Monday, June 9, 2014


by Joan

I’ve had the good fortune to work with some brilliant and successful people in my career as an accountant. I’m not talking just financial success, but success measured in product quality, job creation and ability to inspire loyalty, among other things. Besides professional success, these individuals also share personal traits, such as positive attitudes, intellectual curiosity and a desire to solve problems.

I’ve been mentoring someone in how to become more productive, how to focus. I’m no expert—I struggle with this myself sometimes—but I’m good at recognizing when to look to experts. 

I came across this fantastic article  in Business Insider by Eric Barker, from his wildly informative (and successful, featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Wired, among others) blog Barking up the Wrong Tree. (Do yourself a favor, and go read his most-shared posts and subscribe to weekly updates.) 

In “Six Subtle Things Highly Productive People Do Every Day,” Eric interviewed Tim Ferriss, author of The 4-Hour Workweek. Tim offered six tips (paraphrased here):

1.     Manage your mood –Start the day calm and focused. Don’t let others (email, phone calls, texts) send you into react mode. Stay positive and on track. How you ask? Well…

2.     Don’t check email in the morning. Yeah, I’m guilty of this – not only in the morning, but I check it often during the day. (Anyone on submission knows this too well!) “I’ve interviewed a number of very productive people and nobody said, Spend more time with email.  When  you check email in the morning, you are setting yourself up to break rule #1 and react to the day instead of manage it. Eric writes, “An email comes in and you’re giving your best hours to someone else’s goals, not yours.” Exactly.

3.    Is this task important? “Everyone asks, ‘Why is it so impossible to get everything done?’ But the answer is stunningly easy: You’re doing too many things.” Tim says, “Do what’s important…and not much else.” Joan here: I can still hear a former boss's take on inconsequential tasks, “Don’t care, don’t care, don’t care.” Might sound silly, but he was always able to focus on the key of what’s relevant.

4.    Eliminate distractions In my opinion, distractions are the most dangerous disruptions to productivity any of us face, whether we’re students, employees or full-time writers. “Distractions make you stupid,” Eric writes. Find a way to unplug – stop checking texts and emails for a certain number of hours. (Emphasis: hours, not minutes!)

5.    Have a personal system – “Productive people have a routine.” Find what works for you and do more of that. Avoid things that sabotage your productivity (or creativity).

6.    Plan tomorrow today. "Define your goals the night before.” That way you can start on your to-do list without looking to email to dictate your day. (see #2!)

So how do we put all that in practice? We’ve all heard variations of the rules of forming habits (it takes three days/three weeks, etc. to create a habit). But Jason Selk, author and contributor to Forbes, challenges those rules with some constructive advice

It’s more than just “doing” that makes a habit. It’s how you think about it. Jason writes, “Inspiration fades and reality sets in. A person finds himself struggling with the positive habit completion and old habits seems to be right around the corner.” He says you must fight through the urge to fall back into the comfortable routine of old habits. Avoid disruptions, don’t allow negative results to discourage you (sense a theme here?). 

Most of us have been able to apply these tips to a particular task, whether it be writing a novel or short story, taking an online course or preparing a board presentation. But the most productive and successful individuals practice these tips in every aspect of their lives.

You might consider reading yet another article on productivity as a distraction. But I, for one, am inspired to build these tips into my daily routine. In my mind, increasing productivity will lead to more creativity.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...