Thursday, November 27, 2014

A Prioritization Mind: How to Improve Productivity and Reduce Stress

 The prioritization mind can spend time and energy on strategic thinking and focus on result-driven activities

At today’s always on, always connected working environment, faced with ever-expanding workloads and endless interruptions, digital business professionals appear headed for a collective nervous breakdown. How to shape the thinking and action which can prioritize well, make work more effective, productive and fun?

The ownership mindset: The more opportunity employees have to make decisions, use their mind, and take responsibility, the more fulfilled they will be. To make this work, employees and their leaders need to be involved in the career enrichment process. People want to feel part of something great, and they want to feel that they are making a significant contribution to that greatness. When they feel this way, they not only become energized by challenges, they can also endure much greater pressures and demands without becoming burnt out.

The mind focuses on results: When leaders and teams focus on results, they develop the energy and excitement to achieve. When an employee’s everyday experience is one of frustration, failure, and defeat, they use up all their energy just dealing with the obstacles to success strewn in their path. This is energy that won’t be available for high productivity, spirited customer service, and a “Bring it on!” attitude when faced with big challenges. From a management perspective, have a respected intra-organization agreement of priorities and resources; otherwise, there is no hope of making - keeping the organization healthy.

A simple prioritized daily to-do list can work wonders. For longer term items break them into pieces and slot in the pieces each day to ensure they get done. List in order of importance the active things you need to work on. If the top item is active, then work on it until you are waiting for something or it is completed. Then do the same with the next and so on down the list. If a higher priority item comes active again then go back to working on it. This simple list technique is very powerful for keeping the focus on what matters each day. If new items come up during the day slot them in according to their priority. This avoids giving interruptions too much importance.

The mind likes to have such “power of control”: What KILLS productivity, however, is interruptions that are asynchronous and out of one's control. People don't mind the stress if they feel in control of their work, When people experience frustration and defeat on the job, due to things beyond their control, they disengage: they realize that the organization will not let them succeed, so they stop trying, or they reduce their expectations. They start to view their work as "just a job." The way to prevent that is to empower them. The manager's job is to remove obstacles: have a frank discussion with the person/team about what is possible, and what you plan to do to remove obstacles, and identify which obstacles cannot be removed. Then empower the team within those boundaries. Have their backs, and let them know it. "Happiness" is a key word against Stress, which amazingly is one's own choice, and results in best performance. Management as a whole can make sure that it is helping the employee to be happy. Productivity will come automatically and hence, stress will be lowered rather gone in most cases.

The prioritization mind can focus on the most important tasks, spend time and energy on strategic thinking and result-driven activities, talent with such thinking is not easy to get distracted, or to be over-stressful. It is an important thinking skill for today’s multitasking, multi-devicing digital workforce,  as  they are more empowered to apply their knowledge, and gives them accountability for what they choose to work on, how to get it done, and understand the purpose of work, to manage their career from “just a job” mentality to autonomy and mastery.


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