I am joined today by Barbara Hemphill, owner of Barbara Hemphill LLC, to discuss productivity

The average employee spends 19% of their time looking for what they need to do their work. It you take a company that has 20 employees at an average wage of $15 an hour, that represents a loss productivity cost of $115k dollars a year. Research shows that 80% of what we keep we never use, and the more we keep the less we use. The reason people are wasting time is that they are always looking for things.

Barbara likes to help people declutter. We talk about ho digital clutter can become overwhelming and I talk about how I use a variety of services to hold digital files.

Barbara tells us that clutter is postponed decisions. Organization by itself has no value. It needs to be something you use to get something done. Use the acronym, SYSTEM (Saving You Space, Time, Energy, and Money). You need to have a system to be organized. Barbara has a five-step process called the Productive Environment Process. Barbara also heads up The Productive Environment Institute.

A productive environment is an intentional setting were people can accomplish their work and enjoy their lives. Your environment is your desk, your brain, your computer desk, and anywhere you need to get things done.

Productive Environment Process

1. State your vision
2. Identify your obstacles
3. Identify your resources
4. Design and execute your plan
5. Sustain your success

While discussing number 3, we had a sidebar on having people help you and the GTY (Greater Than Yourself) mentality. Barbara said the phrase “together we are better”. Research shows that we are 76% more likely to accomplish a task if you have an accountability partner.

Practice makes permanent. Make sure to go through the PEP process and try to make it habitual.

I talk about how I use both digital and analog to-do lists and how I am trying to move to using one mechanism. Barbara talks about to-do lists and how many people keep it in their head. She has never met anyone that was comfortable with their productivity that had not resolved the issue of paper vs digital calendars. You can have anything you want, but not everything.

There are so many tools out there and you need to come up with your own system. Barbara uses a planner pad and a digital calendar. Develop a system and make it become a habit.

I developed my own planner page that has all the elements that are important to me. What I need to get done, what I am grateful for, how much water I drank through the day and if I exercised, and more. Check it out here. On the digital side, I use iOS tasks to track small items.

Sometimes it is the little things. Some people plan the night before and others in the morning. Barbara tells us a story about how she would try to clean up at night before going to bed, but one morning she decided to clean in the morning instead. She said that it was more enjoyable, especially with coffee and music.

When you have a task to complete, try to get it done as quickly as you can to get it out of the way. I mention the book Eat that Frog. For me in my role, I feel that my mantra is “organized chaos” and that I am all over the place. Barbara said that she thinks that I am productive. She is too kind.

If something has been on your list for too long, you need to do an analysis. What is the worse thing that can happen if you do not do something or throw away a piece of paper on your desk? That can help you clean up your to-do list. Also, how can you make your task easier so that you can complete it?

Barbara said that 80% of people feel like they have a book in them. The problem is getting it on paper. I mention that people that have not written a book come up to me and try to tell me how I should have written my book. But they have not written a book! Both of us encourage you to write a book. You can start by writing articles and also find people to help you. A book will help you develop creditability. Barbara’s latest book is Less Clutter, More Life. Check it out here.

Parting thoughts: When people hire someone (consultant), they always ask how long is this going to take and how much is it going to cost? The longer you wait, the longer it will take and the more it will cost.


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  • Hank Hoffmeier

    Hank is an author, speaker, podcast host and Sr. Manager of Marketing Operations at Kickbox, a Ziff Davis company. With a passion for all things digital and social, combined with more than 25 years of experience in sales and marketing, he has been dubbed the Digital Marketing Infotainer because he makes marketing fun and successful.