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Saturday, March 27, 2010

DOUGLAS CASTLE RANTS: Increase Your Productivity

Increase Your Productivity.

Dear Friends, Colleagues and Worthy Adversaries:

I constantly strive to increase my productivity. For whatever reason (refer to the DSM IV), I am compelled to try to attain greater quality and quantity in my efforts at almost everything.. Many of us contend with this same frustration -- to try to accomplish more while using less. My engineering friend, Robert Fried, would term this "efficiency." A good psychotherapist might call it something else.

Many of us suffer from this same conundrum -- in fact, if you are reading this, I rest my case.

At first, I thought it might be a great deal of fun to just come of with a whole bunch of "mock" suggestions. These were such brilliant innovations as:

1. pretending to be incompetent or incapacitated so other people will either avoid you or help you; and,

2. lowering your standard for productivity (so as to increase your productivity in the same manner as that by which our government reduces the deficit, .i.e., semantically, by changing the method of calculation and disguising a lack of accomplishment) so that your current level of productivity is "better than average."

But I believe that it would better serve my readers (and the rest of Humankind) if I were to provide some serious methods for increasing your personal and managerial efficiency.

The methods set forth below are time-tested (not only by me, but by many others in search of better ways through which to accomplish more), and are derived from a number of sources, none of whom I've properly referenced or given attribution -- that would require research and more writing.

Here is a list of suggested actions (or inactions) for increasing your productivity:

1. COMMUNICATE - When you ask questions, word them precisely; when you instruct others, be certain that your directives are absolutely clear, and that you truly have the other individual's attention; don't assume or surmise -- ask and investigate. A failure to simply stay in touch at regular intervals for brief moments as a matter of social routine can cause your stock to fall with those people most important to you. If others try to communicate with you and you are unresponsive, you will either be perceived as extremely busy or rude. A prompt, succinct statement in response to a question is what we come have come to expect (and to respect) in our leaders.

2. DELEGATE - To the greatest extent possible, assign as much of your responsibilities as possible to other persons who are competent, willing and trustworthy. Delegation of some tasks is difficult because of their personalized nature -- but other tasks merely cause you to lose additional time and opportunity.

3. AUTOMATE - If a task or a process lends itself to automation, then automate it to the greatest extent possible. Don't waste Human time and talent on something which can be accomplished by machine. Learn about technology and leverage it.

4. CONCENTRATE - Focus intently on the tasks which remain for you to perform. Efficient multitasking is generally a myth...usually the "multitasker" (he or she will be text-messaging right across from you at the table while you are talking) does a whole bunch of things very sloppily or poorly, and winds up having to "fix them" or to apologize. Inattention and divided focus are the enemies of achievement, Concentration works best for brief intervals, with breaks to relax and recharge your psychic batteries in-between. If you are stuck at a point in a process, or in reasoning through a problem, it could be because your mind is in need of a rest and is rebelling against you by playing a vindictive game of "hide and seek" with your recall and associative intelligence. As they say at the gym, catch you breath and loosen up between sets of exercise.

5. RECREATE - When you take a rest from intense focus, truly relax by entering into an activity or state that has nothing to do with the project on which you were working. Getting up, going out, walking, listening to music, playing with a Slinky, tai-chi, bending and stretching, meditating, or just having a brief, friendly conversational exchange with someone lets you relax while your subconscious and your instincts continue working on the problem without your forced conscious application of pressure. Interdisperse work and play (or rest) frequently.

On a final note, increased productivity produces envy (and a propensity on the part of some disgruntled underachivers to sabotage your efforts) amongst people who are personally insecure or lazy, but it potentiates increased productivity in the more ambitous and industrious people around you. Yes indeed; productivity is contagious. Lead by example.


Douglas Castle

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