There’s a reason that there’s thousands of books and blogs that talk about how people can be more productive. When you think about it, who doesn’t want to be more productive?
I know that when I first started working in sales, I devoured everything out there on productivity: books, blogs, podcasts – the whole nine yards.
What I learned surprised me: 95% of what was out there was completely irrelevant to what I actually faced on a daily basis, first as a salesperson, and later on, as a marketer. Or if it wasn’t irrelevant, it was too impractical to implement. Or the impact was marginal at best, and not worth the effort required.
Knowing there had to be a better way, I’ve sought out to develop and codify what’s worked for me, and share that knowledge with the world.
But first, here’s where I think the experts are off:
Outdated Guidance Built For A Workplace That No Longer Exists
If you look at the productivity “best sellers”, you’ll find that most of them were originally written in the 80s or 90s – before mobile devices, before the internet, before EMAIL. Books like Getting Things Done or 7 Habits of Highly Successful People, which represent this “old school” of productivity, still contain a few select, timeless pieces of wisdom. But for the most part, they’ve grown outdated and irrelevant.
To illustrate, “Getting Things Done” encourages the development of a system for managing your to-do list that requires, among other things:
- A file labeler, file folders, and filing cabinets
- A stapler, tape, paper clips, scissors, stamps
- 3 separate filing baskets
This was a great system…25 years ago. But it’s not built for the digital world. And while the above example may seem trivial, it illustrates what I’ve found from the “old school” gurus – they provide powerful solutions for a work world that no longer exists.
Impractical Work “Hacks” That Don’t Work in the Office
Today, you have “new school” authors like Tim Ferriss, who provide helpful, innovative solutions for cutting down on your work and improving your performance. The problem is, the vast majority of the productivity advice you see from professional writers and bloggers like Tim is tailored to, well, professional writers and bloggers (and of course, others who work outside an office).
For example, one of the big time-savers recommended in Tim Ferriss’s Four Hour Work Week in his blog is to only check emails twice per day and to set up an autoresponder that explains when you’ll be checking. . This tactic is reflective of his broader philosophy, which focuses on minimizing the amount of time spent on things like email to maximize the amount of time spent on what’s most important. A noble concept… but think about how this might play out in your office were you to implement it. For some of us, email communication is what’s most important! Blindly shutting off your inbox like Tim suggests could very quickly make you the bottleneck in any collaborative project, reducing your overall effectiveness, not to mention pissing off your coworkers, or worse yet, your boss. It could leave you slow to respond to key clients or partners, which could jeopardize key deals. These are not problems that a pithy autoresponder can solve.
In addition to bloggers like Tim, you’ll see thousands of writers looking to make a name for themselves in the space with blog posts that go a mile wide and an inch deep with their recommendations. I think Lifehacker is a great example of this type of content – they publish over 20 articles a day, many of them entertaining, few of them useful. And even if it all was worth reading, there would be no way to realistically apply it all, due to the sheer volume of content.
What I’m Hoping to Do Differently
I don’t mean to bag on the hard work that others have put into helping their readers be more productive. I just think that, ironically, office professionals – particularly salespeople and marketers whose performance can be clearly and objectively measured – aren’t explicitly addressed by what’s out there today. My goal is to change that. Through rigorous research and self-testing, I’ve identified key strategies from both “old school” and “new school” productivity experts, synthesized them with some of my own findings, and refined them for the office through rigorous self-testing.
What I’ll Be Writing About
Lessons learned from personal experience
Unlike a lot of people who write about productivity, who are either professional writers or academics, I work a “real job” at a fast paced startup, and run this blog on the side. What this means is, I practice what I preach on a daily basis, and speak from personal experience. In this blog I’ll be sharing what’s worked and what hasn’t throughout my career as a salesperson and marketer at Silicon Valley startups.
The science of performance
The past 20 years of academic research have produced a wealth of insights on how the mind works at work, and how to improve performance and productivity. Virtually NONE of these insights have been implemented in most companies, which absolutely boggles my mind. However, just because companies aren’t applying these insights doesn’t mean individuals can’t either. I’ll share how you can take advantage of the latest research in the fields of performance and organizational psychology to get more done.
Powerful strategies and tactics for multiplying your output
One of the most important lessons I learned early on is that it’s not just about knowing what you need to do – it’s about having a strategy for actually doing it. Over the past 5 years, I’ve developed a number of powerful systems to help me with everything from prioritizing my workload, to clearing my inbox, to improving creative thinking, and I’ll be sharing them here.
As I mentioned earlier, most of the advice out there is pretty bad. I know that, because I regularly test what’s out there in my day job. The challenge is, how do can you tell the useful from the useless? You only have so much time in the day. There’s only so many things you can try to implement at once.
I’ve made it my mission to rigorously test as many approaches as possible to find what works best, and have identified a few key tactics that have a disproportionate impact on professional performance. I’ll be sharing what works, and perhaps more importantly, what does not work.
I’ll be the first to admit I don’t have all the answers, and I’m still learning more every day. So in addition to sharing what’s worked for me, I’ll be sharing expert insights in the form of book reviews and interviews with thought-leaders. In addition, I’ll be curating and sharing the latest and greatest papers, posts, and insights on performance psychology, productivity, and professional development.
If the above topics sounds like something you’d be interested in reading more on, the best way to stay updated is to join my free insiders email list (the sign-up form is on the right), which is the first place that I share new content. And if there’s anything else you’d like me to write about, let me know! I personally read every email from my readers.