Images (1) A recent article in the Harvard Business Review (May 2011) unpacked the idea of Being More Productive.They interviewed two leading experts, David Allen and Tony Schwartz, to discuss whether the secret to effectiveness is the right system or the right state of mind. Here are a few of their insights:

From David Allen, best-selling author of Getting Things Done:

  • Your head is for having ideas, not holding them. Dumping everything out into a list can have a significant effect. Uncover the strategic value of clear space.
  • Achieve freedom by taking immediate, concrete steps: down-load all your commitments and projects into lists, focus on "next actions," and think about the context in which the work needs to be done (office, phone or computer). You don't need to change who you are. You just need some simply but very powerful techniques. 
  • Think about things once. Capture, clarify, organise and build in a regular review system that you trust. 
  • Only do one thing at a time. Multi-tasking is over-rated and ineffective. 

From Tony Schwartz, best-selling author of The Power of Full Engagement:

  • Effectiveness is about managing energy more skilfully in order to get more work done in less time. That requires a new way of working – one that balances periods of high focus and intermittent renewal. 
  • Consider your energy levels in four areas: physical, emotional mental and spiritual. Develop a life rhythm of spending energy then renewing it. Work intensely for 90 minutes then have a break to recover. 
  • Create positive rituals or deliberate practices that will help you break out of your bad habits and addictions. 
  • Leaders need to be the "Chief Energy Officer" of their work team. Mobilise, focus, direct, inspire and regularly recharge those who you lead. Do your best to ensure that your people have full tanks of energy. 
  • Do your most important task first thing in the morning, when you are most rested and least distracted. 

How's your productivity? What could you do or change to be more effective beginning today?

For further thoughts on this and related topics, see these previous BLOG posts: Time Management, Time Traps, Organise, Simplify and How to Say No Without Feeling Guilty.

One thought on “Some Productivity Insights

  1. One of the major things I got after reading the Harvard materials was elevating energy above time as a management priority. For example, to pick up take-away on the way home is to save time, but that costs a lot in terms of sapped energy (both short term and long term). Or going for a walk at lunchtime spends time (short-term), but it renews energy.

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