Take Time to Relfect on Not Just What You do, but How You Do it

By: Jason W. Womack, MEd, MA

It’s that time of the year again; you’re heading into the holiday season and it’s about to get even busier! Your organizing and productivity systems are going to get tested (as they always do) with one important element magnified: ‘Tis the season to increase the promises you make to yourself about what you’ll have done...by when.

Our executive coaching programs focus in on decision making, promise keeping and sustained self-management. We find, over and over again, that your ability to manage your word - making and keeping all promises to yourself and others - you will experience an increase in your productivity, efficiency and effectiveness.

One of the stressors of the end-of-year experience of managing actions and projects comes from managing the increase in volume the same way you manage your organizational and productivity systems throughout the year. Following, find three ideas on how to think through productivity as a process, resulting in creating a system to manage it all.

It’s important to stop from time to time (monthly? quarterly?) and reflect not just on what you do, but HOW you do it. Studying these three elements of productivity will give you some ways to think differently about how you work. Consider taking one of the suggestions at the bottom of this article and experimenting with it over the next week. And, of course, let us know what you learn! We love to hear from you.

Element 1: Identify Potential
Have you ever been reading and reviewing new e-mails in your inbox, and had someone stop by your desk to ask you “for a minute” to talk about an upcoming event? Have you ever arrived a bit early to a meeting, to start a conversation with a colleague about another project you’re working on? When an idea comes up - whether in your own mind, or while you’re in discussion with someone else - be sure to capture it for later review.

Element 2: Make Decisions
As you hang up the phone, end a meeting, close an email, or get ready to leave the office, pause and ask yourself: “What do I need to do next?” Then, let the answers show up. Of course, in keeping with the first element above, write them down or type them into your computer. The decision making process is significant to your productivity and time management, especially as you get busier toward the end of the year.

Waiting until “later” to capture these reminders doesn’t always work...you get busy, you forget, and then, in the middle of the night, you remember something you said you would do, that you forgot to write down!

Element 3: Track Reminders
Everyone has “their way” of remembering and reminding. Some people add things to their calendar. You might make a to do list. Still others e-mail themselves or call their own voicemail. Whatever you do, make sure that your system is available, whenever you come up with something - an idea of a project to manage, or a task to do. Over the next two months, it’s going to be more and more important to keep your system current; and, there’s a paradox there. The more you say yes to, and the more you write down, the more you’ll be able to say yes to!


Consider experimenting with some kind of voice-to-text transcription service (such as www.Reqall.com or www.nuance.com to get your ideas into your organizational system quickly, easily, completely.

or the next 5 meetings you attend, build in 15 minutes at the end for yourself. Stay in the room after everyone leaves, and make a complete inventory of: (a) the sub-projects or milestones that were agreed upon and scheduled, and (b) the actions you will take as well as anything you’re waiting for from someone else on the team.

Consider keeping one area of your system your “reminder inventory.” Look at, clean up, and update that list to get it as current as possible over the next 5 days. Then, check in with that inventory at least daily to manage your progress over time. HP: 9/14/12


Jason Womack

Expert for HBM Online

Productivity expert, executive coach, and author, Your Best Just Got Better: Work Smarter, Think Bigger, Make More.

Jason invests his time, energy and focus serving as an agent of change. He is an advisor and consultant to companies and governments, the author of blogs, articles and books on productivity, business performance and teams managing through rapid change.

With over 20 years of education and operational experience, Jason has been involved in the creation and transformation of leadership programs and "think-tank" type discussions directed to prioritization and focus in the workplace.

Jason has spoken for companies in 12 different countries and has spent time lecturing for universities on 2 continents while developing and presenting corporate learning curriculum worldwide.  Jason Womack Blog