Increasing Personal Productivity Part 1

The second biggest question I get is ‘how can I become more productive?’ It’s not necessarily about time management, although time management is part of any personal productivity.  The only thing we can manage is our own behavior and what we do during the 24 hours of each day.  All of us have the same 24 hours, some use it more effectively than others because they are more disciplined and they manage themselves better and as a result they are more productive, get more things done, and make more money

In the next few posts I am going to talk about 5 different components of personal productivity. Five different chunks of information if you will.

Personal Habits

The first ‘chunk’ of information is habits.  Any intention of improving our performance has to start with a very honest assessment of personal habits because the truth of the matter is your habits make you the person you are.  Good, bad or indifferent, whatever your circumstances in life are, they are the result of unconscious habits and behaviors that you have formulated throughout your entire life. And these habits will determine your destiny in life.

If you don’t believe that, just think about the habit of brushing your teeth and what an unconscious event that has become for you over the decades that you have spent on the face of this planet.  Same thing with most everything we do, and if you want to know who a person really is, if you want to get a true bead on an individual, simply watch their habitual behavior and observe closely their behavior because a person’s outward behavior equals the truth in their life; it is a true indication of who they are, what they are, what they think, what they believe and so forth.  Behavior is the true measure of what a person believes to be true and who they really are as opposed to what they may say.

The interesting thing about habits is that the consequences of bad habits, negative habits, or counterproductive habits don’t show up early in life. It’s only after 30 years of not exercising or smoking cigarettes, or eating bad food, not saving for the future or not putting enough money away for retirement, do the consequences show up on our doorstep.

That’s why it so hard sometimes to get a young person to do anything preventive – because they simply don’t have the perspective of some 30 years down the road.  But anybody that’s lived any great length of life will look back and tell you they wished they had paid more attention to some of the bad habits that got them to where they are today.

Habits are the result of programming.

Once we have created that habit and once that program has been established neurologically we begin to do that behavior unconsciously, we go to autopilot and we continue to do it without even questioning whether or not it makes any sense or not.  That is why so many business owners and salespeople are in trouble right now. They think they can run their business in 2010 based upon what worked in 2008. Many of these people are going to wake up and find out too late that they’re doing the wrong stuff and when they finally figure it out, for many of them, it’s going to be too late because the rules have changed, business has forever changed and it has not change incrementally, it has changed fundamentally and in a significant and big way.  Much yet to be revealed as to how it has changed, but one thing for sure, it has changed significantly.

The first step to changing habits is to understand the power of habits, begin to focus on your habits and to take an inventory of those habits.  All of us have good habits and counterproductive habits.  The habit of brushing our teeth after we eat a meal is a good habit.  The habit of driving without a seatbelt, while we might get away with it, is a bad habit. The habit of not putting enough money away early in life to provide for one’s financial future means that in later years we sacrifice quality of life because we did not deny ourselves our impulses and pleasures early in life.

Each one of us has good and bad habits. In selling, there are also negative and counterproductive habits that people have and not just in selling but in their business in general.  There are many very poor habits that salespeople are guilty of and certainly mismanaging their time is a classic example of a poor habit.  Most people in business are terrible at managing themselves throughout the course of a day in terms of staying focused and on point when it comes to productivity.

Becoming More Productive

If you want to become more productive, get into the habit of changing your habits.  The way you do that is to become consciously aware – make yourself consciously aware of the importance of your habits on a daily basis.  If you’re looking to do that there’s a three step process:  first do a self inventory and clearly identify the negative or counterproductive habits that you currently engage in – and there’s probably a whole bunch of them. For example – Salespeople who show up late for meetings, who are never on time, who never complete their paperwork appropriately (which leads to a whole bunch of ramifications), who interrupt people when they’re talking, who don’t listen very well and on and on and on – lots and lots of bad habits.  Before you can change your bad habits you’ve got to recognize and be aware of a negative habit, otherwise you continue doing stuff that is counterproductive and you don’t even know you’re doing it. You don’t have a clue about it, which means you continue to interrupt prospects when they talk, continually show up for meetings late and you wonder why things aren’t going so great for you.  Well, that’s a habitual pattern that is repeated over and over again and a habit that is repeated will produce the same results over and over again.

So, first thing is having a very self honest discussion about your bad habits.  Now if you have real courage you might ask some people who know you real well to list out for you what they consider to be your bad habits.  I promise you they will say some things that will cause you to cringe, but if you’re honest enough and have enough guts to accept feedback from somebody else then it can be a very positive thing for you.

Secondly, once you are aware of the negative habit, you have to look at replacing that habit with a new positive success habit.  For instance, if you tend to be three, four, five minutes late and everybody knows that no matter when a meeting is called you’re going to be four or five minutes late, develop a new habit of arriving 5 minutes early for the meeting.

Thirdly, Rinse and Repeat over and over until that new behavior become the new habit. This usually takes several weeks. If you backslide you have to restart the clock and begin anew.

Mr 88 Days

Great article and thanks for sharing your knowledge.


Steve, I couldn’t agree more. In future calls it would be of extreme value to give us some of your feedback on what activities we must do every day to become extremely succesful sales people. For example, prospecting 1 hour per day…etc.

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