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Tag Archives: loss of productivity

Use the Zeigarnik Effect to overcome procrastination

procrastinationAre you guilty of procrastination?  If so, you’re not alone.  As a leader, you’re constantly juggling many priorities, and there are always a few items on the to-do list that seem to slip from one list to the next.  Usually, the procrastination is either because the task is so large that the even the thought of tackling it is overwhelming.  Or it’s because the task is just something that you don’t really want to do.  Either way, the end result of procrastination is that the task gets pushed further out into the future.  And sometimes it simply just doesn’t get done.

If you think it’s time for the procrastination to end, then consider how you can use the Zeigarnik Effect to your advantage.  So called because it was observed by Russian psychologist Bluma Zeigarnik, the Zeigarnik Effect states that people remember uncompleted or interrupted tasks better than completed tasks.

Use the Zeigarnik Effect to your advantage

To better understand the connection between procrastination and the Zeigarnik Effect, some background information about Zeigarnik’s research is useful.  In a series of experiments, she asked individuals to do several simple tasks such as solving puzzles and stringing beads.  For some of the tasks, the participants were allowed to complete them, and for others, they were interrupted about half-way through.  Interestingly, she discovered that people were twice as likely to recall the tasks during which they’d been interrupted than those they completed.

So …. if you want to overcome procrastination, the best thing to do is to get started.  If you just initiate the task and get it underway, the Zeigarnik Effect will kick in.  Because the project will now be incomplete, you won’t be able to forget about it.  And you will seek to relieve the tension by bringing closure.  Ergo, getting the job done!  Item checked off the to-do list!

So … I’m curious to know.  Have you used the Zeigarnik Effect to your benefit?  Perhaps you’ve been using it all along, but you just didn’t know that it had a name!  Do share your experiences by commenting below.

P.S.  If you want even more insights into to how to overcome procrastination, then you may find this helpful: A 9-point plan for overcoming procrastination, which I wrote as one of my regular columns for ProfitGuide, the online portal for Profit Magazine.

Are you guilty of being a micro-manager? Stop before it’s too late!

micro-manager

Ask the countless employees who find themselves working for a micro-manager, and they’ll tell you that it is not only maddening, but wearisome and demoralizing. Dealing with a controlling boss who needs to question and redo everything you do can be gruelling. But if you look carefully enough, the signs of a micro-manager are clearly visible. You just may not have paid attention.  Which is exactly why I not only explore this topic in depth in my column this morning in The Globe and Mail, but also offer four ideas to stop being a micro-manager.  Read it here:

Guilty of micromanaging? Stop before it’s too late

Don’t fall into the classic micro-manager trap

If you’re a micro-manager, it’s very easy to explain away your actions as “attention to detail” and “ensuring quality work.” But the unfortunate reality is that this behaviour comes at an immense cost – employee morale, team performance and workplace productivity.  It’s time to stop!

Well … what do you think?  Are you one of those who has been at the receiving end of a micro-manager, or is there a case to be made for this management characteristic?  Obviously, you know where I stand on this subject, but I’d love to hear from you.  The Globe has temporarily turned off commenting on articles on their website while they resolve some technology issues, so you can’t comment directly there.  But share your thoughts right here on the blog.  Leave a comment below and let everyone know your thoughts and experiences.

Sometimes, The Globe puts my columns behind their paywall. If that happens and you are unable to access the article directly through the link above, we have archived a pdf version at this link:  http://turningmanagersintoleaders.com/PDF/G&M_ManagementOnline_022618.pdf

Are limited resources really a problem? Or an opportunity?

Limited resources – people, money, equipment, and time – seem to be a reality in today’s workplaces.  This is usually perceived as a bad situation with negative outcomes.  We have come to expect that limited resources will be accompanied by poor service, fewer options, and lesser quality.  But what if limited resources were actually an opportunity in disguise?

limited resources

There have been higher-than-normal temperatures in Western Canada over the last few weeks and a result, the water levels are falling in some of the ponds and smaller lakes in our part of the world.  I got a first-hand look when I went on a day-hike this past weekend.  I was at this same pond at this time last fall, and the water levels a year ago were significantly higher than they were last weekend.  So much so that, what struck me immediately was the contrast between then and now.

The surface of this one specific pool when I was there last September was smooth like glass.  This time though, the water had dropped to a level where I could now see the garbage, trash and other debris at the bottom of the pond.  Continue reading

6 Rules for thriving in an open-office environment

My newest column for The Globe & Mail is up in cyberspace this morning!  Today’s topic is about something that is happening in many workplaces across the country – the shift to an open-office environment.  Love it or hate it, the numbers show that it’s happening more than ever.  So in Six rules for the open-office environment, I don’t debate its merits and drawbacks.  Instead, by offering six definitive rules to survive, and thrive, in an open office environment, I focus on how to make this kind of a workplace environment effective and productive.

