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Though misunderstood for decades, the science community now knows Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) often persists into adulthood after first appearing in childhood and continuing into teenage years. That puts inattentiveness, impulsivity and sometimes, hyperactivity in the workplace–where sitting still and focusing are valued.

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Spartan Up is a new book relating the preparation and completion of an obstacle course race to that of meeting and achieving goals in our personal and professional lives. We were able to ask the author, Joe DeSena, questions and are sharing his responses to the first of three today. In his words you will notice his honest, humorous, to-the-point style.

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getting more done

Through midnight PST Tuesday, January 31 Amazon is offering a free Kindle copy of Getting More Done, the latest book by one of my long-time thought leaders, Chris Crouch.

This very short book outlines 10 simple steps you can implement over a 10-day period to become more focused, organized, and productive:

  1. Slow Down, Pause, and Reset

  2. Establishing and Maintaining an Always Follow-Up Reputation

  3. Finding Things Quickly When You Need Them

  4. Absolutely Ruthless E-mail Management

  5. Managing Meeting Mania

  6. Goldilocks Planning

  7. The Art and Science of Persuading

  8. Leveraging Your Time Through Networking

  9. Busy Tapes

  10. Following Through

Chris’ personal productivity philosophy is built on simplicity, so his ideas may seem frustratingly obvious at first. If you give them time to simmer, you’ll experience their depth. And if you release the notion that getting organized has to be complicated, then you will have landed exactly where he wants you to live.

If you’ve already abandoned your resolve to do things differently this year, download a free copy today, or pay $15.95 for the hard copy form.

Serving as a Chicago personal productivity coach, I’m constantly reading books about how to be more productive. Recently a refreshing title written by a fellow time management trainer came across my desk: Stop Organizing, Start Producing by Casey Moore.

Stop Organizing, Start Producing Book resized 600
Stop Organizing, Start Producing: Leverage the 12 Factors that Make or Break the Busy Professional” is divided into three sections. Part 1, The Productivity Chain, introduces and explains the premise of the book—there are twelve interwoven factors determining each person’s productivity level which she calls the Productivity Chain. The section establishes another core concept of the book—how the Productivity Chain, a model for producing results, can be used to apply and keep personal power.

Productivity Chain by Casey Moore resized 600

Part 2, The Twelve Links, which is nearly half the book, describes each link’s features and effects on productivity as well as delves into stories, concrete strategies for improvement, and examples of how each link interacts with the others. Covered in alphabetical order for easy reference, the links are: boundary-setting, communication/relationships, decision-making, delegation, drive, goal-setting/prioritization, health, organization of objects/data, planning, reinvention, resources, and task/project management.

Part 3, Productivity Myths, describes common myths and the harm they do, outlines specific-productivity-enhancing strategies for letting go, and has a real-world example for each. The section explains the “Productivity Chain only works if you let go of less empowering problem/solution perspectives…lurk[ing] below your conscious awareness, influencing your behavior even though your rational mind recognizes their inaccuracies.” Providing a simple, yet powerful model for change, she tackles such myths as, “I need more time,” “I should be able to handle everything myself,” and “I can’t play until my work is done.”

Whether you reference the link and myth chapters on demand when you feel stuck, or read everything cover to cover, this book is packed with valuable lessons covering the nuances of productivity work not written in any of the other books out there. Having a framework to force a bigger-picture view of the inter-related aspects behind productivity will help to identify strengths and weaknesses—and therefore to know where to focus time and energy.

Well done, Casey. I’m proud to know you.

If you fail to promote yourself or stop to recognize your accomplishments, we invite you to watch this three-minute video on creating short- and long-term systems to self promote:

What other techniques do you use to gain recognition?

Assertiveness technique: dig deeper

This is the final post in the Dr. Manuel Smith, When I Say No, I Feel Guilty series. Following are statements and paraphrases from the book to help guide you toward a more assertive and productive posture.

Negative Inquiry

Nondefensive negative inquiry responses that are noncritical prompt who you’re communicating with to examine their own structure of right and wrong. So instead of responding, “What makes you think going fishing is bad?,” sending the conversation downward. You can say, “I don’t understand. What is it about my going fishing that is bad?,” delivering the dialog to a more authentic, open place.

This technique is especially helpful in dealing with people you are close to because:

  1. It desensitizes you to criticism from people you care about so you can listen to what they tell you
  2. It extinguishes repetitive manipulative criticism from these people so it doesn’t drive you up the wall; and
  3. It reduces the use of right and wrong structure by these persons in dealing with you, prompting them to assertively say what they want giving both of actionable information.

