Tag Archives: productivity

What’s Your Excuse?

Excuses are the worst enemy of productivity, and they are best friends with procrastination. When procrastination and excuses buddy up, productivity doesn’t even stand a chance. I probably wouldn’t be too far off to estimate that 90% of all excuses aren’t even legitimate. They are just what we use to justify our procrastination, and we even convince ourselves that it is a totally valid reason for not doing what we know we should be doing.

Do you ever find yourself thinking about something you don’t want to do, and then suddenly all these reasons pop into your head for why you can’t do it right now? Excuses are your mind’s natural defense mechanism for protecting you from undesirable things on your to-do list, like getting started on that overwhelming project or writing that dreadful term paper due next week. There is always some excuse you can use to get you off the hook, but for how long? Eventually, you have to beat the procrastination, stop making excuses, and get shit done!

The best way to do this is to take a look at why you procrastinate. There are 2 main reasons for putting things off:

  1. It’s something you don’t enjoy doing
  2. It’s something you don’t really know how to do

In both cases, it’s likely that your mind is making it seem worse than it really is. There are some tips for kicking procrastination and excuses to the curb:

Just get started

It usually just takes making the first move to get a task going, but it’s this first step that’s the hardest. Once you start, you will find that it’s nowhere near as bad as you thought. Make a commitment to yourself not to accept anymore excuses, and you will find that procrastination will back off and let you get to it.

Break things up

We tend to put off things that are intimidating or overwhelming. In this case, break the tasks into pieces or set small goals that will make you feel more at ease. Beware that doing tasks in a start-and-stop manner opens up more opportunities for pesky procrastination to swoop in. To help with this, try setting firm deadlines for yourself.

Dangle a carrot

Rewards motivate, and when paired with productivity, they are a tough team to beat. Reward yourself for getting stuff done. Sometimes, for me, just knowing that I will no longer have to dread the task itself is enough motivation for me to stop putting it off.

I hope these tips make you more aware of the sneaky antics of the devious duo, Excuses and Procrastination.

To a happy, healthy, and productive life!

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Boosting Productivity with Warm Fuzzies

Do you feel like you get more done when you are in a good mood? It’s probably because you have a more positive attitude, higher energy, and greater optimism when your mood is elevated. In his Positive Organizational Behavior blog, Dr. Bret Simmons recently wrote on the topic of feeling good by doing good. He suggests that engaging in helping behaviors at work creates a more positive mood, and in turn, increases the productivity of employees.

This is based on the idea that doing good for others makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside, and who doesn’t like feeling warm and fuzzy? People like to do things that make them feel good, and if you can incorporate this into your company culture, you may end up with happier, more motivated employees. Here are some ideas for encouraging helping behaviors in the workplace:

  • Create a mentorship program
  • Promote courtesy and gratitude
  • Start a charity drive (clothes, food, toys, etc.) competition between departments
  • Engage in volunteering
  • Collect donations for an employee/family in need
  • Encourage employees to help each other with projects

Not only can this positive mood be obtained through employees helping each other, but also through helping customers. I work for a company that is developing a technology with the capability to assist paralyzed individuals with communication. I find myself highly motivated to work for a company with such an altruistic purpose.

Foster an environment in your organization that encourages employees to engage in helpful behaviors. Not only will it boost their mood, it can also increase motivation and productivity as well.

Do you work for a company that emphasizes helping others? Please share your thoughts!

To a happy, healthy, and productive life!

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How to Give a Productive Presentation

Let’s face it. The moment you lose your audience’s attention, you are wasting both their time and your own from that point forward. It is impossible for a presentation to achieve its purpose, whether that’s to persuade, inform, or entertain, if your audience has drifted to some other place in their mind. These are some tips for catching and keeping your audience’s attention, so everyone’s time is used productively:

Start off with a bang

You have no more than 30 seconds to convince someone to listen to what you have to say. Start your presentation with something that is going to leave them wanting more. Contrary to common belief, this is not the time for a personal introduction and life story overview. A powerful way to start is with a shocking statistic, an entertaining (yet relevant!) anecdote, or if you have the guts, something humorous, but tasteful of course. You want to engage them from the start.

Don’t read to them

No one wants to listen to you stand up there and read to them. Whether it’s off your notes, your PowerPoint slides, or the palm of your hand, it is never ok to dictate to your audience what they can read for themselves. The only exception would be a brief quote or a crucial statistic. If you are going to write your entire presentation on your slides, you might as well print everyone a copy and call it a day.

Use PowerPoints as a visual enhancement ONLY

We have become a PowerPoint dependent society, so much so that we’ve forgotten the intended purpose of this application. When used properly, a PowerPoint can be used to enhance your presentation and engage your audience; however, there are way too many guilty of PowerPoint abuse. Remember, it’s called Power”Point,” not Power”Paragraph.” Use visually interesting images and graphs that illustrate your point visually. If you must use bullet points, each bullet should have no more than 7-10 words, and there should be no more than 5 bullets per slide.

I’m sure we’ve all fallen victim to poorly conducted, unproductive presentations. I hope these tips help you maximize the success of your presentations, and I’m sure your audience will thank you.

To a happy, healthy, productive life!

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Pareto Who?

Since my return to school for my MBA, I have heard the name Pareto come up in several of my business classes. So, who is this Pareto guy anyway? Here is a little history lesson for you:

Who was Pareto?

Vilfredo Pareto was an Italian economist who is famous for his observation in the early 1900s that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the population. The principle was originally conceived around the uneven distribution of wealth, and it was actually a business management consultant named Joseph Juran who eventually applied the concept to business and named it the “Pareto Principle.”

