Getting in the Zone: Four Ways to Help You Master the Concept of FLOW

“There is one quality that one must possess to win, and that is definiteness of purpose, the knowledge of what one wants, and a burning desire to possess it.” – Napoleon Hill, American motivational writer. Time flies when you're having fun—and it also flies when you're so totally focused on something that nothing else interests you, and making steady progress seems almost as easy as breathing. Athletes call it being "in the zone," a term that's percolated down into the working world as well. No matter what you do, you've probably experienced times when, whether working alone or in a group, you got so engrossed in your work that the next time you looked up, hours had passed. You'd lost track of time. While this can have negative repercussions—such as forgetting to eat lunch—it's typically … [Read more...]

Striving with Purpose: Six Factors Separating High Performers from Average Workers

“Never wish life were easier. Wish you were better.” – Jim Rohn, American entrepreneur and speaker. We usually know high performers when we see them, because their stars shine bright in the workplace. How can you tell the difference between a high performer and a high potential performer? The latter have the talent, education, and training to become high performers, but haven't yet proven themselves (often because they're still new). In fact, not all workers with high potential graduate to the high-performer level; conversely, not all high performers are considered high-potential candidates that move into positions of leadership. Of course, not everyone shines right off the bat. (Both Thomas Edison and Albert Einstein were deemed unteachable by elementary school teachers, and today … [Read more...]

Practical Self-Motivation: Four Ways to Make Yourself Do Things You Don’t Want to Do

“Eat a live frog every morning, and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” – Mark Twain, American writer and humorist. You've probably had days when you came down with a bad case of the "don't wannas"—a complete lack of interest in doing any of your work tasks, much less the tough ones. But you're an adult now, so you know that expecting the world to automatically provide all the niceties you yearn for is the worst kind of childish dream. It's probably not going to happen, and even if it did, how much would you value your non-accomplishments anyway? Procrastination is a novel concept to no one. We've all put things off many times, for many reasons: because we didn't want to hurt someone, because the task wasn't pleasant, because it was boring or took too long, or … [Read more...]

Missing the Obvious: Three Common Types of Productivity Debt

“Excuses are a time thief. Have a goal, accept responsibility, and take action!” – Dr. Steve Maraboli, speaker and author. Sometimes our biggest time-thieves are right under our noses, but we never think of them as such. Worse, while we know that some tasks keep us busier than we like, we don't view them in terms of debt—at least, not in terms of financial debt. But time debt is a painful reality, as any harried Superparent or mid-level manager can tell you. Still, very few of us take this further to realize that since time is money, time debt may ultimately translate into productivity debt. I've understood this truism subconsciously for many years, but only recently have I seen it formulated as such. Think of it this way: Every minute you do something other than productive work during … [Read more...]

Breaking Goldsmith’s Rule: Five Common-Sense Ways to Help Maintain the Best Possible Team

“If you pay peanuts, you get monkeys.” – Goldsmith's Rule, per Sir James Goldsmith, British industrialist. Who's responsible for maintaining the quality of your workplace team? The answer might seem obvious, but don't assume it's just the team leader. Your manager or supervisor may have a lot of input, and certainly they or a predecessor probably built the team in the first place; but they're not in complete control of team quality. Everyone on the team has a place in maintaining a highly-productive team. By now, you surely realize that even if you're not the team lead, you can do many things to contribute to your team's productivity. But let's look at a special case. Suppose you want fellow top-notch co-workers to stay on your team long-term. That way, you won't have to constantly … [Read more...]

Six Ways to Invest Your Work Time Wisely

“When you invest your time, you make a goal and a decision of something that you want to accomplish. Whether it's make good grades in school, be a good athlete, be a good person, go down and do some community service and help somebody who's in need, whatever it is you choose to do, you're investing your time in that.” – Nick Saban, American football coach. Even if you go flat broke, you can always make more money—as hard as it may seem for most people sometimes. If you lose everything you own, you'll eventually rebuild. If you move to a new city, you can make more friends. Give blood, and your body replaces the plasma within a day, the platelets and red blood cells within two weeks. But one thing you can never, ever get back is lost time. And yet the average worker treats time as their … [Read more...]

Friends Indeed: Four Ways to Leverage Work Relationships to Boost Productivity

“Your workforce is your most valuable asset. The knowledge and skills they have represent the fuel that drives the engine of business, and you can leverage that knowledge.” – Harvey Mackay, American businessman and author. Many savvy business people will tell you that the true secret of success is cultivating profitable relationships with anyone related to your work: coworkers, colleagues, clients, prospects, even vendors. Sometimes, the least expected person is the one who saves your bacon—like that quiet but hardworking teammate, or the networking associate you met at a conference last year. While relationships are in fact deeply important, it's how you use them that really matters. You're surely familiar with the principle of the lever, one of the world's simple machines: using a … [Read more...]

Feeling Good Works: Why Optimism Injects New Life into Productivity

“Pessimism leads to weakness, optimism to power.” – William James, American philosopher and psychologist. Pessimism is trending nowadays; the old can-do Horatio Alger attitude has been deemed old fashioned. Of course, some segment of the populace has always found it fashionable to sneer at the "naive," but the ranks of the disaffected have swollen in recent years due to the disappointment of the Great Recession, a long-static job-market, and the failure of the old employer/employee social contract. And that's understandable. But any assumption that most modern workers, especially the up-and-coming Millennial generation, are simply unwilling to work hard is simply not true; and it's a mistake to ever think otherwise. Now more than ever, workers want to feel like what they do matters. … [Read more...]

The 1% Principle: How Small Wins Can Produce Big Yields

“Slow and steady wins the race” – English-language aphorism. We've all heard the fable of the tortoise and the hare, the classic that teaches us to never underestimate an opponent. No matter how talented you are, hard work and consistency can still beat you if you're cocky and complacent. Rationally, we know the hare will really beat the tortoise every time, because hares don't suffer from laziness, complacency, perfectionism, or analysis paralysis. If hares ever had those traits, Mother Nature would have weeded them out ages ago. But as apex predators, humans have learned to outwit nature; and so, the point of the story is well taken. No wonder we've taught it for three thousand years. When I ran a half marathon a few years ago, I decided my goal was to successfully complete the race, … [Read more...]

Exceptional Performance: Four Tips for Extreme Productivity

“Once time is gone, it will never come back. That’s why it’s so bizarre to me that professionals often use their time inefficiently — by procrastinating, by perfecting an unimportant task, or by just sitting around in the office, trying to be seen. It seems to me that professionals should husband time as an irreplaceable resource.” – Robert Posen, American businessman and writer. If nothing else, productivity boils down to the way you manage the work time entrusted to you. You want to squeeze as much productivity out of your time as humanly possible, so you should hoard it; be selfish about it; and never waste a minute of it (unless you’re doing it on purpose to relax). The reality of extreme productivity is that nothing is left to chance. Some may view this as terminally boring, even … [Read more...]