Every productive person obsessively sets To Do Lists. But those who play at world-class also record what they commit to stop doing. Steve Jobs said that what made Apple Apple was not so much what they chose to build but all the projects they chose to ignore. Use your commute time. Remember, the fastest way to double your income is to triple your rate of learning.
Be a contrarian. Why buy your groceries at the time the store is busiest? Why go to movies on the most popular nights? Get things right the first time.
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Most people are wildly distracted these days. And so they make mistakes. To unleash your productivity, become one of the special performers who have the mindset of doing what it takes to get it flawless first. This saves you days of having to fix problems. Get lost. I often spend hours at a time in the cafeteria of a university close to our headquarters. I turn off my devices and think, create, plan and write.
Zero interruptions. Pure focus. Massive results. I truly hope these 21 productivity tips have been valuable to you. Your productivity is your life made visible. Please protect it. Toggle navigation.
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New to Robin? Start here. Want Robin to mentor you? Latest Articles See more. The Antidote to Procrastination. Most important, they can avoid actions that negate its value. Most jobs in modern organizations are potentially meaningful for the people doing them.
However, managers can make sure that employees know just how their work is contributing. And, most important, they can avoid actions that negate its value.
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Shockingly often, however, we saw potentially important, challenging work losing its power to inspire. Diary entries from knowledge workers who were members of creative project teams revealed four primary ways in which managers unwittingly drain work of its meaning. Consider the case of Richard, a senior lab technician at a chemical company, who found meaning in helping his new-product development team solve complex technical problems. However, in team meetings over the course of a three-week period, Richard perceived that his team leader was ignoring his suggestions and those of his teammates.
As a result, he felt that his contributions were not meaningful, and his spirits flagged. When at last he believed that he was again making a substantive contribution to the success of the project, his mood improved dramatically:. I felt that my opinions and information were important to the project and that we have made some progress. Frequent and abrupt reassignments often have this effect. This happened repeatedly to the members of a product development team in a giant consumer products company, as described by team member Bruce:.
Especially when you have been with them from the start and are nearly to the end.
You lose ownership. This happens to us way too often. Managers may send the message that the work employees are doing will never see the light of day. They can signal this—unintentionally—by shifting their priorities or changing their minds about how something should be done. We saw the latter in an internet technology company after user-interface developer Burt had spent weeks designing seamless transitions for non-English-speaking users. Other options for the international [interfaces] were [given] to the team during a team meeting, which could render the work I am doing useless.
Often, this arises from poor customer management or inadequate communication within the company. Therefore, there is a strong possibility that all the time and effort put into the project was a waste of our time. What can managers do to ensure that people are motivated, committed, and happy? Catalysts are actions that support work.
They include setting clear goals, allowing autonomy, providing sufficient resources and time, helping with the work, openly learning from problems and successes, and allowing a free exchange of ideas. Their opposites, inhibitors, include failing to provide support and actively interfering with the work. Because of their impact on progress, catalysts and inhibitors ultimately affect inner work life.
But they also have a more immediate impact: When people realize that they have clear and meaningful goals, sufficient resources, helpful colleagues, and so on, they get an instant boost to their emotions, their motivation to do a great job, and their perceptions of the work and the organization. Nourishers are acts of interpersonal support, such as respect and recognition, encouragement, emotional comfort, and opportunities for affiliation. Toxins, their opposites, include disrespect, discouragement, disregard for emotions, and interpersonal conflict. For good and for ill, nourishers and toxins affect inner work life directly and immediately.
For instance, when a manager makes sure that people have the resources they need, it signals to them that what they are doing is important and valuable. When managers recognize people for the work they do, it signals that they are important to the organization. In this way, catalysts and nourishers can lend greater meaning to the work—and amplify the operation of the progress principle. The managerial actions that constitute catalysts and nourishers are not particularly mysterious; they may sound like Management , if not just common sense and common decency.
But our diary study reminded us how often they are ignored or forgotten. Even some of the more attentive managers in the companies we studied did not consistently provide catalysts and nourishers. For example, a supply-chain specialist named Michael was, in many ways and on most days, an excellent subteam manager. But he was occasionally so overwhelmed that he became toxic toward his people. In irritation, he lashed out at his subordinates, demeaning the solid work they had done and disregarding their own frustration with the supplier.
In his diary, he admitted as much:. Another 2, remain on this order, and there is a good probability that they too will gain wings. I have turned from the kindly Supply Chain Manager into the black-masked executioner. All similarity to civility is gone, our backs are against the wall, flight is not possible, therefore fight is probable. But as we saw repeatedly in our research, even the best strategy will fail if managers ignore the people working in the trenches to execute it.