First, Coffee. Then, Willpower: The Keys to My Productivity

Written by Debra Leitl on January 5, 2011. Posted in Day In The Life

Dolly Parton and the Japanese have something in common. What could this thing possibly be? They both know the secrets to business productivity and how to get things done.

In her 1980 hit 9 to 5, Dolly Parton, in all her poofy blonde-haired-pointy-chested glory, sang about the trials and tribulations of toiling through an 8 hour work day at the office. Tumble outta bed/and stumble to the kitchen/pour myself a cup of ambition, the tune begins. Herein Dolly has hit on one of the most valuable keys to success: Rev yourself up in the morning, and tackle your most undesirable tasks first thing. Delaying the things that you do not look forward to will result in a nasty job you don’t enjoy waiting for you at the end of the day. Complete your dreaded tasks first, when your energy levels are high. You can then power through the rest of your day without something you dread looming over your head. So like Dolly said, pour yourself that cup of morning ambition and drink it on down.

If you’re not a morning person, right now you may be thinking, “yeah right. It would take 3 cups of ambition, 6 creams, and 12 sugars to get me to tackle my most difficult tasks first.” But Dolly herself, whose successful career has spanned more than 40 decades, knows how to get things done. She knows that business success takes a great deal of personal discipline. This concept of personal discipline is one that is key to the Japanese principle of Kaizen, which is Japanese for “continuous improvement” or “change for the better.”

According to Kaizen, the keys to productivity are:

1. Teamwork
2. Personal discipline
3. Improved morale
4. Quality Circles
5. Suggestions for improvement

Kaizen focuses on the fact that a change, even just a small change, can have a big influence on your productivity and your business as a whole. On a large scale, Kaizen principles dictate that companies should invest in quality equipment in order to reduce absenteeism. It states that employees should receive regular incentives, acceptable working conditions, and should be made to feel valued within the organization. This saves the company the large expense that is involved with high staff turnover.

These valuable concepts are ones that you should apply to your own personal work schedule, habits, and decorum. If you have a computer that frequently crashes and causes you daily headaches, make the investment in improved technology to ease your work day. Yes, it is an initial investment, but it will pay off in the long run.

As simple as it may sound, obtaining an ergonomic office chair (or providing them for your employees) is a crucial key to productivity as well. Today, aches and pains that lead to time away from the office are most commonly due to sitting incorrectly all day, not sports injuries. If you sit at a desk all day, an ergonomic desk chair, as well as a supportive wrist pad or gel mouse pad are all key. Try simply placing a bromeliad plant on your desk. These are little oxygen powerhouses, and will help you to feel refreshed after sitting at your desk for long periods of time.

One of the most overlooked keys to a productive day is to allow your brain adequate time to refresh during and between tasks. If you look at your computer screen all day, take just one minute per hour to look at something in the distance, and allow your eyes to focus on it before looking back at your computer. This will help to prevent that weary-eyed feeling you get by mid-day. During the average 9-5 work shift, many people deprive themselves of even just a 30 minute lunch break away from the desk, and opt to eat a quick sandwich at their desk. However, it s very important to see the benefits of this 30 minute break. It will allow you to function more efficiently for the remaining 4 hours of the work day. Oftentimes sacrificing a 30 minute break is more detrimental than helpful, so don’t work though this time in hopes that it will allow you to get more done during your day.

While Dolly sings that workin’ 9 to 5 is enough to drive you crazy if you let it, Kaizen emphasizes that you should never let yourself feel overwhelmed by stress and criticism. So the next time you feel like you’re up to your eyeballs in work, take a deep breath and pour yourself your cup of ambition. Teamwork is key, so don’t be afraid to ask for help or advice. Create a healthy workspace, and don’t forget to take breaks in the midst of your busy day. Even just small tweaks to your work day and work space can help you to function at your most productive level, and to get things done.

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