Here’s a look at three interesting stories currently in the news with ramifications for your team’s productivity.
1. How to stop a meeting from dragging on
This piece from Joseph Grenny has excellent, concrete advice for how you can stop a meeting from dragging on and on, even if you’re not the person running it. His suggestions include tactfully speaking up (“We seem to be moving between three different agenda items. Are others seeing that, too?”) because others will probably chime in with agreement; calling it out when the group is getting too far into the weeds (“It sounds like we’re in agreement about the policy. It seems like rather than wordsmith it now, it might be better to have someone do a draft?”); and bringing out into the open the question that no one is asking but everyone is thinking (“I’m getting from some of the comments that some of us question the wisdom of the original decision. Is that right?”). “Most people silently cheer when someone takes action to refocus or cut off time-wasting activities,” notes Grenny.
2. How to make faster and better decisions
How often do you struggle with big decisions or second-guess your decisions later? This Harvard Business Review piece says that making faster, better decisions can be as straightforward as using a checklist that runs down decision-making best practices. In fact, in one study, managers who made decisions using best practices achieved their expected results 90% of the time, and 40% of them exceeded expectations. Other studies found that effective decision-making practices increased the number of good decisions by six and cut failure rates almost in half. Those are some pretty powerful numbers.
So what are these best practices? Believe it or not, the most successful of the best practices is just a simple checklist that guides you through considering priorities that will be impacted by your decision, what the realistic alternatives are, information that you’re missing, and a few other key steps.
3. Theme Days might make you more productive
Remember Theme Days from elementary school, like Pajama Day and Backwards Day? Jennifer Miller says that you need the adult version of Theme Days at work – a recurring, structured block of time where you group work that falls into a similar “theme,” like writing or editing projects or processing paperwork, and do it all at once. The idea is that because all the items are similar, you’ll get into a groove and finish them all more quickly. Once you have your Theme Day set up, you should then “feed the funnel,” says Miller. “When you know you have time set aside each week for a certain type of activity, you can ‘funnel’ tasks into that time slot. Let’s say somebody comes to you on Tuesday with an idea that fits into your Theme. Instead of working on it immediately, you can wait until the set time on Wednesday. Doing this creates focus: you know you’ll get to the task the next day, so you can keep moving ahead right now on something else.”