There’s More to Productivity Than Time Management

What does it mean to be productive? That’s the question Dustin Wax asks in his Lifehack.org post, There’s More to Productivity Than Time Management – Lifehack.org.He suggests the typical answer might be, “Getting the most done in the least possible time.”

Once upon at time, efficiency experts and time-management consultants would have been brought into the workplace with one goal in mind: getting the most work possible out of employees. It was a matter of a good “bottom line”.

However, productivity goes far beyond time management. Dustin goes on to say,

Here’s a different take on what productivity is: You’re being productive when your work is entirely satisfying and fulfilling.

He touches on some of the qualities that define “entirely satisfying and fulfilling.” 

  • You grow as a person.
  • You enjoy the company of others.
  • You are proud of what you’ve completed.
  • You feel confident about your abilities.
  • You look forward to undertaking the same or similar projects in the future.
  • You help others.
  • You receive the acclaim of your peers.

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Plan your personal development with a “To Be” list

How many of you begin your week by writing a to-do list to track the things you want to accomplish over the next seven days?

How about writing a weekly ‘To Be’ list capturing the kinds of personal characteristics you would like to exhibit in the upcoming week?

A ‘to-be’ list does not focus on scheduled activities, but rather, focuses on discovering or developing who we are. We are often defined by what we do. When asked about our lives, we’re more likely to respond, “I’m a student,” or “I’m a graphic designer,” than, “I’m compassionate, supportive, or hard-working.”

Similarly, it is easier to write your weekly to-dos. In some way doing seems more concrete and objective than being.

I’m not saying one is better than the other. In fact, these aspects of our lives have a kind of symbiotic relationship. The things we want to accomplish work best when they are aligned with what we what our lives to be.

I recognize this subject generates considerable philosophical discussion. Rather than revisit those arguments, I’ll give you quotes from greater minds:

  • “To do is to be” – Rene Descartes.
  • “To be is to do” – Voltaire.
  • “Do be do be do” – Frank Sinatra.

Leslie M. Bosserman shares her thoughts on this practice in an article posted at Holstee.

Why not make this a life experiment for the next 8 weeks?

This week, I want to:

  • be the best husband I can be;
  • be less critical of those with whom I disagree;
  • listen more and speak less;
  • be supportive of friends going through difficult times;
  • more responsive to the requests from the people I serve.

It’s about becoming the people we would like to be.

It’s about becoming the person I would like to be!

How to Give a Demonstration Speech Like a Food Network Star

Most of my YouTube or television watching centres around cooking; not shows like Food Network challenges, Top Chef or Guy’s Grocery Games. Rather, I enjoy the shows where the hosts demonstrate the preparation of specific dishes. I want to watch Tyler Florence prepare Chicken Paillard or Micheal Smith make no-knead bread and then try the recipe myself.

That’s the essence of a demonstration speech. You demonstrate an activity and then get your audience committed to trying the activity.

A demonstration speech is the “how to” of public speaking. It can be more difficult to present than any other type of speech. If something goes wrong, it can slow down the entire speech or bring it to a halt. While the fundamentals of preparing and giving any good speech are important, there are additional considerations for the demonstration speech.

When preparing and presenting a demonstration speech, you need to think like a Food Network Star.

Know Your Topic

They don’t pick just any old person off the street to host a cooking show; unless it’s the street where Giada lives. The chefs and cooks demonstrating the techniques have established themselves in the food-service industry. In some cases, they are among the finest chefs in the world. They know their subject.

The most important element of giving a demonstration speech is choosing a topic you know well. The success of your demonstration speech will hinge on your ability to perform the activity you are demonstrating.

Prepare Your Material

You know that if Mario Batali is preparing Zabaglione, he’s going to reach into the fridge and pull out as many eggs as he needs. You also know he is not going to stop mid-demonstration and say, “I’m out of olive oil.” Not only do they have all the ingredients they need, but the ingredients are “mise en place” everything prepped and in place.

Once you have outlined your demonstration speech, prepare the materials. It’s important to gather all the materials and visual aids you will need and practice with them in advance.

Bend Time to Your Needs

When a television chef prepares a dish that requires several hours to complete, the show doesn’t get any longer. You’re shown how to make the marinade, then the steaks go into the marinade and into the fridge overnight. Conveniently, the fridge contains a pan with already-marinated steaks, ready for the next step.

