How To Be More Productive

Dr. Cath Bishop is Senior Performance Consultant at Will It Make The Boat Go Faster, a performance and leadership consultancy specialising in high performing senior teams. Here she discusses productivity and what it really takes to be more productive.

Dr Cath Bishop is Senior Performance Consultant at Will It Make The Boat Go Faster

What’s the key? What’s the magic formula? Is there a silver bullet that can solve our problems of productivity? Well, to quote Vicky Pollard, ‘yes but, no, but’.

There are lots of things we can do to improve our productivity. There are also lots of things that we must stop doing. Let’s start with the positive choices we can make:

Define your ‘crazy goal’(your purpose)

Be clear about what matters, what you care about, not just what you think you ought to care about. If you spend time on things that matter to you, you’ll be more creative, effective and collaborative at making them happen, and dealing with any hurdles along the way.

Keep your mind open to learning at all times

Make sure you are learning every day, regardless of outcomes, there are so many people around you that you could learn from, ask advice and feedback from, and listen to. Look for opportunities to stretch yourself, take on difficult challenges, the personal development and growth will bring you far more than you imagine.

Keeping your mind open means ensuring you are not defensive, don’t have fixed views about the ‘right’ way to do things, and judgemental about others around you. That can only block your own learning and the opportunity to work collaboratively with your team and wider connections.

Invest in those around you

Find out more about those you work with. Don’t just see them as a job title or box on an organogram. These are all colleagues with hopes and fears, strengths and weaknesses, fundamental drivers that get them out of bed in the morning. Be curious about who you work with, in your immediate team and beyond. There is so much potential around you to collaborate, find new and better ways to do things, and connect more effectively.

Investing in others means being open to who they are, not who you want them to be, or judge them to be. It means really listening, not assuming you know what they are thinking and feeling, also taking time to be curious about their perspective.

Less is More

Of course, being more productive is not about doing more, it’s definitely also about doing less. Spending time on things that matter means stopping spending time on things that don’t – distractions, mobile phone games, social media scanning – think about whether these are helping you achieve what you really want to.

As always, small, simple changes can make a difference – listening genuinely and curiously can yield a thousand brilliant ideas and connections. But it all requires a conscious choice on your part in the face of thousands of choices, and consistent application.

It’s no good listening and learning on 1st January, it’s the habits you create that are still there on 1st November that really make a different. So, if you want to increase your productivity, choose well!

About the expert

Dr. Cath Bishop is Senior Performance Consultant at Will it Make The Boat go Faster, a performance and leadership consultancy specialising in high performing senior teams. Drawing on her unique combination of experience, Cath understands the resilience and leadership required to manage complex challenges. She leads seminars on topics including resilience, leadership, high performing teams, peak performance and dealing with pressure, and has worked with clients such as Rolls Royce, Coca Cola, Microsoft and many others.

In her rowing career, Cath competed at three Olympic Games, Atlanta, Sydney and Athens, with highlights including winning the World Championships in 2003 and an Olympic silver medal in 2004. As a diplomat specialising in conflict issues, Cath was posted to Sarajevo, Bosnia and Basra, Iraq, as well as leading in Whitehall on the UK civilian contribution to conflicts around the world.

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