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Archive for productivity

Creating Urgency to Drive Productivity

When I first started learning techniques and strategies in marketing, one of the primary strategies taught was to create urgency or scarcity.

In other words, tell the customer that the price will go up in 10 hours or you only have so many products you can sell before you’re sold out. This strategy has worked in sales and marketing for centuries.

Go try to buy a new car and see what the salesperson tells you.

I remember considering buying a new car 2 years ago. I went shopping to several of the dealerships – Toyota, Honda and Kia. I was particularly interested in the Kia Sedona.

I was, and still am, an avid Toyota fan but considered branching out . . . . and maybe to a Kia.

I walked in, test drove the Sedona and talked with the salesman for several minutes about the comparison to the Toyota Rav4 (which I am in LOVE with). The salesman was not pushy – or didn’t seem so.

He went over the different options and advantages of the Kia over the Toyota – none of which I thought were deal breakers.

And, then, right when I was getting ready to tell him that I would seriously consider the Sedona and be back for a second look . . . he laid it on THICK.

“I would purchase this vehicle today, if I were you. I know you like the configuration and driving it. I heard the company is going to stop manufacturing the Sedona this year.”

I was so disappointed.

Not in the lie that the salesman told me, but in the fact that he thought he had to try. I had been honest and said I wasn’t buying that day, but comparing. I would be back for a second ride if I liked it enough.

Apparently he didn’t believe me.

My response . .. “I’m sorry to hear that because I liked the car. But if the company doesn’t think enough of this model to continue carrying it, then I don’t think enough of it to consider purchasing it . . . at least from this dealership.”

And, little ones in tow, I walked out.

Scarcity and urgency work in sales and marketing – but only when executed well.

Urgency also works in your personal life.

One evening my younger sister called a bit stressed.  She was in her senior year in college and had some big paper Feb25IdeaCIdue in a day or two. Not sure how she would complete the paper and the rest of her responsibilities, she was stressing . . . a LOT.

Until I told her that she always came through when she was under pressure.

It seemed it was all she needed to refocus and complete her assignments. She used that statement for years to come – and she performed under pressure.

Although not the most effective means of being productive, stress, urgency, pressure, scarcity can all increase your creative juices and push you do to things you wouldn’t normally create or develop.

BUT . . .

Stress is incredibly harmful to your health. Stress reduces your restorative sleep which increases your risk of heart disease, obesity and dementia at an early age.

Stress increases your output of cortisol, which influences your leptin and insulin balance, leading to type-2 diabetes.

Stress can trigger a heart attack or increase your risk of stroke and other immune mediated diseases, such as lupus, arthritis and some cancers.

In other words . . . you shouldn’t depend on stress in order to improve your productivity.

In the life of a salesman, whose sole income is based on commission and sales, stress is a function of their daily lives.

But, especially for people who depend solely on a commission based income, stress is a killer.

Your customer can smell the stress.

And stress is not attractive. You want to make the sale, but you don’t want to be stressed doing it.

Your boss can smell the stress.

You want the raise or the promotion, but you don’t want to be stressed asking for it.

How do you create the urgency and increase the productivity without increasing the stress?

The difference lies in the center of control.

If the urgency is from forces outside yourself, it increases your stress level and reduces your overall performance.

But, if the urgency is from a force inside yourself . . . if you create the urgency to complete the task without adding stress you’ll experience greater productivity and increased success.

External situations can increase your stress causing panic, anxiety, loss of sleep, increased anger and frustration, loss of control, and worry.

Internal urgency can focus your efforts because YOU are in control of the situation. Namely, if you don’t finish it you only answer to yourself. The world won’t crash in on you – you only have to get up and do it again.

Feb25PaintCISuccess comes from centering your urgency and becoming more productive.

You know what’s important, what you can do to complete it, what needs to be controlled. . . . in your home, work, relationships and even your housekeeping.

The urgency YOU create motivates your actions and is a source of emotional intelligence. Your LACK of anxiety, panic, and feelings of loss of control are the things that drive your daily tasks.

Whether you need to get the groceries after work, the housekeeping done on Saturday, the storage room emptied and cleaned or help with your kids Diorama for school, you operate from a centered approach that reduces your stress and increases your creativity.

If something doesn’t get completed, the world doesn’t stop spinning and you aren’t flooded with anxiety.

Instead, you adjust your schedule, your calendar and give yourself grace. Each of the tasks you assign to yourself today will be there tomorrow. Unless you are working in life-saving/life-threatening situation where seconds count, you should dial back your stress and increase your productivity.

