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Archive for the ‘productivity’ Category

I read an article the other day with the headline, “How to Overcome Being an Introvert”. Overcome?! This is exactly the kind of attitude that perpetuates misunderstanding and confusion. I don’t see it as something I need, or want to fix. And even if I wanted to, trying to reverse something hard-wired into my brian is most likely impossible anyway.

Hammer and Qubes4no textLet’s face it – we introverts face certain challenges. In Susan Cain’s article, The Rise of the New Groupthink, she discusses how introverts tend to be very creative thinkers, but face a serious challenge in a culture that constantly emphasizes group activity and teamwork in the workplace. She goes on to explain that introverts welcome collaboration, but need sufficient alone-time to gather our thoughts and formulate ideas to then bring to the group for discussion. Cain cites Apple Computer’s Steve Wozniak, an example of a famous introvert, as someone who fits this mold and whose greatest ideas were developed solo. And we all know how well that turned out!

In the end, both introverts and extroverts are capable of bringing value to the workplace, but that it’s critical we understand each other’s work style and accept the fact that one size does not fit all. And this is one time where there is (or ought to be) an “I” in “Team”.

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Employee turnover is a very costly expense for organizations and something they generally want to avoid. One of the major causes of turnover is weak employer/employee relationships.

But what can organizations do to improve that? Research now shows the advantages of self-expression in the workplace, particularly for new employees. But the benefits apply to the organization as well. In the studies done, when new employees were allowed to express their individuality and use their unique strengths, instead of conforming solely to organizational  values and behavioral norms, both the organization and the employee benefitted – especially in terms of greater retention, higher quality work, greater engagement, increased job satisfaction and more positive job attitudes. This is a practice that organizations would be smart to consider.

Here’s the full report.

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I’ve been hearing a lot about the importance of moving around, and not sitting for too long at one time in the workplace. When you think about it, “extended inactivity” is an easy thing to avoid, but an equally easy thing to overlook. Given the super hectic multi-tasking manner in how many of us work these days, it’s no wonder we forget to get up, move around and get the blood flowing. This is a fundamental wellness area for all of us to pay attention to especially in light of the potential negative health consequences of ignoring it. Fortunately, more and more organizations are realizing the benefits of moving, and are encouraging their employees to do more of it. In fact, one company in Minnesota radically restructured how they hold meetings. Instead of sitting down at a conference table, they each walk on a treadmill. Now that’s what I call multi-tasking!

Sitting still for long periods of time has been linked to a variety of illnesses. Physical movement helps not only our circulation but also can increase energy levels, help us lose weight and causes the release of endorphins – those chemicals in the brain that are natural mood-boosters and stress-busters. It can also help us clear our minds, get the creative juices flowing and be more productive overall. I’m sure there are a whole host of benefits I’m forgetting to mention, but those are the ones that come immediately to mind. Organizations would be smart to encourage their employees’ wellness: it’s of course great for the employee, but also good for the organization in higher morale, less turnover, higher productivity and potentially lower health care costs.

For more on the subject, check out the book, Instant Recess: Building a Fit Nation 10 Minutes at a Time.

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LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, WordPress, YouTube…that’s about all I can handle at this point, as far as social media goes. Maybe it’s a generational thing, I’m sure Generation Y, for example, has a greater capacity for social media than my generation. In any event, it’s incredible how many social networking sites there are today, and a new one seems to pop up almost every day. A common theme among clients is that they try to use as many sites as possible in order to cover their bases. But this strategy often backfires. Instead of using a few sites in a smart and strategic way, they tend to spread themselves too thin and end up not taking full advantage of what those sites have to offer.

Our time is scarce and so what I recommend to clients is to try out whatever sites look interesting, and then see what works for them, and forget about the rest. In this case, less is definitely more.

There are hundreds of social networking sites out there. Here’s a summary of 50 of them, which are used by both businesses and individuals. Hopefully this will help you focus in on what will work best for you!

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…for 10 minutes a day, that is. This is one of the many valuable tips that Richard Carlson mentions in his book, “Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff at Work.” Sounds simple enough, but probably not so simple for a lot of people who are on the go all day long, running from one meeting to the next, multi-tasking, working straight through their lunch hours, and so on and so forth. It’s no wonder why we’re so stressed at work. But taking just 10 minutes out of our day, each day to sit quietly, turn off our minds, breathe, meditate, and do absolutely nothing can be the stress-buster that’s needed. My advice to you is that if you can’t do a whole 10 minutes at a time, start with 3 minutes, then work your way up to 10. Find a quiet space, close your office door, turn out the lights, log out of email, silence your cell phone…whatever it takes, do it for a few minutes each workday. You may be shocked at how such a passive technique can help make a big difference. Besides stress reduction, a few minutes of doing nothing will likely result in increased productivity and will create a space for ideas and solutions to appear. Granted, the “art” of doing nothing will be easier for some than for others, and it may come down to just practicing it in order to get it right!

Check out this interesting article from fastcompany.com called, “What Happened to Downtime: The Extinction of Deep Thinking and Sacred Space.”

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I think any time is a good time for a time management check-in! I hope we all can find time in our hectic day to read this…I’ll make it quick 🙂
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Goal-Setting: —When you know where you’re going, you can then figure out what exactly needs to be done, in what order.

—Prioritization: —Complete the most important, highest value, most time-sensitive tasks first.

—Managing Interruptions: —Do what you can to minimize them, but make sure you don’t scare people away from interrupting you with issues that need immediate attention.

—Procrastination: —Reward yourself for getting jobs done, and remind yourself regularly of the negative consequences of not doing the more mundane tasks.

—Scheduling: —Knowing our goals and priorities will help us create a schedule that keeps us on track, balanced and stress-free. —Schedule priority tasks, leave room for interruptions, and contingency time for  unexpected events.

For more on the subject, check out Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen.

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Working from home, including telecommuting, has its clear benefits. But as with most things there’s a downside to it as well, in particular the many potential distractions and temptations like the TV, the internet, personal emails, nice weather, the refrigerator, the snooze button – to name a few.

Since I’m someone who has from time to time given in to these distractions, I’ve decided to start working more from my “remote” office, a.k.a. the local coffee shop that has free wi-fi. It’s incredible how much more productive I can be when I change my environment. 

If working from a “remote” office isn’t possible, there are still things you can do at home to minimize distraction and maximize productivity. Set aside a limited time during the day to have the TV on (record your favorite shows to watch after work), answer personal emails, browse the internet, etc.  If it’s a warm sunny day outside, definitely take advantage of it and take a couple laps around the block. (That way, you get your exercise in too, which will help increase productivity.)

The idea is not to totally eliminate the creature comforts, but instead to effectively manage the distractions so they’re no longer considered “distractions.”

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