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Putting the “Pro” in Productivity: 3 Experts Who Know Their Stuff

Putting the “Pro” in Productivity: 3 Experts Who Know Their Stuff
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    Productivity experts are a dime a dozen. It seems like every other person who starts to follow me on Twitter is a self-proclaimed productivity expert of one kind or another. It’s definitely one of those industries where it can be very hard to separate the wheat from the chaff, to find a productivity expert that isn’t just “self-proclaimed”, but actually is a bona fide expert who can help people and companies alike to increase their productivity.

    So, what makes a great productivity expert, anyway? It’s a combination of results, writing/professional credentials, and a unique take on the world when viewed through the lens of increasing and dissecting productivity.

    The list below is by no means comprehensive, so don’t take it to heart if your favorite productivity expert didn’t make the list below. If you were going to make a list of every single great and renowned productivity expert, the list would be too long to read.

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    Without further ado, here are a few of the best productivity experts, along with information about their credentials.

    1. Jason Jennings

    Author of: “LESS IS MORE: How Great Companies Use Productivity as a Competitive Tool in Business”, “Hit the Ground Running”, “Think Big, Act Small”, “It’s Not The Big That Eat The Small – It’s The Fast That Eat The Slow”

    Credentials: New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today and Business Week Magazine Top 10 Bestseller

    Personal History: Early in his career, he founded he consulting firm Jennings-McGlothlin & Company, which eventually became the largest media consultancy in the world.

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    Today, he does as many as 80 keynote speeches in a year. In “Less is More”, Jennings profiled companies from a bunch of different sectors, and was able to determine how they were able to function consistently at peak productivity, allowing them to be incredibly successful.

    Quote: “The 10 most productive companies in the world…believe that you make incredible amounts of money as a byproduct of the incredible things you do.” In other words, the purpose of business isn’t to make money, it is to make money by making great products.

    2. Jim Collins

    Author of: “How the Mighty Fall: And Why Some Companies Never Give In”, “Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies” (on the Business Week best-seller list for more than six years), and “Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make The Leap…And Others Don’t” (sold 2.5 million copies has been translated into 32 languages.)

    Credentials: Degree from Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, Published in USA Today, Former senior executive at CNN International.

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    Personal History: After graduating from Stanford, Collins founded a management laboratory in Boulder, Colorado in 1995. He has worked with Johns Hopkins and the United States Marine Corps. He is perhaps best known for being a proponent of “fixed-schedule productivity”, and maintaining your work-life balance by dividing your work time into percentages based on long-term career and life goals.

    Quote: “A great piece of art is composed not just of what is in the final piece, but equally important, what is not. It is the discipline to discard what does not fit — to cut out what might have already cost days or even years of effort — that distinguishes the truly exceptional artist and marks the ideal piece of work, be it a symphony, a novel, a painting, a company or, most important of all, a life.”

    3. David Allen

    Author of: “Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity”, “Making It All Work”, and “Ready for Everything”

    Credentials: Featured blogger at the Huffington Post, one of the “Top 100 thought leaders” by Leadership Magazine, one of the top five executive coaches working in the United States according to Forbes magazine.

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    Personal History: Founder and CEO of the David Allen Company, he has been called “One of the world’s most influential thinkers” by Fast Company. His works have been published in 28 languages, and he has worked in a wide variety of fields prior to starting his company, including jobs as a karate teacher, travel agent, and moped salesman.

    Quote: “You don’t actually do a project; you can only do action steps related to it. When enough of the right action steps have been taken, some situation will have been created that matches your initial picture of the outcome closely enough that you can call it “done.”

    Wrapping Up

    We could go on and on. We haven’t even scratched the surface of other big names like Roger Martin or Peggy Duncan. It takes serious cred to become a noted productivity expert, and there are plenty of smart people out there who definitely deserve that designation.

    Which productivity experts do you respect the most? Tell us who you think really puts the “pro” in productivity in the comments below!

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    Tucker Cummings

    Writer and social media professional sharing productivity tips on Lifehack.

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    Last Updated on July 21, 2021

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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    No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

    Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

    Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

    A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

    Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

    In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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    From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

    A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

    For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

    This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

    The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

    That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

    Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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    The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

    Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

    But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

    The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

    The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

    A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

    For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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    But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

    If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

    For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

    These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

    For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

    How to Make a Reminder Works for You

    Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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    Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

    Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

    My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

    Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

    I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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    Reference

    [1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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