Category: Productivity

Three Ways to Turn Your Ideas into Action

Filed under: Career Advice, Good Habits, ideas, Productivity

The difference between a great idea and a spectacular innovation can be summarized in one word: action. Unless you take action to implement your ideas, they are little more than wasted potential. To help you turn your ideas into action, here are three simple but proven principles:

Keep it simple: The best ideas are so insanely simple, you feel like an absolute idiot for not thinking of them earlier. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are all simple ideas. So is microcredit, which we used to call loaning someone a few bucks.

If you need three pages to describe your idea, and 30 more to “prove” it will work, it won’t.

Consider the first human who thought, “What if we could start a fire without waiting for lightning to strike?” Think about how the world’s greatest invention ended up in the form of matchbooks that are often given away for free. Simple and powerful ideas spread like, no pun intended, wildfires.

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12 Things Successful People Do Over 3-Day Weekends

Filed under: Productivity, Success, Time Management, Work-Life Balance

We’re heading into a holiday weekend — and most successful people have planned out (or at least thought about) what they’ll do over the next three days. 

“Successful people recognize how important it is to take advantage of a long weekend to refuel their passions and recharge their batteries,” says Michael Kerr, an international business speaker and author of “You Can’t Be Serious! Putting Humor to Work.”

They work extra hard the days leading up to the three-day weekend in order to maximize their leisure time, adds Lynn Taylor, a national workplace expert and the author of “Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant: How to Manage Childish Boss Behavior and Thrive in Your Job.” They also compartmentalize any work-related tasks that slip into their three-day weekends, separating them from their coveted leisure time. “They know that if the two blend into each other, they’ll likely feel cheated afterward,” she says.

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10 Simple Things Productive People Do Better (And So Can You)

Filed under: Career Advice, Efficiency, Good Habits, Productivity

Productive people appear to have the ability to do it all, but that’s only an appearance. The truth is they’ve figured out some important lifestyle habits, that while simple, most of us have not yet mastered.

Here are 10 simple things that productive people are doing better than you — at the moment:

1. Get enough sleep. Your body literally restores itself during sleep. In the four stages of a healthy sleep cycle, the first three are all dedicated to what is called Non-REM sleep and specifically act to restore the physical body. You know from experience what a bad night’s sleep feels like the next day. You feel slow, sluggish and foggy. Your brain isn’t firing on all cylinders. You body is craving carbs and sugar. You need to make sleep as important of a priority as your waking day and devote yourself to at least six hours of good sleep a night.

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How to Tackle Something You Have No Idea How to Do

Filed under: Productivity, Professional Development, Skills, Strategy

My career has been filled with daunting tasks.

I graduated with a degree in the all-too-general category of business, which didn’t exactly prepare me for any one specific industry. So, when I settled into a career with a healthcare technology company—knowing absolutely nothing about healthcare or technology—I was faced with a tough gig.

My boss would pull me into her office and rush through my next assignment: “Listen, I need you to reconcile our 10 biggest clients’ lists of providers with their billing before we switch to the new accounting software.”

I’d nod and take notes, but inside, my stomach was turning over with a mixture of fear and frustration. I don’t even know where to start, I’d scowl. How does she expect me to do this?

But the thing is, regardless of whether you know how to do something or not, it’s part of your job to make sure it gets done. You won’t always be able to get formal company training, and often, your boss won’t be able to guide you through the task step-by-step; it’s up to you to figure out how to see it through.

After a good deal of frustration, I eventually learned how to take that completely overwhelmed feeling and turn it into something productive. Here’s how.

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5 Ways to Give Your Brain a Break Right Now

Filed under: Efficiency, Focus, Productivity, Stress

Hip Silicon Valley tech companies started the growing trend of offering their employees unique perks that seem to encourage stepping away from the desk. Google’s free massages, Twitter’s rock climbing wall, and Dropbox’s gaming tournaments come to mind. Some may dismiss these initiatives as ploys for PR or to impress new recruits, but there is solid evidence that fun creativity breaks actually improve employee productivity.

