The 3/2 Rule of Employee Productivity

A reader just turned me on to Allan Engelhardt's October post called "The 3/2 Rule of Productivity."   Wonderful.  Fascinating research with data showing the more employees your company has, the less productive each person is.  Basically, in terms of profit per employee, when you triple the number of employees, you halve their productivity (the 3/2 Rule).  Allan supposes the causes could include self-selection, relationship friction, a shared vision, and the ability (or lack thereof) to collaborate.  If I could toss in my two cents, from what I hear employees of large corporations complaining to me about, it's: * a huge volume of email to deal with and some moron replying to all with a 50-person distribution list and 100 spams each day * meetings that run on and on with no purpose … [Read more...]

Why are women great time managers?

In the December edition of my monthly newsletter, I posed the question "I’d love to hear from the men on this one, but at least in my circle, why does it seem that the woman is the social, family, and child coordinator in the family?"  I heard back from three men, who basically agreed with me.  Are there any men out there who arrange the kids' playdates, handle school arrangements, schedule with couple friends, or otherwise act as the family coordinator?  Women, does your husband help you with these tasks? When I introduced my fiancée to my Aunt (34 years ago, we've married a long time ago) I mentioned that she was "quiet". My Aunt said, "There is only room for one mouth in a couple, and you are the one that talks, so it's alright." In your … [Read more...]

Workaholism: a well-defined addiction

I wrote recently about an article from the Christian Science Monitor, in which a reporter interviewed me about "Extreme Jobs," people who work 80+ hour workweeks. I received an email from someone who read my post, miffed that I could judge someone, as "I did not know her." Of course I don't know her and can't judge her personally...I'm sure she's a very nice person, gives to the poor, and rescues puppies...and the only thing I (and anyone else for that matter) can observe is behavior. Working seven days a week, 11 hours a day (not including time at home working) is workaholism, pure and simple (heck, even God rested on the seventh day). It's been studied, researched, and rehashed, and just because it’s been re-titled an “extreme job” doesn’t mean it’s anything new. It's … [Read more...]

‘Extreme’ jobs on the rise: poor time management skills and workaholism to blame

So I'm quoted in an article today by the Christian Science Monitor called "'Extreme' jobs on the rise," which cites a study by the Harvard Business Review called "Extreme Jobs: The Dangerous Allure of the 70-Hour Workweek" (there is no free version of this article; they make you purchase a copy for $7.00).  Read the fascinating quotes from the CEO of a gift basket company who works 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. every day, including weekends.  She essentially says she works those long hours because she has passion for her work.  So what?  I have passion for my work, too, and you don't find me working that long.  This is workaholism, pure and simple.  I feel sorry for her husband.  She doesn't go outside the house, gave up golf, and installed a home theater in her house to make up for the lack of … [Read more...]

Setting Up Your Office for Maximum Productivity

You work hard and want to be as productive as possible.  If you knew you were inadvertently creating office systems that slowed you down, you would of course be interested in correcting them.  In my fifteen years of teaching people to be more productive, I’ve observed many bad habits and behaviors that are easily corrected.  To get you started, here are four office faux pas you can fix and instantly become more efficient: 1.      Piling instead filing. If you have a cluttered office, you will spend more time trying to find information; you will have a harder time focusing on the task before you; other people won’t be able to find anything; your system is in your head, which taxes your memory; you will have higher anxiety levels; and it could impede … [Read more...]

Email etiquette

I love this post: Hacking Email: 99 Email Security and Productivity Tips, especially the section on email etiquette.  Many of the tips provided by the IT Security Staff point to one common theme: DON'T WASTE PEOPLE'S TIME with your email.  The objective is to get your message read, not to slow down your reader.  Sending an email with a blank subject or a subject like "Hi" is sure to get it deleted.  Be detailed in the subject line, so they don't have to read three paragraphs to understand what you want.  Don't send chain letters.  Don't forward your motivational saying of the day.  Don't "Reply to All" on a CC with 43 people.  Take the time to cut the most relevant sentence from the message to which you are responding and answer … [Read more...]

Maintenance vs. progress

Ahhhh...what a wonderful Thanksgiving break.  I hope you enjoyed the long holiday weekend!  Rested, ate, played...and made some progress.  Not just maintained the status quo or existing systems, but you made progress.  Yes, it's important to maintain your systems: food is prepared, the house is cleaned, dishes are washed, bills are paid, etc.  But nothing is gained with those activities; there is no forward momentum.  Those things are done simply to keep you from sliding backward.  You got out all the nice china for Thanksgiving dinner.  You washed it.  You ate on it.  You washed it.  You put it away.  Back to the same place you were before.  Yes, of course you have wonderful memories with your family and relaxed a bit.  … [Read more...]

NewsGator Inbox for Outlook 2.6 saves time

I've always used RSS Reader 2.0 as my news aggregator/feed reader, until it started acting buggy, and I explored other options.  After reading other blogs and postings on the subject, I decided to try NewsGator Inbox for Outlook...and I love it!  What a time saver!  It integrates right into my Outlook email client and acts just like an email.  It has its own folder, and I can delete, forward, store, and search blog postings just like email.  It adds a nifty "Subscribe in NewsGator" item to the Internet Explorer menu.  I also like the wizard that lets you search feeds by keyword. It has some disadvantages: you can only use it with Outlook, although NewsGator has different software versions as well.  The only thing I don't like is you can't group … [Read more...]

Time Management in Hawaii?

I've been on vacation from my blog while on vacation in Hawaii (Big Island).  It was the first time in five years my husband and I took a vacation, sans kids, for more than a few days.  We were gone eight wonderful days, and it really stretched my mind and rested my soul. First off, I the leisurely pace of Hawaii is of coure much different than the snap-snap hustle bustle of Denver.  Relaxation was the mantra, which was usually wonderful, except when practiced by employees who are supposed to be in customer service roles.  It took over an hour for the bellman to retrieve our luggage!  Instead of taking our rental car, we would take nice long walks to the Starbucks down the road from our hotel. Here's a picture of the beautiful Birds of Paradise lining the walkway: We stayed at a … [Read more...]

Anagram Intelligence for Microsoft Outlook

I love this amazing little plug-in for Outlook.  Your $30 will be well-spent.  You highlight information from the text of an email, hit a hotkey, and the software instantly determines whether you're highlighting contact, appointment, task, or note information and opens the appropriate dialog box in Outlook with the information *already populated* for your review.  You can try it free for 45 days. Visit to see a flash video and read about the neat features. … [Read more...]