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Ultimate Guide to Productivity May 22, 2007

Posted by Jeff in Decision-Making, Highest and Best Use, ulimate guide to productivity.

If you have ever seen the movie, Ground Hog Day, starring Bill Murray, you will know what I mean. If you haven’t, here’s a brief summary. Murray’s character plays a man who is forced to repeat the same day, over and over, until he gets it right.

Each morning, Murray’s character is reminded that he gets to start Ground Hog Day anew by hearing the same, lame radio shtick that awakens him at 6:00 AM.

Sometimes, productivity is about what you do not do

ultimate_guide_prod_2.jpgI couldn’t help but think of Ground Hog Day when I was invited by Karin to contribute to Ben Yoskovitz’s Ultimate Guide to Productivity meme. Now, to be honest, I’m still getting my feet wet with the world of blogging. Karin tagged (is that what you call it? J) me, but I am still a little confused about this meme thing. Fortunately, Chris Garrett was kind enough to educate me.

With Karin asking me (amazing the power of a simple request, eh? J), Chris educating me, and my favorite West Virginian Monk, Adam, contributing, I thought I’d offer my take.

Ground Hog Day without the alarm

“There is surely nothing quite so useless as doing with great efficiency what should not be done at all.”
-Peter Drucker

As a student of human behavior, I have always taken an interest in how decisions beget decisions. Life presents you with options. Each decision you make influences the options you have later. Some decisions close options. Some reveal options you didn’t anticipate.

The value of looking at decisions and actions in patterns is that your efforts can be leveraged in a way that makes you more productive.

As an example, let’s assume you have a client that makes an annoying request of you. You have two options:

  • Say nothing to the client and find a way to blow off some steam.
  • Confront the client about the behavior.

Catharsis Loop

Saying nothing and blowing off steam is entry into the Catharsis Loop. As a result of the catharsis, your emotional brain has the notion that you have taken corrective action. Of course, nothing has changed for the client.

When your client interacts with you again, you respond with an elevated level of annoyance. You find yourself in the Catharsis Loop.

Ground Hog Day, but without the alarm.

Confronting the client

Confrontation can be done compassionately. Doing so gives you options that responding in silence does not. Confrontation also gives you an opportunity to condition future behavior and manage expectations. At the absolute best, you can serve your client in a truly meaningful way (read: help your client overcome unproductive habits).

Of course, this isn’t often efficient. The most immediately efficient response is silence and catharsis. It is also the easy way out.

My productivity tip helps you make the right choice.

Define your hierarchy of needs

In the throes of an interaction with your client, you are likely to have several needs:

  • Keeping your valuable piece of mind,
  • Serving the needs of your clients,
  • Achieving your highest and best use,
  • Utilizing your precious resources for optimal effect.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg. You likely can come up with many more.

So, the challenge is how to make the best decision in the present. Not everyone has a quick enough wit to confront compassionately in the moment.

You can only do this by identifying your prime need, and ordering your needs in a way most meaningful to you. Your decisions and actions will have a cumulative effect. If serving the needs of your clients is your highest priority, and you continue to maintain that priority in each episode, you can leverage your efforts.

Each decision begets decisions

Define and prioritize your needs. The more that you can be consistent in your priorities, the easier it will be constantly mindful of them.

The more that you can be mindful of your priorities, the easier it will be to do what should be done.

Leverage your actions.

And when that alarm wakes you up the next day, you’ll find yourself looking at February 3rd and a whole new life.

Tagging forward

I’d like to hear what Ankesh and Barry think of this one.



1. Karin H. - May 23, 2007

Hi Jeff

Like the analogy with Ground Hog day versus decisions (and thanks for the link to your other post about the loop, hadn’t read that one yet).

Hope you didn’t mind the original request – you’re tip is really valuable IMHO

2. happyclients - May 23, 2007

Don’t mind at all, Karin, I just missed it for a while. 🙂
Glad you found the tip helpful.

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5. Ankesh Kothari - June 2, 2007

Thanks Jeff.

Excellent post. Didn’t know you started this blog… or would have commented before.

Thanks for tagging me – although I’m not the best person to take productivity tips from :p

6. Jeff - June 2, 2007

Ankesh: I get the impression you have high standards for yourself when it comes to productivity. If nothing else, I would guess that you have a story to share. 🙂

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