Here’s an example:

“Paul: Beth, you don’t look good today.

Beth: What do you mean, Paul?

Paul: Well, I noticed the way you appear today. It doesn’t look too good.

Beth: Is it the way I look or is it the way I’m dressed? [NEGATIVE INQUIRY]

Paul: Well, that blouse doesn’t look too good.

Beth: What is it about the blouse that makes me look bad? [NEGATIVE INQUIRY response]

Paul: Well, it just doesn’t seem to fit.

Beth: Do you think it’s too loose? [NEGATIVE INQUIRY prompt]

What success story can you share where you or someone you know was rewarded for digging deeper by listening and asking questions instead of becoming defensive? What phrases have you found most useful in these situations?

Stever Robbins shipped me a copy of his time management book, Get-it-Done Guys 9 Steps to Work Less and Do More, for review.

Get It Done Guys Book resized 600

The premise of the book is to explain nine strategies for streamlining your everyday tasks so you can enjoy more life moments. These nine chapters were all filled with real-life implementation techniques and end with a recap to prompt action:

  1. Live and work on purpose
  2. Stop procrastinating
  3. Conquer your technology
  4. Cultivate focus
  5. Stay organized (mentally as well as physically)
  6. Don’t waste time. A lot of supposedly “on task” work
  7. Optimize
  8. Build stronger relationships
  9. Leverage

Similar to Stever’s popular podcasts, the book is intentional about being entertaining and funny. This sets him apart from most personal productivity experts.

He covers time management tips you might have heard before, but usually with a different slant. (Did I mentioned he grew up living in a traveling New Age commune putting on magic shows? His insight and wacky humor draw people in.) And he introduces valuable ideas like this behavioral theory that we love:

“Most of the time, we look at stuff and decide what to throw away…Since your brain thinks of the things as already part of your life, it doesn’t want to give them up…Instead, tell your brain that you’ve already thrown everything away. Then invite your brain to rescue just the things to keep…Don’t save everything and toss what you want to get rid of; get rid of everything and rescue what you want to save!”

We recommend you read or listen to the Stop Procrastinating chapter. If he speaks to you, then you should consume the rest. You won’t be disappointed.

What do you have to add about this or other time management books?

Tony Schwartz

This week I got to meet one of the workplace performance thought leaders, Tony Schwartz at a training and development event. This taste of his wisdom is from the 2001 Harvard Business School Publishing of “The Making of a Corporate Athlete.”

“…high performance depends as much on how people renew and recover energy as on how they expend it, on how they manage their lives as much as on how they manage their work. When people feel strong and resilient–physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually–they perform better, with more passion, for longer.”

Tony fans, what routines do you embrace to promote “rhythmic stress and recovery” oscillation?

Following Through

Someone I know well and completely trust, Linette George, is hosting a workshop September 28 8:30 to noon in Oak Brook to teach methods to stop “shoulding” all over the place…and to get from to-do to done instead. Following is her message…

“When I first heard about the book Following Through, I was intrigued. Having a background in psychology, I’m fascinated by things involving human behavior and brain function. So I read it. I felt like I had truly found the missing link – the answer to the question ‘why don’t I follow through and get things done like I know I should?’

The answer both surprised and delighted me.  I immediately began implementing strategies from the book, and before long I became a follow-through goddess. It’s amazing how accountable I became to my to-do list once I discovered the missing link!”

Register or find out more at The Missing Link.

Shield To-Do List Overwhelm

When I recently attended the American Society for Training and Development 2010 International Conference and Exposition (ASTD ICE), I was privileged to attend a session and then to meet David Allen, productivity training thought leader and Getting Things Done (GTD) author.

I was eager to speak to David after the event. First to thank him for his contributions to my practice; second to inquire about becoming one of his Chicago productivity trainers.

He welcomed my accolades and warmly signed my book. How exciting! His reaction to my inquiry, however, stung a little. Without being rude, he dismissed my question practically before I finished asking it. I was a touch hurt at first.

As I reflect on the experience, I find a powerful, yet subtle message. David was not rejecting me, the individual. He was deleting a commitment he didn’t really want to make before it was even added to his to-do list. As if he were wearing a protective shield.

From his book:

“…once you really understand what it means, you’ll probably make fewer agreements. I know I did. I used to make a lot of them, just to win people’s approval. When I realized the price I was paying on the back end for not keeping those agreements, I became a lot more conscious about the ones I made.”

So thanks, David, for not agreeing to win my approval when we were face to face…only to disappoint me and you when we were not.

What defenses do or can you use to prevent to-do list overwhelm and regret?

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