I Discovered a Productivity Pattern


My Past Experience

Be it get-rich-quick schemes or rapid-weight-loss solutions, the Internet is littered with a million improvement schemes. In my many years of attempting to improve productivity for my clients and myself, I’ve tried just about everything. Regardless if the post, podcast, or book is promising to do twice the work in half the time or that you can cram an entire work week into 4 hours, there is something out there for everyone. My first venture into this productivity-focused world was way back in the early 90s, when I watched this horrible movie titled Taking Care of Business, starring Jim Belushi and Charles Grodin. In the movie, an uptight advertising exec has his entire life in a filofax organizer which mistakenly ends up in the hands of a friendly convict who poses as him. The movie is still horrible but the organizer idea seemed to work for me. Read More…

3 things you need to increase productivity

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What I Believe

If you want to increase productivity, I believe you need 3 key things. In a previous post,  I wrote you needed ritual and motivation.  After some reflection, I decided to update that.  First, create a system to ensure you are always getting stuff done, regardless if you’re motivated (though it helps). Second, create rituals to follow within the system.  Last, repeat those rituals until they become habits.

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Discipline over Motivation

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thief of time

I recently read a compelling piece titled Screw motivation, what you need is discipline.

It claimed…

If you want to get anything done, there are two basic ways to get yourself to do it.

The first, more popular and devastatingly wrong option is to try to motivate yourself.

The second, somewhat unpopular and entirely correct choice is to cultivate discipline.

It doesn’t sound convincingly balanced, does it? Read More…

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Hawthorne Effect

hawthorne effect

The Hawthorne Effect is something I’ve seen numerousness times on projects.  When auditing or introducing a new process, do you tend to see people doing a better job than you expected? The Hawthorne Effect refers to the tendency of some people to work harder and perform better when they are participants in an experiment. Individuals may change their behavior due to the attention they are receiving from researchers, auditors, or coaches.

hawthorne effectThis effect was first discovered and named by researchers at Harvard University who were studying the relationship between productivity and work environment. Researchers conducted these experiments at the Hawthorne Works plant of Western Electric. The study was originally commissioned to determine if increasing or decreasing the amount of light workers received increased or decreased worker productivity. The researchers found that productivity temporarily increased, regardless if the light was increased or decreases. They then realized the increase in productivity was due to the attention given the workers by the research team and not because of changes to the experimental variable.

Do you audit your processes?  How do you ensure you get a true representation of project efficiencies and not suffer from the Hawthorne Effect?

HT: Wikipedia

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ADD / ADHD Project Managers

While you’re probably aware that people with ADD/ADHD have trouble focusing on tasks that aren’t interesting to them, you may not know that there’s another side: a tendency to become absorbed in tasks that are stimulating and rewarding. This paradoxical symptom is called hyperfocus.  So writes HelpGuide.org

I’ve spent my whole life with all of the symptoms but never wanted to admit actually having ADD/ADHD.  Perhaps it was out of concern someone would label me and force me to take some drug that would change me.  Though it doesn’t help that I drink copious amounts of black coffee, for the most part, I think I’ve fared pretty well.   I think back to my childhood, remembering every report card included a comment from the teacher.

Derek has a hard time concentrating and talks too much.

Hyperfocus is actually a coping mechanism for distraction—a way of tuning out the crap and chaos. It can be so strong that I become oblivious to everything going on around me.  I still think hyperfocus is an invaluable asset.  How do you think I can sleep for 5 hours a night and get so much accomplished?  From the moment I wake up to the moment I fall asleep, I have a thousand ideas in my head.  I scramble to keep up with them, writing them down or logging voice-notes.  I still really don’t like all of the negative connotations associated with ADD/ADHD.  Sure, I have a wicked temper, I’m impulsive, and I’m very forgetful.  But, I don’t think the last is an issue thanks to Evernote.  As for the first two, if you cross me, I will write you off and being impulsive just means I seize on opportunities.  Perhaps this is why I’m doing well on my current engagement.  I am asked to focus my attention on specific issues or opportunities and advise.  But seriously, you think of a successful project manager or entrepreneur and you tell me they don’t have ADD/ADHD.

I hate to cut this post short but I need to…

Hey, look a butterfly!

(graphic courtesy of meggitymegs )