There are so many demands today with all of our time, I want to share today some keys that I have gleaned from Laura Stack that will aid us in being consistently productive.
Laura Stack says it’s not enough to be only competent, we need to be super-competent. If you have not checked out her book yet, I suggest looking into it.
By that, she means that Super Competent people “possess a consistent, all-encompassing ability to be good at everything they do, no matter how general or specific.” While that definition may sound super-human (wouldn’t it be nice to wear the superhero cape?), the thinking behind it is still solid and attainable.
You have to decide to be good at what you do. Once you have made this decision, productivity expert Laura Stack provides the following method. She has captured six keys that assist in being consistently productive, which then makes up the SuperCompetent person:
Key 1: Activity.
They are driven by an intense focus on priorities and have a clear sense of direction. You need to determine what you should be working on.
I blogged a little on this topic over on Productivity tools systems and processes.
Clear Your Mind, Define Your Focus
Wendy Lea, CEO of getting Satisfaction and principal at The Chatham Group, shared two tips that keep her focused, energized, effective and productive both personally and professionally. “There are two things I do to get the energy, capacity, and focus I need to not only be efficient, but effective. Personally, I take 15 minutes every morning for contemplation and to empty my mind. I take a bag full of thoughts I need to be cleared and each morning I pick one out, read it, and send it down the river near my house. Watching the thought float away really helps clear my mind, reorient things and increase my focus for the rest of the day,” said Lea, who successfully juggles several roles across various companies including CEO, investor, advisor, mentor, and principal.
“Professionally,” Lea added, “I send an email to my team each Monday morning with the top five things I will be focused on for the week. This really keeps me on track and gives me the focus I need. These two things set the pace for me every day, both in my personal and professional life.”
Key 2: Availability.
To be available for the things you want to be available to, control your schedule. You may need to create new disciplines and habits to accomplish this. Many use a to-do list in combination with their calendar. I am one who really is not much for the to-do list, but I do add everything on my calendar. I found if it doesn’t get an actual scheduled date and time, it often times doesn’t happen.
Proper scheduling of yourself, and your activities, you will be available for the things you should be available for. First, plan the who and what you want to do with your time. Instead of being on call for anything and anyone who feels they need your time and energy.
You control your schedule, you will be consistently productive.
Key 3: Attention.
They develop the ability to pay attention to the task at hand.
Kevin O’Connor, the serial entrepreneur who founded both DoubleClick and more recently FindTheBest, a data-driven comparison engine, said he makes an effort to focus on only the top few things that really are going to move the needle. “Most people tend to focus on the 100 things they should do, which can be overwhelming and result in the failure to actually accomplishing anything of importance. I try to focus on the three to five things I absolutely have to do. Don’t get distracted by the ninety-seven other unimportant things. These don’t ultimately give to my success or the success of my company.”
Feel free to also check out my blog post over starting a productive day where I take on the 80/20 rule. Developing these kinds of habits again will help each of us in truly being consistently productive.
Key 4: Accessibility.
They are organized and can locate the information they need to support their activities. In this incredible, we live in with information accessible by anyone, anywhere, and at any time it is important to have systems recall all of that info when you need it. This is why when I coach leaders we spend some time figuring out what is best for them.
I blogged some on this very topic over here in Fewer Gathering Points. Keep it simple.
Key 5: Accountability.
Being a consistently productive leader means you are self-disciplined and don’t blame others. You need to be responsible for your results. Leaders are clear about what is expected. What results need to happen. When goals are not met, leaders will not pass the buck but own it themselves.
Be clear, then act to continue being consistently productive. You can do this.
Key 6: Attitude.
Making things happen, consistently productive people do the things that need to be done. They are proactive decisive and fast due to the way they start their days. One common way that those great leaders I have had the privilege of watching over the years they start their day with an attitude of being productive.
“Each key requires close attention to and a profound understanding of your own strengths, weaknesses, and capabilities in all areas to truly excel.” Stack begins with a short Super Competent Assessment to give you an idea of the areas you need to focus on. From there, she provides so much content that even the most competent among us would find something to think about. She provides simple approaches to help you improve in each of the six areas. Some are so simple that you may ask yourself, “Why am I not doing that?” (See the section on accountability.)
A friend told her, “Oh, it didn’t bother me. I had a mission, not an agenda”. “So often when launching a new endeavor,” writes Stack, “we get caught up in the agenda of the day—or worse—someone else’s agenda for us. We lose sight of our purpose.” Don’t get distracted by the details.
Then there is the problem of the ever-growing To-Do List. She lists ten issues at the heart of the problem like: You haven’t made the necessary decisions. Your list should be full of clear, actionable ideas. “If you set a vague goal—like ‘Have a sale’—then you’ve still got a lot of thinking to do before you can hit the ground running and make progress”. If it isn’t actionable, it shouldn’t be on the list.
Super Competent provides the motivation to rethink your habits and your approach to anything you do; to live and work more responsibly. An sometimes all we need is a little push. Stack writes, “To be consistently successful, you need to be consistently productive”. I find that productivity ultimately comes down to self-discipline and creating good habits. And when you are successful at it, it serves to reinforce the behavior. Better performance promotes our feelings of competence and the enjoyment of our tasks. Productivity equals morale.
Being Consistently Productive
Take these 6 habits and implement them into your daily life. I do believe that you will become consistently productive. I believe these habits will greatly affect your life and productivity.
Which ones do you think will be the most difficult for you to implement? Which ones will be the easiest? Would you add any more to these six?