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“Coffee is a beverage that puts one to sleep when not drank.” –Alphonse Allais, French writer and humorist.

While not all office workers drink coffee, the clear majority imbibe some form of caffeine; and woe betide anyone who breaks the office coffee pot. If you don’t drink caffeine in the morning, you’re one of the few and the proud. I salute you—as long as you don’t get between me and my Keurig.

Tongue out of cheek, caffeine—most often in the form of coffee, tea, or soda—is actually a useful tool for boosting alertness and productivity. It doesn’t just perk you up; it also enhances your motor skills, improves cognitive performance, decreases mental fatigue, increases the efficiency of your daily energy expenditure, and more. While you can overdo it and end up with a caffeine crash—it’s legal, socially acceptable, and it tastes good—all good stuff.

Oddly enough, the way caffeine works jibes pretty well with Allais’ quote. Each time a neuron in your brain fires, it produces a neurochemical called adenosine. The more adenosine your brain absorbs, the more tired you get. Eventually, it puts you to sleep. Caffeine keeps your brain from absorbing adenosine, up to a point. Eventually, it gives in and lets your brain absorb the chemical. Meanwhile, theobromine—an important chemical in chocolate also found in most caffeinated drinks—triggers tiredness about half an hour after you have the drink.

The secret for effective caffeine usage is to drink your coffee, tea, or soda strategically. For the best effects (since you’re probably going to drink it in some form), here are some suggestions:

  1. Take a caffeine vacation. If you want the best possible productive enhancement from your caffeine, reduce your intake for a week. That will give your system a little time to flush out any existing caffeine, overcome its effects, and regain some sensitivity to it. By the time you start your normal levels again, caffeine will be more effective and give your productivity (and alertness) a noticeable boost. If you follow the remaining rules, you can maintain this caffeine streak indefinitely.

  2. Drink water first and often. Before you drink your first cup of brew in the morning, down a cup of water first. Then drink at a cup of water for every cup of caffeinated beverage to stay consistently hydrated.

  3. Don’t drink it immediately upon rising. Assuming you’re adapted for the standard day shift, you don’t need caffeine until after about 9:00 AM. That’s when the stress hormone cortisol, which gives you an alertness kick, hits its peak. Caffeine can interfere with your cortisol cycle (another reason water needs to come before caffeine). So, wake up a bit and then add the caffeine about 1-1.5 hours after you rise.

  4. Drink less overall. If you want to maintain your caffeine boost, don’t drink your drink all at once. Instead, spread out the same consumption across the workday, so you can keep a consistent level of caffeine in your system. Know your cut-off time so it doesn’t keep you up at night.

  5. Drink it black. If you can stand it (some of us can’t) drink your caffeine without any additives, especially sugar. Sugar has its own cascade of effects that may either stack with or interfere with caffeine’s effects. Low- or no-calorie sweeteners are okay, as well as some milk or low-cal creamer if you wish.

  6. Eat well. Maintain as healthy a diet as possible. A well-balanced meal of protein and complex carbohydrates will improve caffeine’s effects, since it doesn’t need to compete with junk in your bloodstream.

For many of us, getting a cup of a refreshing, hot, caffeinated beverage first thing in the morning is a welcome ritual that helps us get our motors running. Is it a crutch? Maybe, but it’s a gentler one than most, and offers a proven way to ratchet up your productivity as your physical processes, like adenosine production, work to ratchet it down. You can put caffeine to work effectively if you follow the simple rules I’ve listed above.

About Laura Stack, your next keynote speaker:

Laura Stack, MBA, CSP, CPAE is an award-winning keynote speaker, bestselling author, and noted authority on productivity and performance. Funny, engaging, and full of real life strategies that work, Laura will change mindsets and attitudes so your people can maximize productivity, strengthen performance, and get the job done right. Her presentations at corporate events, sales kick-off meetings, and association conferences help audiences improve output, increase speed in execution, and save time in the office. Stack has authored seven books, including her newest work, Doing the Right Things Right: How the Effective Executive Spends Time (Jan. 2016). To have Laura Stack speak at your next event, call 303-471-7401, email Nadine@TheProductivityPro.com.com, or CONTACT US.

Here’s what others are saying:

“Laura Stack’s session with a group of our seasoned operations managers was eye-opening. We all learned new ways to be more productive with the tools we already have. I’ve never seen each of our seasoned, experienced operations managers so engaged in a session. Many of our senior and mid-level leaders were wowed by what they learned and have already begun using the new techniques with their teams.”
—Mary Pawlowski, Learning Design, Piedmont Natural Gas

“What I enjoyed most about your presentation was that it was not only engaging but also practical in application. I’ve read everything from Covey’s system to “Getting Things Done,” and you presented time management in a way that is the easiest I’ve seen to digest and apply. Thank you for helping our system today!”
—John-Reed McDonald, SVP, Field Operations, Pridestaff

“Laura is an incredible speaker who takes practical information to improve productivity and efficiency and makes it interesting and fun! She has a great sense of humor and completely engaged our corporate and sales team. Laura motivated everyone to take steps to make their lives more productive and efficient.
—Molly Johnson, Vice President Domestic Sales, Episciences, Inc.

“Ms. Laura Stack’s program received the highest scores in the 13-year history of the Institute for Management Studies (IMS) in Cleveland! From the 83 participants, the workshop received a perfect 7.0 for “Effectiveness of the Speaker” and 6.8 for “Value of the Content.” Managers especially valued learning about task management, how to minimize interruptions, organizing with Outlook, prioritizing, effectively saying ‘no,’ how to set boundaries, and recognizing self-imposed challenges to time management.”
—Don Gorning, Chair, Institute for Management Studies Cleveland

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“Just living isn’t enough,” said the butterfly, “one must have sunshine, freedom and a little flower.” –Hans Christian Anderson, Danish fairytale writer.

The Danes have an interesting approach to work and productivity they refer to as “hygge” (pronounced “hoogah”). Hygge refers primarily to emotional and physical comfort—the kind of coziness that lets you achieve more from a place of contentment. While the rest of the world promotes getting out of one’s comfort zone to get ahead, the Danes embrace comfort as one more way to increase individual productivity. Hygge doesn’t mean being complacent—it means having good wellbeing. Think about it: most of us spend more time working than we do sleeping. Something as minor as a bad chair can make you uncomfortable, and we all know we work better when we feel better.

Let’s look at five ways you can use hygge to improve your emotional and physical comfort, so you can be more productive.

  1. Upgrade your workspace. How can you make your workspace more inviting? Besides keeping it neat, how can you personalize it in ways that make you happy or give you a warm feeling? Decorate it to your liking. Post cartoons and pictures drawn by your young children, nieces, and nephews. Add a bowl of potpourri with a scent you like. A few plants will not only brighten up the place, they’ll clean the air and provide extra oxygen.

