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Deconstructing A Yahoo Productivity List

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “A society based on production is only productive, not creative.’  - Albert Camus

In honor of the multitude of professionals trying to accomplish more in less time, one of Yahoo’s in-house geniuses came up with a list of “15 Instant Productivity Hacks You Need to Know” (So now, making a list is a “productivity hack”? )

 

Let us examine these precious pearls of wisdom to determine if the word “hack” would best follow “journalistic,” in this case…

 

1. Pause your email inbox and turn off your phone. If you want to actually get things done, shut down everything and focus on the tasks at hand interruption-free. Pause the e-mail? By the time it is “unpaused” it may take at least an hour to slog through it, i.e., e-mail will still be there, only more piled up, which is why I check it often. Unless I’m in urgency mode, this top idea should sink to the bottom like a stone.

   

2. Clean your desk. Yeah, we know, a cluttered desk = a cluttered mind. While not a bad memory jogger, hardly a cutting edge notion. Next…

 

3. Work on next-day task lists. This needs a qualifier. Focusing on the present gets things done faster for me. Once I complete the day’s tasks by day’s end, then working on next-day to-do’s can war rant attention.

  

4. Establish a micro-routine. For example, you could break each hour down into a repeatable process: 15 minutes of communication catch-up, 15 minutes of simple tasks, and 30 minutes of a difficult, larger task. I’m all for coming up with workable routines, but routines become mind-numbing after a while. Many people require some variety within a routine, even if it means switching around the time you do certain tasks.

 

5. Break in the middle of a task. Again, a qualifier please. If it’s 4pm and the task needs to be complete by 5 and you need every second of focus to finish, a break is the last thing to do. I do like implementing breaks for stressful, complex, ongoing projects over time, just to clear the mind, refresh and recharge.

   

6. Set sprints for yourself. The idea of a large task can distract you or weigh on your motivation. Instead of trying to plow your way through it, break it up into sections of effort. Finally, an idea I can endorse without reservation.

 

7. Perform mindless tasks as a break. No such thing as a mindless task in my work book. Everything, even a break, is mindful. If I break to do some stretching or other form of exercise, I’m doing it consciously to breathe energy into my body and revitalize myself in every way.    Mindlessness can be more exhausting than an arduous project.

 

8. Deactivate your Internet connection. Unless you’re on a meditative retreat with a group of Trappist monks, seems like a silly notion for most of us. Yes, tempting distractions abound on the Internet, but if one is that undisciplined then perhaps a job without Internet is the answer.

 

9. Replace a meeting with a bulleted email. I agree that meetings can be superfluous and unproductive. A bulleted e-mail could work for general information or pointers. But will it be understood in the context of specifics, subtleties, or cultural differences within the work force? E-mails can sometimes create more confusion and chaos than clarity.

 

10. Work on Sunday night--just a little. OK, this is something I generally do in preparation for the work week. Yahoo writer gets one star.

 

11. Get rid of your low priorities. The low-priority tasks on your list will only serve to distract you or make you feel more pressure throughout the day…If they take less than two minutes to complete, do them. If they take longer, then either delegate them to someone else or schedule them for completion on a future date. Good advice for a high school business class.

 

12. Commit to starting your least pleasant tasks. Getting the worst tasks out of the way first can clear your path for the rest of the day, so commit to at least starting those tasks as early as possible. Is the “least pleasant task” a priority? That will determine if this is a good idea or not.

 

13. Say no. Your list is long and it grows longer by the day. Sometimes the easiest way to get something off your plate is to avoid accepting it in the first place. Don't be afraid to say no to a task or a meeting that you feel would be unproductive. There are some things for which you cannot simply say no. Skipping a meeting or refusing a task could cost you the job. Best to discuss the situation with those involved.

 

14. Optimize your commute. Depending on how close you live, you could have time to catch up on voicemails, listen to an audiobook, make voice memos for the day ahead, or just relax with some calming music. Make the most of your trip. This is decent advice, but works best if your commute is via public transport as opposed to driving, which should command your utmost attention.

 

15. Go somewhere else. The mind craves stimulation, and staying behind the same desk day in and day out can get stale and stressful. At least one day a week, make an effort to work in a new location. It can be a home office, a coffee shop down the street, or even a picnic table in the park. If this is possible, I support the idea. A change of scenery can spark new, creative solutions and regain perspective.

 

In summation, most of these “productivity hacks” are Elmer’s Glue patchwork fixes that won't significantly alter or reduce the workload, or magically create a system to get things done. At best, there are some general reminders; at worse, they are half-baked bromides lacking in qualifiers and details. What else is missing? How to work more efficiently with the people you work with, the topic of next week’s edition of The Weekly Manager.

