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Boost Your Productivity with Exercise

You know that exercise is important for your physical health, and it also can keep you mentally sharp. Did you know that exercise can make you more positively productive?

Exercise pumps blood to your brain, which improves brain function and cell growth. The chemical mix from exercise increases learning, memory, decision-making and problem-solving ability, all of which improve productivity. According to a study in Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, there is a 20% improvement after intense exercise.

Do you have to hit the treadmill and sweat up a storm? Well, you do have to break a sweat, but you can do it with a bike ride, brisk walk, housecleaning, mowing the lawn—any activity that raises your heartbeat. Of course, you have to make sure you can exercise like this by first checking with your health care provider.

See my blog post Simple Tools for Greater Productivity for more tips.






Planning Special Assignments

Managing and planning your time are critical components for handling special assignments. Estimating the amount of time required for each task helps ensure that critical deliverables are completed when required, and the assignment stays on track.   

When estimating time, always allow wiggle room for emergencies, meetings, staffing changes, disruptions, sickness, and so on. Check with subject matter experts and vendors to ensure your estimates are accurate.

Start with the due date for the assignment and work backwards, allotting the estimated amount of time for each task and the length of time for each step. Identify milestones and critical dates.

  • Milestones: These are dates when major parts of the assignment are completed. They allow you to assess the status of the project and identify anything that might affect deadlines for deliverables.
  • Critical dates: These dates trigger other tasks.
  • Sequential: Some tasks must be completed before other tasks can begin, so knowing start and completion dates is critical. If these dates slip, other later tasks will be affected, and deadlines may be missed.
  • Overlapping: Some tasks must occur simultaneously. The challenge here is having the resources to do several things at one time.

An easy tool for this is a Gantt chart, which lets you see what else is occurring at the same time. There are many ways to create a Gantt chart. For example, Microsoft Project makes it easy to track and chart project timelines with a built-in Gantt chart view. Another option is to use Excel. While Excel does not contain a built-in Gantt chart format, you can create a Gantt chart by entering a time line along the x-axis and tasks in the y-axis.

Using a Gantt chart to manage an assignment helps you identify and monitor tasks, identify dependencies and critical paths, and lets you plan for needed resources.






Hire the Right People in the Right Way

Hiring the right people can be little like playing a slot machine—sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. Even if you follow all the recommended best practices, you never really know what someone is like until they are doing the job. Here are some tools to help you improve the odds of getting someone right.

  • Carefully analyze the make-up of your team. What strengths do your current team members have and where do you need to bolster skills? Check candidates for the core competencies you need to make your team stronger and more productive.
  • Review the requirements of the job and decide if they still make sense. This is important if you haven’t had to fill the position in a while. Changes in technology, processes, and department direction may require a different skillset. Look to the future, too, and make sure new hires have what you need for the next 12 to 24 months.
  • Match candidates to your style. While you don’t want a team of yes-boss employees, you want to take your style and a candidate’s style into account. If you prefer a laid-back style that lets employees work independently to achieve their goals, you won’t like an employee who needs constant feedback. On the other hand, if you’re a hands-on manager who likes to work in the trenches with staff, a lone wolf, independent contributor won’t fit.

Getting the right person for the job is a challenge, but with some forethought and preparation, you can improve your odds of hitting a jackpot! See my blog post Find the Right Employees for more information.


Working with Rude Coworkers!

Our workplaces would be so much nicer, and we would be so much more productive if everyone got along with everyone else. It’s always best to work in an environment where our coworkers are friendly and courteous. Unfortunately, many offices aren’t idyllic. Even if you are easy-going and friendly, you may work with someone who isn’t. Here are some tips for working with rude coworkers.

  • Don’t take it personally. Just because someone is rude, try to be objective. None of us can know what it’s like to walk in someone else’s shoes. Family and financial problems make people out of sorts. If you let yourself be annoyed or offended by someone elses’s behavior, you’ll just ruin your own good mood! See my blog post Being in a Good Mood is Good Business.
  • Watch your triggers. Know what pushes your buttons. Some of us react badly when faced with a sarcastic, arrogant, or patronizing manner. It is tempting to be rude in turn, but that only escalates the situation. It’s best to remain polite and courteous. Take a deep breath and let it go, especially if they treat everyone this way. See my post Empathy at Work Works.
  • Set boundaries. No one should be bullied at work and if someone is targeting you and behaving badly toward you, be assertive. Either discuss the matter with them or take it to your manager. Make sure you document instances of bullying, so you can discuss the situation objectively and without emotion.

