Beware of False Praise

Vocal Microphone

Every one likes to hear how awesome they are.  I like it.  You like it.  One of the best things you can do to advance your career is to sincerely compliment the things you admire in the people around you.  The key here is the word sincerely. However, you need to be very aware of praise that is being given to you with ulterior motives.  Some people will try to flatter you just to get on your good side. Others will outright lie in hopes of getting you to make a mistake or look foolish. In 2003 there was a singing competition held in several major cities around the US.  Contestants were selected, flown to Hollywood to take part in a competition.  They were given vocal coaching, makeovers … [Read more...]

Useful Links

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Here are a few things I've run across that I thought might be worth sharing.  If you find these types of things useful, you might want to subscribe to my personal blog at http://blog.markwshead.com. These are some of the types of things I usually post over there that may or may not eventually make it to Productivity501. Look for the red button on the right hand side to subscribe by email, or use an RSS reader. Charcoal Bob Charcoal Bob is a website designed to help you grill food.  The main feature is a grilling calculator.  You tell it everything you want to grill, what the temperature is outside, what type of grill you have, and when you want to eat and it will give you a minute by … [Read more...]

Be Brilliant

above-average

Are you average or above average? By definition, you are probably average although I like to assume that most readers of Productivity501 are above average. But for the moment, lets assume you are average.  How can you become above average? Time is the great equalizer. Everyone has the same amount of time--whether you are average, below average or above average.  The simple difference between people who are average and those who are above average is that above average people spend more time on the things that really matter. While this is simple to state, identifying the things that are really important and that really matter can be surprisingly. When Bill Gates dropped … [Read more...]

Money Myths

Money Myths

The older I get and the more people I meet, the more I come to realize that biggest thing that determines your level of financial freedom has to do with your beliefs about money.  I'm not talking about the "if you think positive thoughts, you'll become rich" line of thinking. I'm talking about our expectations related to how we get money, what happens when we receive money, what are good ways to spend money, how you define wealth, etc. Here are some common myths about money: When I receive money, someone else loses it. From a total economic perspective, money represents productivity and productivity is not a zero sum game. A zero sum game is one where in order for me to win, someone … [Read more...]

Reader Questions

question-main

Here are some random question we've had from visitors to this site along with some attempts at answers: How does a paperless office work? A paperless office means different things to different people. Some people consider themselves paperless if they aren't storing any paper.  Other people are trying to keep from producing or consuming paper. I once worked at a hospital that switched to a paperless system in order to save a couple million dollars in medical records storage space.  They still produced and consumed paper, but the eliminated the storage part. Most people who want to move to a paperless office are going to try to find some way to scan in their existing documents so storage … [Read more...]

Work From Home Tips

Home Office Working From Home

1. Go to work When you work from home, your workspace may be just down the hall, but you still need to intentionally go to work when you are ready to start your day. Some people will walk around the block go to work in their home office and then walk around the block to "go home" at the end of the day. It may seem silly, but you will be much more productive by making a concrete breaking point between when you are at work and when you are off. You can still take advantage of a zero commute by breaking your day up and perhaps doing a few equivalent hours of work late in the evening or early in the morning--just be intentional about it. You don't want to get into a situation where your work … [Read more...]

TIP: Where Do I Look For It?

clutter-desk

When it comes to organizing your stuff, most people deal with every item and ask "Where do I put this"? This is not the question to ask.  When you go to look for the item you may or may not be able to remember the answer to the question "Where do I put this?"       The real question to ask yourself is "Where will I look for this when I need it?"  There seems to be a big separation between the way the brain makes connections when you are trying to store something and when you are trying to retrieve it. This makes sense because when you ask yourself "Where do I put this?" your brain is going to start thinking in terms of size, available storage space, danger to surrounding objects, etc. … [Read more...]

Graduate School Options

harvard-main

Graduate school is the next academic step after getting a bachelor's degree.  Graduate schools award masters and doctorate and several other types of recognition.  In this post, we are going to look at some of the different types of graduate school options and talk about what each one entails and how it benefits you in the job market. Graduate Citation A graduate citation isn't a degree, but it recognizes the completion of a collection of classes on a particular topic. A graduate citation is similar to a certificate (see below), but smaller in scope. It is the smallest unit of work you can do beyond a single class that is formally recognized. It generally requires three or four … [Read more...]

Solving the Wrong Problems

Airport Security Line

It is amazing how good people are at problem solving.  Think of all the inventions and methods people have come up with to fix everything from minor annoyances to large scale worldwide problems. Even as good as everyone seems to be at solving problems, we are notoriously bad at identifying the correct problem to solve.  Let me give a few examples. Aviation safety Our public aviation security in the US is based around the idea of keeping bad stuff off airplanes.  The idea is that if we can keep anything dangerous off planes, we will be safe.  Lots of problem solving effort has gone into keeping dangerous stuff off planes, but is that the real problem?  There is stuff all over in a plane … [Read more...]

Other Side of Productivity

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Occasionally I'll get some criticism that I'm too focused on productivity. People say that I need to lighten up, etc.  The problem is that on this site we focus on productivity--not on what to do with the free time that being productive buys you.  Here is a short video about enjoying the fruits of productivity--free time to do things with family. (If you want to more of the other side, you can checkout my personal blog.) The Other Side of Productivity from Productivity501 on Vimeo. It's great to strive for efficiency, but it is also important to make sure that being above average in what you accomplish buys your above average rewards. … [Read more...]

My Company Newsletter

Xeric Corpration Logo

My company spends about 25% of our effort doing consulting with other businesses to help them become more productive and efficient. If your job encompasses any type of business responsibility, you'll probably benefit by signing up for my monthly business newsletter. The content covers a wide range of business and technology information that will help you make better decisions, avoid dangerous technology mistakes and make your business operations more efficient. You can sign up using the form below (you may need to click through to the website if viewing in RSS or email) or go to my company site and sign up in the right sidebar: Xeric Corporation Xeric Corporation … [Read more...]

The Sacred To-do List

todo-list

Everyone is familiar with a to-do list, but most people don't really understand the importance of having a list of the things you want to accomplish. Creating a to-do list is creating a list of goals. The list tells you what you need to do to achieve some larger outcome in your life. The power isn't so much in the list itself, but in the overall goal it helps you to achieve. A list is a way to break down your life goals into easy manageable steps that you can complete in a specific amount of time. In this sense, your list becomes a guide showing you how to succeed in life. The way most people start off creating to-do lists, isn't particularly effective. It is easy to end up with … [Read more...]