Colin D Ellis
Leadership | Culture | Success


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Action Speaks Louder Than Everything

Over Christmas, I read Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (which is pronounced me-high cheek-sent-me-high, I’m reliably informed). If you haven’t read it,  I recommend it because he talks about the relationship between consciousness, motivation, enjoyment and activity in relation to productivity. Or, getting sh!t done (my words, not Mihaly’s).

In my experience, many people are full of good intention, but lack the courage, know-how or discipline to consistently be the most productive version of themselves.

We become paralysed by the decision-making process, either because it involves risk, a difficult conversation or challenging an existing habit.

As Mihaly points out in his book, we do our best work at the intersection between anxiety and boredom, or as I like to say, ‘on the edge of uncomfortable’. Work is only ever truly meaningful if you feel stretched by what you do and if it takes you a step nearer towards achieving a goal you have set yourself.

If anxiety or boredom regularly creep into your day, it’s a sign you need might some help. Help to identify what’s most important. Help with a skill that you haven’t fully acquired yet or help with your motivation. Someone to ask if you’re ok. Someone to give you a gentle nudge to set you on your way.

Otherwise, procrastination will set in and, before you know it, you’re sat in a toilet cubicle checking your Instagram feed. Which is wrong on so many levels.

So much of what happens in offices these days is designed or used to kill productivity.

Open plan offices built for one personality type (MINE!), back-to-back meetings that provide little time for actual work, ill-disciplined device use. Not to mention the feeling that you have to always be ‘on’.

It doesn’t have to be this way – but in order to take control of whatever job you’re doing and give it everything you have, you need to do some things differently. 

Some of these things are habits that you’ve formed that might feel scary to change, but you’ll find that if you stick with them, then the personal gains will make it worthwhile.

Some will be cultural norms that you have either unconsciously conformed to or felt compelled to join in with. These must be rejected if you’re to buck the productivity trend.

Some ideas on how to do this include:

  • Changing the way you speak to yourself

  • Turning notifications off on your phone and keeping it out of reach

  • Having a conversation instead of sending an email

  • Refreshing your priorities every week and resisting new ones that come in on Wednesday

  • Saying ‘no’ more

  • Focusing on one task at a time and seeing it through to a conclusion

  • Setting aside a minimum of 90 minutes productive time a day

  • Elevating other people and helping them to achieve their goals

  • Making more time for planning

  • Becoming more flexible in your thinking and delivery

  • Talking in terms of opportunity not problems.

Taking action speaks louder than everything and if you’re not the most productive version of you on a daily basis – something needs to change.

Whenever I needed help getting sh!t done then I would invariably either turn to a colleague, research or look for a development opportunity. Often this would be in the form of a conference or networking event. And yet, I found that the quality of some of these was found wanting, to the point that the people that I was looking to connect with and learn from stopped going as it wasn’t a good use of their time or money.

To counter that – and to ensure that my own actions speak louder than my words – I have formed the Getting Sh!t Done Club. Half-day events designed to use your precious time productively and that hit you in the heart and head and not the pocket. An afternoon of high-quality professional speakers, who provide you with insights (and entertainment) on how to get sh!t done in your job or life.

The Club kicks off in Wellington in New Zealand in March (details can be found here) and if you’re interested in me bringing it to your city, then please sign up and let us know here.

Colin EllisComment