Have you ever noticed that, in life, small changes make a big difference?
Take personal health as an example. Eating better and working out, even at small levels, can make a tremendous difference.
Likewise at work, taking small breaks during the day can add to your productivity. The recent popularity of standing desks is one example of a small action (standing) that yields tremendous results.
These are what I call “leverage points.”
To the degree that you can identify and then maximize your leverage points, good things will follow.
Small Things Big Difference
I observed this over the weekend when I was walking my 17 month old son down the stairs. One by one we went down, me guiding him by just a few of his fingers in mine. I was able to direct him through just a few points of contact, safely down to the landing. (So what if he thinks the word down means up and visa versa- he has time to learn!)
How about you? How do you find these subtle leverage points in your own working life?
Here are three suggestions for finding your leverage points:
- Pay attention to those moments when you get “into the zone”. Did time stand still for you last week? What were you doing and what led to that magical moment often called “the zone?”
- Look back over your week to find those tasks that energized you. Which tasks made you feel alive and productive? Where were you when you carried out those tasks?
- Evaluate your productivity tools. Is there a particular piece of software that you love using? Is there a work context that you especially enjoy?
If I go through these three steps, here are my answers in sequence:
• I typically get into the zone between 8-10am and between 4-5pm. It has to be quiet around me.
• I enjoy writing and planning. Again, a quiet environment helps.
• I like tools that activate quick keys and are visually appealing.
Use Your Leverage
Now that you’ve gone through the process of identifying your leverage points, it’s time to put them to work. You’ll want to maximize these as much as possible.
Here’s where the rubber meets the road. Doing a self inventory is relatively easy. Doing the work on a random Monday in August, not so much.
As we look at the three ways to identify your leverage points, let’s now build in action steps that will be usable in any given week. I’ll use two words that start with “z” to make it easy to remember and then repeat.
- Zone: now that you know when you typically get into the zone, schedule time so that you will be most likely to get back into the zone. If 2-3pm is your best time, schedule nothing but your best work during that time.
- Zip: as you are aware of those tasks that energized you most in the past week, marry these with the times in which you are most likely to get into “flow” or the zone of productive work. For me, writing and working on correspondence in the early part of the day makes sense. I then schedule meetings at later hours in the day. You don’t want your day to get sabotaged by other people scheduling things during your zone times.
Sound simple enough? Often the most productive people find extremely simple secrets to their own productivity. If you can identify your own leverage points and then put them to work, your work and personal life will improve exponentially.
Question: What are your productivity leverage points?