Personal Productivity Feed

Do It Now! 5 Steps to Tackle Procrastination

What are you procrastinating in your life?  Most of us have something on our "to do" list that we keep putting off for one reason or another, resulting in stress, productivity loss and dissatisfaction in our lives. It doesn't have to be that way.
 
Today I'll share 5 useful steps you can take to tackle procrastination in your life:  

  1. Want it done. Really want it done. How strong is your desire to complete the goal/task/project? Give it a number on a scale of 1-10. If your desire ranks less than 8, either find a way to make it important to you or ditch it.
  2. Craft a plan. With deadlines. Create step by step plans to achieve your goal. Attach meaningful deadlines to the steps so you will know the impact of achievement or procrastination ion on your goal.
  3. Take baby steps. Each step should be small so you can focus on the task at hand without getting overwhelmed. List your steps as specific actions rather than generalities.
  4. Strive for "good enough", not perfect. Many people delay project efforts because they think it will be too much work. Perfectionism is the enemy here. Decide ahead of time what is good enough and go with it.
  5. Partner up. Accountability is key in getting things done. Partner with someone who will ask you how you are doing on your goals. Who might you partner with?

Overcoming procrastination is possible with discipline and determination. How might you overcome your procrastination via the 5 steps listed above? When will you start?

What would you add to my list? Share your thoughts in a comment below!


Need help tackling your procrastination habit? Click HERE to schedule your complimentary consultation today!


Procrastination and Productivity

Good may be the enemy of great, but procrastination is just the enemy. Procrastination is one of the biggest time wasters in life and its cycle of delay-avoid-panic-produce enables us to live the reactionary life of a "firefighter", putting out proverbial fires and doing work only when it has to be done.

What are you procrastinating with right now? Have you ever thought about how it affects you?

Procrastination contributes to stress, emotional energy drain, lack of creativity and reduced quality of work, all of which reduce productivity. Revisit the last time you put off doing something important for a long time. Picture in your mind how your body felt once the deadline approached and you weren't even close to completion.

As you reflect, consider the following:

  • How many times before the work was done did you think about the "thing" when you weren't working on the "thing"?
  • When you remembered your undone project, how much energy drained out of you?
  • What else could you have done with all that wasted time and energy?

We need to just do "it". Nike was on to something with their slogan. I wonder if they knew that this mantra could be the solution to many people's productivity woes.

For an increase in productivity, pay attention this week to how many times you say to yourself "I'll do it later" or "I need to do that". If the task is one you can do in less than two minutes, do yourself a favor by telling yourself "Do it now"...and just do it. Changing your mantra might just change your life.

What is your favorite way of procrastinating? How do you beat it? Leave a comment below and let us know what you think!


Making a Change? Assess, Then Act

Self-knowledge plays a significant role in a leader's effectiveness. Knowing ourselves intimately so we can recognize our strengths, values and shortcomings enables us to lead authentically with confidence, and equips us to adapt swiftly to new roles.  

How well do you know what makes you "tick"? If a new job opportunity came your way, how sure would you be that it was the right job for you? How quickly would you be able to identify the skills you need to learn and the skills you need to "lose" that might hinder you in your new role?  

Following are three steps you can take to leverage knowledge about yourself and your situation in order to become more effective.  

1. Objectively assess yourself and your current situation. What would your perfect work environment be? What motivates you? What talents do you bring to the table?  

2. Identify the gaps between who you are and what your situation or new role requires. If your new situation could speak for itself, what would it say it needed from you? What would need to change with you to deliver on the situation's "request"?  

3. Create an action plan for closing any gaps between you and your new role/situation.  

Don't take change or new responsibilities lightly. Assess yourself and the situation before you take action. If you do, you'll save yourself a lot of time and frustration in the long run - for everyone. 

NOTE: To view the first post in this series, "Survive the Role Transition: Be Strategic", click here.


Need help identifying your strengths or getting started in a new role? Contact me today for a complimentary consultation to see how assessments or role transition coaching might help take your skills to the next level.

 


Hire 'em and Leave 'em: A Recipe for Failure

Think about the last time you took a new job or hired/promoted someone into a new management position. What was the experience like for you? Chances are the orientation process consisted of no more than completing some paperwork and taking an office tour of the most important spots in the building...the restroom, break room and the supply closet.

If you can relate to this scenario you are not alone. Most companies tend to hire new managers and quickly leave them to fend for themselves.

Most companies set up their new hires for failure rather than success.

Did you know that...

