Archive for the ‘Workplace Productivity’ Category

As if your life depended on it

Sunday, August 17th, 2014

Years ago I had a friend with a crazy sense of humor and a vivid imagination. He was also absolutely reliable—never missed a deadline, and always delivered precisely what was needed.

I finally asked him for his secret. “If I don’t finish on time,” he said in a whisper, looking both ways, “They’ll push the button.”

Ooooh-kay. I slid a little further away from him and asked what on Earth he was talking about.

He laughed and explained. Whenever he was on an impossible deadline, he imagined he was in one of those implausible movie situations. Some unseen bad guys have planted a device in his body and instructed him to meet the deadline or…they’d push the button.

“I don’t know what happens if they do,” he said, “but I don’t want to find out.”

He doesn’t really believe this, just in case you are wondering. He’s just playing his version of a mental game that really works. Act as if your life depends on it, and you can do just about anything.

How would everything you do be different is you acted as if your life depended on doing it, and doing it well?

If your life depended on it, could you get your weekly report in on time? If your life depended on it could you hit your targets? If your life depended on it, could you get that new product out on time?

The answer, in every case would be “Of course!” Because you decided up front to make it happen, based on the level of stakes.

So why not bring those high stakes into your mental game every day? By tempting yourself with a reason that is bigger than life, you trick your brain into finding ways to do things instead of ways to not get the result. Everything becomes possible.

The personal development plan

Monday, May 26th, 2014

It’s never been easier to keep learning. Not that many years ago, there was exactly one public website on Earth. If you wanted information, you had to trek down to your local library for a book. Now there are over 600 million websites putting the sum of human knowledge at your fingertips. It has literally never been easier to learn and grow.

But too many people don’t take that advice. Once they finish school, they get a few years into their careers… they figure they’ve arrived, and there’s no more learning to do. They couldn’t be more wrong.

One of the best ways to keep that growth happening is with a personal development plan.

Start with the end in mind: Where do you want to be 5 years from today? Then list the skills, habits, and learning you need to aggressively pursue to get you there. Then, plan out the steps…and get aggressive on your learning plan. Finally, make a detailed list of necessary steps toward each goal.

That’s it. Nothing fancy, nothing complicated, nothing long—just a concise plan to keep you sharp and moving forward.

Busy Being Busy

Monday, November 18th, 2013

Tousled hair. Papers askew. And most important of all, an air of helpless overwhelm. This is the overworked worker.

Sometimes the frazzle is honest. But just as often, it’s a game designed to deflect responsibility and actual work.

We all know people who spend half their time telling others how overwhelmed they are, but you need a microscope to find what they actually accomplished. They seem so busy, so committed, that management sometimes finds it hard to say anything. And they keep on being busy being busy.

Then there are those who are quietly and happily productive—and end up with the lion’s share of the outcome riding on their shoulders.

The perception of hard work should never be a cover up for ineffective work. No matter where you are in the company, it isn’t kind to the whole team to let someone ride along on that perception without making a real contribution.

A feeling of being overwhelmed isn’t something to be proud of—it’s a problem in need of a solution. Be that solution. Next time someone whines to you about how busy they are, make suggestions for using their time more efficiently. And if you are that person, realize that you could shave your hours substantially and do the same work, or even more, and be happier in the process.

Hold Better Meetings

Sunday, May 5th, 2013

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.

Save Your Pennies (and the Company’s)

Sunday, February 3rd, 2013

Remember being a kid and getting money from your parents to go to the movies? I bet you paid no attention to the difference between the price of the matinee and the late night showing—much less the difference between the small and large popcorn. Heck, you probably spent every last dollar they gave you on a nice cold soda to go with that popcorn.

And when you got back home and they asked for their change, you said…“Change?”

Ah, but then you got your first job. You went to the movies with YOUR hard-earned cash and you thought to yourself… popcorn is five bucks? Forget that!

The same principle should be applied to expenses at work. Cut needless expenses—like the five-dollar popcorn—as if every penny was your own. If you see a penny spent that doesn’t have a great ROI, suggest saving it. It’s amazing how much you begin to notice when you stop thinking of the company dime like a child sees Mom and Dad’s money—as a bottomless pile.

This isn’t strictly a selfless act. If a company succeeds, its employees succeed, and if it doesn’t do well, its employees don’t do well. The best approach for management is not only to waggle an accusing finger at waste, but also to show how a little cost savings here and there can add up to some benefits for the whole staff.

So take a stand to treat the company’s money as if it was your own money. In a very real way, it is!