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productivity in the workplace

The Secret Recipe to Productivity

Productivity is one of the most used words in our vocabulary. It’s a quality that matters to both a business and the individual. Everyone wants to feel like their life has purpose, and productivity is a measure of whether or not you’ve applied yourself and have something to show from your day.

There are apps, books and careers dedicated to getting us to be productive and yet, the average person tends to trudge through their day and force their productivity to come out. It’s a chore, not a habit.

In a recently discovered blog called, TYNAN, the article, Why Obsess About Productivity?, got me wanting to pinpoint the key ingredients for productivity.

  1. Be Excited

This might seem obvious, but too many people are living a life that they simply aren’t passionate about. It’s no wonder why the daily tasks that make up their day are less than stimulating. For instance, if you like writing and yoga, these tasks will be easy. They make you happy, and with some intention, they’ll become habits. If you hate running and coding, these tasks will most likely take forever to finish, and even when you did manage to, it’d most likely be done badly.

So before you can change your day to become the better version of yourself, first decide if the way you’re spending your time is actually the way you want to spend it. Reflect over your day. Are you proud of your work, your hobbies, and your habits? If not, what else would you like to do? Zen Habits Leo Babauta gives this encouragement in his article, Letter to an 18-year-old on the Career Path Less Traveled, “Try a lot of things. When you get good at something, by the way, you’ll like it much more. You’ll suck at everything at first.”

Imagining change is scary, but the idea of doing something that makes you miserable just because it’s available is even scarier. You have one life. Get excited about it.

  1. Make your work a Sprint. Not a Marathon.

This advice comes from Jamie Herzlich’s article, “Small Business: How owners can reduce stress.” The concept is essentially to work hard and stay focused when you’re doing a task rather than attempting to work constantly and running out of steam.

Jeff Haden’s article “The 8-Hour Workday Doesn’t Really Work,” gave this advice, “Instead of thinking, “What can I get done in an 8 hour day?” I’ve started to think, “What can I get done in a 90 minute session?”

Also, Give yourself breaks after you finish a task and clear your head. This keeps you from “multitasking” for the sake of working, which usually equates to scattered, unproductive effort with little product. If you’re bogged down, try to stretch, walk, or laugh rather than sit in your chair and go on autopilot.

  1. Stop Rushing and Get Organized.

Have you ever been to a restaurant where your server was going nonstop? Did you enjoy the experience? Did it make ordering your food easier? Was your server even doing a better job?

Now imagine that your coworker rushes like this hypothetical server. Does working with a manic manager make you a better employee, or a scattered one? Most people would agree that it’s easier to accomplish a task and enjoy yourself while you do it if those involved stay calm and collected. This point is expanded upon in Will Yakowicz’s article, “Stop Rushing at Work: Stress Makes you Less Productive.” “The key is to plan and prioritize instead of being reactive. Being in control instead of being rushed helps your employees to stay calm, avoid stress, and be more productive.” The point: don’t rush your tasks, rank them.

On this same thought, you don’t have to respond to every email immediately. Instead, try to set aside a few times in your day to respond to all your emails at once so that you don’t lose focus on what you have set out to do.

  1. Stay Motivated

Now that you’re passionate, focused, and organized, the only thing you’ve got to do is maintain that energy. This is done by accomplishing the tasks you’ve set for your day and giving yourself the credit for these achievements. Whether it’s making a checklist and steadily eliminating your tasks, or the positive momentum you’ve collected from knowing that you’re having a successful day, recognize your pattern and repeat it with joy. Because you are now doing a job you love, and you’re doing it well.

Living the dream is possible. You just have to enjoy yourself and set your pattern.

 

Thriving in a High Demand Work-Life

con•sci•en•tious: A person wishing to do what is right, esp. to do one’s work or duty well and thoroughly.

Thrive at work

After my first interview, I already knew that the attendees of the Michigan Townships Association convention would turn out to be a pretty conscientious bunch.

And like so many who serve, and who also have very demanding schedules, township officials can easily fall victim to the More With Less Paradox, in which the positive attributes of drive and responsibility, combined with a demanding schedule, trigger people to live in a way that sabotages their ability to reach their goals.

Does this sound like a day you might have?

•    The morning alarm blares. Snooze button. Snooze button. Snooze button.

Two important facts and a lesson: One, nothing sabotages a day faster than starting it off with a little procrastination. Two, there is no form of real, actual torture that will break your mind and body faster than multiple sleep interruptions.  The lesson? The snooze button is secretly plotting to destroy you.

•    With a grunt of frustration and physical aches, you get up, “Ugh, I’ve got so much to do . . .”

