Tips on Productivity

Take a Nap at Work   Research shows that the more hours you work continuously, the greater the toll on your performance. You can greatly improve your productivity by taking a short nap. Think taking a nap at work is crazy? Here are three ways to make it happen: •Schedule a time. Between 1pm and 3pm is the best time. Mark it in your calendar so you are more likely to take it. …•Find a quiet place. Close your door and put up a “do not disturb” sign. If you work in a cubicle, look for a conference room, or a local coffee shop or library. •Tune out. Turn off your technology and set an alarm for 20 or 30 minutes (longer naps can leave you hazy). Close your eyes and breathe deeply. Even if you don’t fall asleep, this relaxation will ensure you rest.
Adapted from Guide to Managing Stress. Get Things Done by Deciding When and Where Managing your workload with a to-do list can be a productive way to organize your work and keep yourself on task. But don’t let your list become a collection of everything you want to do but will never have time for. Make sure each item on your list has a time and place attached. Don’t add “write management presentation” without including the day and time slot in which you’ll do it. Consider foregoing the list and scheduling items on your calendar instead. You may still want a place to write down things you hope to get to, but be sure that each day you know what you need to accomplish and when. Adapted from “A Better Way to Manage Your To-Do List” by Peter Bregman. Know When Multitasking Works Numerous studies show that multitasking doesn’t help you get more done. In fact, it impedes productivity. But in today’s fast-paced world, it may seem impossible to only focus on one thing at a time. Here are two times when multitasking might be more effective: When information needs to flow fast. If others are waiting on you before they respond to a customer or move a critical project forward, it can be frustrating if you’re not available. Picking up the phone or responding to email — even while you’re working on something else — can be important, especially if you have information others don’t. When you’re stuck. Sometimes it can be useful to focus on a difficult task. But when you reach a roadblock, it can be equally valuable to walk away and do something else while your mind ponders the issue. When you return to the task with fresh focus, you’re more likely to be able to push through. Adapted from “In Defense of Multitasking” by David Silverman. Turn Stress into an Asset   Stress is unavoidable, but it doesn’t have to be damaging. When managed correctly, strain can positively impact productivity and performance. Here are three things you can do to make stress work for you: •Recognize worry for what it is. Stress is a feeling, not a sign of dysfunction. When you start to worry, realize it’s an indication that you care about something, not a cause for panic. •Focus on what you can control. Too many people feel bad about things they simply can’t change. Remember what you can affect and what you can’t. •Create a supportive network. Knowing you have somebody to turn to can help a lot. Build relationships so that you have people to rely on in times of stress.
Adapted from “Turning Stress into an Asset” by Amy Gallo. Three Steps to Make Your New Hire Productive The traditional approach to “onboarding” — sitting your new hire down with a stack of reading or a series of trainings — doesn’t do much to explain how the organization truly functions. Take these three steps to help your new hire understand how work gets done and what he can do to add immediate value: •Start early. Onboarding starts with hiring. During interviews, expose all candidates to the organization’s culture. Don’t oversell your company; be honest about who you are and how you work. •Introduce him to the right people. Identify key stakeholders that your new hire needs to know. Broker early introductions so that he can begin building relationships right away. •Get him working. This shouldn’t be a sink or swim approach. Put him on projects where he is supported by others and can start contributing right away. Adapted from “Get Immediate Value from Your New Hire” by Amy Gallo

Tips On Decision Making

Stop Making Decisions That Waste Time and Money

Many managers rely on gut instinct to make important decisions, which often leads to poor results. On the contrary, when managers insist on incorporating logic and evidence, they make better choices and their companies benefit. Here are three ways to introduce evidence-based management at your company:

•Demand evidence. Whe…never anyone makes a compelling claim, ask for supporting data. Don’t take someone’s word for it.

•Examine logic. Look closely at the evidence and be sure the logic holds up. Be on the lookout for faulty cause-and-effect reasoning

•Encourage experimentation. If you don’t have evidence, create some. Invite managers to conduct small experiments to test the viability of proposed strategies and use the resulting data to guide decisions. Adapted from Harvard Business Review on Making Smart Decisions Three Tips for Making Trade-offs Every important decision inevitably involves a trade-off. Knowing what you can’t pursue is as valuable as articulating what you will. But how do you know which trade-offs are acceptable and which are losing propositions? Here are three ways to help make the distinction:

•Get input on pros and cons. List advantages and disadvantages and ask others for their perspective on which carries the heaviest weight.

•Balance short term with long term. Determine what you’d be willing to give up in the long run for some important short-term gain — and vice versa.

•Gauge support. While weighing alternatives, think about who will support a particular idea and who will oppose it. Ask whose support you can live without, and whose backing and buy-in you absolutely need.
Adapted from The Harvard ManageMentor module “Strategic Thinking” Schedule Time for Second Guessing Questioning whether or not you’ve made the right decision can be a useful way to make sure you’re on the right track. But if you second guess yourself at the wrong time, you may feel tempted to give up on important commitments. Don’t question yourself when you are most vulnerable. Instead, schedule a time to review your decision critically when you are in the right frame of mind. For example, don’t wonder whether you should abandon a plan to talk more during meetings when you are walking into the conference room. Rather, tell yourself that you will question the decision ten minutes into the meeting, once you’ve had time to get used to the idea. Setting a time will also help you second guess once rather than nagging yourself with doubts. Adapted from “How (and When) to Motivate Yourself” by Peter Bregman Avoid Three Common Decision-Traps Making decisions is your most critical job as a leader. The more high-stakes a decision is, the more likely you are to get stuck. Here’s how to avoid three of the most common traps:

•Anchoring. Many people give disproportionate weight to the first information they receive. Be sure to pursue other lines of thinking, even if the first one seems right.

•Status quo. Change can be unsettling and it’s easy to favor alternatives that keep things the same. Ask yourself if the status quo truly serves your objectives and downplay the urge to stay in your current state.

•Confirming evidence. If you find that new information continually validates your existing point of view, ask a respected colleague to argue against your perspective. Also try to avoid working with people who always agree with you.
Adapted from Harvard Business Review on Making Smart Decisions Rely on Others to Improve your Judgment Reversing a decision that isn’t working out can be a painful experience. Perhaps the product you launched isn’t selling, or an ad campaign that you were behind is falling flat. Whatever the issue, accepting failure and changing direction can feel like a comment on your judgment. In these situations, call on others to help you evaluate and redirect. Ask people with a variety of perspectives — peers, direct reports, customers, family — to give you input on what went wrong and what to do now. The collective wisdom of this crowd can turn a bad situation into a winning one. Reversing a decision shouldn’t be a reason for shame, but a badge of honor in that you lived and learned. Adapted from “The House that Judgment Rebuilt” by Tom Davenport.