Tag Archive: productivity

How to Be Productive When the Office is Quiet

Season Two, Episode Eight. Podcast recap! (And if you missed the podcast, you can find it here.)

Podcast Recap: Season 2, Episode 8, BONUS PODCAST

This week on the podcast, which is our special Holiday Bonus Podcast, we talk about how to be productive when the office is technically open, but mostly pretty dead.

Unless you are an essential services worker (and if you are, thank you!), or are super lucky and work for an organization that closes between Christmas and New Year’s, you have probably experienced working those days when MOST people are on vacation, but a skeleton staff remains.

It’s the worst.

You’re there because the organization has to keep the lights on and do the basics to make sure nothing horrible goes wrong, which it almost never does, but you know, just in case and all that.

What do you do? There’s no one to have meetings with. You can’t get anything approved to move forward. Your desk is out in the open, so watching a movie or playing Candy Crush is unwise.

What Do You Do?

P-O-U-N-C-E

That’s right, Pounce. It’s our mnemonic gift to you to help you on those days when you are in the office, but barely anyone else is.

(It’s also helpful if you think about it as setting yourself up for the New Year. You know, pouncing on it. See what we did there?)

  • Ponder
  • Organize
  • Unsubscribe
  • Network
  • Chill
  • Enjoy

Ponder

Take some time to think about where you are right now, and whether you’re happy with it. This isn’t about making resolutions, although you might end up making some. It’s more about reflecting and doing a little self- assessment:

  • What do you want to do with your job? Are you on the right road to making it happen?
  • How’s your health?
  • How are your relationships, both at home and at work?
  • Are you at loose ends? Are you “all good?”
  • Do you have any “to do list” items that you’d like to check off your Bucket List this year?

We are HUGE fans of the Self Journal from the Best Self Company. (You can buy them from their website or from Amazon.) It’s easy to use, and helps you set up your goals and what those tasks are that will help you achieve them. It even has a handy dandy poster to track your goals three months at a time (which is much less daunting than planning for a whole year), and gives you little wins to help build your motivation.

CONTEST ALERT!

In fact – we love it so much that we’re going to give one away! Just send us an email (info@whiteboardconsulting.ca) or tweet us (@whiteboardcons) to tell us what your favourite podcast of ours was from 2017, and why. That’s it! We will make a draw on January 15th and send one to you.

Organize

Times like these are also excellent times to organize your workspace. This works for everyone, even people who THINK they are organized all the time – come on be honest. You have binders there from that conference you went to two years ago that you haven’t looked at. Or you have confidential files that should probably be shredded or returned to the HR department. Or you have notes on a printed PowerPoint presentation that really isn’t helpful anymore (or it is, but only page 68). Toss it (except page 68 – take a photo of it before you toss it). Or you have a junk drawer full of old candies, paper clips, and expired emergency deodorant.

Take the time to remove all these things that clutter your desk and act as distractions.

Unsubscribe

Hitting delete is pretty easy, but it’s a temporary fix to an on-going email clutter situation.

Take 20 minutes to open those things you subscribed to or that you have no idea why you get, and unsubscribe from them. We aren’t here to talk about email habits and changing the way you manage your Inbox. We ARE here to advise you to clean out the crap because it’s distracting you and stressing you out and you don’t even know it.

We like a couple of helpful tools:

  • Unroll Me is an amazingly helpful online tool that scans your Inbox periodically and, when a subscription email shows up, offers you a few options:
    • Unsubscribe – AND THEY THEN UNSUBSCRIBE FOR YOU SO YOU DON’T HAVE TO DO ANYTHING,
    • Roll It Up to a daily email with all your subscriptions in one scrollable email, or
    • Leave it in your Inbox.
  • SaneBox is also an online tool that moves your email into folders that you define. If you take the time to set it up the right way, it means that when you open your regular Inbox, you only see the most important things. No scrolling, filtering, or distracting. SO HELPFUL

Network

This is the perfect time to connect and build relationships. Ask that new person to walk with you and get a Peppermint Mocha or gingerbread cookie. Talk to that one co-worker that you have been having trouble getting to know.

If you’re a manager, reach out to members of your team who are all in during these “between” days, and suggest you all go out for lunch together. (And no, you don’t have to pick up the tab, although it would be nice if you gave the OK to extend the lunch hour a bit.)

This is not about socializing with your work buddies or BFFs. This is about capitalizing on the opportunity to build critical relationships in the office. It’s also just plain nice.

Chill

Cut yourself some slack. Catch that later bus (as long as work allows you to be flexible with your hours). Put on some music while you sort out your desk. Take a few minutes to stare out the window and reflect or ponder or just people watch.

If you’re a manager, cut your team some slack! We know of managers who used to just send people home a bit early, or extend lunch hours to allow for holiday shopping. It doesn’t have to be huge, but wow it can give people some stress free time to get things done. And that goes a long way.

