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How to Improve Performance and Maintain Productivity at the Same Time

How to Improve Performance and Maintain Productivity at the Same Time


    Fortunately, this article isn’t going to start with an embarrassing confession that I’ve let the car’s tank run dry and found myself stranded at the side of the road… I’ve only ever done that once and I was barely out of nappies! (Honest)

    Instead, I’m going to look at the idea that cars do need filling up.

    Yeah, I know. Obvious…right?

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    The thing is, when we’re planning journeys we all too often do something which is barely more sophisticated than estimating how long the journey is on a map, and (assuming an average cruising speed of 50 MPH) dividing that by 50 to figure out how long the journey will take. Then we get surprised by the fact that it always take longer than that.

    How much longer?

    Well…generally longer than that by the length of time we needed to stop — and that is either for us (food/water/washroom break) or the car we’re driving (filling it with gas). I’m one of those impatient people who regards time spent filling up the car’s tank as wasted time — time not spent actually getting where I’m going.

    It isn’t, of course. Because if we dont fill the tank, we don’t get anywhere at all.

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    So we learn.

    We learn to add time for tasks that don’t actually do something (like get us somewhere) but which subsequently allow us to do something (like filling up the car). These are referred to as “Performance Tasks” and “Maintenance Tasks”, respectively.

    “Without the latter, the former can’t happen. Without the former, there’s no point in the latter.”

    There is, of course, a balance to be struck. Too much Performance Tasks and you end up performing less than your best because you keep having to stop performing and maintain. That’s the equivalent of entering a race, performing brilliantly so that you’re leading during the whole thing and then realising you’ve got to stop for 10 minutes to fill up with gas. On the other hand too many Maintenance Tasks and not enough performance and you don’t achieve anything at all.

    The seduction of this latter option is dangerous though, because it is all too easy to think you’re doing something because, well…you’re doing something. It’s just not something that directly leads to an outcome. You can be desperately busy without getting anywhere. Just ask almost anyone who rushes around saying, “There aren’t enough hours in the day!”

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    So what to do about it?

    This is an experiment worth trying; I’m doing it myself. Break down each project into tasks in the good old-fashioned way and then to decide task by task if it’s a Performance Task or a Maintenance Task. I colour-code blue on the ‘task wall’ if it’s a Maintenance Task and Performance Tasks are colur-coded pink. (Note: There’s no great significance to this choice of colour, it was just the first set of Post-It notes that came to hand!)

    Then, when figuring out what to do next at any point, I simply think about how my energy levels are. Why? Because my experience is that Maintenance Tasks can be done when you’re half asleep. If I’m below par, then I grab a blue task to do; otherwise I grab pink.

    Importantly, I have to decide on my energy levels before I look at the list of tasks to be done – no picking and choosing based on what sound interesting.

    The key thing is that it means I force myself to do the blue coloured tasks. Around my office, for example, we’d all rather get things done than prepare things — pink rather than blue, Performance rather than Maintenance. But your mileage may vary. It might help to spend a week or two looking at what tasks you do by preference and classify them after you’ve done them so that you get a feel for your natural instincts.

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    And then force yourself to do the opposite.

    So far the experiment is proving very useful — coloured Post-It notes and all.

    (Photo credit: Gas Full Meter via Shutterstock)

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    Last Updated on April 9, 2020

    10 Things High Achievers Do to Attain Greatness

    10 Things High Achievers Do to Attain Greatness

    Do you ever secretly wish that you could achieve more with your time? You are not alone. Most people want more from their lives but simply don’t know where to start.

    The good news is that learning to accomplish greatness in your life is totally possible if you learn to study other successful high achievers.

    Find out what sparkling new patterns you want to implement in your own life by studying what real high achievers do in the round up below.

    1. They Know What They Want.

    That seems pretty obvious, but if you don’t have a clear goal, dream or desire in mind, how will you know when you’ve gotten where you wanted to be?

    Successful people have clear goals and a clear vision for how to get there.

    For example, Albert Einstein remained obsessed with the big questions and problems of physics, and he knew exactly what he wanted to do: he wanted to answer the questions and solve the problems that no one else had been able to. And guess what? He did just that.

    High achievers dream specific, plan smart, and confidently strive toward success.

    2. They Focus on Their Goals.

    Once achievers know what they want, they are tenacious and focused on forward progress toward their goals. They don’t run over people or deliberately hurt people to get what they want, but they do stay focused on the end goal in all their interactions and daily tasks.

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    Elon Musk, with a net worth of $21.2 billion, is considered revolutionary.[1] Some might have seen his plans to totally reinvent transportation methods, including fantasy-like transportation methods in outer space, a little silly. But Musk proved them all wrong by staying focused on his goals with hawk-like attention to detail. He spends hours and hours at the office focusing on his goals in order to achieve them.

    Learn How to Stay Focused on Your Goals in a Distracting World.

    3. They Are Passionate.

    It’s very helpful when reaching for a big goal to not just get excited by it, but to truly be passionate about it.

    High achievers often talk about how much fun they are having, or say that they would do what they do even if they weren’t getting paid (and in the beginning, they probably weren’t). That’s the kind of passion and positive outlook you need to achieve your highest goals.

