… is this Dilbert cartoon which makes me smile every morning!

 The life of a Marketer

“DOGBERT, order THE VP OF MARKETING.  It’s my job to spray paint this turd.”

This post has been boiling up in side me for a long time…  born out of the frustration of watching friends, link family, web workmates, decease associates, management, businesses, training providers, productivity gurus… in fact everyone getting the productivity thing wrong.

<puts on flame proof jacket – this might will polarise some people>

Here are a few simple facts that I am sure you will agree with that will set the context for what I am about to talk about.

  • No matter how hard you try, you always have too much to do, and not enough time to do it.
  • No matter how hard you try, almost every meeting you walk out of at work, you leave knowing you could have spent your time better.
  • No matter how hard you try, you can not seriously tell me that you actually work at at 50, 60, 70, 80, 90 or 100% of your best when you are in the office.

Let’s talk about increasing productivity…

When people are looking to “increase their productivity”, most flock to productivity gurus and their simple, yet complicated systems.  These systems are all very clear when you read them in the book (purchased in an Airport bookstore for $19.95), but when you try to put them into practice you usually find that they cause you to be less productive.

And I will be honest.  I have been there.  Religiously I scan the bookshelves for the magic productivity bullet every time I have 5 minutes to spare in an airport/bookstore/amazon.com.  Here are a few of my experiences…

Productive meetings? MYTH!

There is the one book about getting the most out of meetings.  Great.  The idea is fantastic… of course I want to get in, get the information/actions I need and get the hell out.  But guess what?  To achieve that meeting utopia you are relying on everyone else in the meeting to feel the same way. 

And we all know that the chances of that happening exponentially decrease as you add more people around the table.

In fact… more than 2 people (and in some cases more than one!), and I am fairly certain that you are wasting your time.

Productive work environment?  MYTH!

I love the ones about setting up the perfect work environment.  You know what I am talking about – make sure that your desk is pointing in the right direction – your pens (two blue, one black, and one red) are in the right spot just beside your stationery holder – your filing cabinet is of the two draw variety (with appropriate Foolscap Manilla folders and hanging  and within 1.2m of the centreline of your swivel chair.

They are a great way to sell more office furniture.  I wonder if anyone has actually gone to management and demanded office furniture reform throughout their multinational based on some unquantified position that productivity will improve.  Pity it will only work for those who are between 5’6 and 5’8 tall who perform the same ‘robotic’ tasks (sorry to all those full time filers out there!)

Productive workload management? MYTH!

What about GTD?  I have tried Getting Things Done – and it worked. 

For about a week. 

Then, like most I am sure, I lost track, I lost focus, I got distracted by… you guessed it… ACTUALLY DOING WORK.

GTD definitely has its merits in helping you organise how you are going to tackle the work you need to tackle (if you are one of the few in the population who can maintain a steadfast focus on the system)…

But all that GTD is doing is removing wasted time between tasks (or making sure you only have to do what you have to do).  There is still a big fat hole in that productivity story…

How about we actually DO SOME WORK?

How do you complete the WORK you need to complete in a more productive way?  How can you get the outcomes and the deliverables you need to deliver more efficiently and effectively? 

GTD can’t help you with that (unless you are a manager and are delegating work). 

What about productivity for those at the bottom of the corporate hierarchy?  The ones who are micro managed.  The ones that are project managed.  The ones that sell, service and deliver to your customers

The people that productivity systems just don’t (and can’t) work for?

This is my problem with productivity as we know it…

Everything you see is ALL about managing your workload, not actually completing it!

The worst part is, this is breading a workplace full of what I like to call “The Teflon Army”.  You know exactly who I am talking about – the ones where nothing sticks.  Always delegating work, always passing the buck. 

But to members of the Teflon Army, they are just being productive.  It is funny though, they will always have the time to tell you just how busy they are!

So what is the solution? 

Well first we should define what we are trying to achieve.  To me, in today’s information economy we are all trying to do two things, and two things alone.

  1. Capture our ideas/experience/expertise… and
  2. Share them like crazy!

Simple as that.  If you work in an office today – that is all you are employed to do. 

You work in a call centre?  You need to capture all the ideas, experience, and expertise in your head about the business and its processes, and then share it like crazy with the customer who just called you.

