Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Are You Ultra-Productive or Ultra Self-Destructive? (Part 2)

As we discussed in Part 1 of this post, Dr. Travis Bradberry, co-author of the bestseller Emotional Intelligence 2.0, shared 11 Things Ultra-Productive People Do Differently in a blog we help publish with our clients New York Society of Security Analysts and Naylor, LLC.

Directionally, we think Bradberry’s tips have merit, but like everything else, should be taken with a grain of salt which we’re happy to supply.

We know most of you are already among the most productive, highly motivated and driven people in our society. So you want to be more productive, not self-destructive, as you strive for a higher and higher bar each day. We commented on the first 5 in our previous post.

6. They Say No

No is a powerful word that ultra-productive people are not afraid to wield. When it’s time to say no, they avoid phrases such as I don’t think I can or I’m not certain. Saying no to a new commitment honors your existing commitments and gives you the opportunity to successfully fulfill them. WE COULDN’T AGREE MORE. We also believe you should try to avoid non-committal words such as “maybe”, “perhaps”, “let me think about it” and “let’s just play it by ear”… especially when you really mean “NO!”

Researchers at the University of California in San Francisco shows that the more difficulty that you have saying no, the more likely you are to experience stress, burnout, and even depression. Learn to use no, and it will lift your mood, as well as your productivity.

7. They Only Check E-mail At Designated Times

Ultra-productive people don’t allow e-mail to be a constant interruption. In addition to checking e-mail on a schedule, they take advantage of features that prioritize messages by sender. They set alerts for their most important vendors and their best customers, and they save the rest until they reach a stopping point. Some people even set up an auto-responder that lets senders know when they’ll be checking their e-mail again. We’d like to add just a few nuances here. It’s OK to keep your email pop-up and instant messaging on all the time—just have the discipline to avoid responding instantly. Again, follow Bradberry’s advice and respond only at designated times of day. Also, make sure you ALWAYS proof your email replies carefully before hitting the SEND button. Once you get into this habit, you’ll be surprised how many errors of grammar (and bad judgment) you’ll prevent yourself from making.

8. They Don’t Multitask

Ultra-productive people know that multitasking is a real productivity killer. Research conducted at Stanford University confirms that multitasking is less productive than doing a single thing at a time. The researchers found that people who are regularly bombarded with several streams of electronic information cannot pay attention, recall information or switch from one job to another as well as those who complete one task at a time.

Researchers found that heavy multi-taskers—those who multitask a lot and feel that it boosts their performance—were actually worse at multitasking than those who like to do a single thing at a time. The frequent multitaskers performed worse because they had more trouble organizing their thoughts and filtering out irrelevant information, and they were slower at switching from one task to another. Ouch.

Our take? You might be able to switch quickly between two, three or even more tasks on your plate. But don’t fool yourself into thinking you’re really working on more than one thing at a time with any sort of efficiency. Be fast. Don’t be foolish.

9. They Go off The Grid

Don’t be afraid to go off grid when you need to. Give one trusted person a number to call in case of emergency, and let that person be your filter. Everything has to go through them, and anything they don’t clear has to wait. This strategy is a bulletproof way to complete high-priority projects. As we’ve mentioned before in this blog, we try to take a 24-hour break from all forms of screen and technology every single week. In HB’s case it’s from 12 noon Saturday to 12 noon Sunday most weeks. Try it. It works great and you’ll come back recharged, not hopelessly out of touch.

10. They Delegate

Ultra-productive people accept the fact that they’re not the only smart, talented person in their organization. They trust people to do their jobs so that they can focus on their own. Our take? Hire people not like yourself who are especially good (or at least enjoy doing) things that are not in your wheelhouse. Our client, Gary Klaben of Coyle Financial Advisors in Chicago, has a great piece coming out soon about not being the “HIPPO” at your organization (only the Highest Paid Person’s Opinion counts).

11. They Put Technology to Work for Them

Technology catches a lot of flak for being a distraction, but it can also help you focus. Ultra-productive people put technology to work for them. Our advice—be selective about which new tools, apps and toys can really make you more productive. You don’t want to be a slave to them just to look cool and cutting edge. You also have to factor in time for the learning curve, updates, tech support, etc. before you can really determine if the next “shiny object” in your tool-belt is really making you more productive.