  2. Listen to quiet music or ambient sound. Soothing music or white noise may help you feel more at ease, especially when you listen wearing noise-canceling earphones that block the normal office hubbub. Unfortunately, if yours is one of an increasing number of workplaces that have banned headphones, you’ll have to find another alternative. There are some great websites offering the sounds of rain or the quiet chaos of a coffee shop, which soothe many and can passively boost productivity.

  3. Take action to keep warm or cool. Most of us don’t have access to the office thermostat, and even if we did, it wouldn’t be fair to set it at your favorite temperature. Instead of complaining about it, keep a small heater or sweater on hand to help keep you warm when necessary, or use a little desk fan when it’s warmer than you like. A fan can also generate white noise.

  4. Leave your desk at lunchtime. For comfort’s sake, get up and go elsewhere at lunchtime. Eat in the breakroom, go out to lunch, or do something else you like: sit on a bench and read, take a walk around the courtyard outside, or chat with friends. Just don’t sit there and work through lunch! Force yourself to get away from work and do something else for a time.

  5. Nurture your work relationships. Check in with your co-workers on a regular basis. Go out to lunch or schedule an occasional coffee or evening event. Ask about their families, see how they’re doing in general, and help them celebrate their triumphs. A good, solid team dynamic not only makes you feel good, it improves team morale and productivity was well.

Feel Better, Do Better

There may be a few among us who are more productive when they’re not feeling their best, but if they exist, they’re rare. You don’t have to grin and bear it all the time; nor should you. While you don’t want to go too far and over-clutter (since it can distract you when you need to concentrate), embrace your workplace, and make it your own.

About Laura Stack, your next keynote speaker:

Laura Stack, MBA, CSP, CPAE is an award-winning keynote speaker, bestselling author, and noted authority on productivity and performance. Funny, engaging, and full of real life strategies that work, Laura will change mindsets and attitudes so your people can maximize productivity, strengthen performance, and get the job done right. Her presentations at corporate events, sales kick-off meetings, and association conferences help audiences improve output, increase speed in execution, and save time in the office. Stack has authored seven books, including her newest work, Doing the Right Things Right: How the Effective Executive Spends Time (Jan. 2016). To have Laura Stack speak at your next event, call 303-471-7401, email Nadine@TheProductivityPro.com.com, or CONTACT US.

Here’s what others are saying:

“Laura Stack’s session with a group of our seasoned operations managers was eye-opening. We all learned new ways to be more productive with the tools we already have. I’ve never seen each of our seasoned, experienced operations managers so engaged in a session. Many of our senior and mid-level leaders were wowed by what they learned and have already begun using the new techniques with their teams.”
—Mary Pawlowski, Learning Design, Piedmont Natural Gas

“What I enjoyed most about your presentation was that it was not only engaging but also practical in application. I’ve read everything from Covey’s system to “Getting Things Done,” and you presented time management in a way that is the easiest I’ve seen to digest and apply. Thank you for helping our system today!”
—John-Reed McDonald, SVP, Field Operations, Pridestaff

“Laura is an incredible speaker who takes practical information to improve productivity and efficiency and makes it interesting and fun! She has a great sense of humor and completely engaged our corporate and sales team. Laura motivated everyone to take steps to make their lives more productive and efficient.
—Molly Johnson, Vice President Domestic Sales, Episciences, Inc.

“Ms. Laura Stack’s program received the highest scores in the 13-year history of the Institute for Management Studies (IMS) in Cleveland! From the 83 participants, the workshop received a perfect 7.0 for “Effectiveness of the Speaker” and 6.8 for “Value of the Content.” Managers especially valued learning about task management, how to minimize interruptions, organizing with Outlook, prioritizing, effectively saying ‘no,’ how to set boundaries, and recognizing self-imposed challenges to time management.”
—Don Gorning, Chair, Institute for Management Studies Cleveland

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“Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare.” –Japanese proverb.

If you’ve spent any amount of time in the world, you know the only true constant is change. Everything evolves, from the NFL, to your favorite TV show, to your family, and to your circle of friends. Even your job will change, no matter whether you hop from place to place or remain in one position your entire career.

Once upon a time, you didn’t have to worry much about the bedrock of your job changing, particularly the mission and vision underlying much of what you do. But as society and technology evolved from roughly 1980 until today, tremors and earthquakes have rocked and even shattered that bedrock, so your footing is rarely solid and assured. This has proven true even in monolithic cultures like Japan, where a salaryman’s job was once more or less guaranteed for a lifetime. No more.

In recent years, mission and vision have changed often in most organizations, even those that have preserved their underlying core values—and they continue to change regularly, as they must. In most cases, those changes are minor, intended to shore up the organization’s values and business in ways ensuring effective competition in a fast-moving business arena. However, no matter how limited the changes, it’s easy to fall into a crack if you’re not careful or end up taking the wrong road… especially if you’ve lost track of your organizational objectives.

You have no choice but to adapt or die when your organization’s mission and vision change. Survival of the fittest doesn’t apply only to the biological world. Here are some ways you can adapt and thrive when mission/vision changes:

  1. Accept that mission/vision must evolve along with your industry. Remember those punch dummies that always pop back up no matter how hard you hit them? You have to be like a punch dummy in today’s business world. These days, your world’s rocked regularly as mission, vision, and even core values shift, and it may happen annually or even more often. If you can’t accept and roll with those changes, and then find your footing quickly and accurately identify the new direction, your productivity will suffer.

  2. Keep an eagle eye on the company’s direction. Revisit your company’s mission and vision often on your own recognizance. You can usually find them somewhere on your company website. Not every leader has the presence of mind or leadership skills to properly explain or even communication a new direction the company might have taken. It’s your duty to listen not just to what your leaders say, but also what they don’t say. Sure, it’s easier just to keep going the same direction, changing direction only when forced to, but inertia may prove your undoing. Once in a while, take a few minutes to be sure you’re going the right way.

  3. Clarify any mission or vision statement that seems confusing to you. Talk to your boss about anything nebulous, too broad, or too complex, and get a solid understanding from them. If they, too, seem confused, you may want to jointly suggest something more easily understandable in layman’s terms. Whatever the case, ask questions if the meaning doesn’t jump out at you, so you don’t make any mistakes when choosing your direction.

  4. Study the new mission and vision closely, so you can familiarize yourself with them, and work your way to acceptance. Eventually, you will internalize the mission and vision, and it will become easier to move forward automatically. Occasional spot checks, per the suggestions above, will keep you on track.

  5. Use the mission and vision to inspire and drive your work. Use them to become more innovative. As one writer recently pointed out, Apple isn’t a computer company any more than Amazon’s a retailer. They may have started out that way, but they’ve become so much more. What kinds of innovations can your mission and vision statements point you toward, especially as your company evolves beyond its original boundaries?