I was recently interviewed for an Entrepreneur article about how pursuing varied interests can make you a better entrepreneur, but the same basic principle applies to all employees. Human brains are not meant to focus on the same task for hours at a time, yet most Americans work at least 8 to 9 hours per day on the same thing.

The eight hour workday became the norm after the Ford Motor Company found that number resulted in maximum productivity at its factories. But there is a major problem with this: the idea of an eight-hour day with a short lunch break is based on the most effective formula for physical labor, not mental work and certainly not creative mental work. The brain is much more active – and therefore much more likely to drain – than any other muscle or organ in our bodies. Evidence shows that the brain cycles from highest attention to lowest attention approximately every 90 minutes. This suggests that you should hit the reset button about that often.

One of the best ways to recharge is to engage in something different. 

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What Good Strategy Is — and Isn’t

Filed under: Insights, Productivity, Professional Development, Strategy, Uncategorized

I’ve made a lot of mistakes, but employing bad strategy masked as great strategy has to top the list. The pattern was quite simple — I would have a self-proclaimed brilliant revelation, chart a wildly ambitious new course, sell everyone on the vision while dismissing the naysayers, intentionally leave details fuzzy, make everyone else responsible for implementation, and criticize anyone who didn’t immediately fall in line.

Not surprisingly, that strategy didn’t work too well. In fact, it failed miserably, but it afforded me some hard-earned lessons along the way. Here’s what I found makes good strategy:

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How to simplify your future

Filed under: Best Advice, Career Advice, Efficiency, Productivity

We live in a volatile world, so the future makes many people nervous, instead of excited. Here’s how to increase the odds your future will be bright:

Be generous and expert, trustworthy and clear, open-minded and adaptable, persistent and present.

I’d like to suggest that you commit that sentence to memory, and that you do your best to live by it.

Let’s break it down.

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Organizational Attention Deficit Disorder

Filed under: Behavior in the Workplace, Distractions, Efficiency, Productivity

Many leaders in large organizations manage global teams. The group may include contract workers, or team members from a merger. Face-to-face interactions aren’t always possible. Getting a group in sync with the project’s goals can be a job in and of itself. As a result of these and other obstacles, managers are often forced to operate in good faith that professionals will act accordingly.

But along the way, there are unfortunate breakdowns. Friction arises from constant missed deadlines, miscommunication, or mismanaged budgets. Managers have a hard time comprehending – or responding to – careless errors from professionals. Such breakdowns are a sign of organizational attention deficit.

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How to Get From Distraction to Satisfaction

Filed under: Distractions, Efficiency, Productivity, Success

Multitasking can leave us feeling disoriented at the end of the day. What’s worse, this frenetic shifting between two or more things can rob us of a sense of satisfaction.

Jeremy Hunter, PhD, Assistant Professor of Practice at The Peter F. Drucker School of Management, teaches a course called The Executive Mind. His students often tell him that multitasking makes them feel totally ineffective, and it irritates the people they work with. During Jeremy’s recent discussion with Mirabai Bush for the Working with Mindfulness webinar, he shared several examples about ways to shift or change distracting habits in organizations. Here’s what he had to say.

“We know from Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s research that in order to have flow you have to have concentrated attention. While our work places are anything but concentrated, how do you have this satisfying experience of deep absorption in what you’re doing if you’re multitasking all day?

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When To Go With Your Gut

Filed under: Best Advice, Decision Making, Productivity, Quick Tips

As a general rule, gut instinct is nothing to be ashamed of. Quite the opposite. It’s really just pattern recognition, isn’t it? You’ve seen something so many times over your life or career that you just get what’s going on without a lot of deep thinking. Gut instinct is a deep, even subconscious, familiarity — the voice inside you that tells you “Go for it now” or “No way — not ever.” We would wager, however, that the most common gut call falls in between the two. We’re talking about the “uh-oh” response in which your stomach informs you that something is not right.

The trick, of course, is to know when to go with your gut. That’s easy when you discover, over time, that your gut is usually right. But such confidence can take years.

Until that point, we suggest a rule of thumb: Gut calls are usually pretty helpful when it comes to looking at deals and less so when it comes to picking people.

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