Three Simple Family Routines to Make You More Productive at Work: Striking the Ideal Work-Life Balance

"The most important work you will ever do will be within the walls of your own home." – Harold B. Lee, American religious leader and educator. I find it amusing that some of my colleagues claim the concept of work/life balance is dead. It's not that they all believe you should give up on having a personal life if you want to get ahead at work, though this sometimes seems to be the subtext. Most simply believe work and the rest of life have become so intertwined we can't pull them apart, so we have no choice but to respond to email and Facebook requests on the beach or while doing laundry or dining with the family. Hogwash. Having boundaries and balancing work and the rest of life is absolutely crucial for your sanity, especially when you want to have a life once you retire. Besides, … [Read more...]

Seven Tips for Sick Days: Producing Even When You’re Under the Weather

"I see sick parents and kids every day. I also know many people who go to work sick because they don't have paid sick days. Having paid sick days would prevent the spread of illness and make sure people are not penalized for staying home when they are sick." — Dr. Ben Danielson, Seattle pediatrician. Although it would be awesome to actually stay home sick whenever you feel bad, it's not always possible. PTO tends to be limited in even the best of companies, and it takes just one bout of the flu to wipe it out. Many supervisors also look askance at people calling in sick, suspicious of faking, resulting in a chilling effect on the truly ill. And many people simply have no choice but to go in no matter how we feel, because our teams depend on us—and there's always some deadline bearing … [Read more...]

The Twelve Steps to Activity-Goal Alignment; Or, How to Get Where You Want to Go

"When it is obvious that a goal cannot be reached, do not adjust the goal; adjust your course."—attributed to Confucius, ancient Chinese philosopher. When available, I enjoy watching the TV screens on the seat back in front of me, showing the plane’s current location and route, including the dozen subtle adjustments the pilot made along the way. The road to achieving any goal is like that airplane's flight. Activity-goal alignment requires you to constantly monitor your goals and repeatedly make adjustments to your course. Of course, this assumes you know what your goals are. Hitting your work goals isn't necessarily a complex process, but it does break down into a surprising number of steps you need to take into account before you can make any real headway. Just jumping in and … [Read more...]

Five Interruptions NOT to Avoid: Why Some Distractions Are Important

Five Interruptions NOT to Avoid: Why Some Distractions Are Important

"One way to boost our will power and focus is to manage our distractions instead of letting them manage us."—Daniel Goleman, American author and psychologist Imagine a completely distraction-free office, where you can focus totally and productively, where no one ever calls you, chats outside your office in the hallway, plays their music too loudly, or pops in for a quick question. Imagine a place where you could spend hours upon hours single-tasking to your heart's content, churning out work by the barrel-load. Wouldn't that be heaven? I’m thinking NO. Oh maybe for a time, but it gets old. Unless you're a solitary worker with no communications with others (a rare occurrence in this era), social interaction remains a must. Although I'm a big believer in warding off most … [Read more...]

The Increasing Demands Of Work

TRANSCRIPT The bar keeps going up. Customers are more demanding, we found that out. Your internal customers are a little more demanding now. Remember when we were in hotel rooms and there didn’t used to be coffee makers. Do you remember those days? Remember the first time you went to a hotel room and there was a coffee maker! I remember the first time this happened to me. I didn’t even drink coffee but I made it because it was so cool. Look at that, coffee. Now, if you go to a hotel today, and there is not a coffee maker, now what do you think? What is wrong with this place? I can’t believe they don’t have a coffee maker. So, the bar used to be here, no coffee maker. And, then you got a coffee maker. What’s this called? Perceived satisfaction. Now, here’s the bar, coffee maker. You go … [Read more...]

Five Reasons to Set Impossible Goals: Don’t Be Afraid to Push Yourself Too Hard

Five Reasons to Set Impossible Goals by Laura Stack #productivity

"The only way to discover the limits of the possible is to go beyond them into the impossible."— Sir Arthur C. Clarke, British science and science fiction writer. If you never dare to dream the impossible dream, you'll never know how much you can achieve. We all know this in our hearts, but many of us never apply it to our work lives. There's a saying that goals are just dreams with deadlines; so why should you ever hesitate to set impossible goals?  (<-- Click to Tweet.) No matter how impossible they may seem, goals offer solid targets for you to shoot at. They also stitch together intention, planning, ability, talent, execution, process, teamwork and more into a fabric of productivity you can constantly and consistently tweak higher, through the application of more and newer … [Read more...]

5 Ways to Bring Productivity Out of Chaos: Mourn Change, But Move On

5 Ways to Bring Productivity Out of Chaos

"The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new." – Dan Millman, American writer and philosopher. By now, you've no doubt realized a basic fact of life: the only constant in the business world is change, especially as we hurtle full-throttle into the New Millennium. Ironically, most of us prefer things to remain the same. Change forces us to learn and do new things, stealing our time and making us expend energy—two resources often in short supply. As a result, many of us mourn change, because it often wrecks our comfortable lives and carefully laid plans. But you can't stay stuck in the past, and you can't sit beside the graves of your old processes while the world passes you by (click to tweet). Do it too long and you disengage … [Read more...]

Spotting Job Productivity Killers

Spotting Job Productivity Killers

TRANSCRIPT Whenever you feel really frustrated by something that you're spending your time on, it is just dragging down your productivity and it is a very inefficient type of process, you've got to say to yourself "Ain't nobody got time for that." I was working for example with Sherwin Williams. They have given me permission to share this story. In Atlanta, the VP had hired me to come in. He was the district manager and had area managers. They manufacture, and distribute and sell paint as many of you probably know. And, he was explaining about their leadership asking for a weekly report that he had to send each week, what they called their WAR weekly activity report. Kind of catchy, right? And, he had to get the input from his five area managers in order to create the report with the … [Read more...]

6 Ways to Succeed Despite Unpleasant Coworkers

Overcoming Human Obstacles

"Before someone can treat you like a doormat, you have to lie down first."— Dear Abby, American advice columnist. One thing we often forget about teamwork is that you don't have to like everyone on your team to work effectively with them. It helps, but in any group, you'll probably find someone who rubs you at least slightly the wrong way. One of humanity's greatest strengths, however, is ability to put aside our differences to further a greater cause—whether that means building a wall 13,000 miles long or building a world-class corporation. You'll almost always have coworkers you simply don't like (click to tweet). This doesn't mean they can't do their jobs well; we've all known curmudgeons who were geniuses, or smug apple-polishers who did award-winning work. Indeed, high talent … [Read more...]

Taming Workflow Processes: Xerox’s Productive Innovations

Taming 15 Workflow Processes

  Ultimately, boosting productivity boils down to building and honing efficient workflow processes that automate and routinize tasks, projects, and services. Luckily for us, our rapidly converging computing, communications, and time-management technologies can't help but yield rational work processes that repeatedly raise the bar on productivity. It's enough to make you wonder how we ever did without our electronics. The truth is, those of us who remember the pre-computer era recall it as a period of slow if steady productivity, when there was often no point in hurrying. The system constrained us to the point where 9-5 workdays and five-year plans still made sense. This might sound like a Golden Age of office work… but don't let the nostalgia fool you. The slowness of it all … [Read more...]