What is the Pareto Principle?

In general, the Pareto Principle states that for many events, 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. It is also called the 80-20 Rule and the Law of the Vital Few. It can be applied to business in several ways. For example, it is commonly observed that 20% of customers bring 80% of total sales. Also, 20% of employees do 80% of the work. This uneven distribution of outcomes to inputs happens in many facets of life.

What does this mean for you?

You may be thinking, “This may be good to know if I’m going to be on Jeopardy someday, but why should I know this now?” It’s because the 80-20 Rule applies to everyday life too. For example, 80% of your productivity comes from 20% of the effort, and 20% of the things on your To Do list are important, the other 80% can be done another day. You can use this principle to maximize your own productivity by identifying the 20% that matters and focusing your efforts on these things.

My mom always says, “You learn somethin’ new every day.” I guess that’s one thing you can check off your list for today!

To a happy, healthy, productive life!

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How to Turn Constructive Criticism into Productive Criticism

“To escape critisicsm, do nothing, say nothing, be nothing.”

— Elbert Hubbard

It’s never easy to hear someone tell you you are doing something wrong, especially for someone like me. I am one of those people who strives for perfection in everything I do, which I admit, can be considered both a strength and a weakness. I take a lot of pride in my work and my reputation, and sometimes it’s tough to hear what other people have to say. But the truth is, the only way to truly achieve your full potential is to accept constructive criticism as an opportunity to better yourself.

Be aware, constructive criticism and just criticism differ in the intentions of the person giving it, but both can be used as a way to reevaluate yourself and consider what needs to change to make a better You. Here is how to turn constructive criticism into a productive, self-improvement opportunity:

Don’t take it personally

This is easier said than done, but if you take constructive criticism as a personal blow, you will never be able to view it as a means to better yourself. The people who give you true constructive criticism do so because they want to see you succeed. Resentment and resistance are the byproducts of denial. No one is perfect; everyone can improve in some way, and it usually takes someone else to point out where.

After you know the What, consider the How

After you’ve accepted that there is something you need to work on, think about how you are actually going to make it happen. Ask the person who pointed it out for their advice. Turn to people who know you really well, and see what they have to say too. Most importantly, ask yourself.

Keep it coming

Don’t think that once you’ve improved something, you are done. There is always room for improvement. Ask for feedback often, and constantly strive to make it productive for yourself.

What you have to remember is that life can be an enlightening journey of self improvement, or a dull dead-end of stagnancy and complacency. Make constructive criticism work for you.

To a happy, healthy, productive life!

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9 Times You Should Resist Multitasking

Our fast-paced, digitally facilitated lifestyles have integrated multitasking so seamlessly into our daily activities that we don’t even know we’re doing it. Multitasking sometimes gets mistaken for productivity, but does getting more done at the same time guarantee that the result is of acceptable quality?

In pursuit of maximum productivity through multitasking, you may actually end up actually wasting more time than if you had just focused on one task at a time. As an example, I recently spent over an hour in the grocery store because my mother called, and I am incapable of talking and shopping at the same time. I ended up wandering around the store talking on the phone because I couldn’t concentrate on what I needed to get. Then at times, I would tune out of the conversation to compare the price of this or that, and Mom would have to start over because I missed what she said, which dragged the conversation longer.

That being said, there are some people and activities that deserve your full, undivided attention.

You should resist the temptation to multitask…

…when driving.
…when spending time with family.
…at the dinner table.
…when working to meet a deadline.
…when trying to fall asleep.
…when exercising.
…when having a one-on-one conversation.
…when walking on a busy street.
…when grocery shopping.

Don’t get me wrong. I am an avid multitasker; however, I would argue that when quality matters, the task at hand should not share your attention with other preoccupations. The best time to multitask is when the tasks don’t require full mental capacity and perfection is not required. For example, I watch the news while folding laundry, and I can cook breakfast while getting dressed and packing a lunch. I would consider these examples effective time management. But when your focus is necessary, turn off the phone, stay off the internet, or close the door, and you will be surprised how much more you actually get done.

When do you multitask? Has there ever been a time when multitasking turned against you?

To a happy, healthy, productive life!

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Get Out of the Way!

Do you ever find yourself blaming your circumstances or making excuses for why you can’t get ahead or accomplish your goals? It’s hard to admit, but sometimes you are the biggest barrier to your own productivity and success. While it’s easy to point fingers and evade responsibility, the best thing you can do for yourself is get out of your own way. Whether it’s fear of failure, poor of self confidence, or even lack of motivation, you may be what is holding you back from reaching your full potential.

Don’t be afraid of what you think you can’t do.

If you open yourself up to risk of the unknown, you may surprise yourself with the results. Sometimes fear of failing to achieve something you really want will prevent you from even trying at all. What you need to realize is this “failure” you fear is really only a lesson that will empower you to succeed the next time you try.

Believe in yourself.

This one is cliche, I know, but it’s very true. You can have the whole world supporting you, but if you don’t believe in your own greatness, you will never push yourself to succeed. You need to stop telling yourself “I can’t” or “I’m not good enough,” because these negative thoughts will hold you back.

Take the first step.

When you are feeling particularly unmotivated, the first step is the hardest, but how can you win the race if you don’t even step out the door? Once the momentum starts, it’s so much easier to get things done. If you find you are putting things off because you aren’t in the mood, just get started. Put it in your mind that you are going to take at least one little step, and you will find that it really isn’t as awful as your mind made it out to be.

To a happy, healthy, productive life!

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