Prioritization: Reordering Your World

Prioritization sits near the top of any list of successful leadership skills. This holds true whether the leader involved runs an army or the night crew at the local donut shop. It holds true everywhere on Earth and has for all of human history. In general, prioritization represents the order in which you organize and ultimately accomplish the goals most important to you: your faith, your family, your friends, your career, your self-care, and your daily work. You have to look closely at each and decide which items should come first and how everything else should follow. While all these categories are important, they aren't equally important at all times. As we limit this discussion to the work arena, prioritization may involve several levels of responsibility, starting with the personal … [Read more...]

What Comes Next? Criteria for Choosing Your Next Task

"The role of leadership is to transform the complex situation into small pieces and prioritize them." -- Carlos Ghosn, Brazilian businessman (Chairman and CEO of Renault, Nissan, and the Renault-Nissan Alliance). "In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing." -- Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President of the United States Just about every productivity expert prescribes a to-do list as part of your time management process, and I'm certainly no exception. In fact, I advocate keeping at least two. First up: the daily High Impact Task or "HIT" list, a short list of everything you must do today. Second, use a Master Task List to track upcoming tasks and items you want to accomplish … [Read more...]

Pulling Action Out of Information

"An ounce of action is worth a ton of theory." -- Ralph Waldo Emerson, American writer and philosopher. "An organization's ability to learn, and translate that learning into action rapidly, is the ultimate competitive advantage." -- Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric. Do we already have a cure for cancer lurking somewhere in the huge mass of uncorrelated medical data accumulated in books, journals, and computers worldwide? How about a solution for global hunger? Or a way to knit broken bones in days? These may all sound like fantasies to you, but some scientists suspect such solutions might already exist...if we could just fit the data together correctly. But our ability to accumulate data has long since outstripped our ability to digest and correlate it. Worse, no single person … [Read more...]

Weeding Out the Inefficiencies in Your Workplace Garden

"There can be economy only where there is efficiency." -- Benjamin Disraeli, former British Prime Minister. All leaders wear multiple hats, with their roles as Coach, Overseer, Mentor, and Good Example fairly obvious to anyone willing to look. But another function often goes unnoticed: that of Caretaker. Leaders don't just juggle projects and push people to work harder; they also protect their team from any factor that might jam the gears of productivity. While no analogy can survive over-analysis, you can consider any organizational unit (whether team, department, or division) a kind of garden, where a good leader works to weed out the inefficiencies in the system. This holds true whether those inefficiencies take the form of unproductive employees, bureaucratic red tape, or poorly … [Read more...]

Organize Your Life: Me time

Laura Stack on Channel 7 News in Denver on their special Migh High Living series. There are ways you can carve out time for yourself and not feel guilty or selfish. Time management guru Laura Stack tells you how you can find some "me time." … [Read more...]

Check Your Six: Practical Measures of Workplace Success

"If you go to work on your goals, your goals will go to work on you. If you go to work on your plan, your plan will go to work on you. Whatever good things we build end up building us." -- Jim Rohn Even after a century of constant refinement, flying an airplane remains a hazardous occupation. Pilots must pay constant attention to altitude, direction, speed, and potential obstacles. This holds true whether they can see for a hundred miles, or no farther than the cockpit's windshield. So how do pilots maintain contact with reality when they can see nothing but clouds? By flying with instruments—a requirement every pilot must master before soloing. They monitor compass, altimeter, horizon indicator, speedometer, and a dozen other instruments, while using radio and radar to check their … [Read more...]

Unstylish Efficiency: On Delivering Substance Over Style

"The closest thing to a law of nature in business is that form has an affinity for expense, while substance has an affinity for income." -- Dee Hick, founder and former CEO of VISA. "Don't settle for style. Succeed in substance." -- Wynton Marsalis, American jazz musician.   If you've been working in your chosen profession for more than a few years, then you've probably run into your share of co-workers who seem to value style over substance. To these individuals, perception trumps reality—and sometimes even defines it. Remember comedian Billy Crystal's stint on Saturday Night Live back in the 1980s? Among other things, he portrayed a smarmy talk show host who liked to say, "It is better to look good than to feel good. And dahling, you look...mahvelous!" That captures the … [Read more...]

Overcoming the Paralysis of Analysis

"You've heard the saying, 'Analysis creates paralysis.' You can't be 100 percent sure of anything." -- Mark Burnett, British television producer. "The maxim 'Nothing but perfection' may be spelled 'Paralysis.'" -- Winston Churchill, former British Prime Minister. As a reader of this blog, I suspect you take your professional development quite seriously. No doubt you've dedicated yourself to constantly refining your time management skills, blocking distractions, trimming task lists, and otherwise doing whatever it takes to maximize your personal productivity at work. That's only logical, since honing your workplace productivity to a keen edge represents the best way to move your career forward without abandoning the "life" part of your work/life balance. Therefore, you'll want to use … [Read more...]

The Effects of Multitasking and Digital Stress

Someone shared this with me and I wanted to pass it along to you. This is a fascinating study on the way our brains work and how multitasking not only affects our productivity but our health too. How do you feel about this? Comment below! Via: … [Read more...]

ATUS 2012: America’s Personal Productivity Stats

"The American work ethic is something to be admired. Our workforce, regardless of position, works hard to produce the best product and serve customers to the best of their ability." -- Leonard Boswell, U.S. Representative for Iowa's Third District. "On days that they worked, employed persons spent an average of 7.6 hours working. More hours were worked, on average, on weekdays than on weekend days—8.0 hours compared with 5.7 hours." -- Citation from the 2011 American Time Use Study. Executive Summary: This year's ATUS data paints a picture of a nation working harder than ever, significantly exceeding the "traditional" 40-hour week and working nearly as hard on weekends as on weekdays. The workers among the survey population were clearly not slacking, any more than they were in 2010. In … [Read more...]