Are we ever really done?
It’s a good question to ask when your inbox is always full. There will always be another post to write, a text to make, emails that beg answering, a comment you should probably respond to. So in a way, you are never really “done.”
If your work is never truly done, it’s more than a challenge. It can be disheartening and sometimes really depressing. Then again, pure silence could be just as disheartening.
Seth Godin calls this “Dancing on the edge of finished.”
If Godin is right to call our never-ending affair with communication technology a dance, where do we draw the line? When do we let go of the smartphone, the laptop, the iPad? And when you have dinner with the kids are they (or you) always on the phone? One friend of mine has a basket at home and that’s where his cell phone goes when he walks in the door each night. Or how about the classrooms that have started collecting cell phones at the door so the kids are not distracted?
I think that finding your “edge” is a personal challenge. Being never completely done with work is OK, as long as it doesn’t become a grind or interfere with the rest of your life. At some point, won’t it make work a chore?
You have to be comfortable with your “edge.” But first, you’ve got to find it:
- Learn to leave the office and pretend the gates are closing behind you. You can’t think about work until you come back through the gates the next morning.
- Do your business reading at work and not at home. Reading business items before going to bed will only disturb your sleep.
- Have a pad of paper on your nightstand. Write down anything you think about to get those thoughts out of your mind and you will also sleep better.
- Vacation reading: make a pact that you will only read fiction books, biographies or nonbusiness-related materials.
- Don’t bring business issues home to your spouse. Unless they are especially good therapy, it’s better to have a business associate you can have coffee with and confide in.
Seth Godin recently blogged about a concept called “signal to noise ratio,” the relationship between the stuff you want to hear verses the stuff you don’t. According to Godin, Twitter, email and Facebook all have an alarmingly bad ratio, and it’s getting worse.
The world, it seems, is getting spammed to death from all sides — Twitter, email, Facebook, LinkedIn — from advertisers, friends, business, even family. There’s so much stuff out there from so many sources, that we don’t have time, let alone the attention span, to absorb it.
How do you stay in touch without getting overloaded? Godin recommends relentless editing of social media (whom you follow and whom you listen to) and finding new channels you can trust, such as RSS feeds from bloggers and other sources.
In other words, stay on top of what stays on the top of your social media pile. Here are some ideas:
- Do you use a spam filter for your email at work? At least once a week, unsubscribe from the stuff you don’t want to receive anymore.
- Create folders to file email messages. For example, create “rules” that automatically file emails to read later into a “reading” folder. Be creative with these folders. Other examples might include a folder for those items you have delegated or folders for each of your projects.
- Set up email rules with your colleagues. Do you really need to get all the emails they send you, and do you always need to be copied?
- Make it a goal to always have your email inbox totally clear of unread messages. Take action or filter everything else.
Each of these ideas will make your mind clearer. When it’s clear (and uncluttered) you can make decisions easier, and you will have more time for creative thinking.
David Harding is president and CEO of HardingPoorman Group, a locally owned and operated graphic communications firm in Indianapolis consisting of several integrated companies all under one roof. The company has been voted as one of the “Best Places to Work” in Indiana by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce. Harding can be reached at email@example.com. For more information, go to www.hardingpoorman.com
I enjoy the value of a good word. “Tenacious” is a good word. Merriam-Webster defines tenacious as: “Persistent in maintaining, adhering to, or seeking something valued or desired.”
As we look at the subject of increasing effectiveness, I believe we must start with this characteristic as our jumping-off point.
If increasing your effectiveness in the workplace is something that you desire and value, then you must tenaciously seek it on a daily basis. You must become a tenacious advocate for the measure of effectiveness you desire.
You have to go after it with all you’ve got. Implementing tenacity is often the difference between failure and success.
With this foundation in mind, let us look at five sure-fire ways to increase your effectiveness in the workplace:
1. Take a personal inventory.
Note: At this point, I assume that you have goals and plans in place for yourself, your team, your department, etc.
At least once a week ask yourself, “How am I doing?” and “Am I any closer to my goal?”
Assess which situations have held you back in some way. Before proceeding any further, take the time to resolve these situations.
In order to increase your effectiveness, you cannot move forward with baggage that hinders your progress. People, systems, techniques and the like must be evaluated along the way.
An open and honest personal inventory is a sure-fire way to increase your effectiveness.
2. Get organized.
Increasing your effectiveness means change, and change is very traumatic for individuals who are not organized in the first place. Organizing your work is key to your ability to do things better, faster and more smoothly.
Do you have a time-line for your goals? Do you have specific action plans to reach those goals? Do you take the time to make a to-do list on a daily basis? Have you cleared your office, workspace and life of clutter?
Getting organized is another sure-fire way to increase your effectiveness in the workplace.
3. Keep a daily journal.
Keeping a journal of the days events and accomplishments is a healthy way to clarify your goals and also think things through so you make good decisions.
Journaling your day also allows you to see the tasks and areas of your work where you spend the majority of your time. In order to increase your effectiveness, you must discover these areas and tasks and evaluate whether they are leading you closer to your goals.
It may seem tedious, but making a note of everything you do and how much time you spend is a great way to increase effectiveness. Do this throughout your day so nothing gets left out.
4. Work with the go-getters.
In any changing situation, it is to your advantage to build a small team of allies that you can rely on and trust to do specified tasks or functions.
These people are your “go-getters” – they are self-motivated, disciplined and enthusiastic about their work. Connect with these people regularly in order to build a support system around your goals. Allow their effectiveness to enhance yours.
Powerful change happens when motivated people work together towards common goals.
5. Become obsessed with possibilities.
Protecting a familiar routine that you would rather not change is a sure-fire way to stunt and ultimately decrease your effectiveness. Simply doing things a certain way because “we’ve always done it that way” will hinder creativity and deflate motivation.
Always be willing to think of the possibilities that lie ahead. Consider new techniques and strategies that bolster excitement within your team. Evaluate (there’s that word again) everything in order to achieve success.
6. Beware of the free lunch.
In my years as a personal and corporate coach, I have seen too many organizations and individuals who, in their desire to increase effectiveness, fall for the “free” shortcut.
If someone offers you something for free, realize this opportunity may have a hitch to it.
The “free lunch” is often a situation that signifies that something larger is about to be taken away. With effectiveness, the easy way is almost always not the best way.
Beware of people and systems that that tout effectiveness as free and easy. It takes work.
In his best selling book, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” Dr. Stephen Covey wrote: “Ineffective people live day after day with unused potential.”
The potential to increase your effectiveness in the workplace lies within you. It is a matter of tapping into that potential and tenaciously using it for good.
It is my hope that these tips will give you the resources needed for the job.
DeLores Pressley, motivational speaker and personal power expert, is one of the most respected and sought-after experts on success, motivation, confidence and personal power. She is an international keynote speaker, author, life coach and the founder of the Born Successful Institute and DeLores Pressley Worldwide. She helps individuals utilize personal power, increase confidence and live a life of significance. Her story has been touted in The Washington Post, Black Enterprise, First for Women, Essence, New York Daily News, Ebony and Marie Claire. She is a frequent media guest and has been interviewed on every major network – ABC, NBC, CBS and FOX – including America’s top rated shows OPRAH and Entertainment Tonight.
She is the author of “Oh Yes You Can,” “Clean Out the Closet of Your Life” and “Believe in the Power of You.” To book her as a speaker or coach, contact her office at 330.649.9809 or via email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her website at www.delorespressley.com.