Category Archives: Productivity

Quiz: Do You Feel Empowered at Work?

081017_QuizDo you operate from a mindset of empowerment or disempowerment? Take your work pulse with these seven true or false questions. 

By Jae Ellard, Founder, Simple Intentions  

1) True or False: “I have a feeling of clear direction and connectedness to the goings-on around me and understand how my work connects to the mission/purpose of my organization.” 

If you answered True: You are likely on the path to feeling a sense of overall empowerment. 

If you answered False: It might be time to reexamine the mission/purpose of your organization and explore more deeply where you feel connected or disconnected and begin to seek where there are paths for alignment. If you answered False, it doesn’t mean you have to quit your job, rather, pause and be willing to see it with new eyes. 

2) True or False: “I tend to feel as if time, resources, and support are scarce to do what I’m asked to do.” 

If you answered False: You likely feel that you have what you need to reach your desired outcomes. 

If you answered True: See it as an opportunity to be creative and explore out-of-the-box ideas to complete your goals, play with what if scenarios, brainstorm, even daydream—sometimes a small shift in thinking can create a new resource or avenue of support not previously considered. 

3) True or False: “I feel as if I have more to gain professionally through my work than I feel at risk of losing something.” 

If you answered True: You likely understand that taking risks is part of being a professional and have developed the confidence to know that a single meeting or project does not define your career. 

If you answered False: See it as an opportunity to explore what’s working, what’s going well, and what you’ve achieved, so when you do face risk, you are clear of all the past gains as well future ones to come. 

4) True or False: “The people I work with are open and collaborative—they want to share ideas and receive feedback.” 

If you answered True: You’re likely on a team where others feel empowered and where there is an elevated level of psychological safety, a cornerstone of a high functioning team, according to a study conducted at Google. 

If you answered False: See it as an opportunity to explore what your teammates are really thinking and feeling, ask questions, and be curious: conversation is the gateway to building an empowered team. 

5) True or False: “I feel energized and absorbed in what I’m doing and feel the value of achieving what I’m committed to more often than not.”  

If you answered True: You’re likely clear on your purpose and your actions are in solid alignment, and you might also be working for a leader/manager who recognizes your contributions. 

If you answered False: Begin to create awareness around what gives you energy and where you feel your contributions are valued. From there, see where this work is in or out of alignment with your values and goals and with that data, small shifts in behavior may naturally occur. 

6) True or False: “My work life feels like a house of cards—if one card falls, the house will crumble.” 

If you answered True: You likely experiencing a time of disempowerment, it might be time to create awareness around which card is most vulnerable and begin exploring options for support there. 

If you answered False: You’re likely in a time of empowerment. 

7) True or False: “I feel like my team has open, authentic conversations as needed about projects and the goings on of our work culture.” 

If you answered True: You’re likely steeped in a work culture where empowerment is a shared value. 

If you answered False: Perhaps your team is facing change, uncertainly, or the goals are not clear. Despite the turmoil, this period can also present opportunities to discuss what’s working and what’s not, allowing a chance for the team connect to some empowered moments, actions, and projects. 

[Note: This post originally appeared in Mindful Magazine] 

FacebookLinkedInShare

Spend Time to Boost Energy and Gain Productivity

By Kim Lowe, Simple Intentions Managing Editor

bigrocks2Time – how to maximize and better manage it – is a popular discussion in our workshops, no matter if we’re talking about awareness in Stop & Think or stress in Success With Stress. We all yearn, if not for more time, then more productive time. In a previous post, we discussed time and balance, and how raising our awareness of why we do what we do when we do it can boost the quality of how we spend our time.

But let’s take the discussion further with an additional perspective on time. For me, asking why I do the things I do when I do them revealed new opportunities to insert activities I value into ordinary tasks. Now, for example, I listen to podcasts while getting myself ready each morning. I love this opportunity to learn something new while completing a mundane task. (Right now, I’m absorbed in Seth Godin’s Startup School.)

This simple insertion somehow boosts my energy and contributes to my overall sense of productivity. In fact, in the book, The Happiness Track, author Emma Seppälä argues the real commodity of productivity – not to mention happiness – isn’t time, but rather energy. It’s the simple – but not always easy – practice of ensuring our to-do lists include activities that recharge our energy. Typically, these are the “important” things we too often push aside: undistracted thinking time, exercise, building relationships, self-reflection. Instead, we spend a lot of time addressing “urgent” items that ultimately drain our energy and sap our productivity.

Start your day with a vigorous workout or centering meditation, and the connection between energy and productivity is easy to appreciate. But when managing energy is too abstract a route to greater productivity, a good time management tool can provide something more quantifiable.

I recently learned an old, but still relevant productivity tool, Stephen Covey’s “Big Rock” theory, which essentially says: Put first things first. Schedule first your highest priorities, the important things that make the biggest difference to your success, however you define it. These are your big rocks. In so doing, you’ll have time for the urgent things – the gravel, sand and water that fill in the spaces around the big rocks. See a demo of how this works here.

Looking closely, the two ideas build on each other. Prioritizing our big rocks ensures we accomplish what’s most important, in turn boosting our energy for even greater productivity.