  • 46% of leaders in new roles will FAIL within 18 months?
  • 25% of top performers will likely leave your company within the next year.
  • Replacing employees costs YOUR company 3 times their annual salary?
  • On average it takes 6.2 months for a newly-positioned leader to become productive?
  • A primary reason leaders fail in their new roles is improper induction?

No one wants to feel the stress of failure and in our current economic times no one can afford to throw resources away on new leaders who might have succeeded had they been properly invested in from the beginning.

Successful leadership role transitions are possible with the right process. Stay tuned for an upcoming serious highlighting our accelerated role transition process and get helpful tips to get on track fast in a new role ... or to build a better foundation in your current role. 

***

Can't wait for the series? If you lack a formal induction process or you just got hired and were left to fend for yourself, click here for information on how you can reduce stress and still make an impact to get the results you desire.


Emotions and Productivity

You've just been unjustly insulted by a coworker in an email she copied to your boss and entire staff. The family member who always pushes your buttons just did it again. You keep thinking about the loved one you miss who is no longer in your life.

Which one of these scenarios triggers an emotional response in you? How might such a response affect your ability to carry out your responsibilities?

Emotions and experiences can be enablers or disablers.

In addition to how they affect the way we think and behave throughout the day, the physiological changes they produce in our bodies via stress hormones are real and help or hinder our performance. Scientific research suggests an average negative experience produces physiological effects that last for approximately four hours, during which time our optimal performance is compromised.

The good news is that we can minimize the effects of negative emotions by being aware of what triggers them and structuring our days to include good emotional experiences to counteract the bad. We don't need to let our emotions hijack us completely.

What activities, people or situations make you feel better? Feel worse? Make a list for each. Insert positive items into your daily routine when you need a mood lifter. Use the "bad" list to let you know when you need to schedule in an uplifter.

We have more control of our emotions than we think. Start being proactive today and watch your quality of life and your productivity improve.    


Making Choices: Thoughtful Thursday

None of us will ever have time to do all that we want to do or need to do when we want to do everything. That's why it is so important to have a process in place to enable us to make the best choices for what to do.

Today's quote for Thoughtful Thursday will challenge you to be thoughtful about doing. To best do, we must stop doing. Here's the quote:

You have more to do than you can possibly do.You just need to feel good about your choices.- David Allen

Think on these questions today and share your thoughts if you like. We are all in this together!

  • How do you decide what to do next?
  • How often do you say "yes" to the good choice rather than the BEST choice?
  • How could your decision making process be refined so you do more of the BEST?

Getting Things Done: Ready, Set, DO!

You have more to do than you can possibly do. You just need to feel good about your choices. - David Allen

Ready...Set...DO. Today is the final step in the series highlighting David Allen's Getting Things Done process for stress free productivity. You've made and reviewed your lists and have some valuable time available. It is time to finally get something done...to DO.

The goal in the "do" stage of David Allen's process is to "move from hope to trust in your actions" resulting in an immediate increase in your speed and effectiveness.  Allen gives us three models for making choices that when integrated into your routine, will help you feel good about your choices.  Following is a brief synopsis.
 
1.  Choosing Actions in the Moment (consider the following of each task, in the order below):

  • Context
  • Time available
  • Energy Available
  • Priority

2.  Evaluating Daily Work:

  • Doing predefined work
  • Doing work as it shows up
  • Defining your work

3. Reviewing Your Work:

  • 50,000+ feet: Life
  • 40,000 feet: Three- to five-year vision
  • 30,000 feet: One- to two-year goals
  • 20,000 feet: Areas of responsibility
  • 10,000 feet: Current projects
  • Runway: Current actions

There is definitely an art to getting things done.  Everything must be considered in its proper context as it interrelates to the rest of our lives.  We need to consider both the immediate, mid-term and future when choosing what to do. Those who master the art of productivity set themselves apart from the rest in all that they do.  How will you set yourself apart today?

Want to start from the beginning of the series? Below are links in order.  Happy DO-ing!

  1. The Art of Efficiency
  2. Collect the "stuff" representing your "to do's"
  3. Process what you collect
  4. Organize results of processing
  5. Review results as options "to do"
  6. Do the best thing to do 

Now, tell me what you think of the process. What experiences have you had in getting organized & productive? Share your thoughts in a comment below.


Weekly Reviews: The Most Essential Part of Productivity

The most critical part of efficient, stress-free productivity management is the weekly review process. This is the piece of the process where we decide what to actually DO! Yet, most of the people I talk to, including myself, find this part of the process the hardest part to implement? Why? Because reviewing doesn't seem as productive as doing. 
 