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So … as always, very interested in hearing about your experiences.  Are you working in an open-office floor plan?  Does it work for you?  Why or why not?  If possible, please share your perspectives directly on the The Globe‘s site since your point of view will get a much wider audience than if you choose another alternative.  But I’m always open to hearing from you directly as well, so you can post your comments here on the blog, or send me a tweet (@mergespeaks) with your thoughts too.

And one last thing — do me a HUGE favour – help me get the word out … share the link with your staff and colleagues (easiest directly from The Globe‘s site using the share icon at the very top of the article).  My objective is always to get conversations started, so the more people who respond to this column means deeper and extended dialogue, which is always a good thing!  In advance, please accept my thanks for your help.

I’m looking forward to hearing from you. Here is a direct link to the article in case you need to cut and paste it elsewhere: http://tgam.ca/EQQZ

One strategy to avoid micro-managing

Micromanaging word breaking apart on chain links to illustrate sI often blog about the perils of micro-managing, most recently Perfectionists are micro-managers (and lousy leaders) and Here’s what micro-managers shouldn’t do.  Today, I thought I’d offer up another proven idea to avoid the trap of micro-managing – participate, at least to some degree, in the training of your employees.  Think about it, the necessity to micro-manage is rooted in the need for control.  And control, not necessarily in a negative way, is because you want to make sure that things are done right and to the standards that you and others expect.  So if you involve yourself, at least partially, in training your employees, then you can be confident, first-hand, that they know what needs to be done.  This knowledge will allow you to trust that your staff are ready to take charge of things on their own.

Now let’s be clear here, the outcome of “training” is not that your employee will do things EXACTLY the way you do it!  Yes, I am well aware that you like to format your spreadsheet using font size 12 and prefer your totals to show currency signs.  But these details do not affect the outcome of the deliverable you are expecting from your employee.  Continue reading

Here’s what micro-managers shouldn’t do!

Micromanaging word breaking apart on chain links to illustrate sEarlier this week, in my blog post titled Perfectionists are micro-managers (and lousy leaders), I offered up a couple of ideas on what micro-managers could do to cease and desist, and thus build a better working relationship with their teams. In today’s post I thought I’d add a couple of ideas along the same theme, but this time on what not to do. Continue reading

Perfectionists are micro-managers (and lousy leaders)

Perfection is Roadblock to Progress Road Barricade SignAre you a perfectionist? If so, you’re probably proud of it; you likely wear your perfectionism as a badge of honour. But don’t. In Why perfectionism is NOT a good thing!, I’ve laid out five reasons why perfectionism is not a plus. But there’s another even more important reason to let go of perfectionism – because it also makes you a micro-manager. And (trust me on this!), micro-managers are lousy leaders. They’re hard to work with, and most people find ways to work around micro-managers and perfectionists than to work with them! If you are “guilty as charged” (and willing to admit it), then here are a couple of ideas on how to stop micro-managing, and build a better working relationship with your people. Continue reading

Why perfectionism is NOT a good thing!

The most popular business books of the last two decades all advocate workplace excellence and organizational achievement.  No quarrel there.  But this constant emphasis on being “the best” causes many to think that perfection is the ultimate goal.  After all, perfectionism is positive, right?  It’s synonymous with being an over-achiever; the kind of person who sets bold goals and blazes new trails to momentous achievements.  But the unvarnished truth is that in the workplace, there are more downsides to perfectionism than there are benefits.

In this month’s issue of CGA Magazine, I lay out five reasons perfectionism is NOT a plus,  AND if you happen to be “guilty as charged”, five specific things that you can do to break the pattern.  Read Perfectionism is Not a Plus: The business case for 80 per cent resultsAnd once you’re done, c’mon back and share your views about perfectionism right here on the blog.

Results of our informal poll – the biggest time wasters at work

PollBoxLast month, we conducted a fun online poll – “What are your biggest time wasters at work?” we asked.  And the top two answers were (drum roll please) …

#1 – Other people

#2 – E-mail

For the rest of the results, click on the poll box to the right.

So, do you agree?  What are you doing to overcome these obstacles and manage your time better?

Prioritization and time management for leaders – live audio event on February 16

If you’re a leader, then you know you are busy, no one has to tell you!  You have a multitude of responsibilities that keep your schedule overflowing.  From dealing with the day-to-day issues to participating in long-term initiatives; from putting out smoldering fires to responding to the never-ending stream of e-mail in your in-basket; you are tasked with juggling numerous projects and meeting a myriad of deadlines!  No one has to tell you that your schedule is demanding, you already know that you are being asked to do more with less: provide better customer service, greater productivity and stronger leadership, all while your time and resources dwindle.  No one has to remind you of how much you’re trying to juggle; what you really want are practical, positive and effective strategies to cope with your escalating workload.  And I can help!  Continue reading