Riding the Tides of Change

The business world is littered with the corpses of companies that failed to evolve their mission and visions as the world changed. Sometimes they’ve taken associated businesses or even entire industries down with them. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to take a good look at your new mission/vision when they change, find a way to square them with your organization’s core values, and support your team with your excellent productivity.

About Laura Stack, your next keynote speaker:

Laura Stack, MBA, CSP, CPAE is an award-winning keynote speaker, bestselling author, and noted authority on productivity and performance. Funny, engaging, and full of real life strategies that work, Laura will change mindsets and attitudes so your people can maximize productivity, strengthen performance, and get the job done right. Her presentations at corporate events, sales kick-off meetings, and association conferences help audiences improve output, increase speed in execution, and save time in the office. Stack has authored seven books, including her newest work, Doing the Right Things Right: How the Effective Executive Spends Time (Jan. 2016). To have Laura Stack speak at your next event, call 303-471-7401, email Nadine@TheProductivityPro.com.com, or CONTACT US.

Here’s what others are saying:

“Laura Stack’s session with a group of our seasoned operations managers was eye-opening. We all learned new ways to be more productive with the tools we already have. I’ve never seen each of our seasoned, experienced operations managers so engaged in a session. Many of our senior and mid-level leaders were wowed by what they learned and have already begun using the new techniques with their teams.”
—Mary Pawlowski, Learning Design, Piedmont Natural Gas

“What I enjoyed most about your presentation was that it was not only engaging but also practical in application. I’ve read everything from Covey’s system to “Getting Things Done,” and you presented time management in a way that is the easiest I’ve seen to digest and apply. Thank you for helping our system today!”
—John-Reed McDonald, SVP, Field Operations, Pridestaff

“Laura is an incredible speaker who takes practical information to improve productivity and efficiency and makes it interesting and fun! She has a great sense of humor and completely engaged our corporate and sales team. Laura motivated everyone to take steps to make their lives more productive and efficient.
—Molly Johnson, Vice President Domestic Sales, Episciences, Inc.

“Ms. Laura Stack’s program received the highest scores in the 13-year history of the Institute for Management Studies (IMS) in Cleveland! From the 83 participants, the workshop received a perfect 7.0 for “Effectiveness of the Speaker” and 6.8 for “Value of the Content.” Managers especially valued learning about task management, how to minimize interruptions, organizing with Outlook, prioritizing, effectively saying ‘no,’ how to set boundaries, and recognizing self-imposed challenges to time management.”
—Don Gorning, Chair, Institute for Management Studies Cleveland

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“Good leadership consists of showing average people how to do the work of superior people.” – John D. Rockefeller, American business magnate.

Average gets a bad rap among productivity gurus. No one really wants to admit that most people are by definition, well, average. They are the middle-of-the-pack, hardworking employees who do the majority of the work in the corporate environment. Many are happy with their positions, happy with their pay, happy with the level of effort they must put in to maintain their jobs. They’re the backbone of business. We need people who come to work, do their jobs, and go home.

If you’re a reader of my blog, you know I’m not a huge fan of average—mostly because, as Rockefeller points out in the above quote, “average” people can learn to perform magnificently without killing themselves. Burnout, in my eyes, hurts worse than mediocrity; at least the mediocre aren’t totally wrecked. But average doesn’t mean mediocre. There’s nothing wrong with average, if you don’t mind it.

As much impact as super-efficient workers have, they’re rare. Organizations would accomplish very little if they depended entirely on their top 1%, while ignoring their conventional, solid middle. While I believe in always reaching for your full potential, unlike some, I don’t push workers to become SuperCompetent There’s no reason you can’t leverage your knowledge and authority to lead from the middle. How would this work?

  1. Act modest, even if you must fake it. As Dale Carnegie once wrote, “The surest way to antagonize an audience is to indicate that you consider yourself to be above them.” It doesn’t matter if you know you do something better than everyone else, don’t bring it up unnecessarily. Just do it. Circumstances may sometimes require you to point out your superior ability; but when you do bring up your strengths, don’t just brag. Narcissism and vanity won’t help you wield any reins of power you may get your hands on.

  2. Consistently improve yourself. This should go without saying… but then, most things that “should go without saying” need to be said loudly and often. People have short memories. So, “never stop never stopping,” to use the amusing title of a recent movie. Find ways to improve your work processes, writing ability, and performance. Take classes, attend workshops and conferences, and brush up on, well, everything. It will all improve your productivity and leadership ability.  

  3. Increase your communication skills. In addition to learning how to speak and write in a clear, unambiguous way, study the basics of non-verbal communication. Keep an eye on body language and expression; ask for honest feedback and provide it when asked; stop over-communicating; and give the person you’re communicating with the gift of your full attention.

  4. Be a wingman. If you don’t lead the pack but want to contribute your knowledge and experience, you don’t have to present it like a backseat driver. Instead, serve as your leader’s wingman. In this critical supporting role, you communicate tightly with your team lead, keep an eye out for potential problems and obstacles, and smooth the way. This isn’t about sucking up. It’s about aiding the team leader as she or he leads the team into the future, supporting the leader and the team in general. You don’t have to agree with everything leaders do, so discuss options with them in a private setting. Your goal: to keep everyone afloat.

Among Equals

Just because you’re not a part of management doesn’t mean you can’t contribute leadership to the team, especially if you’re highly experienced. Whether you just haven’t made it to the top yet or don’t want to try, you can still influence your team’s course and the decisions that decide it. Don’t hide your light under a bushel just because you don’t feel it’s your place to influence decision-making. Your team leader depends on you and your co-workers to help guide the team’s direction.

About Laura Stack, your next keynote speaker:

Laura Stack, MBA, CSP, CPAE is an award-winning keynote speaker, bestselling author, and noted authority on productivity and performance. Funny, engaging, and full of real life strategies that work, Laura will change mindsets and attitudes so your people can maximize productivity, strengthen performance, and get the job done right. Her presentations at corporate events, sales kick-off meetings, and association conferences help audiences improve output, increase speed in execution, and save time in the office. Stack has authored seven books, including her newest work, Doing the Right Things Right: How the Effective Executive Spends Time (Jan. 2016). To have Laura Stack speak at your next event, call 303-471-7401, email Nadine@TheProductivityPro.com.com, or CONTACT US.

