Wright Foundation | October 8, 2015

How to Be More
Productive at Work

Being productive at work is about engaging—being more aware and present when you’re on task, as well as learning how to down-regulate and let go during times you’re not working.

It’s all about social and emotional intelligence.

Working on your social and emotional intelligence helps you become a strong leader. You know how to engage with others and you’re aware of the emotions they’re bringing to the table. As you develop your social and emotional intelligence, you’ll start to recognize key emotions in others, then you’ll be able to work with them to grow, learn and be more productive together.

A transformational leader is aware of the relative strengths and weaknesses of his or her team. They can assess those weaknesses and partner them with other people’s strengths to help the team work cohesively and productively. They partner with their team to create a shared vision, and then set goals with their team to bring their vision into reality.

Know Yourself

To know others you must know yourself—meaning you understand your own motivations and what’s driving you. You have a clear vision and outcome in mind. You’re able to create high, but attainable goals. You understand how to get yourself over roadblocks and de-motivators as well as distractions.

As you experience emotions in the workplace throughout the day, whether it’s anger, joy or fear—own those emotions. Note what you’re feeling and acknowledge those feelings. If you’re feeling frustrated with the actions of a coworker, an overwhelming assignment or a seemingly insurmountable task, allow yourself to acknowledge those feelings, but don’t dwell in them. Fear and anger are counterproductive.

Observe your reaction to a negative or frustrating situation—do you use it as an “excuse” to disengage? Instead engage in the situation. Express your frustration and get over it. If you’re angry, express why you’re angry and address the problem so it doesn’t prevent you from moving on.

Do You Waste Time?

Time is one of our most precious resources. Yet we always find ways to spend it or waste it—and we’re still always looking for shortcuts to save it. Slowing down time and using it fully means being fully engaged and not distracted by ruminations of the past and worries about the future. It means we’re productively using our time to keep us learning, growing and engaging with those around us. Embrace the task at hand and you’ll find time almost magically slows down.

Do you hold yourself back because you’re fearful of success? Do you fill your time with easy time-waster tasks because you’re afraid of tackling the big success-making or high-sale activities? Are you holding back because you’re afraid of failing?

Many of us get bogged down with the tasks that come easy for us. We do the things we know we’re good at and those that will garner praise and acknowledgement. We pick the low hanging fruit.

Once you know yourself well, you can push yourself further to reach for the loftier goals. Examine what’s holding you back—and let it go. We often find ourselves treading water rather than swimming, because we’re afraid to drown. When you have an understanding of your abilities and your emotions, you can say, “I’m going to dive in—I know I can do this if I just push myself out of my comfort zone.”

Make your goals clear cut. Make them high enough to drive you over the hump of what you can comfortably achieve and instead aim for what you can optimally achieve. If you know you can easily and successfully build 25 widgets in a day, set your goal at 28, and then 30. See how far you can go while still giving your best and without letting quality suffer. As humans, we respond to goals, as they can be a powerful motivator. Be sure your goals are stretching you to the top of your ability. Hold yourself accountable and if you have a team, hold your team accountable and have them do the same for you.

Learn to Grant Yourself Downtime

Just as you’re fully engaged when you’re working, when you have a break, fully engage in taking a break. Just like when we eat, we take time to chew our food, taste it and enjoy it. When you take a break, it’s giving you time to taste and mentally chew over the happenings of the day.

Meditation can be a powerful tool to help you decompress and clear your mind. It helps us process stressors and gives us a mental and emotional break to keep productivity and engagement high.

Just as you would with a meeting or a class at your gym—put meditation break time on your calendar. When you have a weekend, make it about connecting with your home life and personal time. Allow yourself to have a “Sabbath” or break from work, completely. As you train yourself to take breaks, you’ll find creating a ritual or routine—turning off the lights, repeating a mantra, taking off your shoes—whatever signals to your brain, “This is my time to renew myself.”

Many of us get so frenetic in our desire to achieve, we’re suddenly spinning our wheels, when instead we should set goals, hold ourselves accountable and become fully engaged. Take time to refocus and renew yourself and keep building up your social and emotional intelligence and you will find productivity easily follows.

Learn more about Wright Living’s Career & Leadership Coaching in Chicago & Career Coaching Courses in Chicago.

About the Author

Bob Wright

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