Low productivity can cost businesses millions of dollars each year. With so many distractions however – like social media, the internet, other co-workers and our own lack of motivation – it can be hard to regain your productivity streak. Although there are several articles out there touting different time management fixes, these four tips are off the beaten path and will hopefully grant you a renewed kick in your step the next time you sit down at your desk to work.
There was a day not too long ago that added “ability to multitask” to a resume or CV was seen as a positive attribute to have in a work environment. Recent research however suggests differently. If we try to juggle too much at once, adults can experience severe stress or rage – two things that are not conducive to a good work environment. Ninety-eight percent of us can’t multitask effectively, and we can work nearly twice as fast if we only do one thing at a time.
Make a To-Don’t List
Many people find that making to-do lists or writing down plans and tasks in a diary help keep them organized and productive. But have you considered penning a “to-don’t” list? Bad habits influence the way we work just as much as good habits do. How often do you check your mobile throughout the day? Do you spend a lot of time surfing the internet? Are you always late? By laying your productivity-killing habits out on paper, you will be more conscious of them and maybe even more willing to put an end to them.
Spend a whole day tracking how you spend your time at work – reading and responding to emails, researching, talking to co-workers, and other activities. Make sure to log both the good (like working on this article for an hour and a half) and the bad (and then promptly reading a few news stories for 15 minutes). Once you realise the work that takes up the most of your time, you’ll be able to better budget and prioritise to get the most done.
How did your week go? Do you even remember your busy Monday morning? If you made a to-don’t list and were able to track you time in the same week, look back and see all that you accomplished, and where you can make improvements for your future productivity.
The Shearin Group Leadership Tips
Today’s corporation exists in an increasingly complex and ever-shifting ocean of change. As a result, leaders need to rely more than ever on the intelligence and resourcefulness of their staff. Collaboration is not a “nice to have” organizational philosophy. It is an essential ingredient for organizational survival and success.
One my most popular speaking topics is “The Power of Collaborative Leadership.” (In fact, this year I’m presenting this seminar in five countries. The topic’s popularity stems from corporate clients realizing that “silo mentality” and knowledge hoarding behaviors are wasting the kind of collective brainpower that could save their organization billions. Or lead to the discovery of a revolutionary new process or product. Or, in the current economic climate, help keep their company afloat when others are sinking!
And it’s not just corporate profits that suffer when collaboration is low: the workforce loses something too. Individuals lose the opportunity to work in the kind of inclusive environment that energizes teams, releases creativity and makes working together both productive and joyful.
Here are eight tips for building collaboration in your team or organization:
1.) Realize that silos can kill your business. Silo mentality is a mindset present when certain departments or sectors do not wish to share information with others in the same company. This type of mentality will reduce efficiency in the overall operation, reduce morale, and may contribute to the demise of a productive company culture. Silo is a business term that has been passed around and discussed in many boardrooms over the last 30 years. Unlike many other trendy management terms this is one issue that has not disappeared. Silos are seen as a growing pain for organizations of all sizes. Wherever it’s found, a silo mentality becomes synonymous with power struggles, lack of cooperation, and loss of productivity.
2.) Build your collaboration strategy around the “human element.” In trying to capture and communicate the cumulative wisdom of a workforce, the public and private sectors have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in portals, software, and intranets. But collaboration is more than the technology that supports it, and even more than a business strategy aimed at optimizing a organization’s experience and expertise. Collaboration is, first and foremost, a change in attitude and behavior of people throughout an organization. Successful collaboration is a human issue. Take a look at this video clip to see what IBM found out about people and collaboration.
3.) Use collaboration as an organizational change strategy. Over the past 25 years, I’ve worked with a variety of very talented leaders, and one thing I know for sure: Regardless of how creative, smart and savvy a leader may be, he or she can’t transform an organization, a department or a team without the brain power and commitment of others. Whether the change involves creating new products, services, processes – or a total reinvention of how the organization must look, operate, and position itself for the future – success dictates that the individuals impacted by change be involved in the change from the very beginning.
4.) Make visioning a team sport. Today’s most successful leaders guide their organizations not through command and control, but through a shared purpose and vision. These leaders adopt and communicate a vision of the future that impels people beyond the boundaries and limits of the past. But if the future vision belongs only to top management, it will never be an effective motivator for the workforce. The power of a vision comes truly into play only when the employees themselves have had some part in its creation.
5.) Utilize diversity in problem solving. Experiments at the University of Michigan found that, when challenged with a difficult problem, groups composed of highly adept members performed worse than groups whose members had varying levels of skill and knowledge. The reason for this seemingly odd outcome has to do with the power of diverse thinking. Group members who think alike or are trained in similar disciplines with similar bases of knowledge run the risk of becoming insular in their ideas. Diversity causes people to consider perspectives and possibilities that would otherwise be ignored.
6.) Help people develop relationships. The outcome of any collaborative effort is dependent upon well-developed personal relationships among participants. Not allowing time for this can be a costly mistake. For example, all too often, in the rush to get started on a project, team leaders put people together and tell them to “get to work.” You’ll get better results if your give your group time (upfront) to get to know one another, to discover each other’s strengths and weaknesses, to build personal ties, and to develop a common understanding about the project.
7.) Focus on building trust. Trust is the belief or confidence that one party has in the reliability, integrity and honesty of another party. It is the expectation that the faith one places in someone else will be honored. It is also the glue that holds together any group. I recently conducted a survey of middle managers in an attempt to pinpoint the state of trust and knowledge sharing in their various organizations. What I found is a crisis of trust: suspicious and cynical employees are disinclined to collaborate — sharing knowledge is still perceived as weakening a personal “power base.” Leaders demonstrate their trust in employees by the open, candid, and ongoing communication that is the foundation of informed collaboration.
8.) Watch your body language. To show that you are receptive to other people’s ideas, uncross your arms and legs. Place your feet flat on the floor and use open palm gestures (which is a body language display inviting others into the conversation). If you want people to give you their ideas, don’t multi-task while they do. Avoid the temptation to check your text messages, check your watch, or check out how the other participants are reacting. Instead, focus on those who are speaking by turning your head and torso to face them directly and by making eye contact. Leaning forward is another nonverbal way to show you’re engaged and paying attention, as is head tilting. (The head tilt is a universal gesture of giving the other person an ear.) To encourage team members to expand on their comments, nod your head using clusters of three nods at regular intervals.