Here’s what others are saying:

“Laura Stack’s session with a group of our seasoned operations managers was eye-opening. We all learned new ways to be more productive with the tools we already have. I’ve never seen each of our seasoned, experienced operations managers so engaged in a session. Many of our senior and mid-level leaders were wowed by what they learned and have already begun using the new techniques with their teams.”
—Mary Pawlowski, Learning Design, Piedmont Natural Gas

“What I enjoyed most about your presentation was that it was not only engaging but also practical in application. I’ve read everything from Covey’s system to “Getting Things Done,” and you presented time management in a way that is the easiest I’ve seen to digest and apply. Thank you for helping our system today!”
—John-Reed McDonald, SVP, Field Operations, Pridestaff

“Laura is an incredible speaker who takes practical information to improve productivity and efficiency and makes it interesting and fun! She has a great sense of humor and completely engaged our corporate and sales team. Laura motivated everyone to take steps to make their lives more productive and efficient.
—Molly Johnson, Vice President Domestic Sales, Episciences, Inc.

“Ms. Laura Stack’s program received the highest scores in the 13-year history of the Institute for Management Studies (IMS) in Cleveland! From the 83 participants, the workshop received a perfect 7.0 for “Effectiveness of the Speaker” and 6.8 for “Value of the Content.” Managers especially valued learning about task management, how to minimize interruptions, organizing with Outlook, prioritizing, effectively saying ‘no,’ how to set boundaries, and recognizing self-imposed challenges to time management.”
—Don Gorning, Chair, Institute for Management Studies Cleveland

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“It’s not the load that breaks you down. It’s the way you carry it.” – Lou Holtz, American football player and coach.

Stress gets a bad rap sometimes. There’s nothing wrong with a little stress if it spurs you to action, focuses your mind, or helps you handle a new job. Psychologists call this eustress: minor physical, mental, or even biochemical stressors that have a positive effect on your outlook or body.

But if the stress is cumulative or unremitting, it becomes strain, which derails your productivity. Even relatively minor stress compounded over a workweek can have negative effects, so find ways to blow off steam simply and quickly. Ideally, you’ve got a nice hobby to help you work off tension at home, or a membership to a health club where you can play a satisfying game of squash (or go to Orange Theory Fitness, my addiction). But you also need tension relievers for work, when you can’t go run a quick mile on the treadmill.

Try these ideas to give your productivity a quick boost at work:

  1. Get some coffee. Here’s where burning off stress joins with eustress to buoy you a bit. As a stimulant, coffee is a kind of eustress; however, many of us just enjoy the steam, the flavor, or the scent. While too many coffee breaks can slow you down or affect your sleep at night, sometimes the best thing you can do is step away from your desk for a quick break. Walking to the breakroom helps, and the ritual of prepping your coffee lets you stop exercising your mind for a few moments. Any short break can help you reset your stress meter. It may interrupt your workflow, but sometimes that’s what you need.

  2. Take a walk. Spend a few minutes walking briskly outside. This is especially invigorating during cool weather. It may not release the natural endorphins more vigorous exercise does, but it can jar you out of a rut, wake you up, and encourage your mind to wander. Plus, it gets you out of your chair, so you can stretch and get your blood circulating properly. Even a five-minute walk can have beneficial effects.

  3. Squeeze a stress ball. This may seem silly, but the silly things really work, and they’re easy to get. Pouring a few tons of stress into a rubber ball works better than putting it elsewhere. You don’t even have to pretend it’s someone’s neck (but you could if it makes you smile).

  4. Practice mindfulness. Focusing on the now while disregarding the past or future may seem a bit Zen, but the purpose isn’t to wreck your planning and ignore what’s coming up. It’s intended more to keep you noticing and following along every single minute of the day, without going into automatic or coasting. Having routines is an important way to manage time, but sometimes you need to be fully present. This might include taking a few minutes to meditate or just close your eyes and concentrate on your breathing for one minute. You can’t eliminate stress, but being mindful allows you to recognize and reduce it.

  5. Listen to music. Music therapy can make you feel better. Typically, quiet instrumental music or music you know well works best (so you don’t waste part of your attention trying to figure out the lyrics). If your company allows headphones, slip a CD of music or ambient sound into your player. The music may spur you on to greater productive heights if you really enjoy it. Just remember others might be watching if you use your air guitar.

  6. Talk with a friend. According to an old joke, workers accumulate “gripe time” in addition to PTO on their pay stubs. If only it were true! Be careful about airing your dirty laundry to a co-worker, because politics can come into play. Talking things over with a friend who doesn’t work at your company is a better idea. If nothing else, your friend can sit quietly and let you vent, and you can do the same. Even better, your friend might provide some ideas or solutions about your problems you may never even have considered before.

Avoid the Explosion

Old-fashioned steam boilers had release valves for those times when overpressure threatened to cause a catastrophic explosion. Engineer similar stress relievers for yourself. It’s much better to release tension gradually than to blow your top!

About Laura Stack, your next keynote speaker:

Laura Stack, MBA, CSP, CPAE is an award-winning keynote speaker, bestselling author, and noted authority on productivity and performance. Funny, engaging, and full of real life strategies that work, Laura will change mindsets and attitudes so your people can maximize productivity, strengthen performance, and get the job done right. Her presentations at corporate events, sales kick-off meetings, and association conferences help audiences improve output, increase speed in execution, and save time in the office. Stack has authored seven books, including her newest work, Doing the Right Things Right: How the Effective Executive Spends Time (Jan. 2016). To have Laura Stack speak at your next event, call 303-471-7401, email Nadine@TheProductivityPro.com.com, or CONTACT US.

Here’s what others are saying:

“Laura Stack’s session with a group of our seasoned operations managers was eye-opening. We all learned new ways to be more productive with the tools we already have. I’ve never seen each of our seasoned, experienced operations managers so engaged in a session. Many of our senior and mid-level leaders were wowed by what they learned and have already begun using the new techniques with their teams.”
—Mary Pawlowski, Learning Design, Piedmont Natural Gas

“What I enjoyed most about your presentation was that it was not only engaging but also practical in application. I’ve read everything from Covey’s system to “Getting Things Done,” and you presented time management in a way that is the easiest I’ve seen to digest and apply. Thank you for helping our system today!”
—John-Reed McDonald, SVP, Field Operations, Pridestaff

“Laura is an incredible speaker who takes practical information to improve productivity and efficiency and makes it interesting and fun! She has a great sense of humor and completely engaged our corporate and sales team. Laura motivated everyone to take steps to make their lives more productive and efficient.
—Molly Johnson, Vice President Domestic Sales, Episciences, Inc.

“Ms. Laura Stack’s program received the highest scores in the 13-year history of the Institute for Management Studies (IMS) in Cleveland! From the 83 participants, the workshop received a perfect 7.0 for “Effectiveness of the Speaker” and 6.8 for “Value of the Content.” Managers especially valued learning about task management, how to minimize interruptions, organizing with Outlook, prioritizing, effectively saying ‘no,’ how to set boundaries, and recognizing self-imposed challenges to time management.”
—Don Gorning, Chair, Institute for Management Studies Cleveland

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“People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things.” – Steve Jobs, former CEO of Apple.

