Secrets of the Most Productive People I Know

Productivity Success Productive by Margaret Heffernan –
Like most everyone else, I worry about productivity. Since there aren’t more hours in the day, how can I get more done? That’s made me reflect on the truly productive people I’ve known or worked with throughout my career.

They all share certain characteristics:

1. They have a life.
Far from being the maniacally focused, late night or early morning types, truly creative innovators or problem solvers have a rich life outside of work. One of the finest CEOs I’ve known, Carol Vallone, founder of WebCT, coached her local softball team. She said it’s where she honed her leadership skills. It also meant she had to take her mind off work and think in different ways. No wonder academic research keeps showing that external commitments are highly correlated with high achievement. [Read more…]

How Sony Pictures Gets More Out of People by Demanding Less

Sony Pictures Help Employee Productivity Success story by Tony Schwartz –
The way most of us work isn’t working. Study after study has shown that companies are experiencing a crisis in employee engagement. A 2007 Towers Perrin survey of nearly 90,000 employees worldwide, for instance, found that only 21% felt fully engaged at work and nearly 40% were disenchanted or disengaged. That negativity has a direct impact on the bottom line. Towers Perrin found that companies with low levels of employee engagement had a 33% annual decline in operating income and an 11% annual decline in earnings growth. Those with high engagement, on the other hand, reported a 19% increase in operating income and 28% growth in earnings per share.

Nearly a decade ago, the Energy Project, the company I head, began to address work performance and the problem of employee disengagement. We believed that burnout was one of its leading causes, and we focused almost exclusively on helping individuals avoid it by managing their energy, as opposed to their time. Time, after all, is finite. By contrast, you can expand your personal energy and also regularly renew it. [Read more…]

Stop Procrastinating…Now

Harvard Business Review logo by Amy Gallo –

It seems that no one is immune to the tendency to procrastinate. When someone asked Ernest Hemingway how to write a novel, his response was “First you defrost the refrigerator.” But putting off tasks takes a big hit on our productivity, and psyche. Procrastination is not inevitable. Figuring out why you postpone work and then taking concrete steps to prevent it will help you get more done and feel good about yourself.

What the Experts Say
According to Ned Hallowell, a psychiatrist and the author of 12 books, including Driven to Distraction, delaying work is often a symptom of how busy you are. “We procrastinate because we all have too much to do,” he says. And of course, we want to dodge things we don’t like. “Many people procrastinate because they fear the drudgery or the difficulty of the task they are avoiding,” says Teresa Amabile, the Edsel Bryant Ford Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School and coauthor of The Progress Principle. But, as you have likely learned, it doesn’t pay to dawdle. “Putting it off doesn’t make it go away. Getting it done does,” says Hallowell. Here are five principles to follow next time you find yourself deferring important work. [Read more…]

Dealing with Your Incompetent Boss

Dealing with Incompetent Bossby Amy Gallo –

Everyone complains about his or her boss from time to time. In fact, some consider it a national workplace pastime. But there’s a difference between everyday griping and stressful frustration, just as there is a clear distinction between a manager with a few flaws and one who is incompetent. Dealing with the latter can be anguishing and taxing. But with the right mindset and a few practical tools, you can not only survive but flourish.

What the Experts Say
“Most people have had experience with someone who is incompetent, or at least unhelpful,” says Annie McKee, founder of the Teleos Leadership Institute and co-author of Becoming a Resonant Leader: Develop Your Emotional Intelligence, Renew Your Relationships, Sustain Your Effectiveness. Ineptitude in managers is unfortunately common. McKee says that’s because too many companies promote people for the wrong reasons. [Read more…]

Basic Steps Toward Work-Life Balance

Forbes.com | by Helen Coster and Tara Weiss | 3/31/2010
For most people, juggling the demands of a career and a personal life is an ongoing challenge, especially at a time when many companies have slashed their ranks —and expect more from the survivors.

Achieving the elusive “work-life balance” can often feel like an impossible goal, especially for people who strive to give everything 100%. In today’s “do more with less” competitive reality, how can we manage careers and families, and feel satisfied with both? [Read more…]

The Way I Work: Kathy Ireland

Inc.com | As told to Liz Welch | 12/1/2009

Former supermodel Kathy Ireland founded a little company to make products for “busy moms” like herself. Now, with revenue of $1.4 billion, she’s busier than ever.

When she was in her 20s and a model, Kathy Ireland says, her job description was “Shut up and pose.” So it irks her when anyone suggests that the 46-year-old CEO and chief designer of Kathy Ireland Worldwide is merely the face of her $1.4 billion business. Ireland, who launched the Los Angeles–based company in 1993 and is the majority shareholder, began by creating a line of socks and parlayed that into a large licensing deal with Kmart that lasted until 2003. Now she puts her stamp on more than 15,000 products — including scented candles, dining room sets, porcelain dishes, wood flooring, skin care products, and swimsuits. [Read more…]

Focus Is The New Key To Work-Life Balance

Focus required for success and self-improvementForbes | by Joan Gurvis | Nov. 25, 2009

If having a balanced life was elusive in the fast-paced good times, it can seem impossible in the fast-paced tough times.

The pressures on leaders are huge. Distractions are everywhere. As work demands grow, our inclination is to continue to try to do more things more quickly, to fit everything in. We push ourselves, our co-workers and our employees to keep up the intense pace, but in so doing, we leave ourselves without adequate time to stop, reflect and focus. [Read more…]

Information Overload? Relax

The Wall Street Journal | by L. Gordon Crovitz | July 6, 2009

Just in time for summer, Crown Imports has brought back a popular television advertisement for its Corona beer that first aired in 1998. The new one shows a man at the beach skipping rocks into the sea. He decides to do the same with his BlackBerry — a beeper in the earlier version — when it interrupts his relaxation by ringing and vibrating.

The ad addresses one of the key causes of anxiety in the information age: What does it mean that for the first time, information is no longer scarce? We have fast and easy access to the communications and the facts we need, through email, the Web, Facebook, Twitter, text messages and other tools. So now we have the problem of too much supply. How can we escape useless information, unneeded emails and unwanted communications? [Read more…]

Beyond Flextime

Inc.com | by Scott Westcott | August 2008

For Linda Skoglund, getting a pedicure on a busy Tuesday afternoon was a career turning point. It ran against her Midwestern work ethic. And certainly, there was plenty of work piled up at J.A. Counter & Associates, the $2.5 million insurance and investment advisory firm she owns in New Richmond, Wisconsin. On the other hand, canceling her visit to the salon that day could have sent a bad message. It risked signaling to her 15 employees that they weren’t allowed to do whatever they wanted at any given time during work hours. And that would tank her plans to overhaul the work environment at J.A. Counter. [Read more…]