Archive for the Category ◊ Performance & Productivity ◊

Author:
• Friday, February 17th, 2017

focusProcrastinating? 30 Minutes Can Change Your Day.

We all have more to do and yet ironically we seem to be spinning our wheels now more than ever. Have you noticed that people are procrastinating more and more despite ever-increasing workloads?

When we are overloaded, we actually tend to procrastinate more. This is called the Paradox of Choice: with too many decisions to make, we tend to do nothing, or at the very least, we do the easiest thing. The Easiest Thing is rarely the best decision. We all know it will just put us under pressure down the track, when that deadline is finally looming. But we keep doing those easy things anyway.

That is, until there’s some urgency.

 

Urgency forces us to switch into the performance zone. It makes us switch out of auto-pilot mode and switch on the part of the brain that controls our behaviours. It also gives us a little shot of adrenalin, which narrows our focus.

But usually people wait for something or someone else to make this happen:

Someone else gives us a deadline

Or I am all of a sudden so far behind my budget or project timeline that I need to switch on.

This is a hallmark of being overwhelmed in the 21st Century. I will do easy things until someone else forces me to do something more productive. We wait to that external impetus to really get us moving.

The minute we create our own urgency, we start being more productive. We take control of our own performances and we are not held to the whims of deadlines and controlling managers.

 

Here’s a tip:

Build Blocks Of Focus into your day

Plan 30min blocks where all you do is work on the things that are most important. No email, no distractions, no daydreaming about the things that aren’t getting done. Be deliberate and set specific tasks to complete during this time. And if you can control your environment by closing your door or finding a meeting room to work in – even better.

I know 30 minutes doesn’t seem like much, but it is sometimes all we need to get us going. That 30 minutes quickly turns into an hour, but the original 30min block is long enough to get us started and short enough to create some urgency.

Now this takes some practice, so don’t give up if it doesn’t work the first time. We can actually train ourselves to work in these blocks of focus. Again, 30min may not seem like much, but you’ll find it amazing how much you get done in this small space of time, with better focus.

 

 

** Tony Wilson is a Workplace Performance Expert focussed on helping leaders build the environment for high performance. His insights into performance science and it’s application in the workplace will make you re-think the way that you approach leadership, culture change, high performance and productivity. Tony has an MBA and a BSc majoring in physiology and combines the two for a different perspective. He is also the author of Jack and the Team that Couldn’t See and delivers workshops and keynote presentations around the globe.

Author:
• Tuesday, January 24th, 2017

procrastinationThis year, stop procrastinating and start doing

What’s going to stop you from achieving those New Year’s Goals? If you’re like most people – the answer is procrastination. And it is never helpful. Research shows that procrastinators end up with higher stress, more illness and lower grades at university. In my workshops and keynote engagements, this is one of the topics that consistently pops up.

Why do we procrastinate?

People procrastinate for many reasons. The main ones are that a) a task is too difficult, so they make themselves feel good by doing things that give them an immediate reward, or b) the reward or consequence of not doing the task is too far away – there is actually not enough stress to get them motivated.

To sum it up very simply, when we procrastinate, we are doing it because we would rather have something right now, than wait for something in the future. We opt for a smaller, sooner reward, instead of doing something that will deliver a larger, later reward.

What does the smaller sooner reward look like?

Let’s say you should really get started on a project that’s due in four weeks’ time. But instead, you decide to check facebook and answer some emails that aren’t particularly urgent. What just happened?

Now, you could have a bigger reward later in the future. If you did some work on that project, then you may not get stressed out down the track when the deadline comes around. Or you will probably do a better job because you won’t be so rushed, and this might lead to a promotion or at least making your life a lot easier.

But you didn’t do that. You took the smaller, sooner reward.

You opted for something that you could get right now. You got some social connection (facebook) or maybe a sense of achievement (answered some emails…. tick!), or maybe you just got to do something easy, which made you feel comfortable. Either way you got a little reward right now.