Snoozing yourself into being behind schedule creates a rushing energy, which in turn leads you to think first of stimulation (“Coffee, I need coffee!”) instead of connecting with why you are working so hard.  The speed and busyness of your day can fuel a lack of focus and a sense of disconnection with what is important. You may end up thinking of yourself as  “struggling” rather than as “thriving.”

•    “Breakfast? I’ll just grab some caffeine and get something to eat on my way to or at work.”

Caffeine can be very effective for productivity and health, but too much caffeine, on an empty stomach, creates the perfect biochemical storm for a monumental 3:00 p.m. crash.

•    You land at work, and it goes well . . . until around 9:30 a.m., when the first energy lull hits. Time for a little cubicle trick-or-treating or a break-room doughnut.

The first three hours of work are the most productive time in your entire day. You will never be in a better state to be productive, patient, persuasive . . . or any other P word that means you get a lot accomplished. This routine sabotages your peak work time, resulting in more work tomorrow, or even worse, work to take home.

•    Lunch. Open the menu and the debate begins. Heart-healthy option or a burger?  Living inside the More With Less Paradox, it is too easy to think, “You know, it has been a stressful day. I deserve that cheeseburger.”

BOOM, the post-lunch lull hits you head on.

This day continues, but its tone has been set. Your available energy reserves are low, but the need to keep going causes you to switch to an emergency stress-based fuel—cortisol. This might keep you going, but at a high cost. Cortisol is not a clean energy. It builds up and increases crankiness, reduces our ability to innovate, and increases our chances of dying from the top four killers of men and women.

You make it to the end of the work day, but often with lingering guilt at how long your to-do list still is. Unfortunately, that frustration bleeds into your downtime, and you find yourself thinking, “Why am I so cranky? Why can’t I be more organized? Why do I have so little patience? Why am I so wiped out?”

•    In a flash, it’s time for bed. “I’m exhausted, but why is it so hard to get to sleep or stay asleep?”

As soon as sleep starts to deepen . . . the alarm blares into action and it is time to start another day.

As an expert in stress, motivation and wellbeing, I’ve been researching adults in high demand jobs for 23 years. I’ve seen the More With Less Paradox sabotage good people from Penang to Port Lawrence.  Each time I immerse myself into a new field, such as township management, I find two categories:

Strivers – Those who work hard and often meet their goals at work, but who also struggle with high levels of stress and fluctuating levels of motivation.

Thrivers – Those who work hard, consistently meet their goals at work, and thrive professionally and personally.

Have you ever wondered, “Why do some hard working adults thrive, while others struggle?” I am obsessed with that question and, as a result, I’ve found a Core Truth.  Thrivers are rarely smarter than strivers, and they don’t care more about their work.  They just think and live better. The bottom line is that thrivers are better at:

• Mentally approaching their work, especially under pressure

• Keeping their energy up

• Having a clear understanding of why they are working so hard

• Designing the flow of their day

This article and my presentations at MTA on January 29th, 2014 will help you to build a day that fuels the Core Four elements of thriving in a high demand world.

As an example of the Core Four in action, consider a 2011 research study from the University of Michigan and Portland State University on what actually energizes us at work.

First, think about what you do when you are running out of energy at work.  Most people take a break of some kind, grab more caffeine, go for a walk, get a snack, switch tasks, etc.  But what works?  What fuels us best? Could you be accidentally tripping yourself while thinking that you are moving full steam ahead?

If you are like the majority of the 214 knowledge workers who were surveyed, you would:

1.   Check email.

2.   Switch to another task.

3.   Make a to-do list.

4.   Offer help to someone at work.

5.   Talk to a coworker/supervisor.

Of these most common breaks, which ones were shown to increase energy and vitality?  None.

What breaks were positively related to vitality? What steps can you take to help yourself thrive more at work?  What ideas can you pass on to your teams that will energize them at work?  Here are six evidence-based ideas that fuel the Core Four:

a.   More Goal-Setting, Less Reorganizing:  Setting a new goal and chasing it down, even if it is a small goal, will energize you more than reorganizing your to-do list.

b.   More Learning, Less Worry: Under stress, people thrive more by focusing on learning something new, not by worrying about failing, about what they might miss, or even by winning.

c.   More Feedback, Less Venting: Everyone needs to vent, but don’t do it at work. Venting in the workplace is one of the few double jeopardy work breaks, meaning that it is connected to both low vitality and high fatigue. Having high energy at work comes from seeking and giving quality feedback.

d.   Help More, Offer Less:  Human beings are at their best when they help others, give to others and show concern for others. Those who struggle with fatigue will, with open hearts, offer help to others.  Those who rated high in vitality more often actually do something to help others.

e.   More Meaning, Less Distraction: Reflecting on what gives you joy and meaning at work will energize you even more than taking a break.

