YOURBUSINESS BY DENISE NORBERG-JOHNSON
Motivation and mental state
For some people, beginning a task is the
battle. For others, staying focused and
motivated to finish is hardest. With a little effort, we can change the patterns that
keep us from doing our best work every
day. Richard Bandler and John Grinder
created neuro-linguistic programming
in the 1970s as a way to use the connection between neurological processes (the
nervous system), linguistics (the mechanics of language), and programming (the
behavior patterns we learn from our
experiences) to help individuals reprogram their thought and behavior patterns.
For example, you prime your mental
state by remembering the last time you
were really productive. How did you
feel? Were you stressed out by a looming
deadline instead of looking at the big picture? Now, remember three times when
you felt confident and highly focused,
and dwell on those memories for a few
minutes. How did you feel about the
work? What were you thinking about?
What messages were you receiving
through your senses?
This intense focus brings you to a peak
state of emotion. In that state, you create
a physical cue, such as snapping your fingers and perhaps listening to music you
associate with high energy and focus.
Now, you visualize working on a specific
Quit looking busy
project for 90 minutes each day, imagin-
ing the progress you will make and how
you will feel. Extend your vision to the
days and weeks ahead and beyond the
deadline to savor the feeling of accom-
plishment. Mentally rewind and visualize
the same process again. Then, you work
for 90 minutes on that project. Each day,
you snap your fingers and trigger the
vision and work for 90 minutes.
How do you recognize when someone is
doing busywork instead of actually being
busy with work? It’s busywork if you have
no clear goal or objective to guide your
actions and exert more effort than the
outcome is worth. Your team is running in
place, missing deadlines because of inefficiencies in your process, such as regular
meetings with no purpose or too many
long emails that fail to get to the point.
Reducing busywork requires focus
and planning. What is the purpose of the
meeting, task or email you are working
on? How important is it to your priorities and goals? If you cannot explain
the objective of an assignment to your
employee, it is probably busywork. Pri-oritize tasks and projects, and keep two
lists: tasks that must be done and a wish
list of tasks that can wait. Break larger
projects into steps that can be done in
shorter time intervals. Get rid of the
things that don’t align with your strategic objectives.
What your body needs
The human body is designed to seek bal-
ance, and it uses environmental cues such
as light and darkness to trigger sleep and
the functioning of specific organ systems
at particular times. Sleep is necessary for
cellular and tissue repair, and it allows the
brain to store and purge information. If
you are tired during the day, a short nap
can revitalize you, but you might also be
dehydrated. Drink water instead of sug-
ary or caffeinated beverages.
Our bodies are not designed to sit all
day. Try working at a variable-height
desk, or stand up and walk during phone
calls. Keep your blood sugar steady by
eating some protein every couple of
hours instead of large meals that redirect
oxygen from your brain to your digestive
system and put you into a “food coma.”
Try to deliberately produce a good mood.
For example, listen to music, spend a few
minutes meditating or take a whiff of
peppermint oil for energy.
If you really want to get creative, look
at the environment in your office. Replacing bright overhead fluorescent lights
with localized task lighting reduces eyestrain. The colors and textures of walls,
floors and furniture can calm or energize.
Trusting employees to alter work schedules or even bring their pets to work also
Most important, encourage everyone to take mental and physical breaks.
What might appear to a waste of time can
It’s more than time and motion
actually be a few minutes of exercise and
social interaction that stimulates new
ideas and reduces burnout.
Productivity improvements come in
small steps and in many ways. When you
set the example and trust your team to
take care of themselves, the work will
take care of itself.
Productivity Is Never an Accident
PRODUCTIVITY IMPROVEMENT is more than reducing waste. Understanding how
routines and environment affect our physical and mental states can help you and
your employees get the work done more efficiently and accurately without spending
a fortune or revamping your organization.
NORBERG-J OHNSO N is a former subcontractor and past president of two national
construction associations. She may be reached at email@example.com. IST