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Unlock Your Productivity Potential, Maximizing Efficiency and More Expert Tips from Our May-June Edition

“Do something only you would come up with — that none of your colleagues, friends or family would think of.”





If you’re procrastinating on a project, it’s often because you don’t know the next appropriate action. In such cases, it can help to ask yourself what it is that yåou need to find out, decide or do. “Usually the roadblock is one of those three things,” productivity coach Liz Sumner told INC. “What information do you need to locate? What decision is up in the air and what are the choices? What needs to be done so that the rest of the pieces fall into place? Nine times out of 10, these questions will get you moving again.”

SELF-IMPROVEMENT Story-Worthy Moments

Each day, write down the most “story-worthy” thing that happened. It improves your memory, makes you more grateful and gives you more stories to tell, says productivity blogger Colby Kultgen.


Does the endless flow of small items that need attending sink your day? Try embracing them. “Here are the rules: All work must be done in blocks of at least 30 minutes,” writes Cal Newport, explaining his method for attaining what he calls “forced focus.” You’re free to abandon your most important work whenever you like, in favor of emails, minor errands and the like, but with a caveat: if you switch, you must stick to such “small stuff” for 30 minutes. The double benefit is that you “batch” your smaller tasks, clearing the decks more speedily, while creating a disincentive for getting distracted from the major ones.

MANAGEMENT Read the Classics

Look for books that have stayed relevant for 30-plus years. “They have stood the test of time for a reason.” says business author and venture capitalist Naval Ravikant.

CUSTOMER SERVICE Turnovers Done Right

Tony Palmer of Palmer Signs has a great approach to turning over completed jobs with clients. And the first step is a thorough inspection — check the color, look at the seams, bring the proof, and make sure everything is perfect. Palmer says his approach is, “Mistakes may happen … they just don’t leave the shop.” If all is good, take quality photos of your work, post on social media, and tag the client (if you’re connected and have permission). Only then should you call the client to let them know the vehicle is ready. When the client arrives, walk them around the vehicle. Says Palmer, “This is a great time to share in their excitement.” Palmer Signs also reminds customers how to care for a wrap and asks them to bring the vehicle back in 2-3 weeks so the team can look the wrap over. The final step is to thank the client and let them know they will be getting a link to leave a review.


It’s hard to overestimate the impact of email, but so much of its power goes under-utilized, because, simply put, no one tells us! Here’s one for Gmail you should know: “Confidential Mode” for sensitive emails. It allows you to set a message expiration date, revoke message access at any time and require a verification code (sent by text) to open a message. Got a message you don’t want shared? Simply locate the “padlock” icon at the bottom of your message (usually it’s near the blue “Send” button), choose your options and you’re set to go.


SALES Remind Yourself to Listen

Talk less, listen more. We know you’ve heard that before. But professionals who are smart and know what they are talking about are often the worst listeners — even those who write about communication for a living! Best-selling business author Tom Peters, for example, calls listening “the bedrock of leadership excellence,” but at the same time admits he’s a terrible listener and “a serial interrupter.” So, to help him stay focused on the other person, he writes the word “LISTEN” on the palm of his hand before walking into meetings. “The focus must be on what the other person is saying, not on formulating your response. That kind of listening shows respect for the other person, and they notice it,” he says. Keep it in mind — or on your palm — the next time a business owner is trying to tell you what is wrong with their newly installed artwork.

MANAGEMENT Elicit Maximum Creativity

If you want to foster ideas from your staff, don’t tell them to “be creative.” That just causes people to freeze up. A much better approach, according to a Businessweek article on brainstorming, is to say: “Do something only you would come up with — that none of your colleagues, friends or family would think of.” In experiments, this approach has been shown to yield twice as many creative responses.

THE BUS STOP DILEMMA Those Fleeting Moments

There are micro-moments in life — the minutes in a doctor’s waiting room, commuting on the train, or while waiting for Windows to boot up — that cry out to be filled. If you’re of a hyper-productive bent, the blogger Merlin Mann suggests using this “interstitial time” to get stuff done. The key, he says, is to plan in advance, so, for example, you can quickly get rid of a few emails. In his book The One-Moment Master: Stillness For People On The Go, Martin Boroson suggests a contrary option: doing nothing, or rather specifically learning to condense the practice of meditation into these fleeting moments. His greater message is that from a certain perspective, a sequence of fleeting moments is all we ever really have anyway. So recognize that and use them mindfully.




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