Four Ways to Get Better at Your Job Right Away: Stepping Up to Boost Your Productivity

"Have patience. All things are difficult before they become easy."–Saadi, ancient Persian poet. It should go without saying that one of your primary goals as an employee is to improve at your job, and most of us set out to build toward peak performance using time-tested, long-term methods that produce over time. We've all heard about the 10,000-hour rule, and how it gradually lifts us toward expert status; and you've probably seen it at work in your own career. I certainly have. Most improvements are gradual like this. That said, there are things you can do today that will noticeably improve your productivity within 24 hours, if not right away (← click to tweet). They're not magic---just common-sense ideas you may have lost track of as you hustled to get your job done. And while these … [Read more...]

Seven Ways to Beat the Benchmark – The Value of Stretch Goals

  "One's mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions."—Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., American poet and philosopher. The above quote is one of my favorites. In this New Year, how can you extend it to your performance? Make a decision to stretch yourself beyond your ordinary productive limits! We Americans are famous for our productivity; we regularly exceed our previous peaks. This has become particularly true since the beginning of the electronics revolution, and continued even during the Great Recession of 2008. In part, this may be because we've learned to stretch our abilities to new dimensions—since for a while there, we had no choice. But just as even the finest Spring has its cool or wet spells, not everyone regularly increases his or her … [Read more...]

Four Cases When “Working Smarter” Really Works: Getting Beyond the Cliché

"Work smarter, not harder." – The advice of countless well-meaning managers over the decades. At some point—or perhaps many points!—you've probably received the advice to "Work smarter, not harder." Just about all of us have heard the phrase, to the point of it becoming a meaningless cliché and catch-all slogan. The problem here lies in the fact that most of the people who say this to you have no clue what it means. They're just repeating what other people have told them. Bluntly ask them, “How exactly do you ‘work smarter’?” and they'll most likely just look at you blankly. My entire career has involved helping people find ways to get more work done in less time. That's one definition of working smarter, and it's composed of multiple parts, including ruthless time management, … [Read more...]

Thirty Seconds or Never: The Role of Impulse in Productivity

"Once begun, half done." – Ancient Chinese proverb. Sometimes, it can be supremely hard to get up off your "buts" and get moving—as we've all discovered at some point in our careers. We all have our low points, where it's hard to believe we can ever regain old ground, much less rise to new peaks of productivity. I've been there myself—yes even as an author and noted authority in the productivity space—I’ve had days when my energy and mood have been at such a low ebb that it was hard not to crawl back into bed at 10:00 a.m. But my responsibilities drove me to get moving, and once I was moving, it was easy to keep going. Per the law of inertia, an object in motion tends to stay in motion—but you must invest a certain amount of energy to put it into motion in the first place. One of … [Read more...]

Five Reasons to Take Ergonomics Seriously… Whether or Not Your Company Does

"Take care of your body. It's the only place you have to live." — Jim Rohn, American motivational speaker. You've probably read and heard a lot about ergonomics during your career. But are you taking the topic seriously? When you Google the benefits of ergonomics, you'll find scores of articles about why companies should institute good ergonomic design, in everything from factories to the open-plan office. The upshot is, it always saves the business money, because it results in less wear and tear on the most important resource of all---the human one. However, one thing most articles seem to have in common is that they're aimed at upper management and those tasked with improving company-wide productivity. What about those of us doing the producing? Even if the company hasn't … [Read more...]

Six Ways to Nag Without Seeming To: How to Make Sure Your Work Process Keeps Flowing

Six Ways to Nag Without Seeming To: How to Make Sure Your Work Process Keeps Flowing

"I never say 'nagging.' I think that 'nagging' is a term that men created to get women to pipe down some. But it's a trap that we've created…Nagging means to stop asking me questions." – Steve Harvey, American comedian and actor. Nagging doesn't really work well, in or out of the office—not when people see it for what it is. For one thing, most people don't care to be told what to do, especially by those at or below their level in a hierarchy; for another, they hate to be pestered, especially when they feel they have plenty of time to get something done. Some people see nagging as a threat to their freedom. They especially dislike the manager who constantly reminds them of things they need to do, because they view it as micromanaging—as it may be. That's certainly not the case … [Read more...]

Five Reasons to Hone Your Decisiveness: Evading the Curse of Indecision

Five Reasons to Hone Your Decisiveness: Evading the Curse of Indecision

"Decisiveness is a characteristic of high-performing men and women. Almost any decision is better than no decision at all." – Brian Tracy, American motivational speaker and writer One of the productivity topics I see discussed repeatedly in the business world is the issue of decisiveness. You'd think there would be some consensus on how to achieve it by now, but every guru seems to have his or her own process. Some will tell you to trust your instincts and make snap judgments. Others insist you build team consensus first, while still others suggest you get all your ducks in a row, then take massive action. To some extent, they could all be correct, depending upon the circumstances and your depth of knowledge about those circumstances. However, the one thing they all agree on is … [Read more...]

Six Simple Workload Tips Managing Maximum Performance Without Making Work Your Life

Ever since the Millennial generation entered the workforce, we're seen a resurgence in the idea that "work" and "life" represent two distinct things: i.e., that we can excel at our jobs and still have an enjoyable life outside the office. Although I personally belong to "Generation X," I've been in the vanguard of this movement: I've dedicated my career to teaching people how to achieve maximum results in the minimum amount of time, so they can get out of the office on time (or at least earlier) and spend more time with their friends and families and hobbies. I try to practice what I preach, too. You can be super-efficient without chaining yourself to your desk, no matter how you may sometimes feel ( … [Read more...]

How Do You Know When You Are Being Productive

How Do You Know When You Are Being Productive Podcast by Laura Stack

It's easy to feel busy. How do you know when you are being productive? (C) 2016 Laura Stack, All Rights Reserved. … [Read more...]

Eliminating Low Value Business Activities

Eliminating low value business activities

TRANSCRIPT We’re critical to the growth of our businesses. I mentioned that I had a little newsletter. I used to do that newsletter monthly. It was a good newsletter. It took me a day to write it. I had an original 2500 word article in there. I did tips. I did polls. We did hot links. It was an amazing newsletter. And, a day out of my life once a month would go into the production of that newsletter. And, about two years ago I got the flu and I rarely get sick but, I was out, I was down and I told my staff, I just can’t do it. I just can’t do it this month. We’re going to have to skip this month’s newsletter. I know we’re going to hear it. Wailing and gnashing of teeth. “Laura where’s your newsletter. I didn’t get your newsletter.” Guess how many people noticed? Three, out of a … [Read more...]