No one is in a good mood all the time. When someone is rude, give him or her some slack, knowing that their behavior could improve in time. If someone is chronically rude, take action if it negatively affects your ability to be positively productive or if you are being bullied.




Three Good Habits for Getting Things Done

Habits are good and bad. The bad ones keep us from achieving our goals, whether that is losing 10 pounds, exercising regularly, or meeting sales goals. Good habits, on the other hand, support our efforts and contribute to success. Unfortunately, bad habits often win over the good ones! Here are three good habits to help you be more positively productive in the New Year.

Blue alarm clock sat on a calander with a red pen

  1. Always be on time. It’s easy to fall into the bad habit of arriving “just a few minutes late” for meetings, when returning from breaks and lunch, in the morning. In addition to contributing to your productivity, being on time is important for your image as a professional. Leave travel time in your schedule and some wiggle room to handle unforeseen problems like heavy traffic or slow elevators.
  2. Focus on the task in front of you. As many of you know, I’m against multi-tasking because I know it actually can diminish your productivity! When you tackle two or more activities at the same time, often you aren’t actually multi-tasking; you’re switching your attention on and off and are taking longer to complete each tasks. Get in the habit of doing one thing at a time until it is completed. See my blog post Focus Produces Results for help with this important habit.
  3. Pay attention. Letting your mind wander is a bad habit since you can easily miss critical information. Practice being present and in the moment at all times, use good listening skills, and pay attention to body language—your own and others. See my blog post Listen and Learn for more information.

Cultivating good habits is the mark of a professional. As Aristotle wrote, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act, but a habit.” You can find more good work habits here Five Work Habits to Help You Become More Positively Productive.



Why Empathy at Work Works!

Empathy is the ingredient necessary to facilitate healthy relationships and keep your social and professional relationships running smoothly. Empathetic leaders identify with and understand another person’s feelings, situation, and driving forces. They putting themselves in the other person’s shoes, see what they see, and understand their feelings. Empathy, however, needs to be balanced with critical thinking, logic, and objectivity. 

Some people think empathy is too “touchy-feely”; the truth is far from this! It is a valued trait in leaders.  According to the white paper Empathy in the Workplace: A Tool for Effective Leadership, from the Center for Creative Leadership, “…Empathy is positively related to job performance. Managers who show more empathy toward direct reports are viewed as better performers in their job by their bosses.” In other words, showing empathy on the job contributes to your professional and career success by enhancing your performance in the eyes of your manager.

Empathetic leaders open the door to authentic communication, increase team morale and motivation, enhance customer and employee retention, and build an environment that supports positive rapport and engagement—everything an organization wants in a leader!

“Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.”

Theodore Roosevelt, 26thpresident of the United States




Being in a Good Mood is Good Business

Your mood has a lot to do with how positively productive you are and how effective your team functions. Everyone prefers working with people who are cheerful and positive and who make them feel good just by being around them. On the other hand, a bad mood spreads like the flu and leaves everyone feeling unhappy. Here are some tips for elevating your mood and positively influencing everyone around you. 

  • Cultivate an attitude of gratitude. Stop reading and think about five things you are grateful for. Just five things. It’s hard to be grumpy and feel thankful at the same time. This is a great tip when you are feeling blah or negative. Just stop and think of five things that you are grateful for and watch your mood rise!
  • Stay in the moment. If you have been in my GO System workshop, you heard me talk about focusing and being present. While this is a valuable tool for being productive, it also helps lift your mood. Often, we are in a funk because we are thinking about problems or worrying about the future. When we focus on what we are doing in the moment and exclude extraneous thoughts, our mood changes for the better.
  • Take a time out. A bad mood is often the result of stress and burnout. If your mood is down, take a time out. Go for a walk and get some fresh air. Stay in the moment and think about what you are grateful for in your life and work. See my blog post Finding Time for Yourself for some ideas.