You work in a cubicle producing reports?  You need to capture all the ideas, experience, and expertise in your head about the best way to present this information, and then share it like crazy with your key stakeholders.

You are a CEO?  You need to capture all the ideas, experience, and expertise in your head to set a vision for your organisation, and then share it like crazy with the people who need to make it a reality.

So how can you capture and share in a more productive way?

You might not realise this, and it may shock you (especially if you love buying and getting half way through reading productivity books), but EVERYTHING YOU NEED to increase your productivity by at least 100% right in front of you.

That’s right.  All there in front of you.  100% increase.  Guaranteed.

Well… let me rephrase that.  You have the tools you need.  There is one thing that is missing – the knowledge to extract as much value out of them as you can.

And that is what frustrates me sooooooooooooooooooooo much.  Everyone has the opportunity to get so much more out of their work day.  To do more with the same, or even better… to do the same with less.

Everyone has the opportunity to get work OUT OF THE WAY so you can focus on what is really important in life!  You know – those things you never have the TIME to worry about.  Friends… family… actually enjoying life!

Let me ask you a few more questions:

  • Do you know how to use the 20% of features in Microsoft Office / Open Office / Star Office / Google Apps that have the potential save you literally HOURS every week?  Like the feature that has been in Word since 1992 that will change your world and save you time every time you use it.  The one you could use EVERY TIME you create a document.  The one that has been sitting right in front of you, staring at you for almost 18 years and you still don’t know about it!
  • Do you know how to use the features of your desk telephone or mobile phone to connect with people in the most efficient way?

I will let you know the truth.  You don’t.  No one does.  And again that is what frustrates me.  We have these great tools at our fingertips, and yet NO ONE USES THEM!

The problem?  Probably the start of another rant – training and communication.

Training courses are great and telling you about ALL the features, but they don’t tell you how to actually use these tools to be more productive!

It doesn’t take a 5 day advanced Word course (@$2500 a pop) to be productive with Word. 

And when was the last time someone ran through with you some of the productive features of your desk phone – you know, the ones that help you connect with people to SHARE YOUR IDEAS!

Seriously, how many times have you been sitting there twiddling your thumbs as you wait watching someone struggle to connect a conference call?  Me? EVERY SINGLE DAY!!!!!

I am going to put some numbers out here.  This is gut feel.  There isn’t any empirical evidence.  This is purely based on what I know from watching the people around me.

It takes 20 minutes to learn the 2% of your favourite “productivity tool” that will get you 50% of the potential productivity impact.  It will take you an hour to learn the next 20% that will get you 80% of the potential productivity impact to tool could have on your day.

The rest… well… is just being unproductive.

Do you agree?  Do you disagree?  Follow me on twitter @paulwoods, and make sure you comment below.  I am ready to start a productivity revolution – and I need your support.

Paul W

This post has been boiling up in side me for a long time…  born out of the frustration of watching friends, viagra family, workmates, associates, management, businesses, training providers, productivity gurus… in fact everyone getting the productivity thing wrong.

<puts on flame proof jacket – this might will polarise some people>

Here are a few simple facts that I am sure you will agree with that will set the context for what I am about to talk about.

  • No matter how hard you try, you always have too much to do, and not enough time to do it.
  • No matter how hard you try, almost every meeting you walk out of at work, you leave knowing you could have spent your time better.
  • No matter how hard you try, you can not seriously tell me that you actually work at at 50, 60, 70, 80, 90 or 100% of your best when you are in the office.

Let’s talk about increasing productivity…

When people are looking to “increase their productivity”, most flock to productivity gurus and their simple, yet complicated systems.  These systems are all very clear when you read them in the book (purchased in an Airport bookstore for $19.95), but when you try to put them into practice you usually find that they cause you to be less productive.

And I will be honest.  I have been there.  Religiously I scan the bookshelves for the magic productivity bullet every time I have 5 minutes to spare in an airport/bookstore/amazon.com.  Here are a few of my experiences…

Productive meetings? MYTH!

There is the one book about getting the most out of meetings.  Great.  The idea is fantastic… of course I want to get in, get the information/actions I need and get the hell out.  But guess what?  To achieve that meeting utopia you are relying on everyone else in the meeting to feel the same way. 

And we all know that the chances of that happening exponentially decrease as you add more people around the table.

In fact… more than 2 people (and in some cases more than one!), and I am fairly certain that you are wasting your time.