 

 

 

iPhone 6 Alternative + Digital Trends

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “You know, a cell phone’s like a guy; if you don’t plug him in every night, charge him good, you got nothing at all.” – Catherine Coulter


ATTENTION iPHANS

If you didn't preorder the iPhone 6 from Apple, there is an alternative for those of proper means. Falcon, an irrationally high-end retailer with an affinity for authentic glitter, has made the Bespoke and SuperNova collections available for preorder, starting at a paltry $1,650,000 for a platinum black diamond-encrusted iPhone 6.


If the basic model is too generic for you, the prices keep escalating until you reach the pink diamond iPhone 6, costing $48.5 million apiece. Getting an iPhone 6 ahead of your friends and associates would be impressive, but an iPhone worth more than Dr. Dre’s recently purchased home of $35 million is guaranteed to leave everyone breathless. And no worries about getting the most bang for your buck, these are the 5.5-inch 128GB iPhone 6 Plus models. They even come unlocked.


In the meantime, why not begin accessorizing your petrifyingly pricey smartphone by picking up some 24K solid gold EarPods from the Falcon store? $300,000 is like bus fare.


2014 DIGITAL TRENDS



The 2014 Digital Trends report just released from E-consultancy and Adobe is based on a global survey of more than 2,500 marketers and Internet professionals carried out at the end of 2013. The report seeks to distill which areas companies are prioritizing in 2014. Customer experience, mobile and content marketing emerge as major imperatives, but a significant number of businesses are homing in on other areas such as personalization, social, data and multichannel campaign management.


Since last year, it is clear that companies are attaching increased importance to understanding customer behavior on mobile devices, and also prioritizing the use of data from different channels to optimize the overall experience.


Respondents were divided into “Client Side Professionals” and “Supply Side Professionals,” then asked to identify the ‘single most exciting opportunity for 2014’. These are the top four:

 


CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE
Client Side: 20%
Supply Side: 18%



MOBILE
Client Side: 18%
Supply Side: 21%



CONTENT MARKETING
Client SIde: 15%
Supply Side: 13%



MULTI-CHANNEL CAMPAIGN MANAGEMENT
Client Side: 10% 
Supply Side: 12%



Researchers concluded that organizations need to ensure they have the proper data, technology and culture to implement as the basis for a satisfying customer experience, with a focus on multichannel marketing and campaign management also needed to drive a successful approach.



For many organizations, mobile continues to be the adhesive binding together the customer experience.



A great opportunity exists to integrate the physical and digital worlds, especially in the world of retail where brands, for example, can target customers based on location and interact with them while in store. Wearable technology will only accelerate this trend.



In answer to the question, “Which three digital related areas are the top priorities for your organization (or for your clients) in 2014?” results are as follows:



CONTENT MARKETING
Client Side: 36%
Supply Side: 35%



SOCIAL MEDIA
Client Side: 36%
Supply Side: 34%



TARGETING/PERSONALIZATION
Client Side: 32%
Supply Side: 29%



CONVERSION RATE
Client Side: 31%  
Supply Side: 25%



Worth noting is that the top four priorities are precisely ordered the same as the survey last year, respectively, content marketing, social media engagement, targeting/personalization, and optimizing conversion rates. It is apparent that marketers and digital professionals are clear on what the priorities are, and this has not changed markedly in the last year.

 

 

 



For the complete, 34 page copy of the report, “Quarterly Digital Intelligence Briefing: 2014 Digital Trends” go to: http://bit.ly/2014digital-trends

 

© 2014 Mental Floss Publications
All rights reserved.

 

 

 

Managing to Sell Change

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “When the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change, people will grow and the unspeakable value it offers is priceless, measured as a Lifetime Value.” Amy Elias, MS

 

MANAGING TO SELL CHANGE

How do you get staff to buy into something new?  Managers tell us that this is a big problem. I want to share with you an idea that my business partner uses to get buy-in for change. What he does is turn the expression “no pain, no gain” on its head. He says “during change it’s actually no gain, no pain”. What he means is this: change is very painful at work. It takes a lot of energy, it is hard, it takes a lot of time and employees are going to avoid it as much as they are going to avoid any pain.

 

So as a leader you need to focus on … what is to gain?  You need to spend time communicating:

 

What’s in it for staff? How will they benefit?

 

How will it help the team? (Forge bonds, promote decision-making autonomy, accentuate individual skill sets, mitigate tedious tasks, reduce stress, save time…)

 

How will it improve the relationships with customers? (Enhance info flow, quicken service response, sharpen communication skills, make applications easier for customers…)

 

What’s in it for the company? (Boost in revenues, lowering of costs, more harmonious workforce…)

 

Why do you want it happen?

 

What’s going to happen if the change fails?

 

In essence, what will staff gain from the change?  If you can’t convince them on any gain, then they will not be willing to go through the pain of the change.

