Personal Productivity: Let’s make it happen!

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If you are working in Corporate America, then chances are the company you work for is running lean on headcount. In the short-term, this management strategy will improve the company's productivity numbers; which is a surefire way to increase profits (and the main reason why so many leaders do it).

In the long-term, this tactic will be as useful to the company as a Band-Aid is to mend a broken arm. As you are probably observing, running low on headcount puts undo stress on existing employees and often leads to burnout, conflict, poor performance and high attrition rates.

In order to thrive in this demanding environment, employees need to up their personal productivity skills ... Meaning that you'll need to embrace a strategy that eliminates waste and improves efficiency. Embracing the three words below will help you to accomplish more during each workday with the same amount of energy:

Sanitize

Remove anything taking up space or time that does not create value. This could be as little as the clutter that consumes your desk to removing your name from unnecessary email lists. You must take all of the steps necessary to be organized and realize that no step is too small. All of the little things add up during the course of a day, and could further demotivate you from taking action.

A huge pile of paperwork on your desk is equivalent to a chef starting his shift at a station full of dirty utensils and dishes. I use this analogy because I like to cook. My kitchen is a workstation that's no different than the desk at the office. When I prepare a meal, my approach is very mechanical. I work in efficient steps, cleaning all dirty tools, bowls and plates as I advance throughout each process. If the kitchen is cluttered or the sink is full of dirty dishes before I even get started, then the time spent organizing or cleaning is an unnecessary delay that directly impacts the time it will take to complete the meal. More importantly, in the business world, the clutter that surrounds you could also be what demotivates you to take action. If we do not find the act as convenient, we will put it off. Studies show that as little as 30 seconds could be the deciding factor on whether or not we choose to do something. So if that file or piece of data takes longer to find, there's a good chance we'll procrastinate on the task and go on to something else.

Organize all physical paperwork effectively (color coding files helps) and do not forget about the electronic. Create specific folders and flags for emails and electronic files. Your computer desktop is not the appropriate place to store files (especially not duplicates). It will slow your computer and ultimately promote errors, delays and confusion. So clean your desk as well as your desktop.

Do emails blast your way like rapid fire? If so, take all of the steps necessary to control the chaos. Start with the preventative by informing those who copy or include you in error to remove your email. If you are in a leadership role, then delegate the non-critical to your staff by informing the senders of the appropriate contacts.

Stay organized by filing or purging emails. Never keep anything older than 6 weeks in your inbox. In order to accomplish this, you need to stay on top of the action. Always address the emails from your boss and above first. Next tackle the quick wins (responses that require two minutes or less) and flag the others that require more involvement. Allocate time on your calendar at the beginning and end of each workday to take additional action. If something is confusing or difficult to explain, then pick up the phone instead of sending an email. There are probably dozens of emails in your inbox that could have been avoided with a quick phone call.

Apply Assiduity

In order to be productive you must be Diligent, Committed and stay Focused! There is no other way. In today's hectic environment, where everyone is multi-tasking, Focus is by far the most difficult of the three. There are too many distractions throughout the workday and each interruption impedes productivity. People like to think they are good multi-taskers, but what they are really good at is doing two or more things poorly at once.

For this reason, the hospital emergency room staff is far more productive than the general staff. The ER workers stay focused on the trauma at hand and eliminate all possible distractions, while the regular staff operates with less urgency and focus. ER workers also perform incredibly well under pressure. They do not get caught up in the drama, finger pointing and politics that regular hospital workers with more idle time find themselves in.

Arnold Schwarzenegger believed that it was his intense focus that led to his success in bodybuilding. He stated that just one rep with total concentration was worth more than 10 reps without. In business, this is also true. A person gets more done in one focused hour than four hours with interruptions.

Productivity and value creation skyrockets when a person or team stays focused and committed to the task at hand. I've seen it happen in a triage, brainstorm session, one-to-one meeting or when working solo.  Unfortunately, what is more common to see these days are the multi-takers who often ask "I'm sorry can you repeat the question?".

So just to recap, get organized, stay committed and be focused (energy that is unfocused invites distraction). If this works for the ER staff, it will work for you. Could you imagine how a visit to the ER would be if the staff performed in an unstructured and non-productive manner? Treating someone with a sprained ankle over a person with a life threatening injury, taking several critical minutes to locate an instrument or medication, or checking Facebook while you explain your symptoms and later asking "could you repeat your symptoms?".

Strategize

Effective execution needs to start with a plan, as the lack of a strategy promotes vagueness; which is a big motivation killer. There is also a right way to do things and a wrong way. Find the right way and make it routine. Pursue each task, meeting, deliverable and workday in a mechanical way. Doing so requires the development of good strategies, which will eventually form into winning habits. Here are 10 Tips to help you succeed...

1. Take advantage of technology and all office tools. Make sure your calendar is always up to date. Always keep blocked time to read email and return voicemails. You can also set goals for the number of emails to review during such time. With a little practice you will develop a rhythm and find yourself becoming very productive during the allotted time.