Your family needs you to be centered. Your children are watching and learning from what you DO and not what you say. Your boss is depending on your actions.

When you operate from a point of centered self-regulated urgency, you don’t experience the stress that kills and you create some pretty amazing things in the process.

 

 

Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress Free Productivity

Written by David Allen, Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity , is the culmination of over 3 decades of research and coaching corporate managers in some of America’s most prestigious companies. Recognized by Forbes Magazine as one of the top five executive coaches in 2006, David Allen has also been named one of the world’s most influential thinkers. Getting Things Done is also considered one of the most important books on personal organization. Whether you work in corporate America or your office is your home, you’ll gain valuable insight into making your personal world more organized and more productive.

Productivity: Seven Secrets to Getting More Done In Less Time

Productivity: the effectiveness of productive effort, especially in industry, as measured in terms of the rate of output per unit of input.

“workers boosted productivity by 20 percent” Synonym: efficiency

Did you ever play with those balsam wood airplanes? You know . . . the ones that were propelled by the force of a twisted rubber band?

I used to play with those planes all the time as a kid. I just knew that if I twisted that rubber band as tight as it would go that my plane would fly faster and farther than any of the other ones that my friends were playing with.

Well, friends might be an overstatement. Essentially, faster and farther than the plane my sister was playing with.

I loved those planes. Even though they broke easily [sometimes when I was putting them together!] and the rubber bands lasted for 2 or sometimes 3 flights before snapping in two, I could spend the time, however brief, imagining that I was piloting that that little plane through the backyard.

The plane would gracefully float through the air, sometimes narrowly missing the tetherball pole planted squarely in the yard and crash land near the evergreen trees. If the rubber band didn’t snap, then one of the wings might on landing.

Although I played with those planes for several years as a child, I didn’t seem to generalize the knowledge that when stretched tightly, beyond capacity, the rubber band would snap in two.

Unfortunately, as an adult I also have to keep learning that same lesson over and over again. This time when the rubber band in my life snaps there are more dire consequences than when the little plane wouldn’t fly and my mother had run out of rubber bands that fit the plane.

Producing good work . . . at home, in the office, at school or with our children . . . requires so much more than just one rubber band. Those rubber bands stay flexible when we work efficiently, experience quality sleep, eat foods that feed our body and not only our palate and drink plenty of clear water.

Working efficiently means you’ll be as efficient as you can be without sacrificing your children, your home and your mental health. And, like all things in life there are tricks or secrets that efficiency experts have found will reduce the amount of time it takes us to accomplish specific tasks, get more done in less time and improve our productivity quotient.

I love to be productive. I get a real feeling of satisfaction when I finally lay down at night to know that I accomplished the goals I set for myself that day without stress the children or sacrificing my own mental or emotional health.

But I have this huge flaw. Well, I think of it as something that may require change, while other members of my family tend to think of it as a major flaw. And, truth be told, it probably is a major flaw.

I overbook myself. I make too many plans. My list is longer than my arm. I NEVER finish my list for the day.

All things that industry experts tell you will make you crash and burn before you accomplish your goals.

Knowing this and realizing that there were other recommendations that would increase my productivity without sacrificing my end goals, I went on a hunt for the best tools and changes that I could make in my single mom life. These had to be realistic for my circumstances, work within my lifestyle and not require extra expense.

So, without further ado, here are the seven changes that I would recommend you make in the next few weeks. I have, and have seen some remarkable differences in what I get done and how much better I work.

 

  1. Sleep, Water and Nutrition. You had to expect this – so I won’t spend a lot of time here. Sleep 8 hours a night. Drink enough water to stay hydrated (so your pee is a light straw color) and eat a well-balanced diet that is low in carbohydrates. Carbohydrates will increase the release of insulin in your body, increase the inflammatory response and cause dips in your blood sugar which make you feel tired and sleepy. In order to be as productive as possible you have to keep both your mind and your body healthy.