The Swiss Army knife is one of those models of efficiency we’ve all heard of—it’s a tool many of us have used. But even efficiency can be broken. Consider the Wenger 16999 Giant. If you were stranded on a desert island and allowed one tool, you’d choose this Swiss Army knife. It has 87 implements with 141 functions—but it won’t fit into any pocket less than a foot deep. It weighs seven pounds and retails for $1,400.

The 16999 is what happens when a project gets scope creep. In their exuberance to create a single tool that could do everything, Wenger produced something that can barely do anything. Seriously, how can you use the nail file or the corkscrew on this behemoth?

Too often, we let our project scopes, our jobs, and even our missions slowly devolve into unmanageable messes—simply by allowing extra duties or features to slip in, even after we’ve supposedly locked everything down. If you’re suffering from the creeps, implement these practices to delete them from your work.

  1. Tightly document and stick to project requirements. It’s easy for projects to get out of whack; all it takes is one extra feature added after the fact, and suddenly you’re behind or over-budget. Perhaps your client asks, “While you’re in there, can you add this little change?” This may seem minor… but if it keeps happening, the sleek Jaguar you agreed to build may become a Sherman tank. Stick to your guns. Write your contracts so extra features cost extra in terms of both money and time. Base the project on your client’s vision at the beginning of the project and have them sign off on it. Accept nothing new without raising the price and resetting the schedule. Emphasize this from the beginning and enforce the rules.

  2. Establish a precise understanding of your role. Does your job description from two years ago look anything like today’s reality? If not, your job or role within the organization has suffered creep. Ideally, this is your manager’s responsibility, but if things get a bit too hazy, sit down and refocus your vision. You may have allowed your emphasis to drift away from the core components of your job. With a little introspection, you may see you’ve spent too much time tightening bolts on the periphery when you were better served working on the core of your job process.

  3. Be honest with your superiors. Sometimes a role creeps because your superiors instruct you to expand it beyond its original borders. While I would never recommend telling them, “That’s not my job,” if you’re asked to do something farther afield than you’ve trained for, inform your manager of the limitations you’re facing. They may have a good reason for asking you to do it. But if your role/job has creeped to the point where you can’t confidently handle a task due to lack of training, request additional help. Either you’ll get the training, or your role will stop creeping into unfamiliar territory.

  4. Clarify your core values and vision. These represent the heart of your business. Do you even know what they are? If so, do you still follow them, or have they fallen by the wayside? To help your organization stay true to its core values, mission, and vision, clarify to yourself exactly what they are, and hew closely to them as you move forward. Think deeply when someone suggests a change to your core business. If it doesn’t match your core values, say no to the change if you have the power to do so, or at least argue strongly against it.

It’s easy to let things go and drift through your days, working hard without keeping an eye on where you’re going. But that’s dangerous. If you don’t stop to look at what’s coming, you may never see the pitfalls and obstacles ahead until too late… and you may not notice you’ve crept right off the road set by your scope, job, or mission, and plowed through the weeds for miles. Keep your eyes wide open!

About Laura Stack, your next keynote speaker:

Laura Stack, MBA, CSP, CPAE is an award-winning keynote speaker, bestselling author, and noted authority on productivity and performance. Funny, engaging, and full of real life strategies that work, Laura will change mindsets and attitudes so your people can maximize productivity, strengthen performance, and get the job done right. Her presentations at corporate events, sales kick-off meetings, and association conferences help audiences improve output, increase speed in execution, and save time in the office. Stack has authored seven books, including her newest work, Doing the Right Things Right: How the Effective Executive Spends Time (Jan. 2016). To have Laura Stack speak at your next event, call 303-471-7401, email Nadine@TheProductivityPro.com.com, or CONTACT US.

Here’s what others are saying:

“Laura Stack’s session with a group of our seasoned operations managers was eye-opening. We all learned new ways to be more productive with the tools we already have. I’ve never seen each of our seasoned, experienced operations managers so engaged in a session. Many of our senior and mid-level leaders were wowed by what they learned and have already begun using the new techniques with their teams.”
—Mary Pawlowski, Learning Design, Piedmont Natural Gas

“What I enjoyed most about your presentation was that it was not only engaging but also practical in application. I’ve read everything from Covey’s system to “Getting Things Done,” and you presented time management in a way that is the easiest I’ve seen to digest and apply. Thank you for helping our system today!”
—John-Reed McDonald, SVP, Field Operations, Pridestaff

“Laura is an incredible speaker who takes practical information to improve productivity and efficiency and makes it interesting and fun! She has a great sense of humor and completely engaged our corporate and sales team. Laura motivated everyone to take steps to make their lives more productive and efficient.
—Molly Johnson, Vice President Domestic Sales, Episciences, Inc.

“Ms. Laura Stack’s program received the highest scores in the 13-year history of the Institute for Management Studies (IMS) in Cleveland! From the 83 participants, the workshop received a perfect 7.0 for “Effectiveness of the Speaker” and 6.8 for “Value of the Content.” Managers especially valued learning about task management, how to minimize interruptions, organizing with Outlook, prioritizing, effectively saying ‘no,’ how to set boundaries, and recognizing self-imposed challenges to time management.”
—Don Gorning, Chair, Institute for Management Studies Cleveland

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“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” – Victor L. Frankl, Austrian psychologist.

Remember when you were young and idealistic, when work was still new and exciting, when problems seemed to automatically reframe themselves as challenges and every day was a new chance to learn? Do you ever wonder what happened to those days? They’re not really gone. They’re just buried under an adult patina of care, worry, and stress. If you’re willing to try, you can remove the patina and rediscover your excitement about your work.

What will it take? The shock treatment of finding a newer, less toxic, more interesting, or more challenging job that better fits your talents? Perhaps you need to shift a few piles of work and polish your idealism up to get it sparkling again. Maybe all you need is a serious vacation. Or stop taking things too seriously, while remaining dedicated to your deadlines. Try these seven simple things to be happier about your work:

  1. Make fewer, more realistic commitments. It’s easier to enjoy your work more and feel better about yourself if you’re not so stressed about meeting your unrealistic commitments. Stop making so many promises you can’t keep—ideally, don’t take on any new ones until you complete the existing ones—and in the future, carefully choose only those you know you can reasonably accomplish with a bit of stretch.

  2. Make fewer decisions. A prevailing theory suggests you only have so much decision-making ability per day before you suffer energy and ego depletion. Nearly everything requires a decision, but you can cut back on how many you must make by simplifying your life and establishing routines. And apparently, a sugary snack or drink (with real glucose) can help you recover your decision-making energy.

  3. Avoid negative people. Whiners, grouches, downers, and other people with negative outlooks are toxic to happiness and excitement. They’ll always find a way to rain on your parade. Stay away from them as much as possible—relatives included.

