smartphone, a pair of shoes can be delivered to their doorstep via Uber or a drone in less than an hour. To Generation Z, a phone will be broken if they cannot see the other person on the other end. It’s a brave new world that Generation Z is growing up in.” – Ryan Jenkins, American business writer. Time for the generational Changing of the Guard! The first batch of kids born in Y2K start college in large numbers this fall (including my oldest son). Their slightly older siblings are nearing graduation or have graduated (including my daughter)—and the first few have already entered the workforce. Commonly called Generation Z or the iGeneration, by all indications they'll prove themselves just as practical and … [Read more...]

No Funny Business Here: How Comedy’s Best Productivity Trick Can Work for You in Four Easy Steps

“...After a few days you'll have a chain. Just keep at it and the chain will grow longer every day. You'll like seeing that chain, especially when you get a few weeks under your belt. Your only job next is to not break the chain. Don't break the chain.” – Jerry Seinfeld, American comedian. There may be times when you feel like your work days just melt one into the other, to the point where the weekends almost come as a surprise to you. It may bother you to realize this, but then again, it may be a symptom of high productivity—as long as you're making steady daily progress. As it turns out, productive people in all walks of life deliberately chain their days together to improve their productivity. The idea started with a comedian. You may not think of comedians as hard workers, but … [Read more...]

Ladies and Gentlemen, Start Your Engines: Four Actions to Maximize Your Mornings

“Old friends pass away, new friends appear. It is just like the days. An old day passes, a new day arrives. The important thing is to make it meaningful: a meaningful friend – or a meaningful day.” – Will Rogers, American humorist. There are two kinds of people in this world: those who are morning people, and those who hate them (haha!). Regardless of which you are, one thing's for sure: we all need to maximize our mornings. Granted, not everyone walks into the office at peak energy, and that's fine. Despite all the advice out there telling you to do your hardest task first, if you’re not a morning person, you won’t be at your productive best. So how do you get the ball rolling? Try these four simple tips: Feed the machine. Eat a decent breakfast. Your blood sugar is at its … [Read more...]