2. Arrive to the office a little early each morning to address any new or urgent issues that may have come in, prior to starting the normal routine. This will also help you to prioritize your actions for the day.

3. Prepare for all meetings by taking five minutes to review the agenda and write down any questions. Always go into a meeting with the bias of gaining important information or sharing it. If that's not possible, do not attend the meeting.

4. If you are in a leadership role, delegate all tactical responsibilities. Delegation is the most effective way to free a manager's time. If you are an individual contributor you should be asking your manager to delegate tasks to you. This scores a lot of points and creates a win/win scenario.

5. Create an outline of your next steps. When embarking on any new task, you should already have a list of steps to follow like 1,2 and 3 or beginning, middle and end. Just like a journalist tells who, what, why, where, when and how of any situation, you'll need to function in a similar, methodical manner.

6. Keep all communication clear and concise. Only copy relevant parties. Construct emails with bullet points instead of run on sentences. Use the phone or meet face to face in place of wordy emails whenever possible.

7. Add training time to your calendar. Take at least one hour per week to further develop your skills. Lessons learned in communicating, project management, organizational hurdles, managing change, time management, and the thousands more will help you to be more productive in the long run.

8. Plan for diminishing returns. Tackle your biggest issues when you're most alert.

9. Manage the efficacy of all meetings. Do not let meetings run over schedule. This is a terrible habit. It's okay to run meetings short or cancel if there aren't any updates. Letting meetings run long sends signals to the attendees that there's no sense of urgency to prepare for the meeting, they do not have to speak concisely and there's time for multi-tasking. Keep all of your attendees involved, cut the chatter bugs short and tightly monitor the information exchange.

10. Create a To-Do-List and live by it. Never rely on memory alone, as it will fail you. Always keep an updated list of your deliverables. Start and end your days with it. This will also help to cull your priorities from the non-urgent.

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"Very creative! Welcome to the Big Leagues is a unique thesis on how to make an impact on the corporate environment. Using baseball as the backdrop, the reader is able to easily absorb and remember the lessons, the author, Carmine Del Sordi, is conveying. Very few business books speak to both physical and mental wellbeing; which further makes it essential Continue Reading

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Welcome to the Big Leagues: Nine Innings of Essential Tips for the Corporate Rookie
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"Finally a 'manual' for true professionalism in today's corporate workplace. From my seat, I have witnessed far too many times a recurring theme: Rookies, newcomers, young employees all looking to go from A to Z without any stops in between. This book should be a mandatory read for all job applicants and veterans like us who could surely use a refresher. Carmine Del Sordi knocks it out of the park."

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"Finally a 'manual' for true professionalism in today's corporate workplace. From my seat, I have witnessed far too many times a recurring theme: Rookies, newcomers, young employees all looking to go from A to Z without any stops in between. This book should be a mandatory read for all job applicants and veterans like us who could surely use a refresher. Carmine Continue Reading

"The corporate rookie of today could benefit from additional support, as the demanding and competitive business landscape has become less forgiving of mistakes and poor decisions. Welcome to the Big Leagues emphasizes the importance of actively managing a host of critical success factors like the ability to drive results, strong collaboration and fiscal responsibility. It provides readers with the much needed edge on how to succeed."

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Welcome to the Big Leagues: Nine Innings of Essential Tips for the Corporate Rookie
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Bettina Koblick, CHRO, Symantec

"The corporate rookie of today could benefit from additional support, as the demanding and competitive business landscape has become less forgiving of mistakes and poor decisions. Welcome to the Big Leagues emphasizes the importance of actively managing a host of critical success factors like the ability to drive results, strong collaboration and fiscal responsibility. It provides readers with the much needed Continue Reading

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Welcome to the Big Leagues: Nine Innings of Essential Tips for the Corporate Rookie
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"Welcome to the Big Leagues is a very enjoyable read that’s packed with many insights on how to succeed in corporate America and life in general. I strongly recommend it for all new college graduates who are now ready to up their game."

"Carmine presents this treatise against the backdrop of professional baseball; it is a highly entertaining read, providing humor and insight to cement his points and advice. Welcome to the Big Leagues is not only a guide for the corporate neophyte, but a useful guide for evaluation at any level in one’s career. After 30 years in technology development, I have found that it brings clarity to events that have affected my own professional career. I strongly recommend the read."

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Welcome to the Big Leagues: Nine Innings of Essential Tips for the Corporate Rookie
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2014-03-14T15:44:27-07:00

Steve Menchen, Scientific Fellow, ThermoFisher Scientific

"Carmine presents this treatise against the backdrop of professional baseball; it is a highly entertaining read, providing humor and insight to cement his points and advice. Welcome to the Big Leagues is not only a guide for the corporate neophyte, but a useful guide for evaluation at any level in one’s career. After 30 years in technology development, I have found Continue Reading
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