    Bill Gates, creator of Microsoft, began his successful career early in life by simply being excited about things like video games and computers. You can be like Gates too. Identify your passions and pursue them in your career.

    4. They Don’t Procrastinate.

    Some of the things we have to do to meet our goals or achieve our dreams are not very easy, but high achievers are able to focus on what needs to get done and actually do it instead of living in a world of dreams. They have a plan and they can follow it starting right now.

    Even though you may not be into arts, you must have heard of Vincent van Gogh, one of the most influential artists of all time. He is a perfect example of someone who not only dared to dream, but also dared to act.

    Instead of procrastinating or staying in a rut, he made a choice to pursue art and dove in head-first. Although he only worked for about ten years due to a tragically short life, van Gogh produced an estimated 900 paintings and more than 1,000 drawings.[2]

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    If you want to get more out of your life, then stop dreaming and start taking actions today, not tomorrow: How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

    5. They Create Their Own Opportunities.

    True achievers know that they don’t have to be stuck in a box – they can create their own story through hard work.

    Brené Brown is a respected social researcher and increasingly popular speaker and author. She has been hosted on Oprah. She has written and published a slew of popular self-help books, and she has one of the most-watched TEDx talks in history.

    Interestingly, Brown didn’t start her story in a glamorous way. In fact, many social sciences professionals scoffed at her unusual methods of research and her passion for the topic of vulnerability and shame. Brown, however, continued forging her own path until she reached her destination: greatness.

    Brown is a striking example of a person who knew what she wanted and paved her way into her own story of success with dedication. High achievers know that nothing good comes without hard work. They are willing to create their own opportunities and don’t expect to be handed cookie-cutter dreams in life.

    6. They Have Positive Attitudes.

    Studies of high-performing students find that the happiest students are those who excel most academically.[3] The same holds true for adults in business and in life.

    If you have a good attitude, enjoy what you’re doing and remember that setbacks are temporary, it’s a lot easier to be successful. Without negativity, there’s nothing to hold you back from achieving whatever it is you want to achieve.

    A positive attitude also helps people to think of what they are doing as important, which is a great way to stay motivated and working toward a goal.

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    Jim Carey, the famous comedian and actor, began looking for gigs as a teenager. At age fifteen, he performed onstage and completely disappointed the crowd with a less-than-successful first performance. Carey ultimately succeeded, though, by maintaining a positive outlook. He is known for visualizing success, staying positive, and continuing to work hard.

    7. They Have a Team They Can Count On.

    High achievers know they can’t do everything themselves. There’s a time very early on when you can go it alone, but even the smallest startups need help. It’s actually easier for a company‒or a dream‒to grow more quickly if there are more people engaged in making it work.

    Your team could even be one or two trusted individuals who have your back when things get hard. Stephen King, an iconic author, submitted one of his first novels, “Carrie”, to more than 30 publishers. He received rejection after rejection and even threw his manuscript in the trash. His wife was his team; she pulled the manuscript out of the trash and asked him to try again. “Carrie” was a hit and became a springboard to a successful writing career spanning more than 50 bestsellers.

    High achievers are able to foster great relationships and build teams that can help them achieve what they want even faster. They tend to have an eye for talent and are good at attracting the right people to their teams.

    If you want to be a better leader, these tips can help: How to Master Your Management Skills and Build a Strong Team

    8. They Take Time for Themselves.

    Amid all this hard work, multitasking and big dreaming, high achievers know they need to take care of themselves too. Getting sick in the middle of a major launch isn’t good for anyone.

    So a lot of stories you read about people who’ve had a lot of success will note that they eat well, exercise regularly, try to get enough sleep and even occasionally take time away from the office to refuel.

    Emma Stone, a highly esteemed actress, is open with the media about her struggle with anxiety and stress.[4] She reportedly practices self-compassion, meditation, and self-kindness to take care of herself.

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    Successful people know that sacrifice is often required for success, but they understand what they need to do to keep their bodies and minds performing well.

    9. They Don’t Bad-Mouth Others.

    High achievers know better than to burn bridges. They practice the advice that you shouldn’t say bad things about others, and they usually listen more than they speak.

    They also tend not to compare themselves to others or get envious. They’re so focused on what they want to do that they don’t stop to look around at what others are doing.

    10. They Never Quit.

    Tyler Perry, an accomplished director, writer, and performer, faced early failures in both his personal life and professional life. Perry pushed through these personal challenges and dealt with failure after failure with his first production. Finally, his production gained momentum, and he is now successful because he never gave up.

    High achievers are tenacious, sticking to their plans and goals as long as they need to in order to get where they want to be. If they didn’t stick with it, they wouldn’t achieve anything.

    Final Thoughts

    Success and achievement are not just for the people mentioned above — they are for you, too!

    Unlock your future by finding your passions and goals, and working hard. Pay attention to what other high achievers around you are doing, and follow suit.

    Before you know it, you will be creating your own famous success story.

    More Tips About Achieving Success

    Featured photo credit: Fabrizio Verrecchia via unsplash.com

    Reference

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