Blocks

  1. Blocks of Time. Productivity happens when you can complete tasks in a specific amount of time. That time period is one that you define. In order to be as productive as possible you’ll want to block out your time during the day for specific tasks. Create the habit of blocking your calendar to check email, write the report your boss needs, make dinner, doing homework with the kids and anything else that needs to be done during the day. Make sure you also include downtime each day. Without time to recover and recharge your batteries your productivity levels will plummet like a rock in water.
  1. Balance everything. You’ve heard it before, but you must balance your work and life together. Have you heard of the Pareto Principle? It’s also known as the 80/20 rule. It’s the theory that 80 percent of the results from a given situation is determined by 20 percent of your work. This means you must manage your time and not let your time manage you. Working in blocks of time, including down time and balancing your recreation, family and work is extremely important to improve your productivity.
  1. Set Boundaries. Can you say no? Most women have trouble saying no to their friends or when they’re asked to do something. But that’s not the only thing you have to say no to! You must also guard your blocks of time and set boundaries to what you will and won’t do. Don’t check emails, take phone calls or answer text messages when you are committed to a block of time to finish a project or work on homework with the children. Set your boundaries with your friends as well. If you have people who enjoy dropping by unannounced, it’s time to set new boundaries.
  1. Let’s do double time. Can you do two things at once? Although most women are great at multi-tasking, it’s not the best way to accomplish any task. It requires that you split your brain between two tasks and neither get your full attention. On the other hand, you can schedule a playdate with your children’s friends and spend time with the mother catching up and call it downtime. Or you can take your child to her playdate and sit at a local coffee shop and work on your computer. You’ll be without the distractions you usually have at home and can access any content that you save in the cloud, so you can work anywhere.
  1. Focus on one thing and finish it. As women, we often struggle with focusing on one task. There is a joke that talks about how a woman walks through the house. Her intention is to clean the bathroom. She picks up the dishes in the family room and delivers them to the kitchen. She loads the dishwasher and takes clothes out of the dryer. After folding the clothes and delivering them to her children’s room, she fixes their bed and dusts the bookshelves in their room. She empties the garbage can and ties up the kitchen garbage can. After taking out the garbage, she starts another load of laundry. While the machine is running, she walks into the bathroom and starts cleaning the mirror, which reminds her that the mirror in her bedroom is dirty and she heads in there to clean the glass. Once finished it’s time to start dinner, she hasn’t finished one project and she’s exhausted.

Focus on one thing and finish it. It doesn’t matter about the extraneous things. It doesn’t matter that there are clothes in the dryer or the kitchen is mess – if you need to clean the bathroom, write the report or organize your files – don’t leave until it’s done.

  1. Use the tools you need. There are several online tools that can help improve your productivity – whether it’s at home or at work.

Momentum: a Chrome extension that shows a beautiful picture and your to-do list each time you open a new tab in your browser.

Trello: Has both a free and paid version. You can develop projects with different lists and tasks associated with them. Share the project with your friends or virtual assistant.

Wunderlist: Has both a free and paid version. Develop project lists with tasks. You can share the list, email yourself information, set due dates, reminders, attach audio files and take notes. This is my favorite tool!

 

Take the time TODAY to make one change in your daily routine and work to make that change a habit. If you can make one change every two weeks, it won’t be long before you are productivity machine!

 

You Think There Isn’t Enough Time for Exercise?

It’s a common reason for not exercising, “I just don’t have enough time!” In some instances this could be just a reason you use to justify not having the motivation or desire to exercise. But, in many cases, single moms have every single minute of every day scheduled or committed. The idea of spending 30 to 60 minutes on your own health is overwhelming. You’d like to have 30 minutes to spend with your children, read a book or have the time to spend with a friend of your own, without trying to ‘find’ 30 minutes every day to “get healthy.”

But, and this is a really big BUT, you already know that exercise has too many benefits to neglect it in your own life.

So, what in the world can you do about it?

Dr. Steven Bray, Professor of Kinesiology at McMaster University in Canada, published research in the Journal of American College of Health which demonstrated that high school students who were active during their high school years were more likely to remain active in college than those who were not active in high school to become active in college. He hypothesized from his discussions with the 127 participants that the changing exercise patterns were related to both increasing demands on their time and changing social patterns. In other words, their work schedule got more hectic and their friends were not active.

The challenge of coping with more demands on their time not only reduced the student’s activity level, but it also reduced their motivation to start a program. If you consider the demands on your own time every day, you’ll discover that both your ability to exercise and your motivation may have been affected.

You can read 10, 20 or 30 different ways of incorporating exercise into your busy schedule without any effect, unless you also change your motivation TO change. Only through learning to adapt to your hectic schedule will you be able to adopt new habits that improve your health and ability to further adapt to your hectic schedule.

It might look like a vicious cycle, and most probably it is!

Every life transition holds the same challenge. When you have a new baby, become single, get a new job, or move to a new city . . . each of these challenges brings more into your life than you might imagine.

However, when you have the tools you need to adapt to change, you can continue to adopt your healthy lifestyle and enjoy the benefits of more energy, better emotional health and greater physical health.