A bad mood is catching, so is a good mood! If you feel blue or grumpy, try one of these tips to raise your mood and the mood of the environment around you. See my blog post Does Positivity at Work Really Make a Difference? for more information.


Why Being a Nice Manager Makes Sense

The old saying, nice guys—and gals—finish last isn’t true—at least when it comes to being a nice manager.

Being nice doesn’t mean being a pushover; it means that you communicate and manage with consideration for each team member and treat each person as an individual. Nice managers cultivate a positive work environment that contributes to a motivated, positively productivestaff. 

Nice managers never blindside an employee. Always set performance standards and communicate your expectations to each employee. By setting specific goals with deadlines and metrics, you empower your team to achieve and exceed your expectations. Learn the strengths, weaknesses, and skillsets of your employees and assign them tasks that communicate your commitment to their success.

Whether employees meet, exceed, or fail to meet their goals, it is critical to provide immediate coaching and feedback that focuses on their work, not on who they are as people. Meet privately, so you can speak confidentially and without distractions.

If an employee needs to improve, provide specific direction and have the employee commit to making improvements by a deadline. Always follow up. See my blog post Discussing Problem Behaviors for Improved Performance for more information. On the other hand, make successful employees feel valued and appreciated by offering rewards and recognition for a job well done.

Being nice takes work! It requires you to proactively lead your team, support them, and help them shine! It involves teaching other people how to do their jobs effectively by giving them tools to grow and advance and helping them become successful in their careers.


Build A Super Team in 2020

Developing your team to succeed is a leadership responsibility. As we start a new year, take some time to decide how you can strengthen their skills and give them new ones. The more knowledge your team has, the more positively productivethey can be.

  • Share the vision. Make sure everyone on your team knows the company’s vision, your department’s role in realizing that vision, and their contributions to help make that vision a reality.
  • Provide growth opportunities.Encourage your employees to stretch and grow by giving them developmental assignments. Review what you currently do that could be handled by a team member with the proper coaching.
  • Offer professional training programs. Investing in training that is delivered by experts is smart leadership. Help employees be more effective by improving communication, writing, productivity, emotional intelligence, stress management, and so on. Can we help? Check out our website for the courses we offer.

A strong leader helps his or her team improve performance by giving praise when it’s deserved and motivating the team to achieve even more. Keep employees focused on raising the bar and groom them to achieve more than they think is possible. Encourage them to have a can-do mindset—the difference that makes the difference!

Happy New Year! May 2020 be your best year ever!



Enhance Your Leadership Skills

Leadership is all about having a can-do attitude. Good leaders are high achievers that look for opportunities to succeed while also inspiring others to succeed. Here are five tips for cultivating leadership in 2020.

  1. Take calculated risks.Leaders must be good at assessing the risks and rewards of opportunities. Weigh the options, analyze worst-case scenarios, identify mitigation strategies, and understand the consequences of a decision. Once the pros and cons are vetted, act decisively and confidently.
  2. Develop high emotional intelligence. This means you need to cultivate empathy for others, understand your own strengths and weaknesses, be aware of how others respond to you, and know how to act appropriately in challenging situations. Leadership isn’t being in command of others; it’s being in command of yourself so that others want to follow you and emulate you.
  3. Build a network you can rely on. Leaders are connected; they create networks both within and outside their organizations. Having a network gives you a pool of people you can call on for advice, information, and consultation. See my blog post Networking for Results for more tips.
  4. Be a perpetual learner. Leaders know they will never know it all, so they keep learning and growing. Take more classes, read and listen to more books, talk to people who are experts in areas you want to develop.
  5. Don’t turn mistakes into failures. Leaders have a realistic view of situations and realize that mistakes aren’t failures; they are valuable feedback! If you get off track or make a mistake, take action to rectify the situation, but don’t stop there. Analyze what went wrong and what you can learn. As baseball great Babe Ruth once said, “Every strike brings me closer to the next home run.”

Set an intention for 2020 to enhance your leadership skills by focusing on these five areas. Much success to you!