Tag Archives: Productivity

Is everybody really working for the weekend?

Loverboy’s “Working for the Weekend” pops into my head dozens of times a year–no exaggeration. The older I get, the larger my soft spot for 80s rock grows. Once, when I was a naive young pup, there was a time when I thought nothing musically positive came out of 80s pop. For me that was college. I suppose I was just being contrary for the sake of being contrary, which I can always be counted on to do. But I also think the decade between ages 15 and 25 is perhaps the most formative period for one’s musical tastes. As soon as the 80s ended, I turned 15. So in a way, I was destined to cast off the oppressive synthesized shackles of Talking Heads, Thompson Twins, Ah-Ha, and the like, and immediately embrace whatever came next.

That’s when Grunge (I decided to capitalize it because it deserves the same treatment as the Internet), pre-80s classic rock, blues and jazz entered my life. So I stopped listening to 80s music and completely switched gears. Which isn’t to say that all the music in the 90s was good. It most decidedly was not.

(Coincidentally, Ricky Martin is on Jay Leno tonight debuting the new single from his MUSICA+ALMA+SEXO album. He just barely made it into the 90s, releaseing La Vvida Loca in 1999 to kick off the Latin Explosion that included J. Lo, Enrique, Shakira, and others. Remember our brief, 2-year love affair with Latin music? It came right after our brief love affair with big band swing. Zoot Suit Riot, anyone?)

Now the pendulum has swung back the other way and I’m listening to Loverboy a little more than the average guy should. But I’m cool with that. And tonight it’s got me thinking about working on nights and weekends.

The prevailing notion seems to be that working harder is a sure way to get promoted. But I’m here to tell you: it’s not. There’s a big difference between working harder and working better.

Who knows someone who sends a group email every night at 11:30PM? And let me guess–that email could have been sent during the day. Same thing goes for Saturdays and Sundays. I’m going to think a little about exactly who that person is, what they’re trying to accomplish, and how (if at all) working on the weekends really makes sense. I’m not sure it does.


5 reasons you’re not getting promoted

Few promotions and even fewer raises have been doled out in the last two years. But if you find yourself watching other people get promoted while you toil in the same position for what seems like far too long, one or more of these reasons may apply to you.

1. You’re not doing more than your job. When promotions are scarce, you have to work even harder to get ahead. That doesn’t just mean being the best at your job–it means doing more than what’s asked of you. You’ve heard of “exceeding expectations,” right? A common phrase when giving performance appraisals, it’s a step above “meets expectations.” The problem is that expectations are set based on the job description. So if you’re expected to achieve an 85% accuracy rate, and you hit 92%, you’re exceeding expectations. But that just means you’re really good at your current job–it doesn’t mean you’d be good in a new position. You need to do something that isn’t even remotely expected of you.  Continue reading

3 simple ways to progress your career in the next hour

It’s Friday afternoon, and much of the nation is on the tail-end of a nice little heat wave. Feels like spring, doesn’t it? The tendency is to knock-off early and head on home. But how about ending the week on a high note? Here are three easy ways to support career growth that take less than one hour combined.

  1. Invite 5 people to coffee or lunch next week. Don’t include people from your immediate network, though (friends, current coworkers, family). Reach out only to past coworkers, people you met at conferences/happy hours/online, or twice-removed current coworkers. Using LinkedIn, this shouldn’t take more than 15 minutes. Just send a quick note saying “We haven’t talked in a while so I thought I’d check-in and see what’s new with you. Have time for coffee Tuesday morning?” Invite 5, because only one or two will have time. Building and maintaining these relationships will pay dividends later, when you least expect it.
  2. Write down, on paper, three skills you want to learn or improve in the next month, and pin it to your cube wall. Written words form a permanent record. Once you have these three things on paper, you’re almost half way there. If you’re feeling saucy, take the next step and write down two or three things you can do on Monday to jump-start the process.
  3. Ask your leader if there’s anything else you could be doing to make the team more effective. The mere act of asking puts you in the top percentile of employees. You’ll improve your standing in the eyes of leadership, and hopefully you’ll get something new to master. Guaranteed win.

Actually, these three things should take under 30 minutes, and you’ll end the week feeling like you accomplished something positive, different, and new.

What if you can’t get motivated?

It’s Friday afternoon at 4:55PM, and I’ve lost motivation. I wish I had a great idea to share, but I just don’t. I want to blog, but I can’t for the life of me figure out anything to write.

So instead I’m going to walk through what I do when I’m unmotivated. (Look at me–I’m writing about not having anything to write. Trippy.) I wrote about being unmotivated at work before, but that was a list of specific tasks you can do when you can’t think of anything else. This is more like a process I use to get the juices flowing.

1. Make a list. The first thing I do when I’m unmotivated is organize. Sometimes I clean out my inbox, other times I sort the papers on my desk. I’m so much more efficient when I work from a list, so putting my to-dos down on paper is a great way to get started. I ask myself “If I was motivated, what should I be doing?” Continue reading

How next week will be my most productive week ever

There’s a decent productivity book for every day of the year.  In true business book fashion, they all say roughly the same thing.  One tip you’ll find in every single one of them is to make lists.  So I’m going with it.  Next week, I’m going to start every day by making a list of the things I can reasonably expect to accomplish.  Some days the list might be three bullets, and some days it might take up two pages.  I don’t really know, because I haven’t been the list-making type.

Ten minutes of listing at the start of every day should result in improved productivity, right?  If it doesn’t, no big deal.  I’m trying it for a week, and we’ll see how it goes.  Hopefully I’ll have something good to report a week from today.

The best new professionals focus on opportunities, not obstacles

This morning I was asked about the difference between successful junior employees and everyone else.  (“Everyone else” being non-successful junior employees, not seasoned professionals.)  Admittedly, I stumbled through the answer, spouting off enough platitudes to choke a horse.  But I gave the question more attention throughout the day, and I think I’ve come across a good answer. Continue reading

You gonna eat, or you gonna be ate?

Fight or flight.  Kill or be killed.  Eat or be eaten.  If only every decision was so binary.  The same holds true in the workplace, though I’d add a third category: wait and see.  I could also break  it up into leaders, followers, and situational somewhere-in-the-middlers (trademark pending).  Moving forward, moving backward, or paralyzed.  (I could go on, but you get the idea.)

As an exercise, look around the room at your next meeting and try to categorize everyone into three groups: Leaders, Followers, and Waiters.  Then look at each person’s career (what you know of it) to see if there’s any correlation between those groups and upward mobility.  I bet there is. Continue reading