Flexibility is the skill that strengthens your resolve to keep exercise a priority in your life. Unfortunately, it appears that for most, exercise is the first thing that goes when our lives get busy. Developing a flexible mindset about exercise creates the right environment to achieve your goals.

Psychologist from Berlin’s Freie Universitat, Jochen Ziegelmann, found participants in their studies who made goals that included implementation intentions were more likely to continue their program than those who set other types of goals. For instance, an implementation intention may sound like, “I will walk for 10 minutes after lunch and dinner every day.” You might recognize another type of goal that many people will set and verbalize as, “I will exercise three times a week.”

In the first goal the participant knows exactly what is expected and can judge if they are meeting or falling short of their goal. The second, more common type of goal is less objective and less functional.

The results of exercise will not only improve your physical health but also your emotional health and wellness. As a single mom you are facing daily challenges that most mothers face with the support of another parent. Situational sadness or depression is not unusual for the single mom. In a study published in Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, researchers found that single mothers suffered more frequently from an episode of depression in the past 12 months than married mothers. These single moms reported lower levels of social support and infrequent contact with their friends and family. In this study of almost 3,000 women, life events were strongly related to depression.

The good news is that in other research of patients who were diagnosed with clinical depression, over 60 percent who exercised were no longer depressed at the end of the study. This percentage of improvement was very similar to that of patients who both exercised and were given medication. And, those who continued to exercise had a 50 percent less chance of depression six months after the study was completed.

What does this mean for you?

It’s time to develop some flexibility strategies in your daily life to enable you to include exercise.

The first flexibility strategy is in how you THINK about exercise. You aren’t training for the Olympics, running a marathon or competing in Miss Universe contest. Instead, your aim is to move. Exercise is . . .

playing tennis with the children
playing catch in the backyard
throwing the ball for your dog
taking a walk with the children after dinner
kicking a soccer ball or shooting basketball with your young athlete
taking the stairs at work instead of the elevator
going for a walk on your lunch at work
dancing with the children to your favorite music video
stretching while you’re on the phone or making dinner

Of course you can also start jogging, go to the gym or purchase an aerobic tape. But, that’s exactly how you think of exercise now. The biggest reason people stop working out is because they bite off more than they can reasonably accomplish. Their muscles are sore, they get discouraged and suddenly the exercise habit no longer exists.

Flexibility strategy two is to find time you are already spending doing something productive and incorporate even more into your committed time. One way of doing that is to use an inflatable exercise ball. Use the ball as your chair at your desk at home or at work. Sitting on the exercise ball forces you to use your core muscles to balance. It might look easy, but after 15 or 20 minutes you’ll begin to feel your muscles working! [Remember to start slow. Once you’re tired, move back to the office chair and extend the time tomorrow.]

Do you spend time with the kids watching a show in the evening? Sit on the floor with them and stretch or do a mild exercise band routine. Do you spend time on the phone in your home office? Get a stationary bike and use it – SLOWLY – while you’re talking.

Flexibility strategy three is to give yourself grace! There will be days when it all goes well and other days when it all falls apart. The objective is to stay focused on the future and make your changes a permanent habit. If you’re too tired to go for a walk today, no worries! Just don’t give up on it all together. Remember to pick up that habit again tomorrow.

Flexibility strategy four is to value yourself. As a single woman caring for children you focus on 14 other things before thinking of yourself. You might not like exercise, think it’s boring or tried it before and don’t want to try it again. Value the person you are. Your dreams, desires and wishes are tied to being healthy enough to enjoy them. We are given this one body to care for and keep healthy. Without health and wellness we can’t enjoy the little or big things in life.

Remember . . .

Exercise will improve your mood, emotional health and help prevent sadness and depression.
Exercise will improve your physical health, balance, coordination and muscle tone.
Exercise is as simple as starting with a walk for 10 minutes after lunch and dinner.
Exercise will help you adapt to daily stress and adopt a healthy lifestyle.
You are worth every minute that you spend on becoming the best person and mother you can be.

Your next step is to sit down for 10 minutes this evening and think about how you might be able to integrate a few minutes of exercise into your daily activities. Another 10 minutes may feel unmanageable, but remember the Flexibility Strategies.

Change what you think exercise is.
Incorporate those 10 minutes into something you are already doing.
Give yourself GRACE
Value yourself, your health and your time.

Time to grab your calendar, write down your ideas and start creating a healthier body and mind.

 

 

RESOURCES

Journal of American College of Health: Transition to University and Vigorous Physical Exercise
Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology: Stress, Social Support and Depression in Single and Married Mothers