 

Reprinted from http://peoplenrg.com (examples in parenthesis added by me)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Managing Health: Choices Beyond the Borders

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “Health care costs are eating the Defense Department alive.” - Robert M. Gates, former Secretary of State/Humorist

 

In 2011, I was on a business trip to Panama when I visited a local physician to diagnose a bulge in my groin area (not hormonally induced). I waited exactly five minutes before kindly being escorted by the receptionist into an examination room. The doctor, who was educated and trained in the U.S., told me in flawless English that I have a hernia and recommended a surgical procedure that he explained thoroughly. He referred me to a surgeon (also U.S. educated and trained) who said he could arrange the procedure in three days’ time, and it would cost about $2000. The cost to have it done in the States: $8000-10,000. This was a classic no-brainer.

 

At the hospital, which is affiliated with the prestigious Johns Hopkins, there were only two short forms to complete, and a credit card slip to sign. While waiting in an area that could pass for a VIP lounge at any major airport, I was offered fresh juice and other refreshments. Fifteen minutes later a congenial nurse took me into the operating room, where I was given a choice of internal or topical anesthesia, or no anesthesia. I humored the doctor, anesthetist, and nurses during the procedure; we all had a pretty good time. Ten minutes later it was done, and after an hour of rest and observation, I was out the door without having to sell one of my organs to pay for it.

  

It was both surprising and impressive. A scant three days to schedule the operation, 1 1/2 hours start to finish in the hospital, and quality service. Back home in California, the same procedure would cost 75-80% more. Chances are I would have frittered away an hour plus in a waiting room filling out endless paperwork, waited another hour or two before the operation, and perhaps spent countless hours arguing with the insurance company. Now it’s three years later, and no problems with the surgery.

  

How rare in any industry to have such affordable, prompt, professional, and personal treatment, but especially in medical care. The United States, with all of its supposed intellectual and financial capital, can provide vast resources for foreign aid. Why not for something as important as medical care?

 

Don't ever feel like you have to resign yourself to any system whose procedures are overpriced and underserved. There are options. This is an example of one of them.

 

FACTS (Reported by Workplacefairness.org)

 

In 1979, 70% of private sector jobs in the U.S. provided health benefits; today only 60% do;

 

1 of 3 people under 65 were uninsured at some point last year; over half of those were uninsured for at least 9 months;

 

In the last four years, workers’ health premiums increased 50%, about $1000 per family; 3 times the average increase in income

 

MEDICAL MIRTH 

 

 

 

 

Countering the Control Freak Manager

 

Over the course of most professional careers, one is bound to encounter an arrogant, overbearing, intrusive, abusive, difficult and/or know-it-all manager. There are bosses who have an agenda to micro-manage their subordinates over exemplifying inspirational, productive team leaders. Some crave power and dominion over others’ lives. The reasons vary, from their own psychological weaknesses to more extreme personality disorders, to act out as dictators, persecutors or nannies.

 

Some managers lack fundamental training in managing people. And, even more importantly, managers lack the values, awareness and sensitivity needed to relate effectively on a daily basis with people. Skills and techniques are easier to teach, but values, beliefs, and attitudes can be much harder to modify - and tougher for managers to learn. Yet, these are the underlying issues that will most make managers successful, or not.

 

When the control freak manager is impairing your ability to focus and do the job, it is always best to arrange a meeting with the manager and address the matter upfront. There is a humble, tactful kind of courage required to intervene effectively. You need to deal with this situation very patiently, politely, yet strategically and firmly. Do not engage this person when emotionally upset. You can be direct and ask questions about why they are (being sarcastic, harshly critical, probing about your personal life…). Ask if there are concerns with your work performance. Get specifics and take notes. Document! If it becomes clear that the manager is abusing their authority because it is their modus operandi, ask, “Are we not all here to (improve productivity, increase sales in the next quarter…)?” Let him/her know their behavior is counterproductive to workplace objectives and further discussions with higher ups may be necessary. When consequences are stated or even implied, this will often correct the negative behavior.

 

Document all such instances of continued abuse so that if it still gets out of hand, to the extent that it hampers work, you must present your case to the appropriate stakeholders at a company forum that addresses such issues. When managers start getting too control-obsessive, there may be something else going on -- probably pressure from above. So politely explain about boundaries, libel, slander, adverse impact and such issues as needed, and suggest the behavior be adjusted.

 

All of us deserve a workplace environment that is pleasant and conducive to productive professional relationships, so address the perpetrator immediately. If the abuse continues, there is always a remedy, e.g., call for disciplinary hearing on grounds of harassment, violation of private life, just name it specifically... but make the list as long as needed to cover all areas of transgression. Keeping quiet and tolerating his/her behavior is not an option.

 

 

 

 


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