The People Pro

Training, Tips and Tools to Build Your Business and Balance Your Life!

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Location: Small town, Northern Wisconsin

Barbara is an author, speaker and psychotherapist in private practice. She provides keynote presentations and is a Certified Professional Speaker, a designation held by fewer than 8% of the speakers in the world. She has appeared on FOX, CNN, and CBS and is considered an expert in relationships.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

The Ten Competencies of Highly Productive People

The recent Microsoft study that reports that most employees are productive only three days per week has left many employers and workers wondering what they can do to improve productivity. How is it possible to boost efficiency without increasing hours? How can one get home from the office earlier when there is so much work to do?

To answer these questions, I contacted Laura Stack, MBA, CSP, “The Productivity Pro,” and author of Leave the Office Earlier. A productivity expert and national speaker, Stack emphasizes the development of competencies that support personal efficiency. These include:

1. Preparation—Preparation and goal setting provide direction for your life and focus your activities. Every minute planning saves you twenty minutes in getting the job done. Take your long term goals and translate them into daily actionable tasks you can do today. Be proactive rather than reactive during the day by taking a few moments each morning to identify your priorities.

2. Reduction—Reduce the time wasters in your daily activities by being assertive rather than passive in allowing others to dictate your schedule. If you excel in this competency, you reduce the “speed bumps” that waste your time and sap your energy. Speed bumps can include too many meetings, frustrating red tape and unclear priorities. Learn to say no so that you create space to accomplish the important.

3. Order—Create systems instead of piles. You should be able to find what you want, when you want it, in thirty seconds or less. Order is your ability to sort, filter and process incoming information effectively. Remember a cluttered work area means a cluttered mind.

4. Discipline—If you excel in this competency, you complete what you must do, rather than what you want to do. While everyone has an “off day,” highly productive people do what needs to be done and exercise restraint over their impulses, emotions, and desires. They know that sometimes the best tool for accomplishing results is “butt glue.”

5. Unease—According to a nationwide office productivity study conducted by Xerox and Harris Interactive in 2003, most people work over 60 hours a week total, and over 33 percent work on weekends. The “faster, cheaper, do more with nothing” approach has created a workplace where workers are always in high gear. This work style reduces productivity and creates an urgency addiction that increases stress. Spend time each day reducing your stress through exercise, meditation, reading and listening to music. The focus should be on value, rather than velocity.

6. Concentration—This refers to your ability to stay on target and focus on the task at hand. Productive people achieve a state of “flow” or “working in the groove,” that maximizes attentiveness and efficiency. They resist unproductive multi-tasking and complete one activity before starting another. They are purposeful, rather than distracted.

7. Time Mastery—Effective time management brings purpose in life, structure to your day, direction, and a sense of accomplishment. According to Stack, “You must run your life, rather than allowing your life to run you.”

8. Information Management—While technology can improve your productivity, it must be used wisely. Choose the best method and medium of communication for the particular message you want to convey. Be decisive rather than tentative in filtering all the data that comes to you to assure it is really information, not cyberjunk.

9. Vitality—Many people take better care of their cars than they do their own health. Yet cars can be replaced…you can’t. You can dramatically impact your productivity by paying closer attention to your daily habits. Do you sleep enough? Exercise each day? Eat a diet rich with vegetables and fruits? Make sure that you are maximizing your energy and talent with careful self-care.

10. Equilibrium—Successful people know that high performance depends on both personal satisfaction and professional achievement. Know your early symptoms of overload so that you can rebalance when the scale gets tipped. Make sure that you keep the proper mix of activities in your life.

And remember, Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “People with great gifts are easy to find, but symmetrical and balanced ones never.”

For more information on Laura Stack, “The Productivity Pro,” and to take your free Productivity Quotient Assessment please visit her website at: