Archive for the ‘Workplace Productivity’ Category

Hold Better Meetings

Tuesday, November 8th, 2016

Have you ever had a meeting that went on twice as long as you wanted and STILL left you feeling more confused about the project than you did coming in?

You know what they say—“time is money.” So do you really have the time to meet with your team for an hour without any clear outcome? I don’t think so.

So, how do you make sure your next meeting accomplishes its goal? Just follow the system.

  • First, start on time no matter what. Everyone should be in the room at least 2 minutes before the meeting is scheduled to start. And if they aren’t, you’ve GOT to call it tight, on the spot, or it will never happen.
  • Second, have an actionable agenda that clearly defines what decisions will be made, who needs to be present for those decisions, and how long each item will take. Make sure everyone has a copy.
  • Third, have a timekeeper. Make sure they know it’s their job to keep you on task with times listed in the agenda. Give them permission to interrupt anyone who is rambling beyond the allotted time.
  • Fourth, assign a leader to move the meeting forward.
  • Fifth, designate a chart person who stands and takes notes. Make sure this person lists clear actions as decisions are made—who is responsible for what by when—and wraps up each part of the actionable agenda. Make sure each person leaves the meeting with a copy of these notes.

It’s really just that easy. Follow this simple formula and transform your meetings.

Blocking Time

Friday, October 28th, 2016

How do you structure your work schedule each day? If you’re like most people, you really don’t structure it. Or you open your email in the morning and let IT tell you what to do.

I’ll tell you, there’s no better way to slice and dice your day into hopeless little pieces.

Instead, start every day by blocking time. Scribble a complete list of everything that’s barking for attention. Not everything is equally important – heck, not everything even needs to be done at all. Cross off anything you can forget about or delegate. Next, mark anything that doesn’t have to be worked on today.

Now you’re ready to lay out your schedule for the day.

Block time first for the most important activities. BUT—that doesn’t mean you have to do those things first. In fact, since those are often the most complicated and time-consuming, piling them up in the morning may just guarantee you’ll never finish everything. Instead, scatter those non-negotiables through the day.

You might not be working on the Dickerson project the moment you sit down in the morning, but you know that 10:30 to 12:00 is for the Dickerson project, period. And work on the budget summary is scheduled for 1:00-1:30, the revenue forecast is 3:00-3:45, and the inventory report is 4:15-4:45. Block those projects first, then fill in the gaps between them with negotiables—the things you’d like to finish today, but don’t absolutely have to.

What happens if you need extra time on that budget summary? It bleeds over into the time scheduled for those less important things. Maybe one of the less important items gets bumped to Tuesday. So what? You finished the thing that needed finishing, and you still start the revenue forecast on time.

Now what if you had stacked your non-negotiables at the beginning of the day, and each one took more time than you thought? Now you’ve got crucial things bumping into crucial things. That’s not going to end well. Something important is going to end up unfinished.

It’s like the old story of the jar, the rocks, the pebbles, and the sand. Put the sand in the jar first and there’s no room for the pebbles or rocks. But put in the big rocks first—the most important things—then you can pour the pebbles and the sand into the spaces in between, and everything fits.

Likewise, when you make your daily schedule, block time for the big, important things first, but allow space for the less important things in between. Do this and you’ll never have to tell your boss you were too busy to do what was most important.

 

If you had half the resources and a quarter of the time…

Sunday, June 12th, 2016

Ask yourself this: If you had half the resources and a quarter of the time to do your job, how would you do it differently?

I know what you’re thinking: “No way. It can’t be done! I’m barely making it as it is!” But humor me for a minute. Imagine that you have absolutely no choice but to do everything you currently do with half the resources and a quarter of the time. No choice at all.

Now…what would you do?

The first shift would be in attitude. It would HAVE to be. Once the shift in attitude is made, you are willing to do whatever it takes. Resentment doesn’t build up and defeat your energy. Suddenly the impossible becomes possible.

The second shift would be in organization. You would be forced to get very organized, very quickly, with daily, weekly, and monthly checklists.

Now imagine what would happen to your productivity if you adopted this attitude now, today, even with all the time and resources you have. Nothing would ever stand in your way again.

Chunking Time

Monday, November 23rd, 2015

There are better and worse ways to divide our time and focus. Let’s say you have three big projects for the month and each one has ten components. That’s thirty little bits that need doing.

So far so good! You’ve divided a big project into smaller steps so you can feel and track your progress better. That’s a proven way to improve productivity. But if you do a tiny bit here and a tiny bit there, skipping among the projects, checking each one off the list as you get to it, it fragments your progress. This kind of approach can shatter your focus, and you’ll wear yourself out with the constant shifting of gears.

The magic is this—things get done when time is allotted for them. Every week should start with making a list of the most important things that must be done that align with the key roles, tasks, and responsibilities of your job. Then, put As, Bs, and Cs in front of each and make sure that the As are scheduled into blocked time in your calendar. If you allot 50 minutes to complete one, no matter what, make sure you are complete at that time by making sure you focus and are not interrupted. If you have a customer-facing job with tasks, make sure someone knows they are covering for you with customers and that you are in lock down.

Researchers have found that the feeling of making real progress is at or near the top in motivation—way ahead of traditional incentives like raises and bonuses. So give yourself the boost that matters most by chunking your time so you can feel that progress happening!

Plan Your Work And Work Your Plan

Monday, October 12th, 2015

Every day, you have a daily plan of the work to be done that day. Where does it come from? It comes out of your weekly plan, which comes out of your monthly plan.

If it sounds like a lot of work to put all those plans together, imagine how much work you’re going to create by NOT having plans in place and sticking with them.

The trick is to be absolutely systematic.

Start every week by looking at the monthly plan and deciding what to move over for that week. Then every day, look at the weekly plan and decide what to move over for that day.

Then you prioritize those for the day, 1-2-3-4-5, and knock ‘em down one at a time to make those happen.

To make this work, YOU must live your plan. In other words, if you put it on your weekly plan, tell yourself that by 3:00 on Friday, everything on the weekly plan will be complete. Period. End of sentence. You have made a commitment to YOU—the easiest to break but the most important to keep!

By applying that very basic process of behavioral economics, you end up managing your time to what makes the most sense and what’s going to give you the highest return on investment.

There are only so many hours in the day, week, and month. This process helps you radically shift your performance in the limited hours you have.