John Brewer Coaching & Consulting
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Productivity Problems? Here are 3 reasons why and 5 solutions.

If you talk with a group of business leaders about challenges they are facing, chances are that they will mention time, or the lack of it. 

In the early days of my career, I recall the importance of being armed with a Filofax, or Time/System to be organized and also show others that I was on the ball and someone to be reckoned with.

We have automated collaboration, task tracking and communication, to the extent that you would think we should have bags of time to spare. Do you? I confess I don't and that managing my time has become more challenging than ever. Just why is this?

At Microsoft I was responsible for Communications Strategy in the Office Business Group. I remember we had one marketing value statement “Always On. Always Connected”. At the time we were pretty impressed with this. It signals you always have the tools and capability to respond, no matter what your time or location, regardless of you being in a meeting, having dinner with the family or asleep … you probably see where I am going with this!

Now,  Microsoft Outlook is one of my favorite products, and the capability to text a reply to someone across the globe in a few seconds is extremely valuable. But, one consequence of having abundant software capabilities at our disposal, is that we over-exercise them to the detriment of our work-life balance and our true maximum productivity.

3 warning signs that you may have a productivity problem:

  1. A team member is so busy they have several meetings scheduled at the same time and they don’t decide which one to attend until the last possible moment
  2. There’s confusion on the mission or the priorities that the workgroup has
  3. You notice that there is little time for your workgroup to come together and plan or celebrate an important product release or business achievement

The most productive people are clear on what’s important and focus on getting it done and clearly these habits are critical to “getting stuff done”.

But being productive, and balanced as a parent, mentor, and leader is more than just getting stuff done. It involves connecting with others in a way that illustrates very clearly that you are listening, you care, and whilst you are empathetic, you also have a point of view and have control of yourself.

Here are 5 tips for being more productive:

1.    Be purposeful in maintaining your relationships: A friend in a networking group recently gave me some advice that worked for him – allocate an hour per week to reaching out to someone in your network that you want to stay connected with. The chances are that you want to stay connected because you find them very valuable, and by making contact again, you will uncover more value

2.    Share your work style and preferences with you team: I like to outline my preferred “rhythm”, personal commitments that I value, and some of my learning’s on what makes a productive team, early on with the team

3.    Plan the week ahead and be realistic: whatever your tool, plan the week and commit to your routine and calendar. As much as possible stick to your schedule

4.    Stop Multi-tasking: We all witness people who are not fully present, checking their phones in a meeting and overscheduling themselves because they want to appear so important they can do several tasks at once. This is a pet peeve of mine. Be respectful of your colleagues and their time, by giving your time fully in return

5.    Mental preparation: Give yourself the benefit of preparing yourself mentally for your day. This can simply be deep breathing for 5 minutes, a short walk, or anything to relax. In my case this is often a morning swim, which is a wonderful way to both exercise and lose yourself in thoughts. I always feel physically tired from a workout but grateful for the time I gave myself to exercise and think freely

Put your productivity problems out there! Avoid being overwhelmed and achieve your own balance!