But how will we know WHAT to most efficiently DO, if we don't review? Reviewing is how we know what to do. Consider the following quote by James Fenimore Cooper:

The affairs of life embrace a multitude of interests, and he who reasons in any one of them, without consulting the rest, is a visionary unsuited to control the business of the world.

If you've been participating the past few posts, you've collected, processed and organized all of your stuff.  You've impressed yourself or perhaps even overwhelmed yourself with all of the lists you've made of your future "to dos".  It is time now to learn what it means to review.
 
According to David Allen's "Getting Things Done", "everything that might potentially require action must be reviewed on a frequent enough basis to keep your mind from coming back to the job of remembering and reminding." 
 
The weekly review is the time to:

  • Gather and process all your "stuff."
  • Review your system.
  • Update your lists.
  • Get clean, clear, current and complete.

If we've done a good job at capturing on paper all of these items that require action in a complete system, we will get the most payoff from the review process.  Then, we can confidently make action decisions taking all the affairs of our life into account.  We will finally know what to do!  
 
Stay tuned next for my next post on the final step in David Allen's process, DO, and learn a model for making choices. For more information about this process, I would be happy to consult with you.  Please use my contact information at left.  Additionally, check out the book "Getting Things Done" by David Allen.

What are your experiences with a review process of this nature? Would you please share your struggles or successes in a comment below?


Getting Organized

I got it all together, but I forgot where I put it. - Anonymous

Have you ever finished a massive cleaning project and then couldn't remember where you put something because it was in its place?  I hope someone can relate. There is more to getting things done than merely being efficient at getting papers off our desk and ideas out of our head.  Processing our workflow requires a good physical organization system. 
 
If you've been reading the last few weeks, you've been following along with me as we proceed through David Allen's "Getting Things Done" steps.  So far, we've covered the steps of
Collecting and Processing.  Now, we are ready for the step of Organizing.
 
Processing and organizing go hand in hand and I've found that in practice it worked for me to develop an organizational structure as a part of the initial processing process.  As I've implemented these steps on my own, I set up a working structure before processing anything and modified it as I went along.  Keep in mind that the organization step is one that can't be set up all at once and takes some experimentation.  Find what works for you. 
 
For everyone, however, there are  seven primary types of things that will need to be organized: 

  • A "Projects" list
  • Project support material
  • Calendared actions and information
  • "Next Actions" list
  • A "Waiting For" list
  • Reference Material
  • A "Someday/Maybe" list

All we really need is a calendar, lists, and folders...and a process to review our lists so we don't forget what is on them!  We'll discuss the review process next time.  That's when we plan how to get things done

***

NOTE: For more information about this process, I would be happy to consult with you.   Additionally, check out the book "Getting Things Done" by David Allen.


Processing the "In" Box

Is your "In" box ever empty? I'm venturing a guess that unless a) you don't have much to do or b) David Allen or one of his "Getting Things Done" coaches or superstar "graduates", the bottom of your "In" box never sees the light of day. Managing workflow for even the most organized of folks often gets a little out of control. However, with a little diligence in pursuing a system, we can get the victory over the box.

Today we continue our overview of the Getting Things Done workflow management system, dubbed the "art of stress-free productivity". In the previous post of this series, we discussed step one of the process, "Collect". Now we are ready to do something with the stuff we collected.  To refresh our memories, the "stuff" is the massive "In" box of items representing the incomplete tasks in our lives.
 
Once we finish the "Collect" step of David Allen's process for getting things done, we are ready to empty our "In" box with Step 2: Process. It is in the processing phase of workflow management that we ask ourselves questions about each e-mail, voice-mail, memo, or self-generated idea that makes its way into our "In" box.  The key to this step is to make a decision about each item so it doesn't become a permanent fixture on our desk.

Making decisions about each item requires that we ask two questions: 

  1. Is it actionable?
  2. What's the next action?

Items that require no action should either be trashed, filed as reference materials, or incubated for future review.  Actionable items should be captured on a task or project list once we determine the next required action. Then, each actionable item needs to be either done, delegated or deferred.  A basic rule of thumb is that if you can finish an item in two minutes or less, do it now.

Does all of this sound unachievable?  If it does, don't despair.  Just as old habits can be broken, new ones can be made.  Just take things one step at a time and you too can see the bottom of your "In" box. And one more thing...this applies to email too. Happy processing!

Have an "In" box story to share? Leave a comment below!

Homework: This week as you process your  "stuff", take note how often you say "I'll just do this later" to yourself.  Think about this both at home and at work.  If the task would take less than two minutes to complete, why not just do it?

NEXT IN THE SERIES ...  Step 3: Organizing. 
 
NOTE: For more information about this process, check out "Getting Things Done" by David Allen or contact me for a consultation.