Productivity: A Day of Observance and Questions…

What if you were to pay close attention as you go through your day to the processes and systems you use? I’ll bet with a raised level of awareness, you could easily identify three things that could help you be more productive.

Maybe you could immediately think of more than three things, but just for the exercise, boil them down to three main barriers that get in the way of getting work done successfully. In the work we do at ScholzandAssociates, we often find participants benefit enormously from this simple act of observing and asking questions.

What obstacles do you run into that, if they were different, would help you get your work done more easily, faster, better? If you could directly change any of the things you observe, you can commit to making those changes by the end of the week.

I ran across this page the other day on Wikipedia: Human Interaction Management. Apparently there is a movement stemming from business process management that includes the human elements – finally! But for now, the simple act of observation and questioning can help bring to light needed areas for productivity improvement.

Let me give some examples.

  • If you need assistance or approval from a colleague or manager, find out how you can get that process in motion.
  • If the change you need carries a cost, be sure you can identify the cost justification and have it ready when you start your conversation
  • If you have direct reports, do this exercise with one or more of them this week, as well.

It’s a good idea to take an entire day to observe your work day in process, asking questions at each step.

Ask yourself, “What is getting in the way of successfully making progress on this project?” And ask your direct reports the same questions.

What will you discover? It depends on the quality of your observations and questions. I believe this is a valuable exercise anyone can engage in at any point in  their career, at any day of the week.

Be willing to ask tough questions and be ready to commit to doing things differently requires going out of one’s comfort zone.

Caveat: Pay attention to the phrase: “If you could directly change any of the things you observe, you can commit to making those changes by the end of the week.

If all you see is what other people should or could be doing differently, then you are stuck. What can you directly change that will make a difference?

If you haven’t taken time out recently for observing your work day and asking tough questions, may I gently suggest you do? I know every time I do this exercise it is invaluable and effective. Let me know what you discover…

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