Sunday, February 18, 2018

Ten Ways To Be 10x More Productive At Work

From Liz Ryan: CEO/founder of Human Workplace and author of Reinvention Roadmap.

The biggest problem with workplace productivity is mental. We think about productivity all wrong.
We think that if we can tick three or five more items off our To Do list, we're really doing a great job! We measure, value and reward the wrong things.

We praise people who work the fastest, instead of the people who work the smartest. That's a big mistake!

We forget that "ground-level" productivity, the kind of productivity most managers focus on (and most companies measure) is the least important kind.

Nearly everything we measure at work is a ground-level task.

The higher in altitude you get, the more easily you can see that our little scurrying motions on the ground have very little impact. It's our activity on the hilltop, looking down at the activity on the ground and planning the best route to our destination, that really shows results.

Don't kid yourself that only managers need to get up off the ground and look down at the landscape. We all need to do that! A sharp kid in their first after-school job will spot money-saving process improvements if you give them a chance.

Above the hilltop level there is one more level of altitude -- the place where the most important things happen. It's the cloud level, where we envision our brilliant future. Without that vision, how could we possibly decide which way to proceed? Your CEO's vision powers every decision made in your company.

Your own vision for your life and career likewise influences every decision you make at work and everywhere else.

Sadly, too many leaders keep their vision to themselves, or share it only with a few top lieutenants.

They think their rank-and-file employees don't need to know the company's vision. They give their employees daily, weekly and monthly targets to hit and think "as long as our employees reach their goals, we'll reach our shining vision, too."

They delude themselves! Everybody needs to understand the vision, and to see how their work fits into the larger plan. Every manager needs a vision for their department, and a vision for their own career.

Every employee needs a vision.

Who would ever get excited about hitting daily, weekly and monthly goals that somebody else set out for them?

I've never met anyone who got turned on by hitting a yardstick on the wall!

Here are ten tips to make 2018 your most productive year ever -- with the three levels of altitude (ground level where we accomplish tasks, hilltop level where we make plans, and cloud level where we set our vision) in mind!

1. Set and acknowledge micro-goals.

You may have a shining, cloud-level vision for a new process you want to put into place at work, but you have to get down to the ground level to make that vision real.

Give yourself micro-goals and reinforce the heck out of yourself for hitting those goals, over and over again throughout the day. The motivation you get from reaching your micro-goals will give you power!

If you set the goal "Redesign the order entry process" it will stand in front of you like a towering, insurmountable obstacle for months.

If you set the goal "Pull out the current process documentation and read it" and then congratulate yourself for doing that, your big project will already be under way.

Don't get out of bed saying "Today I have to file my taxes, get my car washed, call the plumber and catch up on bills."

Instead, get out of bed saying "Hit the bathroom, get dressed, eat breakfast, feed the cat." Do those four things -- then pat yourself on the back for your accomplishment!

2. Every day, ask "What's a better way to do this?"

Every time you feel a twinge of frustration with a process at home or at work, make a note of it.

There are constant opportunities for process improvements around us, but we often tune them out.

Don't be afraid to change tiny things in your routine, and to stay open to process innovations that come into your awareness from any source at all.

Rather than smashing through twenty To Do items at the ground level, stop and ask "Do all of these tasks still make sense?" Get altitude on your day, and your To Do list. That's what they mean when they say "Don't work harder -- work smarter!"

3. Question procedures.

If you're a manager, never tell an employee "Don't question me."

Tell them "Question me more!"

4. Look at currents of energy rather than tasks and data points. Your body is part of nature, and nature responds to waves. Listen to your body!

5. Take breaks as often as you feel the need to.

Don't keep working on something that is sucking your energy away just because you're afraid someone will judge you for taking a break.

If you're being judged for listening to your own body, you're working for the wrong people.

6. Every night, walk through your day as you lie in bed, stand in the shower, walk the dog or do whatever you do at night.

Replay your conversations, meetings, email conversations and feelings from the minute you woke up to the present minute.

Focus on your body. Which people, conversations, events and themes built your mojo supply -- and which ones brought your mojo level down? There are powerful clues in your body's reactions to the events of every day. Don't ignore them!

7. Keep your vision in mind.

Know what your job gives you beyond a paycheck, and stay tuned in to whether your job is giving you as much back as you are putting into it.

Know what kind of job you want next after this one, whether it is a job in your current organization or somewhere far away.

Your career is yours to drive -- but you have to pick up the keys and drive it!

8. Notice the times when you knew the right thing to do or say at work, but also knew that you'd get in trouble if you did or said the right thing, so you did or said the expected thing instead.

Every time you make a compromise like that, your gut twitches. Your gut eventually learns to shut up and stop warning you when you're in danger of forgetting who you are -- and that is a terrible thing to do to your gut, and yourself.

Let your mind drift up the cloud level whenever it wants to. Give yourself permission to dream big. What's your ideal career? What's your ideal life? Your vision will determine how you spend every minute of every day, if you have the courage to see your vision as a real thing that is waiting for you in your not-too-distant future.

9. Instead of ticking off To Do items on your list like a machine, notice which tasks you're dying to accomplish and which ones you dread.

Why are some parts of your job pleasant, while others feel like torture?

Here's how you might think through one unappealing item on tomorrow's To Do List:

"Tomorrow, I have to call my client Cindy. I hate to call her, but I've been putting off that call for days. I can't wait any longer. Cindy will be upset if she hears through the grapevine that I won't be handling her account any more.

Why is Cindy so attached to me as her account manager? It's because her last two account managers were inattentive -- asleep at the wheel. Cindy will be afraid of having the same experience again. That's why I haven't called her yet. I dread hearing the disappointment in her voice.

Is her disappointment warranted? Honestly, yes it is. I can't guarantee that Cindy's next account manager will take care of her. Why is my company's account management function so messed up? Apart from me, Alex and Carolyn the account management department isn't very on top of things.

Maybe I need to transfer into a new department that cares about our customers as much as I do -- or even move to a new company. Yikes! I've got some thinking to do."

10. Every day, acknowledge yourself for the work you put in and learning you get.

Never take your hard work for granted, or beat up on yourself for not accomplishing more than you do.

You do a lot.

No one but you knows how hard you work or how much you care about your job.

Other people might not recognize you for your hard work and accomplishments -- so don't forget to recognize yourself!

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