Personal Productivity Tools that Support Great Systems

As we started looking at How to be More Productive, I shared what I thought was a great example of how impactful systems can be in helping us knock out even the most dreaded tasks - like cleaning the kitchen… We also started looking at why productivity gets so much of our attention, the need for effective systems in order to achieve that productivity, and a simple process for identifying the tasks that should get the bulk of our attention to achieve the best possible productivity. Let’s face it though, most of the demands we face on a professional level usually tie back to how effective we are at developing our own personal systems for fulfilling our obligations and getting tasks checked off our lists…

Once we’ve thoroughly worked through those three R’s to determine what truly needs our attention and which things we should be focusing on first, we still need a way to manage it all. As I was looking at a few different resources on this topic, I found...

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More than Readin’, Ritin’ & 'Rithmetic!

It seems like for every year older I get, there’s at least a half dozen new tasks that are added to my daily routine! While that may not actually be the case, I’m guessing you can relate in one way or another… And what if we’ve accepted responsibility for leading others? Those half dozen additional tasks could easily double to a dozen - or more!

That ever-increasing pressure makes it even more important for us to consider everything we can that could help us be more productive - at work and at home, and it drives home the importance of building systems we can use in the process! Even when we do everything we know to do, there are still times where others around us appear to get so much more done than we do; at least that’s sometimes the case for me!

I read a blog article recently called 18 Habits of Highly Productive People: What Efficient People Have in Common that opened by saying, “We’ve all known that person who always seems to be...

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The Importance of SOP’s

Building on what we looked at last time about our cultural obsession with productivity, I’ll share an example of something I learned as I was working to implement Lean Manufacturing initiatives in the facility I worked at for nearly twenty years…

We all tend to have our own way of doing certain things, right? While that’s typically true, that can wreak havoc on a manufacturing process! If each person who attempts to complete a task takes a different approach, it can be extremely difficult to produce a consistent product or nail down a reasonable expectation for how much labor is required. When quality and pricing shift with the wind, repeat business isn’t very likely. And that doesn’t even touch on how complicated these different methods for producing the same product make training new team members, especially when that training occurs on multiple shifts… Regardless of what industry we’re considering, some sort of standard operating...

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How to be More Productive - at Work or at Home!

One of the first things I saw the other morning as I checked my LinkedIn notifications was a post from a friend who has a whole bunch of children, many of whom he and his wife adopted, showing the clean and organized kitchen he came home to the evening before. Now even if you’re single and have pizza delivered on a daily basis, you know maintaining a clean and organized kitchen is no small task! But for a mom to accomplish that on her own with several kids, that’s nearly an act of God!

After I recovered from the initial shock and was able to read his entire post, I realized the point he was making was tied to how important it is, for kids as well as us adults, to have responsibility for specific tasks. My friend and his wife had been intentional about making sure each child was assigned something to do in the process and they understood what was expected of them. As a family, they had developed a system for breaking what can often be a daunting task down into little...

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Where the (Soft Skills) Rubber Meets the Road

Now that we have A Practical Definition We Can Apply Right Away, let’s close this loop by looking at some practical action steps we can put in place to make sure our soft skills are yielding measurable results - just like we’d expect to see from developing new or better technical skills! Last time I tossed some stats from a study that showed what executives saw as the cause of most workplace failure as well as some number showing the cost of downtime due to poor communication. If only that were where it stopped…

In Leadership Gold, John Maxwell shared that “Some sources estimate that as many as 65% of people leaving companies do so because of their managers… The ‘company’ doesn’t do anything negative to them. People do. Sometimes coworkers cause the problems that prompt people to leave. But often the people who alienate employees are their direct supervisors.” I recently read an article from the American Management Association...

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A Practical Definition We Can Apply Right Away

Last time I shared the definition of soft skills from the Oxford dictionary, “personal attributes that enable someone to interact effectively and harmoniously with other people.” While I think that provides us with a fairly decent starting point for what soft skills are, I don’t believe it’s quite enough to take action on… At least it’s not for me.

We started down this path by answering the question, What Do They Really Mean by “Soft Skills”.? then we worked through some comparisons of Soft Skills vs Hard Skills. If we combine all of that with what Chris Rollins shared about the origins of the concept, I think we’re ready to build a practical definition that we can each work into our daily routines. Once we have that, there’s no reason at all for not putting it into action and achieving measurable results - just like we’d expect to see from learning any particular technical skill… 

Before we do that,...

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A Definition of Soft Skills that Matters for YOU!

In early 2019, I received a phone call from a friend asking if I had a few minutes for him to run an idea by me. Since Chris Rollins had done as much to train and mentor me as anyone else I could think of in the four years leading up to that point, I jumped at the chance to provide him with any input I possibly could!

I felt a connection with Chris from our first conversation in 2015. We had similar experiences during our corporate careers and both of us really wanted to have an impact on the organizational cultures of the smaller businesses we were working with. And both of us understood just how important effective communication is to building a strong team that achieves great results.

The idea Chris wanted to bounce off of me was a concept of a collaborative book on the DISC Model of Human Behavior, one of the most powerful tools I ever seen for building effective communication into a company’s culture. Having worked through dozens of hours of training with Chris on the...

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What Skills Matter Most?

Alexandra Levit, workforce futurist and author of Humanity Works: Merging Technologies and People for the Workplace of the Future, was quoted in a recent SHRM article as saying “While most people are hired for their technical abilities, their soft skills give them career durability.”

In the last post, I challenged what I’ve seen to the traditional thought process of expecting a tangible return on investment from technical training while having far less clarity on how the rubber should meet the road after any type of training on those perceived softer skills. To me, it just boils down to developing the discipline to know what to look for and clarifying how those powerful skills should be applied.

Let me be very clear here: BOTH types of skills matter in every industry. But answering the question What Skills Matter Most? really depends on the specific role we’re hoping to fill. 

Our son, Matt, has an outstanding work ethic and caught onto the technical...

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If We Can’t SEE It, We Don’t Usually Expect It...

Last time I suggested that the only real difference between soft skills and hard skills is that most hard skills only tie to certain fields where soft skills have the power of impacting nearly any type of work we’ll ever engage in. None of us come out of the womb being amazingly equipped with either type of skill; they ALL require cultivation throughout our lives if we ever hope to master them. And we should absolutely be seeing measurable results from the action steps we take in applying what we learn as we study any new skill!

The most common disconnect I’ve seen with this over the last twenty years has been that most of us have learned how to measure technical tasks; it’s fairly simple to track how many widgets can be produced in an hour or how many procedures can be completed each day. Measuring the effectiveness of what most people refer to as soft skills isn’t quite as straightforward because it rarely produces a stack of something at the end of an...

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Soft Skills vs Hard Skills

Now that we can answer What Do They Mean by “Soft Skills”?, let’s start building a comparison between Soft Skills and Hard Skills, the impact both types of skills can have in nearly any role, and then we’ll look at how we can ensure any skill development we invest in provides us with a tangible return.

I believe one of the main reasons so many individuals and organizations struggle to tie tangible return on investment is that we rarely even see an accurate comparison. An article I read on Forbes.com recently titled Are Hard Skills or Soft Skills More Important to be an Effective Leader? shared this:

Hard skills are teachable and most often technical skills, such as economic analysis, strategic planning or design. Soft skills fall in the interpersonal realm and include listening, team-building, and leadership development. They are not so much taught as cultivated. 

While that sounds reasonable at face value, I’m going to challenge you to think into...

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