And it’s not just you. A lot of people do this. We are actually hard-wired to believe that something we can get right now is more important than something we can get in the future. It’s evolutionary biology. Scientists call it Temporal Discounting

What to do about it:

But there are some simple ways to beat procrastination, and boost performance:

1)    Connect with your ‘future self’ more clearly

Simply try to imagine yourself in the future, having NOT worked on the project and being under enormous pressure because of the deadline. Imagine your boss getting angry at you, or those sleepless nights. Then maybe also imagine how good you’ll feel if you actually do a great job, with a bunch of time to spare.

2)    Manufacturing self-imposed deadlines

Set a timer for no more than 30 minutes. Ask yourself ‘what could I get done in the next 30 mins that will help me get closer to getting this project done. It doesn’t matter how small the task, but if you just get started, you might find that you continue to work on it once you build some momentum. The key is don’t get started on the simple task – get started on the harder task.

Try these things to beat procrastination in 2017. They’re simple but they are very effective at tricking our hard-wiring.

 

* Tony Wilson is a workplace performance expert focussed on helping leaders build the environment for high performance. His insights into performance science and it’s application in the workplace will make you re-think the way that you approach leadership and culture change. Tony has an MBA and a BSc majoring in physiology and combines the two for a different perspective. He is also the author of Jack and the Team that Couldn’t See, and is highly sought after for workshops, programs and keynotes around the Asia Pacific Region. www.teamcorp.com.au

 

Author:
• Friday, December 09th, 2016

Is it Time to Close Down the Open Plan Office
Think about this: Distractions take up 28% of our day.

Someone once thought it was a good idea, but open plan offices are killing our productivity.

Research shows that we get distracted every 11 minutes. That can include someone directly interrupting you, or the loud-talker four desks over that won’t keep it down. Even worse, once we are interrupted, it takes a staggering 25 minutes, on average, to get back on track.

The concept of increased collaboration by removing the office walls is great in theory, but when we need people to be more productive than ever before, why would we give them an environment full of distractions?

In my workshops, a constant theme is that people are regularly getting into the office early (before anyone else is there) or staying later (when no one else is there) in order to get some productive work time in. This tells us one thing: we are more productive when we’re not interrupted!

In order to thrive in these chaotic workplaces, we need some personal and organisational strategies to maximise productivity, without leaving collaboration behind.

Here’s what I suggest:

1) Acknowledge the Problem

Distractions are a real problem. If we are getting distracted every 11 minutes, and it takes us 25 minutes to get back on track, then how much work are we actually getting done? We need to acknowledge that collaboration is great, but we also need periods of time where we can actually get the important stuff done during the day.

2) Develop Team Strategies

Sit down with your team and work out some strategies to make this happen. Maybe it’s that there are periods during the day that are free from internal email, meetings or interruptions. Or maybe you set up a ‘signal’ that people are working at full intensity – maybe people have a sign on their desk or they have their headphone in.

3) Develop Personal Strategies

Our willingness to be distracted is increasing daily. We feel compelled to response to every email ping or social media blip. Start implementing periods of focussed attention in your day. Maybe start small and practice ignoring distractions for 20-30 minutes and then increase from there.

Author:
• Thursday, November 24th, 2016

disappointed-1024x683

How are those 2016 goals working out for you? I’ve got some news for you, but most people don’t want to hear it.

There are only three reasons that you fail to make progress towards your goals. Yes – it’s that simple. But people are going to deny it.

The first two reasons are the most important – and the ones that people don’t want to face. The third reason is really just a caveat. So let’s scrap the third reason.

There are only two reasons you fail to progress towards your goals.
In. Anything.

Either:
a) You’re not doing the work, or
b) You’re doing the wrong work

That’s it. Nothing else is stopping you. Whether you want to get a promotion, make more sales, qualify for your bonus or lose ten kilos. If it’s not happening for you, it’s because of one of those things.

So here’s what you need to do. And I KNOW this sounds really simple, but I am really frustrated with a bunch of people I’ve been working with, so I’m going to spell it out.

