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Big Box Time Management – How to Increase Productivity & Quality of Life

Many create a checklist of their important projects and “To-dos.” It is a way to prioritize the most important items. We want to check those boxes to be productive. The problem is that unexpected, urgent matters always arise that force us to keep pushing our priority items further and further down the list.

Eventually, we reach what I call, the “To-do no man’s land.” That is simply when your to-dos get pushed far enough down your to-do list that you will not get to them and they (your key priorities) get pushed to tomorrow. When you realize that some important to-do’s just aren’t going to happen – that you’re out of time – stress and anxiety can significantly increase. When that happens, you can’t relax and your mind just isn’t in the right place to devote the remainder of your day to the things you find important – namely, your loved ones.

To help beat this all-too-common situation, I have devised a simple time management approach that uses a different mindset, a different mental focus. Simply ask yourself, “What must I do today so that I can leave work at work. What boxes must I check that will enable me to feel accomplished and be able to rest well tonight?

In a traditional to-do list, all of your check boxes are the same size. I believe that some of those boxes are bigger than others. Maybe they aren’t prioritized by task, but by concept. What do you need to-do to be productive and accomplished in your work day? These are your big boxes.
Personally, I’ve clarified my big boxes. As a writer and a speaker on how to achieve a successful work-life balance, if I want to help people, I must write and I must reach out to people who organize meetings where outside speakers are invited. If I don’t write and reach out to people I’m not able to grow my business and help people. Another Big Box is exercise. If I don’t exercise, stress builds up and I get cranky, which isn’t the kind of person I need to be to accomplish my goals.

What are the two or three biggest boxes in your work day? If you don’t know right off the top of your head, it’s time to clarify. Having a couple of standard goals in mind each day helps you focus your efforts and is far more realistic to accomplish than an endless to-do list. At the end of the day, you want to be able look back and ask yourself if you can check those big boxes. If you did, great! Take a deep breath and relax. You did it.

Now you can leave work with the right frame of mind to truly relax and recharge in your personal time. You also are “present” enough to spend quality time with your loved ones.

 

Importance of Productivity in the Workplace and 3 Steps to Improve It

There are many reasons why you could find yourself struggling to be productive at work, including stress, time pressure, distractions, poor attitude, changing workplaces and policies, etc. Regardless, increasing productivity in the workplace is paramount in today’s competitive, time-crunched world.

Productivity is simply defined by how much you can produce in a certain amount of time. In order to increase productivity, you need to either increase the amount you can do, decrease the amount of time it takes you to do something or a combination of the two.

The importance of increasing productivity in the workplace is multipurpose. I call it a Win3.

Win3 – It helps:
1. You – it helps you reach your goals faster and with less stress.
2. Your Team – Your team or organization and customers or clients will benefit because you are accomplishing their goals faster.
3. Your People – Your newfound increase in productivity will provide a more efficient, more positive and less stressful asset to their challenges and issues (namely, you).

Even though we know something is good for us, that doesn’t guarantee we will do it. Have you ever asked yourself, “Why don’t I do what I know I should?” We all have. Improving productivity in the workplace is what I call a “Know Brainer.” We know we should, but sometimes consistently implementing our new ideas is not easy to maintain.

To be consistently productive and have sustained motivation you need four things: meaning, energy, triggers and ability. Having meaning in the things you do, energy to get through the day at your best, a daily schedule that triggers efficiency and confidence in your ability to do your work are all evidence-based ways to increase your productivity. When these elements are combined, you will have a consistent wind at your back pushing you toward optimal productivity and a faster path to successfully achieving your goals.

Three Steps to Being Significantly More Productive at Work:
1. Define what you need to improve to be more productive.
2. Run yourself through the P=META formula to help you determine what will help you improve. Specifically, find out if you are lacking on meaning, energy, triggers and/or your ability behind that certain task.
3. Focus on improving in that ONE area. Focus is the key word. Pick one area to improve, then chase it down and tackle it to the ground before you attempt to improve another area.

For instance, many sales trainers or productivity motivational speakers will suggest that you outline your top 3 most productive activities for each day the day before. Doing this has been suggested to increase your productivity at work by as much as 25%.

