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Productivity -- Increase Your Productivity by Letting Go
by Barbara Bartlein, The People Pro

After coaching executives for more than twenty years, it is clear that one of the greatest stumbling blocks for productivity is the difficulty successful people have in letting go. They hang on to routines, paper, people, and even meetings that suck their time, energy, and creativity. Consider:

* The average US executive wastes six weeks per year retrieving misplaced information on desks or in files. At a salary of $75,000 per year, this translates into $ 9225.

* Office workers spend 40-60% of their time working with paper. Despite visions of a paperless office, 95% of all information is still transmitted using paper.

* 80% of filed papers are never referenced again.

* Negative employees cost companies millions of dollars in lost productivity and sales.

* Of 1,037 full or part-time workers polled by Opinion Research USA, 27% ranked disorganized, rambling meetings as their top frustration.

Highly creative and energetic people seem especially prone to hang on to things and routines. After all, this was part of what made them successful. They view "stuff" as opportunity and people as resources. But sometimes it doesn't work and the clutter, negative employee or useless routine gets in the way of attending to what is really important.

There are steps you can take to "let go" of the things in your life that are stifling your success. Some suggestions:

* Let go of perfectionism. Perfectionism is paralysis and often 80% is more than good enough. Sometimes it is better to just complete something than obsess over details that won't make a difference. Set time limits for projects and stick to them.

* Let go of energy suckers. Get rid of negative, non-performing employees on the payroll. When management at 3M laid off the bottom 10% (the poorest performers) at one facility--their productivity skyrocketed up eighteen percent. 3M learned that negative employees not only produce less, but they also cost more. Negative employees destroy morale and turn off potential customers. As one employee said, "an energy sucker is the person you go on break with and come back more exhausted than when you left."

* Let go of meetings. The great corporate time waster. So many meetings aren't really necessary and too often they are poorly organized and run. Conduct training for effective meetings for all management personnel. This should include an evaluation checklist whether to have the meeting at all. Make sure that meeting organizers know how to create an agenda, start on time and keep control of the proceedings.

* Let go of filing. Make your office paperless by using some of the new on-line filing systems such as Easy to implement, you can manage both paper and electronic files. It eliminates duplication of materials and does not require scanning.

* Let go of crisis management. Avoid the tyranny of the urgent so that you can focus on what is important. Often the result of someone else's poor planning; it can result in spending most of your day putting out fires. Let co-workers know that you plan your day and don't jump from project to project. Insist on realistic timeframes for projects.

* Let go of interruptions. Train yourself and your co-workers to stop the frequent interruptions that block creativity and "flow." Every time you are interrupted, it will take an average of 15 minutes to get back into the task at hand. Make sure you are not interrupting yourself with frequent breaks, cups of coffee or chatting in the hall.

* Let go of useless tasks. Do you really have to do all the stuff on your "to do" list? I have seen executives typing their own letters, doing computer entry and other everyday jobs that could be easily delegated to someone else. Evaluate what you really need to do.

* Build white space in your life. UN-schedule time on your calendar and in your life to just think, read, walk, and relax. Have a weekend from time to time where you have nothing planned. Don't schedule every hour of the day with no breathing room for the unexpected.

* Know what is draining your resources. Take a careful inventory of where your time goes and with whom. What activities/people deplete your energy? Evaluate how you can handle them differently. How do you re-charge? Structure your week with some re-charging activities such as exercise and hobbies.

* Start plugging the leaks. Start letting go of the problems areas. Get rid of clutter, let go of your bottom feeding employees and control access to your time.

According to Albert Eistein, there are three rules of work: "Out of clutter find simplicity' from discord find harmony; in the middle of difficulty lies opportunity."

FREE E-mail newsletter, sign on at Barbara Bartlein, is The People Pro, and President of Great Lakes Consulting Group, LLC, which helps companies sell more goods and services by developing people. She can be reached at 888-747-9953, by e-mail at: or visit her website at

Barbara Bartlein, The People Pro may be contacted at or


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