Productive work environment?  MYTH!

I love the ones about setting up the perfect work environment.  You know what I am talking about – make sure that your desk is pointing in the right direction – your pens (two blue, one black, and one red) are in the right spot just beside your stationery holder – your filing cabinet is of the two draw variety (with appropriate Foolscap Manilla folders and hanging  and within 1.2m of the centreline of your swivel chair.

They are a great way to sell more office furniture.  I wonder if anyone has actually gone to management and demanded office furniture reform throughout their multinational based on some unquantified position that productivity will improve.  Pity it will only work for those who are between 5’6 and 5’8 tall who perform the same ‘robotic’ tasks (sorry to all those full time filers out there!)

Productive workload management? MYTH!

What about GTD?  I have tried Getting Things Done – and it worked. 

For about a week. 

Then, like most I am sure, I lost track, I lost focus, I got distracted by… you guessed it… ACTUALLY DOING WORK.

GTD definitely has its merits in helping you organise how you are going to tackle the work you need to tackle (if you are one of the few in the population who can maintain a steadfast focus on the system)…

But all that GTD is doing is removing wasted time between tasks (or making sure you only have to do what you have to do).  There is still a big fat hole in that productivity story…

How about we actually DO SOME WORK?

How do you complete the WORK you need to complete in a more productive way?  How can you get the outcomes and the deliverables you need to deliver more efficiently and effectively? 

GTD can’t help you with that (unless you are a manager and are delegating work). 

What about productivity for those at the bottom of the corporate hierarchy?  The ones who are micro managed.  The ones that are project managed.  The ones that sell, service and deliver to your customers

The people that productivity systems just don’t (and can’t) work for?

This is my problem with productivity as we know it…

Everything you see is ALL about managing your workload, not actually completing it!

The worst part is, this is breading a workplace full of what I like to call “The Teflon Army”.  You know exactly who I am talking about – the ones where nothing sticks.  Always delegating work, always passing the buck. 

But to members of the Teflon Army, they are just being productive.  It is funny though, they will always have the time to tell you just how busy they are!

So what is the solution? 

Well first we should define what we are trying to achieve.  To me, in today’s information economy we are all trying to do two things, and two things alone.

  1. Capture our ideas/experience/expertise… and
  2. Share them like crazy!

Simple as that.  If you work in an office today – that is all you are employed to do. 

You work in a call centre?  You need to capture all the ideas, experience, and expertise in your head about the business and its processes, and then share it like crazy with the customer who just called you.

You work in a cubicle producing reports?  You need to capture all the ideas, experience, and expertise in your head about the best way to present this information, and then share it like crazy with your key stakeholders.

You are a CEO?  You need to capture all the ideas, experience, and expertise in your head to set a vision for your organisation, and then share it like crazy with the people who need to make it a reality.

So how can you capture and share in a more productive way?

You might not realise this, and it may shock you (especially if you love buying and getting half way through reading productivity books), but EVERYTHING YOU NEED to increase your productivity by at least 100% right in front of you.

That’s right.  All there in front of you.  100% increase.  Guaranteed.

Well… let me rephrase that.  You have the tools you need.  There is one thing that is missing – the knowledge to extract as much value out of them as you can.

And that is what frustrates me sooooooooooooooooooooo much.  Everyone has the opportunity to get so much more out of their work day.  To do more with the same, or even better… to do the same with less.

Everyone has the opportunity to get work OUT OF THE WAY so you can focus on what is really important in life!  You know – those things you never have the TIME to worry about.  Friends… family… actually enjoying life!

Let me ask you a few more questions:

  • Do you know how to use the 20% of features in Microsoft Office / Open Office / Star Office / Google Apps that have the potential save you literally HOURS every week?  Like the feature that has been in Word since 1992 that will change your world and save you time every time you use it.  The one you could use EVERY TIME you create a document.  The one that has been sitting right in front of you, staring at you for almost 18 years and you still don’t know about it!
  • Do you know how to use the features of your desk telephone or mobile phone to connect with people in the most efficient way?

I will let you know the truth.  You don’t.  No one does.  And again that is what frustrates me.  We have these great tools at our fingertips, and yet NO ONE USES THEM!

The problem?  Probably the start of another rant – training and communication.

