Monthly Productivity Tips – March 2016


Welcome to the Productivity Tips summary series.

Every Monday, a select group of subscribers get a single, actionable productivity tip to help them get their week started off right.

Once a month, we aggregate the last month’s tips into one blog post to share with the rest of the world.

If you would like to get the tips  – hot off the press and into your inbox every Monday – simply subscribe using the form on the right.

In the meantime, we hope you find these tips useful and we’d love to hear how you have put them into action.


#1: The Law of Two Feet


(by Harrison Owen)

Spoiler: “Leave a meeting if you are not learning or contributing and cannot change it.”

You have feet, be prepared to use them.

At times when you’re in a meeting and feel like you aren’t learning or contributing, either change that, or use your two feet to leave.

Move somewhere else where you can make a difference, or at least not feel miserable.

Don’t blame the meeting, the conference organiser or the colleague that talks too much and not letting you voice your opinion. “Responsibility resides with the individual”.

Image credit: pexels


#2 : Keep it short, sharp and visual.


Spoiler: Have short meetings around a large whiteboard, no seating and have plenty of markers.

Long meetings eat up resources and most importantly: employee productivity. If you need to drag your employees frequently out of their flow to be in meetings (maybe even daily like in Scrum), you’re best keeping the meetings short, energised and highly collaborative.

We’ve been doing that very well with a simple meeting space with a large whiteboard, no chairs, and plenty of markers in various colours.


Large whiteboard? To help ideas to flow and develop freely.Everyone can gather round it and see the ‘whole picture’.

No chairs? So everyone can stand and stay energised and achy feet are a great natural reminder that your meeting is going on for too long!

Colourful markers? To use on the whiteboard (doh!).

Visual learners account for over 60% of the population, so chances are your meeting participants will retain more and collaborate better.

Fun fact: The author of this picture Dom Sagolla said:”This picture was taken in the middle of our reinvention and creation of Twitter.”

What are you waiting for, use this tip right away!

Image credit: Dom Sagolla 


#3: Answer recorder = Question Asker = Answer Summariser


Have the question asker summarise and record the answer

Spoiler: Amplify learning and understanding by requesting the person who asked the question to summarise the answer they got and record it for others.

I know getting people to ask questions in the workplace is already hard enough, but what if you want to make the most out of every question being asked and bring collective learning onto a completely different level?

In meetings, you encounter questions being asked over and over again, especially by the same people.

This is caused by information from answers not retained, or unclear answers and incomplete follow-up questions.

By getting the person who asked the question to verbally summarise the answer and record it on the key-points you get increased clarity, better distribution of effort and questioner satisfaction all at once.

Try it and see.

P.S. In the meeting canvas, use the Key Points section to record your questions and answers. Print out the pdf and you got a nice record for the future.

Image credit: Innovation School 


#4 Get Emails Out Of Your Way


Spoiler: Block certain hour per day for only emails or use InboxPause 

Emails are getting in the way of you being productive? Checking emails several times a day can interfere with your focus.

One way to solve this is to separate answering emails from focused work.

If you are disciplined, you could block your calendar for a certain hour a day to check and respond to emails, no exception.

A bit short on discipline? Then you could use something like InboxPause, which pauses your inbox from receiving new emails. Emails can still be sent out but you won’t get any until you hit “Unpause”.

Whichever you try, good luck with controlling email this week. We’d love to hear what worked for you.

Image credit: Leonard J Matthews


#5: Speak only when you can improve the silence


Spoiler: Keep the agenda and purpose in mind, speak only when you can improve the silence.

We have the problem of some meeting attendees not contributing enough and the added problem of other participants talking too much. This can derail meetings , making them take longer and distract from the purpose.

Like in any social settings, the talkers often influence others and assume the role of opinion leaders
The quantity of interaction is commonly used as a gauge of influence – so much so that Klout ( that gauges your ‘influence score’ by your social media interactions, blogging activities, etc. Of course there are people gaming the system.

This is not be a game, quality should beat quantity.

As a participant in any purposeful conversation you can improve both your influence and the value of the conversation for everyone by speaking when you truly believe it will improve the silence.

Speak only when you can improve the silence – Jim Estill

Image credit: Bea

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