To thrive in today’s busy world, change your day so that it includes more of these elements, and the Core Four will fuel your leadership for the greater good of your communities.

I look forward to meeting you January 29th, 2014!

If you would like to download Andy’s complete infographic on the Suprising Truth About What Energizes Us At Work, go here:  www.andycore.com/more-energy-at-work

 2013 MTA Conference Keynoter Andy Core is the author of the upcoming book, Change Your Day, Not Your Life.  He is an award-winning thought leader on increasing employee engagement, productivity, and wellness motivation; his talent lies in helping hard-working, conscientious adults thrive at work and in their personal lives.  www.andycore.com 800.605.8480

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Increasing productivity through better work-life balance

n hired as a Keynote speaker, fitness speaker, wellness speaker, work-life balance speaker, stress management speaker, and as a work-life balance and peak performance expert for Sales, Leadership, Customer Service and Worksite Wellness Conferences and Events.

 

Secret to Success? Be Self-Centered.

Andy Core is an expert in Work-Life Balance, Wellbeing, and Peak Human Performance.

Being competitive in life can help you to achieve success in school, sports, work and recreation. However, whenever you make your whole life about a competition with others, it will eventually cause more harm than good. You are yourself, and no amount of being greater than others will ever change that. It can also affect productivity in the workplace.

When you try to keep up with what other people have or what others are doing, you’ll be destroying yourself. Instead spend your energy to better yourself and do what makes you happy. Make each day about bettering yourself and disregarding the standards other people may try to impose.

You can never be the same as others, whether physically, emotionally, financially, etc. You should adjust your goals to suit you and your family. When you get caught in competing with other people, you’ll eventually lose yourself.

You should compete with yourself to succeed in life. Every time you try to change to better your life, you’ll make great strides towards your goals. Jealousy, envy, or trying to be something you’re not will ultimately ruin your life. Instead, you should focus on your goals and work hard to accomplishment your individual goals.

To learn more on Andy’s programs

 

Lack of Sleep and Why It’s Dangerous

Andy Core is an expert in Work-Life Balance, Wellbeing, and Peak Human Performance.

The number one think taxing your productivity is a lack of sleep. Yes, there are only so many hours in the day, and there is so much stuff you have to do… exercise, eat, bathe, manage a household and work. Plus, we’d ideally like to fit in some free time to rejuvenate.

But trust me- your mind and body will eventually shut down on you if you don’t make sure that you get enough rest. Going to bed right and at a decent hour should be your priority.

It can be difficult to get to bed and get your required amount of sleep because of work, family, and social obligations. If don’t get enough sleep as much as you should, your mind and body will not operate at full capacity and your productivity in the workplace will be less.

Sleep is a valuable tool that will enable you reset your body and brain. Sleep gives you a chance to get rest so that you may start all over the next day. You can never quite get caught up when you don’t get enough sleep.

It’s recommended that you allow yourself at least six to eight hours of time for sleep. Of course everyone experience short nights here and there, but whenever possible, try to look for quality time to sleep.

You will make your thinking more clear, your afternoons will not seem as long, and because you are well rested, you will show in your work and how you deal with your relationships. Your productivity in the workplace will also be superb!

It’s also important that when you sleep, you sleep well. Here is some advice.

To learn more on Andy’s programs

 

Three Habits of Unproductive Listeners

Sheldon. Big Bang Theory. Listening SkillsAndy Core is an expert in Work-Life Balance, Wellbeing, and Peak Human Performance.

One of the most important personality traits is the ability to stay flexible. You can’t learn if you think that you know everything, and if you don’t continue to learn, you won’t be productive.

Habits of Unproductive Listeners:

Not listening.

People forget to listen when they are having a conversation. When you are only crafting a response in your head while someone else talks, you are failing to really listen and you are showing the other person that you don’t actually value what they say.

Being Rude.

You should never interrupt a mid sentence. This applies to assuming you know what people are thinking and finishing what they say, or to just plain interrupt. Bottom line- It’s rude and it’s disrespectful. Furthermore, you can be missing out on something that can be of great help to you that may improve your productivity.

Assuming Boredom.

Learn to listen even if a conversation seems to be mundane, it may mean a lot to the other party involved, and you can still may gain some information that can be of great help. Through talking to others, you create relationships with people who could benefit you in the long run, even if they’re boring in the present. Never ignore even a simple conversation, because it can lead you to finding that to know someone quite as well, or you may enable you realize something important about yourself.

Without other people, life can never be fulfilling. You are actually cheating yourself in the end if you won’t do others the courtesy of listening to what they have to say. When someone is talking to you, make the effort to listen, really listen, and make your life better for it.

To learn more on Andy’s programs

 
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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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Author and speaker on work-life balance, productivity and wellbeing
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