First – find out what the ‘right work’ is. Because if you want to make more sales, but you’re only making three sales calls a week, then getting buried in admin – it’s probably not going to happen. Or if you want a brilliant team, but you aren’t doing one-on-ones with your staff at least once a month – it’s probably not going to happen.

So, find out what the BEST people in your world are doing. Whether that’s sales, or losing weight, or leadership, or whatever. And then do it even better than them.

Secondly. Commit and work relentlessly on making it happen. You can’t make those 10 sales calls every other week – it has to be every week. Don’t make excuses why you can’t get out the door and exercise, because you’re too busy – just make it happen. Don’t cancel those one-on-ones with your staff because you have too many emails to answer. Prioritise it and Get. It. Done.

And don’t lie to yourself and other people that you’re doing it, when you’re actually NOT.

What’s the third reason? The third reason is that your goals are out of your control. But this rant assumes that you set controllable, smart goals anyway. So forget it.

Author:
• Tuesday, November 08th, 2016

shingles_contagious
Many leaders don’t invest much time and effort in setting and upholding standards. Instead, we focus on results. And fair enough – results are what we are measured on.

But what many leaders forget, until it’s too late, is that standards and behaviours precede results. And if we don’t reinforce the right behaviours, both culture and performance gets off track pretty quickly.

Consider some recent research in how standards are contagious

In a university experiment, researchers found that when colleagues kept their work environment tidy, only about 18% of people littered the environment.

But then the researchers decided to plant a mole who had no regard whatsoever for the cleanliness of their workspace? They left trash lying around, dirty coffee cups littered their desk, and they were generally messy all day every day.

What do you think happened?

Once the students observed someone engaging in this messy behaviour, it triggered a more than 40% increase in the number of people that were messy as well.

Just one person had a massive influence on the behaviours of other people in the team.

You see, staff tend to be drawn to the behaviour they are surrounded by.

They look around and they think “Well, if Fred can do that, I guess it’s ok for me to do that too’’

If those standards are high, that’s great. But if the standards are low – then watch out.

Think about these two simple things that you can do:

Firstly, define your Team Brand

Simply ask your team “What do we want to stand for?” and then highlight the behaviours that exemplify this in your team. Even better – get your team to set these standards and behaviour so they become part of the solution see this quick video on ownership

Second, be relentless about rewarding people for displaying the behaviours, and holding people accountable when they do things that detract from your team brand. Most people fail to do this and then wonder why they aren’t seeing the behaviours they like from their team.

I’ll say it again: standards and behaviours precede results.

If you tolerate low standards in everything from performance to the way people treat each other, then you are setting your team up for poor results.

Author:
• Wednesday, November 02nd, 2016

How-Leave-Work-at-Work

(Don’t waste time reading! Watch the video instead! Click here

How is stress affecting your home life?

80% of kids say that they notice that their parents bring work stress home.
If you check in with work after hours, or on your days off, your kids are 200% more likely to say you come home in a bad mood.
And Maybe more importantly, you are also 20% more likely to have stressed our kids.

And let’s face it – pretty much everyone is checking in with work, outside of work hours.

With more to do than ever before we are more stressed than ever before as well.
And yet most of us are like the proverbial frog in the saucepan – this constant feeling of pressure has become the norm. We almost don’t notice it. But clearly others do. In the survey results above, I am pretty certain you could replace ‘kids’ with ‘friends’, or ‘spouse’ and you’d end up with exactly the same results.

So here are two things you can do to leave stress at the office

1) Plan Tomorrow

Before you leave the office, write down the critical things you need to do tomorrow. For some reason, when we allocate time to do something in the future, our bodies and brains treat those things like they’re already taken care of. Actually plan your day out and work out where you’re going to do those things that are bugging you.

2) Do something to disconnect on the way home

Try to forget work on the trip home. No work phone calls or problem solving – try to switch off by listening to some music or reading a book. Make this your signal to leave work at work. This also allows us to transition from your work persona to your home persona.

Stress is a pervasive element in the 21st Century workplace. But by managing stress well, we can use it to get more done and help us perform well, instead of letting it negatively us and those around us.