Donna's blog on coaching, leadership, and life

Archive for August, 2007

Productivity–been there, done that

I thought it might be interesting to publish just a few behaviors—relating to productivity—that over the years, I’ve observed as very common among professionals, regardless of their work style, title, or responsibilities. Perhaps reading these will offer you some comfort.

Many of us. . . .

– fail at being creative or extremely productive when we have plenty of time to do so. In fact, many of us find that we are most effective and productive when we’re close to a deadline.

– make very little productive use of our first day back from vacation. And during our first week back, we’re more likely to find ourselves pondering what we want to do with the rest of our lives.

– plan to accomplish all kinds of things on that one day when we actually don’t have any meetings, or deadlines, then proceed to waste most of the day because we can.

– tend to experience an unproductive day or two immediately following a run of high-stress or highly productive days. The length of down time needed to re-energize tends to relate closely to how long we’ve been overworked.

– get much more done after we’ve taken some quiet time to do some planning, organizing, and strategizing.

And finally, many of us like to know we’re not alone!

Responding vs. Reacting

Responding instead of reacting in the workplace (and at home) is powerful in that emotions are minimized, and your words become the primary message to the other person. In other words, your ability to calmly respond thoughtfully may leave the other person thinking more about what you said, rather than how you behaved.

How can we minimize our less-than-pleasing reactions? By preparing to respond.

If we prepare ourselves to calmly deliver a simple response when we’re entering a conversation where our buttons are likely to be pushed, we may find ourselves maintaining composure and generating an opportunity for a meaningful and productive discussion later on. This, of course, will include your ability to listen and remain open to discussion, which may be easier to do after a day or two passes.

Here’s an example of a response you might prepare to deliver in the most uncomfortable of situations: I feel myself reacting to what you’ve just said, and I’d like some time to think about it so that we might have a meaningful dialogue about it, later.

(Refer to my article: Speaking Up at Work for some tools that may help you prepare for further dialogue when you find yourself either addressing a concern or proposing a new idea.)