The Productivity Minute #8: Channels of Communication and Unproductive Email

Email, voicemail, and conference calls have revolutionized how we communicate in corporate America and around the globe. In today’s fast-paced business environment, companies depend on technology to link virtual teams across cities, states, and countries. Yet most companies don’t provide training on how to productively communicate with these resources. Whenever I find myself on the receiving end of an email volley, in which an email has repeatedly gone back and forth, I will simply pick up the phone and end it right there. Some people don’t put enough thought into which technology they will select to effectively communicate their message. For any given purpose, one channel (or medium) will be more effective than another. (C) 2009 Laura Stack. All rights … [Read more...]

The Productivity Minute #3 by Laura Stack – Graciously Refusing Requests from Coworkers Part I

The Productivity Minute, Episode 3.  How do you say NO without saying NO?  Laura Stack explains how to tactfully decline requests by coworkers in this episode. (C) 2009 Laura Stack.  All rights reserved. … [Read more...]

Go on a Low-Information Diet and Improve Your Efficiency!

Pretty much anybody you ask will tell you they’re pressed for time. There just aren’t enough hours to get it all done, yadda yadda yadda.  So we prioritize, streamline, and simplify.  You can improve your efficiency until you’re blue in the face, not to mention very tightly wound, but you still aren’t addressing one of the biggest time and energy wasters in your day: incoming information.  As my 13-year-old daughter, Meagan, would text on her phone: “TMI” (translation: Too Much Information). If the 21st century has brought us anything, it is WAY too much information. You can watch several channels full of cable news 24 hours a day. You can surf the internet on any topic until you can’t see straight. Most people could heat their home with the amount of junk mail they receive on a continuous … [Read more...]

Business efficiency: The Importance of Productivity During Down Times visit for full newsletter Importance of Productivity during Down Times In the summer of 1900... • The average life expectancy in the United States was 47. • A three-minute call from Denver to New York City cost $11, which was an incredible sum because the average American made .22 cents an hour, or about $400 per year. • Most women only washed their hair once a month and used borax or egg yolks for shampoo. • Only 6% of all Americans had graduated from high school. • Marijuana, heroin, and morphine were all available over the counter at corner drugstores. • There were about 230 reported murders in the US annually. Amazing what a century will change. Amazing what a few months will change. Growth ends, recession sets in, the … [Read more...]

Increasing employee productivity: an interview with Dave Kutayiah

I recently interviewd Dave Kutayiah, SR. VP of HR at ING Clarion Partners about how to increase employee productivity during down times.  I specifically asked him,"How do you get more work out of fewer people?"  He gave me permission to share his reply, because I believe my readers will also benefit: Laura, I am currently going through the same scenario with my HR team and my business partners are experiencing the same due to a recent workforce reduction. In a case like that, as a manager, you have to do the following: - ensure everyone understands why the team is leaner and meaner, - make sure everyone understands the strategy or gameplan and how they fit into the refined organization, - reinforce the importance of each team member and the fact that the stakes are much higher than … [Read more...]

Are Your Social Networking Profiles Helping or Hurting You?

Social networking is all the rage today.  Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace - the list goes on.  It seems like everyone has one or more of these services, but how many people are thinking about how it can affect them professionally?  And how does it affect your productivity? In terms of your professional image, there have been many news stories and articles about people getting fired or not getting hired for jobs because of the things they post on their profiles.  In one of my time management seminars, a participant told me she didn’t hire an applicant because she researched his social sites and saw that he “wanted to do as little as possible for as much money as possible.”  If you want to keep your social networking just "between friends," pay close … [Read more...]

Change is productive

With all the US Presidential election behind us, regardless of your political persuasion, let's talk about the big message of the Obama campaign: change.  If you want to become more productive, you'll have to be willing to make changes and create new, positive habits and leave old habits behind.  It is easy to become set in our ways and continue doing things the way we've always done them because, well, it's how we've always done them.  I'll take a line from Dr. Phil and ask "How's that working for you?"  Content, satisfied people are not apt to make changes.  After all, if everything is going along swimmingly, what's to change?  But people and organizations must continue to change for things to improve.  If your relationship with your significant other never changed, it would never grow … [Read more...]

The Why of Productivity – Who Cares, Anyway?

Why is productivity important?  More importantly, why is productivity important to you?  There is not just one pat answer to this question.  My “why” is likely different than your “why.”  One of the keys to productivity is finding YOUR “why.”  For most people, an external reason like “My boss expects more of me” is not always the most motivating factor.  For me, getting to the heart of why I do what I do is most motivating.  Is the need to be more productive exciting and motivating to you, or does it drain and exhaust you just thinking about it?  If the latter is true for you, perhaps you haven’t gotten clear on why being productive is important. It all comes down to your personal goals and what you want the picture of your life to look like.  Sure, you may need to be more productive at … [Read more...]

Results-Only Work Environment

I found an article at very interesting.  Separating hours on the job from results has been a boost to productivity in many situations.  Outside of the service based or retail environments, should our productivity be based on hours spend on the job, or on what is accomplished?  Some companies, like Best Buy, have implemented the Results-Only Work Environment or “ROWE,” and finding success.  When I chat with audience members after giving a keynote speech, they tell me about coworkers who spend 10-12 hours a day in the office and get nothing done.  That's because being physically in the office has little to do with productivity.  Some people can be there ten hours a day and get virtually nothing done, while others can accomplish great amounts of work in just a few hours.   Part of … [Read more...]

Leave Your Name and Number at the Beep

It happens all the time.  You just want to get some brief information to someone but when you call you get sucked into a long conversation.  Sometimes you don't WANT the person to answer their phone – you just want to leave a voicemail.  It’s nice to catch up, but what if you just need to pass on some information and get to the next task?   Well friends, someone has come up with a solution for this problem!  Check out It lets you just leave a message – simple as that.  It is a free service, and they do offer some premium services for a fee.  It is well worth checking out.  While on the subject of voice mail - here’s a quick tip.  Before making a call, jot down the bullet points you want to cover.  This way you have an outline for the call, or if you do get voice mail you … [Read more...]