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By Glen Stansberry

Supervising Your Productivity: Who Do You Answer To?

Written by Scott Belsky of Behance.

Action steps are worthless without a sense of accountability to complete them. In our jobs and daily chores, the oversight of colleagues, wives/husbands, and clients helps us stay focused. In the mishmash of daily life, we must feel accountable in order to stay productive and push ideas forward.

However, at some point, supervision backfires. Having a boss over your shoulder or constant nagging reminders will actually reduce our motivation. After all, we want to take pride in our own productivity. As such, the drive must start from within. But methods to support our drive for productivity are critical defenses in a world of TIVO, email, and countless other distractions.

From the Behance team’s work with especially productive (and creative) teams, here are a few of the tactics we observed:

  • Accountability via Photocopy & The Mailman. There is a non-profit board that has developed an interesting method for boosting productivity and ensuring that people complete their tasks. Everyone is given a sheet at every meeting to capture action steps, and then, at the meeting’s conclusion, every person’s sheet is collected, photocopied, and returned. You leave the meeting with your original copy, just as you normally would. However, one month later, you stumble upon a letter when opening your mail and – surprise – there is a photocopy of your action steps, in your own beautiful handwriting. It is a reminder from…yourself.
  • Action Step Recounting. Some teams have a quick “action go-around” at the conclusion of every meeting. Each person takes a turn reciting the action steps that he/she captured. After each turn, the rest of the group has a minute to comment on anything that may have been missed (after all, most ideas never happen because the actions required are not captured!). This verbal exchange that takes place is a powerful force of accountability. Magic happens when you state publicly that you are going to do something.
  • Public To-Do Lists. Imagine if your to-do lists were transcribed in 32 pt font on huge pieces of paper gracing your walls. This is a surprisingly effective method for accountability in a team environment. In fact, we use this strategy ourselves at Behance. The benefits we notice include:
    • Public disclosure of productivity – everyone knows where everyone is at.
    • Sharing of action steps – it is visibly alarming when someone has too much on their plate and needs help.
    • Efficiency in utilizing resources – we are more likely to provide assistance to our colleagues if we know what they are working on.

We all spend a lot of time focused on general productivity and too little time on the forces in our lives that keep us motivated and on track. While our instinct is to seclude ourselves into our own productivity cocoons, we must also incorporate the necessary pressures to stay on task. Most often, these pressures are external and must be tolerated, if not embraced!

Photo by Mikey aka DaSkinny BlackMan

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