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Why You Shouldn’t Care About Other People’s Productivity

Why You Shouldn’t Care About Other People’s Productivity

“You won’t believe this…Jeremy actually got to inbox zero!”

If the above phrases don’t make you want to narrow your eyes, shoot a darting glare at someone and/or grit your teeth with jealousy, then you’re probably in denial. Because yes, your desire to increase your productivity can produce a nasty green-eyed monster called jealousy.

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It sure can be annoying hearing about yet another work colleague getting to inbox zero or collating 200 copies of a complex marketing presentation in 30 minutes – better, stronger and faster than the Six Million Dollar Man himself (cue a rousing chorus of booing and hissing). While you might seek solace in loving to hate people who are more productive than yourself, the truth of the matter is that you really shouldn’t care about other people’s productivity. And the best way to increase your own productivity is to ignore what everyone else is doing, and follow the only guide or measurement over which you have control: how you work.

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Here are a few reasons why you shouldn’t care about other people’s productivity and what you can do to increase your own productivity:

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Why You Shouldn’t Care About Other People’s Productivity

  • You are you. You are not other people. You are not “them.” You decide and are responsible for how you want to make the most out of your energy and time.
  • You waste more time and effort chatting, talking, gossiping and scheming about other people’s productivity. All of that energy could have been used to help you become more productive and get more work done in a shorter amount of time. Instead of putting in extra hours at work, you could be at home or at the beach relaxing!
  • Talking about other people’s accomplishments diminishes your own accomplishments. You can compare yourself to other people until you are blue in the face, but what good will that do? You’ll belittle what you just accomplished, or what you could potentially accomplish in future.

What You Can Do to Increase Your Own Productivity

  • Give yourself a passion-filled reason to improve your productivity and get stuff done. We all have different reasons for becoming more productive. Why do you want to finish processing your email inbox at a reasonable hour at work? Do you want to get home to spend more time with your family, or to go through that giant stack of DVDs of The Wire you’ve been meaning to watch?
  • Know what slows you down when working. Do you take a long 15 minutes (maybe one hour?) checking Facebook or Pinterest? Do you procrastinate at work when it comes to filling out your travel expenses? Do you get bored and fidgety after staring at the computer for 30 minutes straight? You know more about your own work habits than you think.
  • Specify and target your own goals. Do you want to process invoices faster, or perhaps get that ton of paper filing done in 30 minutes? You can set your own target, do research for tips, ideas and hacks on how to become more productive, and reach your goal…at your own comfortable pace!

The next time you hear of another feat of office productivity prowess that makes you want to run off and scream in the office supply closet, think kind and good thoughts towards the Suzannes and Jeremys in your life.

Remember, the only person whose productivity you should be concerned about is yourself.

Choose your target and blow it out of the proverbial productivity water!

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More by this author

Rashelle Isip

Blogger, Consultant, and Author

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Last Updated on July 16, 2019

6 Effective Ways to Enhance Your Problem Solving Skills

6 Effective Ways to Enhance Your Problem Solving Skills

Have you ever thought of yourself as a problem solver? I’m guessing not. But in reality, we are constantly solving problems. And the better our problem solving skills are, the easier our lives are.

Problems arise in many shapes and forms. They can be mundane, everyday problems, or larger more complex problems:

What to have for dinner tonight?

Which route to take to work?

How to fix a project that’s running behind schedule?

How to change from an uninspiring job to a career you’re really passionate about?

Every day, you’ll be faced with at least one problem to solve. But it gets easier when you realize that problems are simply choices. There’s nothing ‘scary’ about them other than having to make a decision.

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No matter what job you’re in, where you live, who your partner is, how many friends you have, you will be judged on your ability to solve problems. Because problems equal hassles for everyone concerned. And people don’t like hassle. So the more problems you can solve, the less hassle all-round, the happier people are with you. Everyone wins.

Why Are Problem Solving Skills Important?

Problem is something hard to understand or accomplish or deal with. It can be a task, a situation, or even a person. Problem solving involves methods and skills to find the best solutions to problems.