Again, explore any and all habits, tools and philosophies that can make you more productive. But you’ll never get too 100 percent. That’s okay. If you’re reading this post, you’re probably more efficient than the vast majority of your peers, not to mention the average American worker.


TAGS: David Bradberry, Finance Professionals Post, 11 Things Ultra-Productive People Do

Friday, June 19, 2015

What Professionals Can Learn from Bumper Stickers

I saw a great bumper sticker on the drive to work yesterday:  “Sorry for Driving So Close in Front of You.” If that wasn’t snarky enough, the message was in small type, so you had to be on the verge of tailgating the driver to read it. DISCLOSURE—I have a lead foot at times, but I was at a stoplight when I came across this particular bumper decal.

The point is, things aren’t always what they seem. It’s all a matter of perspective. Depending on whom you ask, your business or practice is  either on the verge of extinction or about to enter a golden age of customer/client engagement, connectivity and profitability. The truth probably lies somewhere in between.

I wrote a story about this phenomenon last week for Association Adviser, published by one of our longtime clients, Naylor, LLC. It's geared for trade association executives. But since many of you belong to associations, serve on boards of associations or partner with associations as you build out your niches, should find it a fun, but poignant read.

Have a great weekend and let me know if you see any great bumper stickers on the road. As the father of a newly minted teenage driver, I had to laugh (and cry) when I saw this one the other day.


TAGS: Bumper stickers, gaining a new perspective, learn while driving

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Are You Ultra-Productive or Ultra Self-Destructive?

Many of you may not know that we publish The Finance Professionals Post – a 45,000 circulation eNewsletter for young Wall Street professionals---in conjunction with the New York Society of Security Analysts and another of our clients, Naylor, LLC.

While we’re mostly focused on business development and sponsorship activities, we thought this week’s lead story, 11 Things Ultra-Productive People Do Differently, might be of interest.

Now, before you go out and try to emulate the 11 traits of hyper-productive people identified by Dr. Travis Bradberry, co-author of the bestseller Emotional Intelligence 2.0, keep a few things in mind.

If you’re really honest with yourself, even doing 5 of 6 of these things on a consistent basis is a significant achievement. And that’s on top of the fact that most of you are already among the most productive, highly motivated and driven people in our society.

So, here are some modifications to the 11 tips. Hopefully they’ll help you become more productive and prevent you from beating yourself up when you fall short for short of the already high bar you set for yourself.

1.They Never Touch Things Twice. Not bad advice, but we recommend the FAT approach. Don’t let piles accumulate (physically on your desk or electronically in your inbox). Take 1 of 3 actions: File It, Action on It, or Throw It Out! Again, you have only three choices.

2.They Get Ready for Tomorrow Before They Leave the Office. Great advice if you can really shut down an hour or so before you need to leave for a ballgame, social event client meeting of child/grandchild’s recital. For most of us, that’s not realistic. Here at HB, we try to come in half an hour early every day. First order of business--review your time logs from the previous day and invariably you’ll capture those pesky items on the to-do list that keep falling into the gray area between urgent and eventual. By now you know what to do with them.

3. They Eat Frogs. We agree with Bradberry that tackling the toughest things first thing in the morning is a great anti-dote to procrastination. But, we don’t believe in sprinting down the field and tackling your nemesis first thing, without being properly warmed up! That's a surefire way to get injured, if not killed. Same goes for your brain. We have a variety of mental warm-up exercises we can suggest and I’m sure you have your own favorites. Please share your favorites with us. Once warmed up, definitely go out and tackle your nemesis and eat those frogs!

4. They Fight the Tyranny of the Urgent. We agree with Bradberry that “productive people are willing to ignore or delegate the things that get in the way of their performance.” We’d like to see more concrete examples of how to do this. Here are a few things we recommend: Turn off you email, cell service and instant messaging. Route your phone calls to voice mail and try putting tasks into certain hours of the day in your calendar—and leave yourself plenty of cushion between tasks.

5. They Stick to the Schedule During Meetings. Volumes have been written about this. Just make sure you’ve allotted enough time for EVERYONE at the meeting to speak up. Too often, the quietest people in the room have the most valuable things to say. They won’t step up to the plate if the meeting organizer is a time-Nazi who didn’t consider others when setting up the meeting agenda.

Next week, we’ll weigh in on Tips 6-11 from Bradberry’s hyper-productivity list.
Our blog has more, as does the FREE Resources page of our website.