Most importantly though, focus on yourself and what you need in order to rejuvenate over this holiday time. (This relates, of course, to the Pondering activity!)

Enjoy!

Finally, enjoy yourself. Find some source of joy that works for you, whether you are celebrating holidays or not. Whether it’s helping someone else out, taking some time to work on that special project that you love but just isn’t normally a priority, treating yourself to some special food, or wearing an Ugly Holiday Sweater, there are things out there that are fun and festive.

Oh, and Get Your Work Done Too

Of course you have to get your work done. Hopefully the demands are somewhat less, and you can take the time to set yourself up so you can POUNCE on the New Year.

We’d love to hear how you use POUNCE! And of course don’t forget to send us a note or a tweet to enter the Self Journal contest.

We wish you the very best for the New Year, and look forward to bringing you our third podcast series which will focus on your career! How to manage it, how to change it, and how to get where you want to go. And if you’re a manager, we will have tips on how to help your team manage their careers, and how to run a successful interview too.

Don’t forget you can subscribe to our podcast in iTunes (click here) so you never miss a new episode!

Until next time,

Ruth & Nicole

Should you follow the pack or go rogue?

I’ve been thinking lately about our human tendency to follow the pack and my newfound tendency of “going rogue.” I’m a trusting person and easily influenceable. If you tell me this is the BEST HAND CREAM EVER, I will buy it.  If you tell me you tried a new workout and it was THE HARDEST WORKOUT EVER, I will go and try it tomorrow.  Ask me to smell this milk because it is the MOST EXPIRED MILK EVER, I will get my nose right in there.

So it’s a newfound habit for me to say, “That’s awesome that it is working for you.  Right now I’m doing this, and it is really working for me too. Yay us!”

But Everyone Says So!

People (and probably some science reports too) say that we MUST eat breakfast; doing so helps us consume fewer calories later in the day and maintain a healthy weight and may even improve our concentration and productivity. They also say we shouldn’t weigh ourselves every day because it could case us to become over fixated on what may be natural fluctuations rather than indications of weight gain or loss.

“They” say we shouldn’t look at our phones first thing in the morning – it can distract us from our morning routine and can decrease our productivity by focusing on external priorities rather than our own.

And we mustn’t work out every day, because our bodies won’t have adequate time to recover and we won’t get results.  

Screen Shot 2016-06-02 at 4.57.45 PM

Don’t get me wrong, I realize there are studies and science  that may back these statements up with statistical significance.  But here’s the thing: all of the “pack ideas” I talked about above don’t work for me.

When I eat breakfast, I’m starving all day and (after testing this theory out by tracking and monitoring the data) I consume more calories than are necessary for me to maintain my weight. So do I keep doing it because everyone else is telling me that is the right thing?

Similarly, weighing myself every day keeps me on top of fluctuations that could otherwise be more dramatic after a week.

And I LOVE working out.  Provided I balance my workouts, it is my stress relief and my time that makes me happy. So why should I be unhappy, provided I am being safe and taking care of my body, when my way works for me?

And finally, if I don’t check my phone before bed AND first thing – guaranteed I will miss a meeting, or miss a cancellation of a meeting and make an unnecessary trip.

Now statistically speaking these “rules” might be great for the majority of people, and the majority of people will see better results following these rules.  But, as we know, there is a great deal of human variation.  I am a sparkly unicorn and I am different.  These rules do not work for me.

The thing is, it’s easy to follow the pack.  It’s part of our human nature.

…social conformity is based on mechanisms that comply with reinforcement learning and is reinforced by the neural error-monitoring activity which signals what is probably the most fundamental social mistake – that of being too different from others

Read more: http://news.softpedia.com/news/039-Follow-the-Crowd-039-Tendency-Finally-Explained-102066.shtml#ixzz4ASKrOwCW

Follow The Pack? Or, Go Rogue!

Maybe your competition uses a certain process improvement methodology (like Lean or Six Sigma), or a particular sales tool, or social media strategy and you want to implement it to keep up with the trends. But what if it just doesn’t work for YOU (and your team, and customers, and stakeholders)?
keep-calm-and-go-rogue

  1.  Does it feel natural to do what the pack is doing?  Sure, good habits take time and consistency, but if the process is so difficult that you can’t get the habit to stick, maybe it isn’t the right strategy for you.
  2.  Have you experienced errors, defects, or problems using the pack’s idea? If you notice missed deadlines, faulty products, decreased employee engagement, or increased customer complaints – maybe you need to re-examine your plan.
  3.  Have you tried and tested any other options? If you haven’t tested and tried out alternatives, how do you know that this is the best for you?  How can you make a decision with out data – numbers or experience? Reflect on the past – was there a time that you were doing really well?  What were you doing?  Should you align with the pack, or “go rogue”.

Let us know how you follow the pack or go rogue @whiteboardcons #gorogue or #followthepack!

Until Next Time,

Nicole