If you are demonstrating a process with steps requiring “waiting time”, be sure to bring examples of the project at each stage in the process.

If You Can’t Show, Tell

Alton Brown is the master of this step, on the show Good Eats. He may not be able to show you gluten developing in bread dough, but he’s got three puppets, one chalkboard and a barbershop quartet to help explain the process.

If it’s impossible to demonstrate every step of your topic, brainstorm for other ways to clearly explain the process.

Don’t Always Tell, Show

A good television chef lets the actions speak for themselves. The chef will say, “add a chopped onion,” and we watch as the onion is chopped and added to the pan. The chef knows when to pause and let the audience focus on the action.

Make good use of the pause. This gives opportunity to demonstrate the step and you can take a breath. The audience can concentrate on what you’re doing and what they need to do without having to concentrate on your words at the same time.

End with a Finished Product

What’s the last thing you see Bobby Flay do on Boy Meets Grill? He slices off a bit of perfectly grilled steak and eats it. We’re left with a picture of a dish that’s so delicious and simple to make, we want to run out and fire up the barbeque, even though it’s January and snowing.

Leave your audience with a finished product. If you’re demonstrating a skill you expect them to use, let them see what it looks like at the end. They are more likely to try something that they have seen successfully completed.

Preparation of a demonstration speech is the same as for a regular speech. It’s important to spend time organizing your thoughts and what you want to say. However, when preparing a demonstration speech, it’s important to remember that the demonstration and visual parts of the presentation are the most important and the speaking portion, while needing to be strong, should support the task which you’re demonstrating to the audience.

Oprah’s three questions for running effective meetings

Meetings, meetings, meetings! Can’t live with them, can’t live without them.

It’s estimated that on any given day in the USA, there are 11,000,000 formal meetings held. That works out to well over 200 million meetings per month. Around half of those meetings are 30 to 90 minutes in length.

Another statistic says, during the meeting, nine out of 10 people will daydream, and 73 percent of people will work on other things. That’s a lot of unproductive meeting time.

There are many ways to make meetings productive. Reportedly,
Oprah Winfrey kicks off every meeting with the same three questions to get everyone engaged and to set clear goals:

What is our intention for this meeting? What’s important? What matters?

High performers seek out clarity; they don’t sit around waiting for things to become clear. A report in the journal “Current Directions in Psychological Science” provides a formula of sorts for what should happen before, during, and after meetings.

After examining nearly 200 studies, the research team found that essentially, productive meetings come down to being clear about your reasons for meeting, while stripping out what’s unimportant to focus on what is important.

Meetings should not include agenda item like “information,” “recap,” ” review,”or “discussion.” Productive meetings often have one-sentence agendas like, “Determine the product launch date” or “Select software developer for database redesign.”

Effective meetings result in decisions: who is going to do what, and when? Clear decisions made efficiently.

At your next meeting, ask Oprah’s three questions. It works for her, it should work for you.

Free or Low-Cost ways to reward employees

Everyone likes to be appreciated!

This sounds like it should be common sense, but it doesn’t always translate to common action. This is especially true in non-profit organizations. There is an assumption that using rewards to show employee appreciation costs money; and money is generally in short supply in a non-profit. There are however, many ways to show appreciation and reward employees that cost little or nothing.

Bob Nelson, co-founder of the National Association for Employee Recognition, is passionate about recognizing and rewarding employees, and, more importantly, doesn’t believe it needs to cost much (or anything!) to do it effectively. His doctoral research focused on why managers do or don’t use praise or recognition with employees, and he has done research with employees to determine what has the most impact on them.

His book, 1001 Ways to Reward Employees: 100’s of New Ways to Praise! Revised & Updated 2nd Edition (aff), is full of simple, time-tested ways (1001) for rewarding employees, ways any manager in any organization can add to their arsenal.

Nelson lists three key principles for employee recognition:

  • Match the reward to the person
  • Match the reward to the achievement
  • Be timely and specific

If you are looking for free or inexpensive ways to reward and recognize your employees, this book is a great resource.

By-the-way: it’s also works for volunteer appreciation.