  4. Stay mindful. Stop worrying about the past, and don’t overthink what might happen in the future. Keep your mind on the present, active and on point. Don’t let go and function on cruise control when it’s time to think and work hard, or you’ll lose track of important things and end up somewhere in the weeds. Mindfulness requires living in the moment and thoughtfully working toward your next milestone and goal.

  5. Get to know your coworkers better. You may be happier if you connect with your coworkers at a deeper level. Shift some of your focus to your team rather than yourself. It usually feels good to help other people, and it can’t hurt to store up good will for when you need a little help later.

  6. Improve yourself. Whenever you can find the time, take the time to learn something new, even if it means paying for it yourself. Additional training, continuing education, conferences, workshops, and occasional classes can prove instrumental in making you feel more confident about yourself and your job performance. The better you feel about yourself, the happier (and more excited) about work you’re likely to be.

  7. Pretend you’re new to your job again. Stop for a moment and try to remember the way you felt when you first started your job, when everything felt novel and exciting, and you weren’t overwhelmed. Try to recover this feeling. It may not be easy, but if you can overlay that hopeful sense of challenge over the everyday humdrum, you’ll likely find it easier to move forward with a renewed sense of interest and vigor.

Shiny, Happy People

Everyone knows that people who love their jobs work harder. It’s been scientifically proven, though no one really needed it to be. If you’re excited at work, you’re more likely to own your job, embrace what you do, and fully engage—the employer’s Holy Grail. It’s never just up to your employer to keep you excited—your happiness is your responsibility. I’m not saying you can just flip a switch and “choose excited.” Despite the fondest hopes of some optimists, humans don’t really work that way. But you can change your circumstances and attitude.

About Laura Stack, your next keynote speaker:

Laura Stack, MBA, CSP, CPAE is an award-winning keynote speaker, bestselling author, and noted authority on productivity and performance. Funny, engaging, and full of real life strategies that work, Laura will change mindsets and attitudes so your people can maximize productivity, strengthen performance, and get the job done right. Her presentations at corporate events, sales kick-off meetings, and association conferences help audiences improve output, increase speed in execution, and save time in the office. Stack has authored seven books, including her newest work, Doing the Right Things Right: How the Effective Executive Spends Time (Jan. 2016). To have Laura Stack speak at your next event, call 303-471-7401, email Nadine@TheProductivityPro.com.com, or CONTACT US.

Here’s what others are saying:

“Laura Stack’s session with a group of our seasoned operations managers was eye-opening. We all learned new ways to be more productive with the tools we already have. I’ve never seen each of our seasoned, experienced operations managers so engaged in a session. Many of our senior and mid-level leaders were wowed by what they learned and have already begun using the new techniques with their teams.”
—Mary Pawlowski, Learning Design, Piedmont Natural Gas

“What I enjoyed most about your presentation was that it was not only engaging but also practical in application. I’ve read everything from Covey’s system to “Getting Things Done,” and you presented time management in a way that is the easiest I’ve seen to digest and apply. Thank you for helping our system today!”
—John-Reed McDonald, SVP, Field Operations, Pridestaff

“Laura is an incredible speaker who takes practical information to improve productivity and efficiency and makes it interesting and fun! She has a great sense of humor and completely engaged our corporate and sales team. Laura motivated everyone to take steps to make their lives more productive and efficient.
—Molly Johnson, Vice President Domestic Sales, Episciences, Inc.

“Ms. Laura Stack’s program received the highest scores in the 13-year history of the Institute for Management Studies (IMS) in Cleveland! From the 83 participants, the workshop received a perfect 7.0 for “Effectiveness of the Speaker” and 6.8 for “Value of the Content.” Managers especially valued learning about task management, how to minimize interruptions, organizing with Outlook, prioritizing, effectively saying ‘no,’ how to set boundaries, and recognizing self-imposed challenges to time management.”
—Don Gorning, Chair, Institute for Management Studies Cleveland

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“If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you’ll never get it done.” – Bruce Lee, Chinese actor and martial artist

Mistakes are the inevitable fruit of trying new things, and sometimes they even produce something useful. A biological mistake may prove life-saving to an organism if the environment changes suddenly, and you can even frame some business mistakes as solutions. Silly Putty started life as a failed attempt at synthetic rubber but became a ubiquitous child’s toy, which is still sold today.

We all must make mistakes to refine our work processes, if only to discover what doesn’t work. That doesn’t mean you have to waste time when hordes of other people have already made certain mistakes for you. Here’s a brief list of productivity mistakes to avoid:

  1. Under-planning. Unless you’re already an expert on what you’re doing, don’t start before you’ve lined up your ducks. Even if you are an expert, have at least an outline or standard procedure in mind. If nothing else, go through the expected project point-by-point and decide how you’ll handle each stage. Once you’ve done your due diligence and put some care into it, dive in.

  2. Overthinking/Perfectionism. There’s a line between under- and overthinking. It’s neither a fine line nor a plateau, but there’s definitely a sweet spot between the two extremes—and if you stray over the edge of too much planning or thinking, you may never get started. Planning is necessary, but you must know when to cut it off and get moving. Perfectionism and overthinking can both stall you in the paralysis of analysis. You also get the added bonus of anxiety, stress, and depression as you fall farther and farther behind.

  3. Overemphasizing morning efficiency.  Most productivity literature assumes we all have greater energy early in our shifts, a few hours after we wake up. That’s when you’re supposed to work on the hard stuff and “eat your frogs” (the ugliest first, if you have two). Well… maybe not. Think about how slowly many offices are to get started; some don’t get into full swing for a couple of hours. And consider this: the stress chemical cortisol spikes early in the morning (assuming the classic 9-5 shift). This may be why one infographic recommends avoiding coffee until after 10 AM, when cortisol levels drop. Furthermore, not everyone has an energy peak early in their workday. Some people do best later in the day, even toward the end of the afternoon. Learn your peak energy times and use them to your advantage.

  4. Poor prioritization. Instead of piling everything together and treating all tasks as equal, triage them ruthlessly, eliminating everything unimportant or that you can get (or hire) someone else to do. Prioritize the rest in rigid order. Comparatively minor tasks go at the bottom of your list, where they can fall off if needed. Items due very soon go to the top of your list, with important but non-crucial tasks in the middle. Work the top-priority tasks during your energy peaks, and any other times you can manage them. Try to limit top-priority tasks to no more than three (very difficult at first).

  5. Lack of natural light. Avoid working in a windowless space if possible; humans weren’t meant to work in artificially-lit boxes. A study published in the Journal of Sleep Medicine in 2014 indicates exposure to natural light significantly boosts your alertness and mood. If you can’t sit near a window, buy a SAD lamp for your workspace—that is, a lamp designed to treat Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Make Your Own Mistakes

Avoiding the mistakes listed here will give you a head start on productivity, but it doesn’t mean you won’t make other mistakes. They’ll just be different ones. Time management methods that work great for others may not work for you, but at least this head start gives you time to make your own mistakes without piling on the others, too.

