13 "S" Hacks to Increase Productivity

A recent report from the US Department of Labor confirms what many of us already suspect. Employee productivity is on the decline, with increases in email to respond to, web surfing, daily meetings, and poor management partly to blame (though meetings and idea sharing, while not productive per se, can and often do yield positive benefits.) Many leaders and managers similarly are also not as productive as they once were.

Let’s be honest. Staying productive can be tough, especially for folks who need to use their minds (to manage others, plan and be strategic, produce content, develop code, solve problems, coach, etc.) and / or pound the pavement to generate sales or other deliverables.

To help us become more productive, and to make the list more memorable, I compiled a list of “s” productivity pointers. They are in no particular order.

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When NOT to Delegate

As valuable as delegation can be, there are times where it’s simply not advisable. The following list presents when it’s better to not delegate but rather keep the project for yourself:

  1. The task has not been fully thought through – If you aren’t able to explain the task and its goals in concrete terms, then you have more work to do before handing it off to someone else to accomplish.

  2. The project must be done in a specific way – In some situations, such as an intricate project that you developed and possess intimate knowledge of, delegation may create more problems than benefits.

  3. It takes more time for explain what to do than to just do it yourself – This assumes that this is a one-off project that just needs to be done and taken off the list. A recurring project or one that will provide opportunity for meaningful subordinate development should not be included in this list.

  4. When you really enjoy doing it – There’s nothing wrong with doing some things that can be taken over by others but still provide you with a positive burst of motivation or excitement, such as greeting students and parents in carpool. But learn to limit these so that you can ensure that you’re still doing the work that you really need to be doing.

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Adding a Sense of Urgency to Your Work

Research is clear that people respond better – both qualitatively and in terms of completion time – when there is a sense of urgency to their work. While it’s important that leaders not overplay the urgency card (that can dull people’s responsiveness and induce unneeded stress) with their teams, there are many benefits to strategically adding an element of healthy pressure to the workplace.

Here are some “E.A.R.N.E.S.T.” ways to increase a sense of urgency at work:

  • Expectations – The first thing that people need to know is where things stand and what needs to change. Once you get your team clear on where they are and what needs to happen, you can reasonably expect that they will focus their efforts and energy to move things forward.   

  • Awareness – They also should be made aware of why this task is of increased importance, as in what’s going to happen if nothing changes. In my example, it would be that we need to prioritize dismantling the sukkah to ensure that it gets into the shed before the sky opens up and everything gets soaked. Your consequence may relate to losing customers, taking a loss on a faulty product or service, or an opportunity to gain market share.

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How to Decide What to Delegate

In our last post on delegation, we focused on situational leadership and how it impacts the role a leader plays in transferring work and responsibility to others. In this post the focus will shift to when one should delegate, and when one shouldn’t.

Choosing tasks to delegate can be trickier than it seems. There are some tasks, such as high-risk or crisis-related activities, that leaders should never delegate. Other responsibilities, including those that will be performed once or rarely and require much guidance and direction, should also not be included.

To determine when delegation is most appropriate, consider these key questions:

  1. Is this a task that someone else can do, or is it critical that you do it yourself?

  2. Is there someone else who has (or can be given) the necessary information or expertise to complete the task?

  3. Does the task provide an opportunity to grow and develop another person's skills?

  4. Is this a task that will recur with some frequency, in a similar form, in the future?

  5. Do you have enough time to delegate the job effectively and stay on top of things? Time must be available for adequate training, for questions and answers, to check in on progress, and to re-imagine/rework when necessary.

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Learn to Let it Go

When I say that haven’t recited this prayer properly I refer mainly to the above paragraph. After all, there have been people who have hurt me, sometimes in serious ways. They seemed very content with their behavior and most did not seek forgiveness. Even though I recognize that if we all – myself included – willingly forgave one another then we would all be able to approach God for the atonement that we desperately seek. But still, it was so hard to forgive sometimes, especially is their behavior hurt my career and/or affected my family. I suspect that most of us have struggled with this point. We simply have a hard time letting go and are prepared to hold grudges indefinitely when we feel that we were right, even to our own detriment.

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Educational Insights from the Business World

Without question, there are several significant differences between the roles and goals of educators and those the ply their trade in the business world. Perhaps most significant is how the two groups measure success.

Educators are focused primarily on student learning and development. To them, a healthy fiscal bottom line is a means through which they can achieve their goals, not an end to itself. Businesspeople, in contrast, are mainly interested in developing successful, profitable enterprises. Learning and development are viewed as necessary to help businesses and their people grow, but do not constitute a primary objective for most businesses.

The fundamental difference of purpose that separates schools from businesses often lends members of each camp to think that there is little to be learned from the other. This, in my view, is particularly true for educators. As a former teacher and principal, I felt a fundamental disconnect from what was occurring in the for-profit world. Many of my peers and colleagues expressed similar sentiment. Any time that I heard of some lay leader or governmental initiative to make schools more like businesses, I became suspicious. “What do they know about education anyway?”, I would ask.

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Being SMART About Your Goals - Sign up for the FREE Webinar!
  • Do you feel that your time at work is not as well spent as it needs to be?
  • Are you a busy entrepreneur or team leader who seeks to accomplish a great deal despite being understaffed and overstretched?
  • Do you have a sense of what you can achieve or become that you can’t seem to actualize?

If you answered “yes” to one or more of the above, then you may need to look more carefully at your goal-setting practices.

Goal setting is a critical component of any growth process, personal or professional. There are many benefits of setting goals, including…

  1. Clarity and Focus – Goals motivate us to cut through the weeds and get focused on what’s really important.
  2. Planning – Goals help us map out the necessary steps to achieve our desired result.
  3. Accountability – Goals force us to set and meet deadlines and be accountable to others.
  4. Transparency – When shared, goals help others understand what we’re focused on.
  5. Self-esteem – Goals raise our self-confidence as we see ourselves grow and progress.
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6 Tips on How to Get Unstuck

The challenge I want to talk about today is something called getting stuck.

Many of us feel it, in our personal lives, in our relationships and of course at work in business.

We think we're capable of doing more. We want to build our businesses, build our relationships, get so much more out of life.

But we just don't seem to know what to do. Many times, as a result, we do nothing.

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Tips for Getting Up in the Morning

I had a VERY hard time getting up this morning. For some reason, I was just exhausted. 😫

The thought of getting my day going just wasn’t resonating. I kept trying to justify staying in bed. 🛏

But I knew that I had a lot to do before heading out of town for a mini-vacation (finally!)

So, I reminded myself about what I would miss out on by sleeping in, including the kind of prayer service that most works for me and getting my work day started on time.

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