There are dozens of popular best sellers books on this topic, which have given birth to hundreds (or even thousands?) of bullet-point like articles on internet… For sure, these books contain some golden nuggets of insights and advices. However, articles trying to summarize the main take-aways are most of the time full of shortcuts or incomplete assessments, ...
Don’t get me wrong : I believe in morning routines and habit stacking for key moments of your work days to gain clarity and efficiency. There are very powerful technics, tips and tools to increase focus and productivity…. But… at the same time… All of these injunctions make me want to run away. Why? Because most of these articles are missing the main factor when it comes to efficiency : how knowing yourself, your nature, your rhythm, taking these informations into account in your work organisation and positioning are the real game changer.
As for everything in life, we have 2 choices : keeping on looking for magic solutions, tips, tools to manage things on the surface, or digging a bit deeper and understanding and healing the core causes of our lack of efficiency once for all.
Here is the thing :
First, I, you, as the rest of the people on this planet, are human beings. Imperfect by nature. We are no robots. We can be awesome, efficient, resilient, AND we can be lazy, lame, slow…As everybody I have periods of great momentum and discipline, followed by days or weeks where procrastination or doubts take the lead. Lists of good habits, tips and tools can be empowering and inspiring as much as they can make me feel guilty or hypocrite, depending on where I am at that moment …
This trend is actually pointing fingers towards the decease our society is suffering from, mostly in corporate world. That poisonous paradoxal injunction : do more, with less time and less means…Be perfect, erase or hide your flaws, and provide an equal performance all the time. And yes, you better keep improving. And no mistakes of course. Highs and lows? No, suck it up and deal with it. Leave your emotions at the front desk when you use your ID to register what time you entered the building... This is one of the biggest problem in our work culture : Guilt, shame, pressure, perfection quest,… Some people use the term modern slavery. It can sound extreme, but while thinking about it, no so much.
There is one MAJOR thing that is overlooked or ignored most of the time in these lists : self-awareness. Who are you, what are your strengths, your weaknesses, your superpowers, your beliefs and patterns? What are your values? What is the eat/rest rhythm that fits you the best? Are you an extrovert, an introvert, what is your concentration pattern, how to you balance your life,…? All these questions are actually very important prerequisites to any kind of work related to efficiency and empowerment, whether professional or personal. The work environment and mindset is evolving slowly in that direction… Slowly… The real drama is that many people have to go through a burn-out in order to finally allow themselves to explore these questions. I have been one of them.
The big trend these days is employees engagement. The growth of burn-our or bored-out are making HR professionals realize that the answers actually stand here :
trust and empower people for who they are, and not for who you want them to be
give meaning, develop strong values and a sense of belonging
encourage innovation and initiative (and allow that mistakes can exist)
People will want to bring their highest value because they feel seen, respected and an active part of the company’s process. The real employee’s engagement levers are in the previous points, on the long run. End of the story.
In complement, time and task management is pretty pointless without taking energy management into account. We are living organisms, with natural cycles. There are people and activities that drain us, while some other give us a huge boost of energy and motivation, moments when we have a high focus ability and others when we are distracted every 5 minutes... And it is normal! When you understand that and organise your time and tasks accordingly, the effects are amazing! It all comes back to self-awareness, and is the true wisdom when it comes to efficiency. Yes, it implies flexibility, trust and letting go on beliefs and patterns, but it highly resonates with what the future of work will look like. If you really want to manage your time and tasks, manage your energy levels fluctuations. One quote sums it all up : Time is finite, Energy renews . You can either manage your time by applying on-size-fits-for all tips and tools, or customize your own experience through awareness and energy management. Understanding the core reasons of when, how and why you loose or gain energy is incredibly powerful. Once there, you can use the right tools at the right moment and gain real efficiency. And the benefits go far beyond productivity.
With few conscious and chosen adjustments can come great progress. Gain of productivity and organisation will be one of the consequence, but the benefits will be much deeper. Self awareness It is the most effective and sustainable productivity tool you will ever experience. It is also the only way to really understand where your strong added value is, and how to maximize your potential. It will make you shift from (desperately) adjusting to a frame and job description that is not yours to creating a frame and a work experience that is empowering, sustainable and meaningful.