About Laura Stack, your next keynote speaker:

Laura Stack, MBA, CSP, CPAE is an award-winning keynote speaker, bestselling author, and noted authority on productivity and performance. Funny, engaging, and full of real life strategies that work, Laura will change mindsets and attitudes so your people can maximize productivity, strengthen performance, and get the job done right. Her presentations at corporate events, sales kick-off meetings, and association conferences help audiences improve output, increase speed in execution, and save time in the office. Stack has authored seven books, including her newest work, Doing the Right Things Right: How the Effective Executive Spends Time (Jan. 2016). To have Laura Stack speak at your next event, call 303-471-7401, email Nadine@TheProductivityPro.com.com, or CONTACT US.

Here’s what others are saying:

“Laura Stack’s session with a group of our seasoned operations managers was eye-opening. We all learned new ways to be more productive with the tools we already have. I’ve never seen each of our seasoned, experienced operations managers so engaged in a session. Many of our senior and mid-level leaders were wowed by what they learned and have already begun using the new techniques with their teams.”
—Mary Pawlowski, Learning Design, Piedmont Natural Gas

“What I enjoyed most about your presentation was that it was not only engaging but also practical in application. I’ve read everything from Covey’s system to “Getting Things Done,” and you presented time management in a way that is the easiest I’ve seen to digest and apply. Thank you for helping our system today!”
—John-Reed McDonald, SVP, Field Operations, Pridestaff

“Laura is an incredible speaker who takes practical information to improve productivity and efficiency and makes it interesting and fun! She has a great sense of humor and completely engaged our corporate and sales team. Laura motivated everyone to take steps to make their lives more productive and efficient.
—Molly Johnson, Vice President Domestic Sales, Episciences, Inc.

“Ms. Laura Stack’s program received the highest scores in the 13-year history of the Institute for Management Studies (IMS) in Cleveland! From the 83 participants, the workshop received a perfect 7.0 for “Effectiveness of the Speaker” and 6.8 for “Value of the Content.” Managers especially valued learning about task management, how to minimize interruptions, organizing with Outlook, prioritizing, effectively saying ‘no,’ how to set boundaries, and recognizing self-imposed challenges to time management.”
—Don Gorning, Chair, Institute for Management Studies Cleveland

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“Most productivity techniques require a little self-trickery” – L.V. Anderson, American business writer.

We all have days when we feel about as productive as a limp noodle, yet we have no choice but to get into gear and do something that adds zeroes to the bottom line. So, what do you do when the motivation needle is on E?

Simple: You put in the extra effort to trick yourself into productivity. It’s usually easier than you might think, since, per the quote, most productivity involves self-trickery anyway. By the time you’ve faked it long enough, you’ll have accomplished a decent amount of work and will probably find it easier to move forward.

Try these tips to start your productivity engine on a down day:

  1. Harness creative procrastination. Start your morning with a relatively easy task. While completing five minor tasks may not be as productive (or as profitable) as completing one big task, at least you’re clearing your list. And it makes you feel good as you do it. Neurologists claim you get a natural dopamine jolt every time you finish a task, which may urge you on toward the next, better fix.

  2. Make a Done List of all the projects and tasks you’ve finished lately. This will not only remind you that you can be productive, it’ll make you feel more confident about your abilities.

  3. Talk to yourself. Self-talk is surprisingly important. It’s most obvious in children, who often speak aloud when reviewing the steps of a process or urging themselves on. As you mature, it goes underground to become internal self-talk, which can be extremely influential—especially if it’s negative. Talk back and speak up. Outline the steps of the task. Be your own cheerleader. Talking to yourself forces you to articulate your thoughts, making them cleaner than stream-of-consciousness, and helps you override any negative thoughts slowing you down.

  4. Compete with yourself. Try to beat your previous best time or efficiency at a specific task. It’s a great way to boost productivity, and you can have fun with it. I know someone who, whenever he listens to the Jason Mraz song Curbside Prophet at work, pushes to finish his latest subtask, line, or thought before the dog barks (fans will know what I mean). It’s silly… but he says it feels good to finish before Elsa the Dog “exceeds his limitations.” There’s that dopamine thing again. You can also practice “sprints” for a set length of time, for example 15, 30, or 45 minutes, pushing yourself as hard as you can until time runs out.

  5. Bribe yourself. Tell yourself that when you complete a task, you can go get a cup of coffee or tea or take a quick walk. You probably need to stretch your legs anyway. Promise yourself you’ll stop for a treat on the way home if you have a productive day. But don’t reward yourself if you didn’t accomplish much; if you do, your self-conditioning won’t work!

  6. Just get started, already. If you’re procrastinating just because you’re facing a task that looks tough, stop it! Sometimes worrying over a task takes more energy than doing it. Take a breath, jump in, and see what happens. The work may feel like pulling teeth at first, but you’ll at least make some headway; and as you get limbered up and start gathering speed, you may find yourself on a roll. If you don’t, you can stop for a while, knowing you’ve made a decent start. Use the Pomodoro Technique, a classic way of tricking yourself into working on something: set a timer for a brief period, say 15 minutes, then work at it until the timer goes off. At that point, you can either stop if you’re having problems, or decide to keep going for a while longer. Many people find they’re so into the task by then it’s easy to choose the latter.

Remember Your Why

If nothing else, focus on your Why: the overriding goal underlying and informing everything you do. We all need one… If you lose your Why, then you’ve lost your way. Remind yourself: why are you doing a certain task, and working at your job in general? Maybe it’s because you want to be a good provider; maybe you’re saving for a new car; or maybe you want to change the world. You may just love your work, and your to-do list is part of achieving it.

About Laura Stack, your next keynote speaker:

Laura Stack, MBA, CSP, CPAE is an award-winning keynote speaker, bestselling author, and noted authority on productivity and performance. Funny, engaging, and full of real life strategies that work, Laura will change mindsets and attitudes so your people can maximize productivity, strengthen performance, and get the job done right. Her presentations at corporate events, sales kick-off meetings, and association conferences help audiences improve output, increase speed in execution, and save time in the office. Stack has authored seven books, including her newest work, Doing the Right Things Right: How the Effective Executive Spends Time (Jan. 2016). To have Laura Stack speak at your next event, call 303-471-7401, email Nadine@TheProductivityPro.com.com, or CONTACT US.