Problem solving is important because we all have decisions to make, and questions to answer in our lives. Amazing people like Eleanor Roosevelt, Steve Jobs, Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., are all great problems solvers. Good parents, teachers, doctors and waiters all have to be good at solving different sort of problems as well.

Problem solving skills are for our everyday lives.

How to Enhance Problem Solving Skills

Most people believe that you have to be very intelligent in order to be a good problem solver, but that’s not true.

You don’t have to be super smart to be a problem solver, you just need practice.

When you understand the different steps to solve a problem, you’ll be able to come up with great solutions.

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1. Focus on the Solution, Not the Problem

Neuroscientists have proven that your brain cannot find solutions if you focus on the problem.[1] This is because when you focus on the problem, you’re effectively feeding ‘negativity,’ which in turn activates negative emotions in the brain. These emotions block potential solutions.

I’m not saying you should ‘ignore the problem,’ instead, try to remain calm. It helps to first, acknowledge the problem; and then, move your focus to a solution-oriented mindset where you keep fixed on what the ‘answer’ could be, rather than lingering on ‘what went wrong’ and ‘who’s fault it is’.

2. Adapt 5 Whys to Clearly Define the Problem

5 Whys is a problem solving framework to help you get to the root of a problem.

By repeatedly asking the question “why” on a problem, you can dig into the root cause of a problem, and that’s how you can find the best solution to tackle the root problem once and for all. And it can go deeper than just asking why for five times.

For example:

If the problem is “always late to work”…

  • Why am I late to work?
    I always click the snooze button and just want to go on sleeping.
  • Why do I want to go on sleeping?
    I feel so tired in the morning.
  • Why do I feel tired in the morning?
    I slept late the night before, that’s why.
  • Why did I sleep late?
    I wasn’t sleepy after drinking coffee, and I just kept scrolling my Facebook feed and somehow I couldn’t stop.
  • Why did I drink coffee?
    Because I was too sleepy at work in the afternoon, not having enough sleep the night before.

So there you see, if you didn’t try to dig out the root of the problem, you may just set a few more alarms and have it beep every five minutes in the morning. But in fact, the problem you need to solve is to quit Facebook surfing endlessly at night so you’ll feel more energetic in the day time, and you won’t even need coffee.

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3. Simplify Things

As human beings, we have a tendency to make things more complicated than they need to be! Try simplifying your problem by generalizing it.

Remove all the details and go back to the basics. Try looking for a really easy, obvious solution – you might be surprised at the results! And we all know that it’s often the simple things that are the most productive.

4. List out as Many Solutions as Possible

Try to come up with ‘ALL POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS’ – even if they seem ridiculous at first. It’s important you keep an open mind to boost creative thinking, which can trigger potential solutions.

Coming from 10 years in the corporate advertising industry, it is drummed into you that ‘No idea is a bad idea’ and this aids creative thinking in brainstorms and other problem-solving techniques.

Whatever you do, do not ridicule yourself for coming up with ‘stupid solutions’ as it’s often the crazy ideas that trigger other more viable solutions.

5. Think Laterally

Change the ‘direction’ of your thoughts by thinking laterally. Pay attention to the saying,

‘You cannot dig a hole in a different place by digging it deeper.”

Try to change your approach and look at things in a new way. You can try flipping your objective around and looking for a solution that is the polar opposite!

Even if it feels silly, a fresh and unique approach usually stimulates a fresh solution.

6. Use Language That Creates Possibility

Lead your thinking with phrases like ‘what if…’ and ‘imagine if…’ These terms open up our brains to think creatively and encourage solutions.

Avoid closed, negative language such as ‘I don’t think…’ or ‘But this is not right…’.

The Bottom Line

There’s nothing scary about a problem when you start to adapt my advice.

Try not to view problems as ‘scary’ things! If you think about what a problem really is, it’s really just feedback on your current situation.

Every problem is telling you that something is not currently working and that you need to find a new way around it.

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So try to approach problems neutrally – without any judgment. Practice focusing on defining a problem, keep calm and not to make things too complicated.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Planet of Success: Problem vs Solution Focused Thinking

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