Let’s run this through my three steps:
1. Define –You know you can improve your productivity by being more organized and outlining tomorrow’s most productive work today.
2. META: Let’s run this through the META formula
a. MEANING: This strategy is meaningful and will enable you to produce more in the same time.
b. ENERGY: This task should take little time and energy, so it will not significantly reduce your personal energy levels. Plus, it will increase your sense of control of your daily objectives, which produces massive positive energy and motivation.
c. TRIGGERS: As the end of the day approaches it will trigger you to outline your key tasks for tomorrow.
d. ABILTY: After giving it a little thought, most people can identify their key tasks.

If you ran into difficulty with any of the four META elements, then you can use that information is both a way to greater understanding of why you may procrastinating and a trigger to improve.

Doing these three things will give you clarity as to why you are procrastinating and provide you with a clear path to finding a solution. Now you can go from just wanting to improve productivity in the workplace to actually doing it!

This is taken from my speeches to many organizations’ top sales people and organizations that want more top performers.

It is in my book Change Your Day, Not Your Life http://andycore.com/cyd/

And this video is now part of a four-part series.

 

Whiteboard Series #2 Get Excited for Work

We’ve all had days where we don’t want to be at work. We often struggle to find motivation and rarely get excited to perform our jobs. How do you motivate yourself and your fellow workers to get out of that rut and get excited about work?

Many people think getting paid more, having better employee-management relations or more career advancement opportunities is the answer. This may be the case in some situations, but what works the best for every situation is sincere interest. In a survey conducted by Tower Watkins in 2008, the number one answer was: “senior management’s sincere interest in employees’ well being.”

In a typical work place, only 4 out of 10 employees on average feel as though management cares about them. This is only 43% of workers. Employees become more engaged in their work place when they feel they are cared about. When they feel this, employees become 18% more productive, 59% feel more creative and loyalty in the workplace rises. A business or company that has engaged workers experiences twice as much net profit, 12% more customer advocacy and are 35% more efficient.

Now that you know the solution to being more excited about work and its benefits, how are you going to implement it? The first thing you need to do is answer the following questions and make a list of what is most important then implement it. Ask yourself, who matters the most and how can you show a sincere interest in their well-being?

Once you begin to check off that list, you will see a positive chain of reaction begin to occur. Employees will become more engaged and customers will be more satisfied. This generates more word-of-mouth for your business. Customers will be more willing to recommend you to others, which will drive more business your way.

 

Whiteboard Series: Re-energize Yourself at Work in 5 Seconds or Less

We all experience days where we can’t seem to find the energy to get through the workday. There’s no need for coffee or energy drinks. Re-energizing yourself can be done in five seconds or less with this simple question: “Why are you working so hard?” This question is part of the Thriver Quiz, which helps you identify if you are a Thriver, striver or struggler. A Thriver is someone who is energetic and motivated, a struggler is someone who is stressed and exhausted and a striver is someone who fluctuates between the two.

People who are able to answer this question with something positive and motivational in less than five seconds are part of the Thriver category. Strivers find themselves taking up to twenty seconds to answer this because of a lack of clarity. If you find that you have to really think about this question for more than twenty seconds, then you are part of the strugglers category.

Fifty-one percent of people who have taken this quiz were able to answer quickly with a motivating reason as to why they are working so hard, which makes them thrivers. The other forty-nine percent fall into the striver/struggler category because they don’t have the clarity on why they are working so hard.

Portland State University of Michigan has conducted research that focuses on what energizes us at work. They found that people who are energized and thriving are more meaning oriented. Meaning and thriving are interconnected because finding meaning motivates you. In order to be meaning oriented, you need to have clarity as to why you are working so hard.

Clarity is energy in today’s complex world. The meaning pyramid helps you find and clarify meaning with only three questions.

 

Thriver Quiz

In high demand work environments you find three different types of people. Thrivers, who are able to keep up with high-demanding jobs and still find the time to have hobbies and balance a social and work life. Strugglers, who lack the desire or ability keeping up with high demand jobs. Then there are the strivers. Strivers are people who fit into a high demand work culture, but seem to inconsistently fluctuate between thriving and struggling. They are hard workers who get results, but also struggle with feelings of stress, overwhelm or anxiousness.

Why do some people thrive in a high demand environments and others who work as hard and are as dedicated, struggle?

The Thriver Quiz can help give you greater understanding of where you stand and how to improve from there.

 
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Change Your Day, Not Your Life
A realistic guide to sustained motivation, more productivity, and the art of working well
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About Andy Core
Author and speaker on work-life balance, productivity and wellbeing
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