Here’s what others are saying:

“Laura Stack’s session with a group of our seasoned operations managers was eye-opening. We all learned new ways to be more productive with the tools we already have. I’ve never seen each of our seasoned, experienced operations managers so engaged in a session. Many of our senior and mid-level leaders were wowed by what they learned and have already begun using the new techniques with their teams.”
—Mary Pawlowski, Learning Design, Piedmont Natural Gas

“What I enjoyed most about your presentation was that it was not only engaging but also practical in application. I’ve read everything from Covey’s system to “Getting Things Done,” and you presented time management in a way that is the easiest I’ve seen to digest and apply. Thank you for helping our system today!”
—John-Reed McDonald, SVP, Field Operations, Pridestaff

“Laura is an incredible speaker who takes practical information to improve productivity and efficiency and makes it interesting and fun! She has a great sense of humor and completely engaged our corporate and sales team. Laura motivated everyone to take steps to make their lives more productive and efficient.
—Molly Johnson, Vice President Domestic Sales, Episciences, Inc.

“Ms. Laura Stack’s program received the highest scores in the 13-year history of the Institute for Management Studies (IMS) in Cleveland! From the 83 participants, the workshop received a perfect 7.0 for “Effectiveness of the Speaker” and 6.8 for “Value of the Content.” Managers especially valued learning about task management, how to minimize interruptions, organizing with Outlook, prioritizing, effectively saying ‘no,’ how to set boundaries, and recognizing self-imposed challenges to time management.”
—Don Gorning, Chair, Institute for Management Studies Cleveland

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“A little learning is a dangerous thing; drink deep or taste not the Pierian spring: there shallow draughts intoxicate the brain and drinking largely sobers us again.” – Alexander Pope, British poet; from An Essay on Criticism, 1709.

Employee disengagement remains a serious issue, with fewer than one-third of U.S. workers fully engaged. For many people, work is just a job—a way to put food on the table and cover the mortgage. If you feel this way, you’re only partially engaged at best. To others, their job is a necessary evil they hate—possibly because of the work, possibly because of toxic co-workers (among whom they fail to count themselves). These fully disengaged workers are barely productive and can become a danger to other employees. As they say, one bad apple spoils the barrel.

We’ve long known the cure for disengagement: to embrace your job and the organization employing you fully. Educate yourself about its history and mission/vision, as well as the intricacies of your own position. The more you learn, the more productive you become.

There are five reasons why this works:

  1. You learn to care. When you care about your job, you’ve taken the first step to fully engaging. You must care before you can love, and the more you love your job, the better and more effectively you can do it. If your job isn’t on the top-ten list of the things you care about, you’ll never become as productive as you could be.

  2. You gain an understanding of how you contribute to everyone’s success. While an organization may consist of many people, it’s ideally moving forward across the business landscape and serving its customers and employees as a single unit. As an individual, when you understand how you contribute, you become more aware of the importance of your contributions, which helps you understand your own value and why the business depends on you.

  3. You better comprehend its core values and how they apply to you. The more you know about your business and your job, the more transparent all elements of it become. This may not be a good thing if you work for an Enron, but generally it helps you grow more sympathetic to the organization in general and your job in particular. As your caring about the organization and those in it grows, and it’s easier to embrace your work and make it your own. You may never care as much for the organization as the actual owner(s) and/or founder(s), but it never hurts to develop a deeper understanding of why it exists and how it intends to change the world.

  4. You discover the limits of your authority, which might be wider than you think. Some people do the minimum they must to keep their jobs—not necessarily because they’re lazy or disengaged, but sometimes because they just don’t know any better. When they began the job, someone may have improperly trained them—or perhaps no one trained them at all. Other people suffer from overwhelm because they think they must do everything. They may have inherited someone else’s misconceptions or inertia, or simply never learned to say no. When you understand your organization and your work better, you understand the boundaries you work within better. You can then start handing work back to the people who should do it, stop writing that report no one uses anymore, or start picking up new, more challenging duties.

  5. You become more aware of the web of interconnections between you and your co-workers, supervisors, executives, and other colleagues. You all have your roles, some of them well-defined, some not; but you all depend on each other to do your jobs, pull your weight, and help the company move forward. When you understand that and why you and your co-workers are so important, it’s easier to become more productive without wasteful overlap.

You Gotta Have Informed Faith

It’s great to have faith in your organization and your work, but it’s better to have informed faith. Informed faith is better than blind faith, because your understanding of the business becomes deeper and more fulfilling, as it’s based on training and personal knowledge. Don’t hesitate to learn more about your organization or your job, whether it takes training, research, or classes. Your organization may even pay for it. But if you must pay for it yourself, it’s worth the cost, because you’ll have improved your personal Return on Investment for yourself and your organization.

About Laura Stack, your next keynote speaker:

Laura Stack, MBA, CSP, CPAE is an award-winning keynote speaker, bestselling author, and noted authority on productivity and performance. Funny, engaging, and full of real life strategies that work, Laura will change mindsets and attitudes so your people can maximize productivity, strengthen performance, and get the job done right. Her presentations at corporate events, sales kick-off meetings, and association conferences help audiences improve output, increase speed in execution, and save time in the office. Stack has authored seven books, including her newest work, Doing the Right Things Right: How the Effective Executive Spends Time (Jan. 2016). To have Laura Stack speak at your next event, call 303-471-7401, email Nadine@TheProductivityPro.com.com, or CONTACT US.

Here’s what others are saying:

“Laura Stack’s session with a group of our seasoned operations managers was eye-opening. We all learned new ways to be more productive with the tools we already have. I’ve never seen each of our seasoned, experienced operations managers so engaged in a session. Many of our senior and mid-level leaders were wowed by what they learned and have already begun using the new techniques with their teams.”
—Mary Pawlowski, Learning Design, Piedmont Natural Gas

“What I enjoyed most about your presentation was that it was not only engaging but also practical in application. I’ve read everything from Covey’s system to “Getting Things Done,” and you presented time management in a way that is the easiest I’ve seen to digest and apply. Thank you for helping our system today!”
—John-Reed McDonald, SVP, Field Operations, Pridestaff

“Laura is an incredible speaker who takes practical information to improve productivity and efficiency and makes it interesting and fun! She has a great sense of humor and completely engaged our corporate and sales team. Laura motivated everyone to take steps to make their lives more productive and efficient.
—Molly Johnson, Vice President Domestic Sales, Episciences, Inc.

“Ms. Laura Stack’s program received the highest scores in the 13-year history of the Institute for Management Studies (IMS) in Cleveland! From the 83 participants, the workshop received a perfect 7.0 for “Effectiveness of the Speaker” and 6.8 for “Value of the Content.” Managers especially valued learning about task management, how to minimize interruptions, organizing with Outlook, prioritizing, effectively saying ‘no,’ how to set boundaries, and recognizing self-imposed challenges to time management.”
—Don Gorning, Chair, Institute for Management Studies Cleveland

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