As the author of the book Productivity Driven Success, I’m often asked about the one thing people can do to maximize their productivity. My answer to this question is based on one of the concepts in my book and highlighted in my recent ExecSense lesson, “Task Zones for the C-Suite.”

To maximize productivity you must be in “the zone.” Being in the zone is when you are:

  • Mentally Clear on the task to be performed

    Mentally Clear is having an exact understanding of what you want to do. It could be something simple, like cleaning your garage, or something more complex, such as writing an important document or designing a potentially career-changing presentation.

  • Highly Focused on a specific task

    Highly Focused is single-mindedness, namely, being able to free yourself from mental distractions, like thinking about other projects, all the emails you must answer, or a presentation you are making later in the day.

  • Physically Able to perform the task

    Physically Able means at that time you have the physical and mental energy to perform the task. For example, I know that if I’m very tired, I have great difficulty doing mentally challenging work such as writing blogs, answering important emails or making crucial business decisions.

  • Motivated to perform the task

    Motivated is either wanting or having to perform the task at hand.

For me personally, and anecdotally by speaking with others, when you’re truly in the zone, regardless of the task’s simplicity or complexity, you are more productive, more innovative, and do a better job. This powerful combination of productivity, innovation, and quality is why you should work on your most important and complicated tasks when you are at your best.

The problem, at least for me, is that you cannot always be in the zone…so, what then?

It’s my belief that people have 4 productivity zones, spelling the work TASK. They are:

  • T — Top of Your Game
  • A Alert, But Not Creative
  • S Sluggish
  • K Keeping Awake

For more information on each of these zones, please refer my ExecSense lesson, “Task Zones for the C-Suite.”

The key is to pick a task on your To-Do list that matches your current level of personal energy. That is to say, if you are at the Top of Your Game, select a task to perform that requires creativity and high mental focus. If you are Alert, But Not Creative, select a task that requires your undivided attention, but is not particularly creative, such as proofreading a document or invoicing a client. If you are feeling Sluggish, perform less mentally strenuous tasks, such as reviewing your spam/clutter folder. Lastly, if you’re just trying to Keep Awake, simply clean your office, take a break, get some exercise, or call it a day.

I use this zone based prioritizing all the time. I have learned that following these principles can dramatically enhance efficiency and by going against them can affect the quality of work, lower overall productivity, and can even hurt one’s professional reputation.

This blog is an excerpt from my weekly nationally syndicated column with GateHouse News Service. My new columns can be found in GateHouse Media publications throughout the United States.

Until next time, manage well, manage smart, and continue to grow.

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ExecSense Speaker

Eric Bloom

Eric Bloom
President, Manager Mechanics LLC

Expertise: Personal & Professional Development

Eric Bloom is the President and CTO of Manager Mechanics LLC, a company specializing in Information Technology (IT) leadership development and IT soft skills training.

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Prior to founding Manager Mechanics, Eric held senior IT leadership positions at The Boston Company Asset Management, Monster Worldwide, Independence Investments, and Fidelity Investments.

Eric began his career as a software developer (programmer) and moved up through the ranks to CIO. Therefore, he understands his topic, IT management, from the bottom up. As they say, “He walks the walk.”

Eric has undergraduate degrees from Bentley University and an MBA from Babson College. He has also been an adjunct faculty member at Bentley University and Boston University.

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