5 Tips to Increase Your Productivity at Work

How to Increase Your Productivity at Work

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Are you interested in more ways to increase your productivity at work? In the first part of the interview with Jason Womack, executive coach and author of the book, "Your Best Just Got Better: Work Smarter, Think Bigger, Make More" (Wiley), he offered eight tips to increase your work performance.

Interview With Jason Womack About How to Improve Your Productivity

In this continuation of that interview, Jason provides additional insights into how to increase your productivity at work.

Susan Heathfield: In a workplace environment, what are the three-five most performance inhibiting factors?

Jason Womack: I call them the sins of an unproductive day. Here are five sins.

1. Lie. Okay, this is step one: Tell the truth. Most people say yes too often, and they say yes to things that aren’t exactly on course for where they are going, or what’s important to them. Of course, it’s not always apparent on the front side.
But over time, and with practice, you can begin to ask “was that worth it?” to whatever it was that you just did, where you went, who you talked to, the meeting you attended, the business trip you went on, the class you attended - the list goes on.
When people lie and say they can (or can’t) do something when they intuitively know they shouldn’t (or should) do it, they compromise their focus, integrity, and power. Stop it. Get focused on where you're going. Up-level your Social Network (more on that later) and move in a direction that is on course for your talents, interests, and strengths.

2. Keep working after you’re done. Call what’s done—done. You probably have a project or task that you’re done working on, but you haven’t “marked it as complete” because you think you’ll have more time to work on it later. You won’t.
Out of the 20, 40, 100 things that you’re managing right now (that is, the events, projects, and deliverables you’re responsible for over the next 1-6 months), there might be 10 percent that you’re actually not going to do anything more about or on. Good.
Tell someone, anyone, and if you need to, pass on the “as-much-as-you’re-gonna-do” task to someone who wants to do more. Otherwise: move on.

3. Wishing things were different. At the water cooler. In the line at coffee. On the subway. Over dinner. These are the places where people talking about things they’re not willing to do anything about.
Wishing (or worse, complaining) that things were different is perhaps the greatest sin of the worker, manager, entrepreneur or senior executive. The Pareto Principle exists to remind us that (approximately) 80 percent of our results come from 20 percent of our assets.
Study the 20 percent and identify what you could address that would have the biggest impact on your productivity and performance. I’ll share some ideas below; if you want a place to start, focus on the 2 out of 10 people in your social network (not your social media network, that’s something different) who are moving forward and willing to mind map strategies for success with you. That 20 percent focus, may just change 80 percent of how things are. That’s how you make things different.

4. Hope to remember. Ok, this is the starting point for inefficiency, ineffectiveness, and under-performing. I frequently ask people, “When you have an idea here for something to do there, how do you get that into your system?”
When someone says, “Oh, I just remember to do it,” I worry. No, I don’t think people can’t remember, I worry that while they are busy remembering one thing through the day, they may not have the opening to notice something else that passes their periphery.
You see, if you’re so full of remembering what you need to do later, you won’t want to take in/on anything new. No new ideas, no new reading, no new conversations, no new media, no new meetings.
But, in the new is where you see the difference. And, when you start doing things differently—or, as Steve Jobs said, ”think different”—the opening occurs. We have the opportunity to engage at another, higher, level.

5. Thinking you should already know what to do. In a weird way, the educational system that most of you experienced is actually setting employees up for failure during your first few years on the job. Students spend years working alone, doing homework at home, taking tests on their own, sitting quietly in a classroom as teachers lecture about the topic of study.
Then, they enter the workforce. Immediately, collaboration is king. I believe in the power of thinking—yes, we need to be able to do deep, integrative, developmental thinking on our own—and, I know that people move further and faster when they work together.
The moment I get the intuitive thought that I should know better or I should know how to do something already, that’s my cue to raise my hand and ask for help (or, send a tweet or status update, asking for help).

Heathfield: In your book, you present a number of frameworks for how an individual can review the week, the month, and the year to improve productivity and performance. You are suggesting that a regular pattern for assessing productivity is important to establish. Can you tell us more about how this is helpful and what you recommend?

Womack: A weekly debrief is just a good all-around idea. Thursdays, mid-afternoon, look back on the week and ask yourself: How did I do? What did I do? Where did I do it? Who did I do it with?

The most important part of this activity is not just that you are doing it. The most important part is what you do when your thoughts about the past trigger a thought about what should happen.—what you should do, where you should go, who you need to meet with, and so forth—in the future.

In the Stanford commencement speech by Steve Jobs that regained popularity just after his death, Steve said something that I’ve been promoting for years: "In hindsight, we can connect dots.

If our work, our world, our lives are always spent simply trying to get through the day, and into the next week, the next meeting, the next event, we lose the perspective that the review gives us. Look back, check it out, learn, and use those experiences to build something that naturally comes next."

You can use these ideas for increasing productivity to help you increase your focus and identify what's really important to accomplish each day, week, month. Just thinking about your everyday actions will bring forth ideas that could change your world—for the better.

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