Training courses are great and telling you about ALL the features, but they don’t tell you how to actually use these tools to be more productive!

It doesn’t take a 5 day advanced Word course (@$2500 a pop) to be productive with Word. 

And when was the last time someone ran through with you some of the productive features of your desk phone – you know, the ones that help you connect with people to SHARE YOUR IDEAS!

Seriously, how many times have you been sitting there twiddling your thumbs as you wait watching someone struggle to connect a conference call?  Me? EVERY SINGLE DAY!!!!!

I am going to put some numbers out here.  This is gut feel.  There isn’t any empirical evidence.  This is purely based on what I know from watching the people around me.

It takes 20 minutes to learn the 2% of your favourite “productivity tool” that will get you 50% of the potential productivity impact.  It will take you an hour to learn the next 20% that will get you 80% of the potential productivity impact to tool could have on your day.

The rest… well… is just being unproductive.

Do you agree?  Do you disagree?  Follow me on twitter @paulwoods, and make sure you comment below.  I am ready to start a productivity revolution – and I need your support.

Paul W

Over the last couple of months I have been fairly busy on the speaking side of things.  Here is a quick look at some of the topics I have been talking about:

Negotiation

A few weeks ago I delivered a guest lecture at QUT in the postgraduate Negotating Across Bordersclass.  This was a really good session that was supposed to last 30 minutes, capsule but ended up going for 90 as we dug into my experience negotiating in the real world – house purchases, glaucoma complaining to teleco’s, illness pay reviews and more. 

OfficeDevCon09 – Getting Productive (and getting a return) on Microsoft Office and SharePoint

This session was delivered at the community run OfficeDevCon conference, which this year was held in Brisbane.  Great turn out (not a spare seat in the house)… although I did get some feedback that the session was “Too Interactive”…

 

View more presentations from Paul Woods.

TechEd Australia – OFC102 – Productivity for the IT Pro, and The Productivity Myth (TechEd Online Tech Talk)

Microsoft TechEd Australia rolled around again this year on the Gold Coast, and I was lucky enough to not only  be a speaker in the Office Track, but also recorded a short video on my earlier post – “the Productivity Myth” with Alistair Speirs.

View more presentations from Paul Woods.
The tech talk recording on “The Productivity Myth”

Over the last couple of months I have been fairly busy on the speaking side of things.  Here is a quick look at some of the topics I have been talking about:

Negotiation

A few weeks ago I delivered a guest lecture at QUT in the postgraduate Negotating Across Bordersclass.  This was a really good session that was supposed to last 30 minutes, this site but ended up going for 90 as we dug into my experience negotiating in the real world – house purchases, cough complaining to teleco’s, pay reviews and more. 

OfficeDevCon09 – Getting Productive (and getting a return) on Microsoft Office and SharePoint

This session was delivered at the community run OfficeDevCon conference, which this year was held in Brisbane.  Great turn out (not a spare seat in the house)… although I did get some feedback that the session was “Too Interactive”…

 

TechEd Australia – OFC102 – Productivity for the IT Pro, and The Productivity Myth (TechEd Online Tech Talk)

Microsoft TechEd Australia rolled around again this year on the Gold Coast, and I was lucky enough to not only  be a speaker in the Office Track, but also recorded a short video on my earlier post – “the Productivity Myth” with Alistair Speirs.

View more presentations from Paul Woods.

Over the last couple of months I have been fairly busy on the speaking side of things.  Here is a quick look at some of the topics I have been talking about:

Negotiation

A few weeks ago I delivered a guest lecture at QUT in the postgraduate Negotating Across Bordersclass.  This was a really good session that was supposed to last 30 minutes, visit but ended up going for 90 as we dug into my experience negotiating in the real world – house purchases, herpes complaining to teleco’s, cure pay reviews and more. 

OfficeDevCon09 – Getting Productive (and getting a return) on Microsoft Office and SharePoint

This session was delivered at the community run OfficeDevCon conference, which this year was held in Brisbane.  Great turn out (not a spare seat in the house)… although I did get some feedback that the session was “Too Interactive”…

 

View more presentations from Paul Woods.

TechEd Australia – OFC102 – Productivity for the IT Pro, and The Productivity Myth (TechEd Online Tech Talk)

Microsoft TechEd Australia rolled around again this year on the Gold Coast, and I was lucky enough to not only  be a speaker in the Office Track, but also recorded a short video on my earlier post – “the Productivity Myth” with Alistair Speirs.

