Sometimes all it takes to achieve a radically different result is to think a little differently about how you approach a situation. This can be either a negative or a positive mindset shift, although the following four small changes can make you much more productive.
All four changes dovetail neatly with being mentally tough enough to successfully tackle such challenges as:
- Staying focused on the right priorities
- Struggling to meet deadlines
- Failing to properly communicate issues
- Anticipating surprises in their workday or responsibilities.
- Responding positively to those unexpected issues and opportunities.
These challenges around getting more done effectively and efficiently affect everyone including those who are otherwise technically capable professionally competent and functionally experienced. Being mentally tough primes you to be actively rather than passively involved in controlling what happens to you and obsessively focused on making things happen and achieving your desired outcomes.
Business Writer Gwen Moran has identified these four changes in an article for Fast Company magazine and she begins by introducing Productivity expert Justin Hale, who comments “We see a big connection between mind-set and productivity and shifting those beliefs and thoughts can be a critical factor in helping employees be better at their jobs”.
Here are four simple tips to achieve a mindset shift that can boost your productivity and effectiveness.
1) Choose control over chaos
When it feels like you can’t take a minute to breathe at work, that’s exactly when you need to push the pause button. Any part of wanting to do things differently starts with gaining awareness of how we currently are and how we’re showing up.
Beth Linderbaum, managing consultant at Right Management, explains that by “being mindful about what you’re doing and why, you can often get a clearer picture of what is truly necessary and what can be discarded or delegated. You can also see that what you’re taking on is often a matter of choice instead of feeling like you have no control, she says. Simply acknowledging that you’re not at the mercy of someone else and that you do have choices about how you proceed can help you refocus, prioritize, and get more done”
2) Make promises not ‘to do’ lists
Throughout our days, we collect more additions to our to-do lists, Hale says. However, if we stop simply collecting an array of errands and tasks and, instead, consciously think of each new obligation as an agreement, that simple shift in thinking helps us become more discerning about what we take on, he says.
“The reason why this matters isn’t just the amount of stuff we’re agreeing to, it’s the fact that agreements come with emotional baggage. An agreement is a promise. Our brains are built to remind us constantly of things we haven’t completed,” he says. So when you treat that new task or project as something to which you need to agree, it does a couple of things: First, you have a measure of control in taking on the activity. And you begin to weed out the tasks that don’t need to be done—or don’t need to be done by you.
“I find that as people really cultivate this agreement mind-set, rather than just to-dos, they actually get better at saying ‘No, I’m not going to be able to do that’, or ‘Can we renegotiate the agreement in a way that works better for both of us?’” he says.
3) Focus on the outcome rather than the process
This is a subtle change in mindset but a crucial one and again a fundamentally important aspect of mental toughness overall –namely being focused on achieving outcomes.
Moran and Hale explain the change.
If you find yourself stuck in the weeds, overwhelmed with next actions, to-dos, or agreements you need to take care of, it’s often because you’re focused on process instead of outcome. Our obsession with doing everything better and measuring performance may actually remove us from why our work matters and reduce engagement and productivity, Hale says. That’s when you need to reconnect with the “why” of your work, Hale says.
“I may be overwhelmed or stressed about some presentation I’m doing. I’m doing a big speech at a conference, or I’m speaking to a group, or coaching somebody, and the moment that I get so stressed, I say, ‘I don’t want to do this. I’m not interested,’ I have to actually step back and say, ‘What’s the outcome here that I care about?’” he says. Then he focuses on how he can make people’s lives better by sharing information that he has. That’s motivating and helps him get back on track. “When I remember the outcome, it infuses meaning into the action,” he says.
4) From urgency to impact
One common challenge is that we remain extremely busy without necessarily getting to the work which matters, a common issue according to productivity expert Laura Stack.
She suggests that instead of organizing your day by ticking off some “quick hits” on your task list, focus on the meaningful work first, and build your day around getting those things done. “Your leader does not care about how many things you get checked off your list. All they care about are your results,” she says.
So turn off your email and other notifications and start with the tasks that are going to produce the results you need. Work on those first. If another task or request crops up, write it down to keep track of it, but deal with it later. When you regain your concentration and start seeing through the tasks that matter, you’re going to get better results, she says.
For more on how to achieve a mindset shift contact us.