Expert Marketer Magazine
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Lost Your Productivity Edge?

by David HorsagerFebruary 2016

Climbing the ladder but losing your grip? Many managers and executives struggle to keep up with the monumental responsibilities they inherited with the promotion. They long for the days of a more manageable workload. It isn’t always about whether or not someone has a natural bent toward organization or efficiency. Certainly, having good systems in place can help someone assimilate to new and increased responsibilities. However, there is no one who can handle a super-human workload for long periods of time without help or without making adjustments. The executive who takes a step back to analyze things he or she can do to drive productivity, but not at the expense of relationships, is the executive who will enjoy lasting success!

If you are getting bogged down and losing enthusiasm, you are not alone. Excited people move faster, and with more purpose. And most importantly, they get more done.

Here are a few ways to get fired up:

• Think of the bigger picture. Catch the big vision of what your work is really about. If you are a road construction worker, then you give people freedom, security, and safety. I recently met a machinist who makes tiny metal parts. He is both excited and motivated to do well because he understands that his tiny metal parts go into heart monitors that save lives! Envision the difference you are making in your organization or industry, and you will be motivated to do good work.

 Act like it. By acting excited, you can trick your mind into feeling that way. When you feel a lack of enthusiasm, try putting on a smile and see if your mood catches up.

• Move on. If you can’t find a way to be excited about what you are doing, it could be a sign that you need to move on. Tough days come in any job, but if you’ve lost the passion for your work, then it may be time to make the tough decision.

• Celebrate the little things. Keep saying things to your team such as:
“That was great!”
“Can’t wait to see…”
“Thanks for getting that done.”

Even a tiny glimpse of excitement is contagious and helps bring other people up. Someone said we’re all like people who are dog-paddling to stay above the water. Everything we say can either help someone stay afloat or make them sink further. Get excited and share it, because excitement keeps people going.


It isn’t just executives who feel overwhelmed. Sometimes the sheer size or complexity of a project can leave us without a clear path forward. With so much to do and uncertainty about where to start, stress renders us paralyzed. In other words, we get stuck.

The good news, however, is that getting stuck doesn’t have to mean staying stuck. Usually all it takes is a bit of progress to knock our minds loose and get us back on track. Here are a few tips for breaking out of mental gridlock:

• Don’t procrastinate. The easiest thing in the world to do with a difficult project is to stall. But this is nearly always guaranteed to make things tougher, not easier. Decide that you will work at one aspect of the project or problem and don’t give up until you’ve made some headway. In other words, do what needs to be done, whether you feel like it or not.

• Start anywhere. There is no rule that says you have to start a project in the beginning. If you are having trouble with the start, try attacking it from another angle. Consider which team member might be able to help give you a jumpstart.

• Do small pieces. If you are overwhelmed by the size of a task, break it down into the smallest pieces possible. For instance, a fifty-page report might consist of three sections, each of which has ten topics. Start with any one of those—your work will add up quickly.

• Do something terrible. Give yourself permission to do the job terribly at first. Without any pressure, you will probably get through it quickly with little or no anxiety. Then you will go back and do a better version on the second pass.

• Use momentum. Once you’ve started, you will find it’s much easier to keep the forward momentum.

Everyone has days when they are overwhelmed, but remember a few little changes can make a huge difference in energy and ultimately in outcomes.

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