View more presentations from Paul Woods.
The tech talk recording on “The Productivity Myth”

Over the last couple of months I have been fairly busy on the speaking side of things.  Here is a quick look at some of the topics I have been talking about:

Negotiation

A few weeks ago I delivered a guest lecture at QUT in the postgraduate Negotating Across Bordersclass.  This was a really good session that was supposed to last 30 minutes, cialis 40mg but ended up going for 90 as we dug into my experience negotiating in the real world – house purchases, denture complaining to teleco’s, patient pay reviews and more. 

OfficeDevCon09 – Getting Productive (and getting a return) on Microsoft Office and SharePoint

This session was delivered at the community run OfficeDevCon conference, which this year was held in Brisbane.  Great turn out (not a spare seat in the house)… although I did get some feedback that the session was “Too Interactive”…

 

TechEd Australia – OFC102 – Productivity for the IT Pro, and The Productivity Myth (TechEd Online Tech Talk)

Microsoft TechEd Australia rolled around again this year on the Gold Coast, and I was lucky enough to not only  be a speaker in the Office Track, but also recorded a short video on my earlier post – “the Productivity Myth” with Alistair Speirs.

View more presentations from Paul Woods.

Over the last couple of months I have been fairly busy on the speaking side of things.  Here is a quick look at some of the topics I have been talking about:

Negotiation

A few weeks ago I delivered a guest lecture at QUT in the postgraduate Negotating Across Bordersclass.  This was a really good session that was supposed to last 30 minutes, cialis 40mg but ended up going for 90 as we dug into my experience negotiating in the real world – house purchases, denture complaining to teleco’s, patient pay reviews and more. 

OfficeDevCon09 – Getting Productive (and getting a return) on Microsoft Office and SharePoint

This session was delivered at the community run OfficeDevCon conference, which this year was held in Brisbane.  Great turn out (not a spare seat in the house)… although I did get some feedback that the session was “Too Interactive”…

 

TechEd Australia – OFC102 – Productivity for the IT Pro, and The Productivity Myth (TechEd Online Tech Talk)

Microsoft TechEd Australia rolled around again this year on the Gold Coast, and I was lucky enough to not only  be a speaker in the Office Track, but also recorded a short video on my earlier post – “the Productivity Myth” with Alistair Speirs.

View more presentations from Paul Woods.

Later this month I am speaking at the JuiceIT road show being run by Data#3.

The concept behind the session is that your IT team (and every other IT team in almost every organisation, nurse
anywhere in the world) have a huge opportunity to increase the effectiveness of your people.  Not just increasing the productivity of your IT team and the systems you look after (like all those Virtualisation/VMware fan bois) but EVERYONE IN THE BUSINESS.

That is a BIG DEAL.  And we are not talking about significant numbers either.  There are so many things that IT teams can do to increase the productivity of the business by 1%, epidemic
2%, 5%.  That might look small to you, but to management, share holders and share markets, they are improvements that could mean millions of dollars depending on the size and scope of your business.

Think about it.  How much time do you (or your Managing Director, or your HR team, or your Sales people) spend with Outlook every day?  Chances are more than your wife, husband, kids, friends, or your television… combined. 

… and when was the last time you sat down and explored (or more likely someone told you about) functionality in the product that you have not used before??

Most of you will not remember the last time.  And, I can almost guarantee that you don’t know anywhere near as much about Outlook (or Word or Excel) as you need to know. 

My gut feeling is that you could be wasting hours a week doing things that could be done faster, if only you knew how to make the most of the tools you already have at your disposal.

In the session my colleague Joseph Mortimer and I will dive into how you can get the most out of your productivity tools (Office, SharePoint and more), the key to ensuring that you get the results you want, and more importantly how to create the context to deliver a productivity environment that ensures that you meet the expectations of the entire workforce.

So if you are in Brisbane on Thursday March 11 and i you are looking for a professional hard drive recovery service in the UK , or Adelaide on Thursday March 25 – make sure you register to attend JuiceIT.  Our session is just one of 25 at each event, which brings together vendors like Microsoft, Cisco, HP, VMware, Toshiba, Symantec, and many many more.

Archive 2005-10
Author: Paul Woods

Get Connected