On my flights to see clients, I always pick up a business magazine to read. It’s something that can spur an insight when I face a particular challenge, and it sure as heck beats reviewing the already memorized airline menu selection when we must power down. Isn’t that productive of me? Perhaps Fast Company should have interviewed me in their "Secrets of the Most Productive People."
Instead, they interviewed the big guns - CEOs and founders in fashion, technology, non-profits, production companies, and TV shows. There’s even the Master Taster of Woodford Reserve! What a great title. I would love to be a master taster! Speaking of tasting, have you ever notice the cover of Fast Company magazine feels like a cat’s tongue? OK, back to being productive.
In order for me to become a Master Taster one day, I must first unlock the patterns of being productive and this scratchy article is my key!
I soon realized they all had different formulas for being productive. I started wondering if their very definition of what being productive means differs. Some may define productive as the ability to multi-task effectively while others define it as the ability to focus acutely on one thing at a time.
There’s not even consistency in what productivity means during downtime. Some define it as making the most of every minute like checking their inbox, social media feed or reading. The more zen define their productivity as a result of what they do during their downtime, such as meditate, pray, practice yoga, or take a walk outside.
I place cat tongue in the seat back and close my eyes as I’ve decided in this moment to embrace the zen squad. I will maximize my downtime. I close my eyes, focus on my breathing and let my mind just go. My mind goes to the question of whether or not someone’s Samsung Galaxy phone hiding in their back seat pocket or one that’s been checked in luggage below my feet will catch on fire and explode. Point taken! I’m with #TeamNoDowntime. Get to work.
I pull Cat Scratch Fever back out when it hits me that the most productive people have three distinct ways they define productivity. Granted, they may approach these three areas differently; but, if they master each of these in their own way, they will be productive. Productive people consciously and consistently:
- Maximize their downtime
- Maximize their time with you
- Make technology work for them
As I share the following examples from these productive gurus, ask yourself how you tackle these 3 patterns.
How do you maximize your downtime? Productive people...
- Wake up early, before their house wakes up, to mentally prepare for the day.
- Find their most productive space to work.
- Let their creative minds wander while commuting, cooking, or tending to a pet.
- Listen to playlists for focus and creativity - Hamilton was a common favorite.
- Create limits on when they are offline once home and may encourage their team to do the same.
How do you maximize your time with your team? Productive people...
- Prioritize people over tasks.
- Create a file for each direct report and enter topics they wish to discuss to make the best use of their 1:1s.
- Limit the length of each conversation to be more available to the greater team.
- Listen to complete ideas first and then ask why and other probing questions.
How do you make technology work for you? Productive people…
- Choose collaboration tools their teams are comfortable using personally - even Facebook messenger.
- Use email prioritization tools like Sanebox.
- Put down their phones and do not check email or Twitter during strategic thinking or time with people.
I hope you’ve found some inspiration from the examples above. I personally downloaded the Hamilton soundtrack and a meditation app to try and zen my way back home. OhhhhmmmmMasterTaster.
Photo Credit: iStock by Getty Images