FacebookLinkedInShare

Balance Isn’t About More Time

By Jae Ellard, Simple Intentions Founder

[Note: This post originally appeared on Huffington Post.]

timeAs a teacher and speaker on the topic of imbalance, I often hear people express their desires to have more time. Time to do more things – work things, personal things and relaxing things. People are often disappointed when I tell them balance has very little to do with quantity of time and more to do with quality of time.

The quantity perspective is simple math. There are 168 hours in a week. If you sleep eight hours a night, you have about 130 hours each week to spend on work and personal things. Generally, that splits into about 40 hours of work and 90 hours of non-work time each week. The question then becomes: How do you spend this time you have? Or, what’s the quality of your time?

Each of us can find more time in our day if we are willing to examine quality of time. And this requires the skill of awareness, which is our ability to see the world and how we show up in it. As it relates to time, awareness means observing without judgement how we actually spend our time. Just as we might eat empty calories that offer no nutritional value, most of us spend empty time on actions that don’t support our values or move us toward desired outcomes.

Empty time is not be confused with down time, which is intentional and serves to help us unwind and just be. It’s also not flow time, when time seems to stop because we are connected to our passions. Rather, empty time is when there’s no intention or awareness around why we do what we do when we do it.

For example, if you ask me if I watch television, I will tell you I do not. In reality, I spend a couple hours each night watching shows, about 14 hours a week. I don’t identity with spending my time this way, but I do. The same might be true for you, whether it’s television, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Candy Crush, or gossip magazines. We all experience empty time, at least occasionally.

This isn’t to say don’t watch television or disengage from social media. Rather, ask yourself why you do what you do when you do it. Consider if what you do supports your values – or if it’s empty time. Most of the shows I watch are about music, which is something I value, so I understand why I do what I do. At the same, I’m aware of my desire to spend more time watching live music and less time watching it on television. With this awareness, I have more information to make a different choice.

By asking yourself why you spend time the way you do, you can begin to create awareness and seek opportunities to shift your relationship with time. When people act without awareness they tend to feel a lack of time to do things they wish to do. It is through living with awareness that people begin to gain time to spend on things that invite more joy into their lives.

If you seek more time, examine how you spend the time you have and where you can dedicate more time to doing activities that support your values and bring you more joy.

The choice is yours. You can choose how to spend your 168 hours each week.

FacebookLinkedInShare

Urgent Overload! (Is it Really Urgent?)

By Jae Ellard Simple Intentions Founder, and Kim Lowe Simple Intentions Managing Editor

[Note: This post originally appeared on Huffington Post.]

Just like the word “busyurgent,” the word “urgent” is being abused, misused and overused in the corporate world. The relentless drive and determination to be first to market and best in class are fierce and relentless. Add the element of social media – where customers can instantly broadcast even the slightest delay or misstep – and it becomes understandable the circumstances that have spawned a perpetual culture of urgency inside many office environments.

The question to ask ourselves is: Is this culture of urgent sustainable? Intuitively, we know it’s not. Stress, burnout, disengagement, and low quality of work are major consequences of urgent overload. It creates a team environment in which people are only reacting to what’s urgent, and rarely – if ever – responding to what’s important.

Dwight D. Eisenhower said, “What is urgent is seldom important, and what is important is seldom urgent.” This thinking spawned The Eisenhower Decision Matrix, which productivity pioneer Steven Covey popularized in his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. It’s become a common and useful productivity tool to help define and differentiate urgent versus important.

Indeed, the matrix is a strong foundation to help us intellectualize the concept of urgent. But how do we make it real and actionable in our day-to-day corporate lives? How do we actually manage the volume of “urgent” requests most of us face at work?

First, let’s stop abusing the word urgent. Truly, it’s not urgent unless it involves birth, bleeding or obstruction of breath. (Unless you work in health care, it’s rare that something is truly urgent at work.) Rather, the real conversation is about priorities: getting clear on and responding to what’s highest-priority for our roles and businesses. This is where people struggle, because “urgent” often comes with layers of non-verbals that can confuse its rank against other priorities.

To help decode what is really urgent or highest-priority, consider what’s driving the urgency: Is it the person making the request? A deadline? Is it you, the person doing the task or service? Or is a particular energy or emotion driving the urgency?

When we think about urgent as highest-priority it becomes easier to decode. Is something “high-priority” simply because it’s coming from your manager or an executive? Is a date attached that may or may not be a real deadline? Are YOU making it urgent because you don’t have enough information to know whether it’s highest-priority for your team or the business?

Or does the request come across as urgent because of the energy of the person requesting? Does their excitement make it feel like it needs immediate attention, whether it does or not? Is the person angry or upset, and you want to please them? Are they stressed out, and you’re feeling their stress? Are YOU excited because the request maps to your values so you want all of your attention on it now?

As important to consider is: When does urgent end? When is something no longer highest-priority? The answer depends on the driver, but it’s important to acknowledge when a cycle of urgent concludes, to prevent lingering confusion over conflicting priorities that may cause unnecessary stress.

Let’s save “urgent” for what is truly life-affecting, and shift the conversation to what it’s really about: competing priorities. Let’s allow space for decoding high-priority tasks and requests, and support an environment of more responding, less reacting.

FacebookLinkedInShare