I was doing well, producing great work and simply getting sh*t done. Despite an ever-growing list of things to do, I was steadily checking boxes as quickly as new items appeared. The world was operating according to my schedule to boot. Sounds great, right? So I thought at the time.
My worldview was self-centered and egotistical. Sure, it was great being able to focus on projects long enough to reach a stopping point. I often still had time to walk into my next meeting only five minutes late. As a leader, I mentally justified this behavior because I had an agenda ready to go, and knew that I brought value to the table. They can wait five minutes. This mentality becomes even easier as you move upward in your career, gaining experience and taking on additional responsibility.
…if you’re thinking ‘they can wait five minutes’ everyone around you will quickly begin to adopt this mantra.
Transitioning from individual contributor to manager, or manager to director is an enabler. More responsibility parallels an increase in the number of people looking to you to set expectations and enable them to reach their goals. This is generally how it goes as you climb the ladder and herein lies the problem — if you’re thinking they can wait five minutes everyone around you will quickly begin to adopt this mantra. Before you know it, everyone is five minutes late to YOUR meeting. The meeting in which (take a deep breath) you plan to offer a tremendous amount of experiential value that took years to acquire that will help these people crush their goals and personal aspirations!
Whether you are leading a team or struggling with the ability to simply get sh*t done here are 3 ways to increase productivity for yourself as well as others around you.
1. Use The 30 Minute Rule
Pick your top priorities for the day, and actually, prioritize them. Next, estimate the time you anticipate each project or task will require. Taking things a step farther, for larger or more complex projects consider adding a full 30 minutes. Allocate 15 minutes for additional (unplanned) creative juices, 10 minutes to re-hydrate and re-focus on the next task, 5 minutes to transition and be on time for whatever’s next. I set timers with Siri, but I’m sure there’s an app for that!
2. Turn Empathy Into a Superpower
Empathy is defined as “the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.” It’s the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and understand how they feel, how they see the world. Empathy is also the key to leveraging EQ and doing so offers tremendous benefits to your own productivity in addition to respecting someone else’s time. We spend many hours a day engaging and interacting with others. You must make the conscious decision to focus on them.
Your ability to crush life and become highly productive depends on your ability to empathize. Focusing your attention on enabling others to be productive is akin to the buddy system.
Ironically here’s how Google defines Buddy System:
“a cooperative arrangement whereby individuals are paired or teamed up and assume responsibility for one another’s instruction, productivity, welfare, or safety.”
It took me far too long to realize that my thoughts and actions were inhibiting others. Finally understanding the correlation between empathy and my own productivity has changed my life. When planning my day I now make a conscious effort to think of those that I’ll be interacting and sharing time with. I’m not the only one that needs to get sh*t done.
3. Using Self-Awareness to Drive Change
If you want to become dramatically more productive, you must consciously become aware of your short-comings, weaknesses, blind spots, pitfalls, etc. Despite its seemingly dark connotation, I love this quote from Sales EQ by Jeb Blount:
The warm comfort of delusion is much more appealing than the cold truth of reality. But you cannot be delusional and successful at the same time.
Developing self-awareness is tough, and the process is on-going. Sometimes the “cold truth of reality” is precisely what we need to break deeply rooted habits and instill change. Early on in my career, I was successful and incredibly passionate about sales. So much so that I consistently wore emotions on my sleeve. It took me years, a lot of reading, and conscious practice to become a better stoic. If I were able to travel back in time and offer my younger self a piece of advice, it would be to stop wasting time and energy on disruptive emotions. Begin with the desired result by identifying where you want to go, and reverse engineer a process to get there. Keep it simple.
The most lucrative and finite resource we have is time, so let’s put it to good use. If empathy is the key to unlocking EQ, then awareness is the driving factor behind change, our ability to improve, and becoming far more productive in life.
Call To Action
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