Wednesday, April 16, 2014

7 Important Productivity Questions

When we talk about productivity, we talk about our personal and business goals and their achievement. 
If you succeed to achieve that goals in the time related to them, you can say that you are productive.

We start with something. Work to achieve our goals and validate the end results according that goals.

Because of that, I think that we need to answer seven important questions that will have the high effect on our productivity. If we have very clear answers, we can succeed in managing our work to be more productive.

What are that seven questions?

  1. What I want to achieve? Always start with the end point in mind. You will need to know what the destination will look like if you want to find the best way to get to that destination.
  2. What I need to do to achieve what I want to achieve? When you know the destination, you can start creating the map you need to follow. The first thing is to brainstorm what you need to do if you want to get it there.
  3. When I need to do what I need to do to achieve what I want to achieve? Then, you need to include time limits, or when you need to do something.
  4. How I need to organize myself to do what I need to do, when I need to do to achieve what I want to achieve? Next, you need to think about organizational aspect of your work. Better organization means more work done in less time, or simply more productivity.
  5. Who will help me to do what I need to do, when I need to do to achieve what I want to achieve? Sometimes you can’t achieve your goals without help from other people. If you are an entrepreneur, or a manager your job will be to delegate things to your staff. The answer from this question will help you in better understanding of the work that will need to be done.
  6. What will be my, and responsibility of other peoples in doing what I need to do when I need to do to achieve what I want to achieve? Next, important part is responsibilities. Everybody in achieving your goals needs to have clear responsibilities.
  7. How I will track the help on doing what I need to do, when I need to do to achieve what I want to achieve? At the end, you will need to follow the success on your road to achieve your goals. This question will need to answer how you can follow your achievements.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

3 Ways to Stop the Meeting Plague and Improve Productivity

There is a plague… a pandemic that has run wild in the business world and threatens to infect any business where creative design processes meet the bureaucratic processes of “business as usual.” It is an insidious infection that enters the systems, riding piggyback on infectious vectors that should promote productivity and production. The plague is called “The Meeting,” and you have probably already had your close calls with it.
If you were you to ask most people what their most dreaded work-related task is, they would likely answer “going to meetings.” It takes only a brief moment of reflection to realize why it is that people hate attending meetings. In fact, you probably have your own version of the same reason. “Nothing gets done.” “The right people never speak up.” “No one ever follows through.”
These are all common reasons that meetings are categorically viewed as the antithesis of productive workplace activity. Yet, we keep right on having them because, in theory, they seem like really good ideas. In theory.
Instead of barricading yourself in your office with a five-gallon bottle of water and some protein bars hoping to outlast the meeting plague, use these three tips to vanquish your business-meeting problems and improve productivity.
1. Create an Agenda. A meeting is very much like a like a relay race. Before each person can show up and give their best effort, everyone has to know the plan and be ready to run in the predetermined order when their time comes. Meetings are very much the same in that they take planning so that each person knows their part and can be prepared to put forth their best effort. A meeting agenda will lay out the plan for the meeting, let each person know their part, and not only set specific goals, but also specific time slots to ensure the meeting ends on time.
Practice It: Before you send out the ubiquitous Outlook meeting request, take the time to write a brief agenda to include in that giant blank area. Begin by identifying the project that is to be discussed. Decide what constitutes a successful meeting, then list the major points to achieve that success. Finally, identify one or two key persons to speak to each major point. Adding this information will put your meeting in order and inform everyone attending of what to expect and what is expected of them.
2. Establish a Meeting Method. You would never begin building a house without a plan, so why would you have a meeting without one? There are as many methods for conducting a meeting in the world of business as there are types of businesses. What matters is that you decide on the method beforehand and prepare accordingly. Even better is to set a routine so that everyone knows that the “Monday-morning meeting” is a progress update or the “first-Friday-of-the-month meeting” is for team building.
Practice It: For your next “project-develop” or “status” meeting, try the Scrum style of meeting, in which participants take the role of either a chicken or a pig. The metaphor for the project is “breakfast,” where the chicken contributes, but the pig is wholly committed. For each project or update, allow key players to be pigs and speak while non-key players should be chickens and observe, contributing only when asked. This meeting method will help you shorten those endless meetings and still get all the necessary data.
3. Be Sure to Follow Up. Congratulations, you have just had the best, most productive meeting of your career. Everyone was on point. Lots of decisions were made, and plans were laid out. You must be feeling good. Still, this milestone event can all be a colossal waste of time if no one follows up on the results of the meeting. Always frame each point and decision made in a meeting as a task that should be followed up, or, as David Allen might put it, a “next action.” Following up on these points is an often-overlooked key aspect contributing to the failure of even the most seemingly productive meetings.
Practice It: It is impossible to follow up on items that are not documented during the decision-making process. At your next meeting, designate one person to keep the minutes of decision points as they are reached. Then have that same person, or another, immediately send out a meeting addendum reminding everyone of the decisions made and the next actions that are expected from each person.
Nobody in their right mind wants to spend the rest of their working life sitting in meetings. However, by taking the proper steps to prepare—guiding the actual meeting with direction and proper expectations and following up with documented lists of expected actions—you can make the absolute most of the time you do spend in meetings. You might even find that you are getting so much accomplished in the meetings that you do have, that you can get away with having fewer of them.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Dealing with Your Meeting Notes

By David Allen

A common bad habit I have come across with managers and executives in recent years is the accumulation of unprocessed meeting notes. It is heartbreaking to see so much effort go into the creation of meetings and the capturing of what goes on, and the stress created and value lost from irresponsible management of the results. At least 80 percent of the professionals I work with have pockets of unprocessed meeting notes nested away in spiral notebooks, folders, drawers and piles of papers.

Processing your Meeting Notes

Process meeting notes by determining what actions are required, and transmitting and storing useful information.
 What needs to happen now, based on the meeting? And who’s doing it? Make sure you decide if you have any projects and actionable items. If so, decide the next actions on them, and track those in your reminder system. Are there any deliverables other people committed to that you care about? If so, track those on your Waiting For reminder list.

 Does anyone else need an update or debrief from you? If so, pass that information on appropriately.

Is there any information that was shared that doesn’t have action tied to it, but possibly needs to be retrieved in the future? If so, put it in your reference system – into support or information files organized by project, theme or topic. Update client histories and project status reports.

Systematically review and process your notes

(1) Throw your meeting notes into your in-basket as soon as you can or,
(2) Use a check-off system for marking when your notes have been sufficiently reviewed for actions and information to store.

If you like to write notes on pads of lined paper (like I do), then option one above is the best. Just tear the notes off as soon as you’re finished with the meeting, and toss them into your in-basket until you can go through them for actions and information to store as reference/support. An advantage over diary-like note-taking is that the original pages of notes themselves can be tossed ASAP, or they can be stored as raw support material in project or topic folders, if that might be useful or comforting as backup later.

If you use a spiral or loose-leaf notebook for chronological journal-writing (as many execs do), then option two works, but you must be in the habit of reviewing those notes regularly, and have some way to code that the notes have been processed – either by crossing out the paragraphs, or putting checkmarks in the margins, drawing lines across the page between meetings, thoughts or captured items. It needs to be visually clear what’s been processed and what hasn’t. The advantage to this method is that you could keep the processed notes at hand to retrace things if required, and if you’re carrying a notebook for other reasons anyway, then it’s one less piece of hardware to carry along. If you work with a loose-leaf planner, I recommend that you take notes into a notes tabbed section, and at least once a week clean out all the previous pages to start fresh.