Most companies reward extroverts. They think that these folks are the ones who speak up at meetings, are outgoing and as a result get more things done.
But not so fast...
Extroverts, if we use the Myers Briggs Type Indicator, are people who like a lot of sensory stimulation and get energized by being around people. Introverts, not to be confused with shy folks, prefer less stimulation and gain physical energy by being alone and uninterupted.
Do you know which you are? I'm from a long line of introverts. My dad and brothers are introverts and we each find great joy in alone time. We like people a lot but find big social events exhausting. My wife is an extrovert and always likes to think of social events and get togethers. The point is that both introverts and extroverts are "good" and we need a healthy balance of both to make a great team.
Now look at your own team. You may be the mom and are looking at the "team" of your family. You may be the CEO of a Fortune 500 company and are considering your senior executive team. You may be a manager of a small office. Each of us has a team and can pay special attention to the introverts in our midst.
I suggest three ways that you can help the introverts on your team get things done with more efficiency:
1. Prepare meeting agendas in advance. Introverts like to ponder things ahead of time.
2. Do what you can to create a workspace that honors privacy. This will vary from company to company.
3. Stop interrupting them. Imagine a workplace that encouraged time for folks to think without being interrupted?
You know that there are introverts on your own team. The question is, how are you helping them get more done?
The morning is a critical time of day. You're either spent or totally focused. You love it or loathe it. Wherever you are in the spectrum, we can all agree that mornings are important.
For productivity-minded folks, the morning hours are vital to getting the most out of a day.
Prayer is the key of the morning and the bolt of the evening. -Gandhi
So how should you begin? That's a loaded question for sure. To help in the process, we might want to consider listing a few actions that are not helpful at the start of your day. These include:
- Shopping- shopping is necessary but try and avoid it first thing in the morning. Shopping moves our hearts towards objects rather than towards the day ahead of us and the people we serve.
- Negative reading- whatever is "negative" in your book, try and avoid it. This could include dark literature or even current events.
- News- let's face it: the news can be depressing. Bad stories sell papers but that doesn't mean that you have to start your day with it.
- Email- I think that email needs to be addressed early in the day but not necessarily first thing. Email sucks you in to work rather than keeping your mind clear and focused on getting grounded to begin your day.
- Too much talking- journaling is very useful as a day starter but don't do all of the talking. Make sure to allow some time to just sit and listen: to God, nature, the stirrings inside of your own heart.
What types of activities do you avoid at the start of your day?
Photo courtesy of KS
When was the last time that you made a major change in your workflow that resulted in a dramatic increase in productivity?
I love gadgets. I can still remember my first PalmPilot and subsequent Palm Treo devices. When the iPhone first came out, I jumped in and have owned the iPhone 3G, 4, 4s and 5. All have been great and have become important tools in my productivity toolbox.
Something changed in the past several months. I got bored with my iPhone. It's built with precision craftsmanship, works fairly well and is stunningly beautiful. When I had the iPhone 5 for a week, the best comparison I could make was to the latest and greatest … Toyota Camry.
Before you accuse me of blasphemy, let me explain.
My brother has a Camry. It's comfortable and offers a smooth ride. The gas mileage is good enough. With each new iteration, it improves over the previous model. The only problem with a Camry is that it's, um, boring.
Never heard a cute girl compliment a guy on his choice of a Camry over say, a Corvette or Jeep. Camrys (and I've owned one) communicate something different. They say, "I'm safe," or "I'm refined" or even "I'm vanilla".
So I got bored and studied how I could tweak my experience. I learned that you can do something called "jailbreaking" which enables your iPhone to do amazing tricks and exciting actions. Sure, I told myself, it voids the warranty but what's the worse that could happen?
My iPhone froze up, that's what.
So I switched it back to its original mode. Until I missed the jailbroken features and re-jailbroke it two days later. I loved the fact that I could send a text from the lock screen or configure my screen exactly the way that I wanted.
Freedom was mine. That is, of course, until Apple updated the OS and the jailbreak window was closed. Never again would an iPhone user be able to modify, tweak and customize his experience within the Camry walls of Apple.
Like a curious traveler, I considered my options. I could stay with my iPhone. After all, don't all of the cool kids have them? Or, I could venture out and begin again within the parameters of a new platform.
The new Blackberry wasn't out yet. Windows Phone seemed destined to fail within a year's time. I was left with Android, a platform that I had previously bemoaned as clunky and cheap.
Until I actually tried one for a period of time. My brother has a Google Nexus 4 and really liked it so I decided to give it a try. Here are my results:
WHAT I LIKE
Google Play Store: While the Apple App Store probably has a better quality of apps, nearly every app that I used to run on my iPhone is available on Android. Nozbe, Dropbox, Evernote, etc. Better yet, the experience of buying an app via the Android App Store is much better, allowing you to purchase something online which is later downloaded to your phone. Smooth and easy. Do I miss a few apps that are only available on my iPhone? Sure but not that much and I've been able to find replacement apps that work just as well.
Software: I can't fully communicate how nice it is to have the freedom to change whatever I want about how I use my phone. Different lock screen? Yup. Change the way your apps behave? Sure. Modify how your phone allocates battery power? No problem. Have apps work together seamlessly so that you can get more done on the fly? Absolutely. Android, in my opinion, has caught up to Apple's iOS platform, at least in terms of how the OS works. I love it.
Google Simplicity: When I used an iPhone, I would sync my calendar app (and I've tried just about all of them) with Google Calendar. Unfortunately, try as I might, I would end up with multiple events repeating themselves. There's nothing more stupid than four events on your calendar that say "Budget Meeting", all showing up at the same time. With my Android phone, the sync power to Google products (like Calendar) is totally clean. Only one Budget Meeting event will show up which keeps my schedule clean and doesn't frustrate me in the middle of a day.
WHAT I MISS
The hardware of an Apple product is tough to rival. The HTC One is probably a worthy competitor but the other top-flight units have a way to go. My Google Nexus 4 is not particularly noteworthy when it comes to hardware. The camera is average as best. The buttons are pedestrian. No LTE is a bummer. Many of the Twitter apps for Android have a long way to go.
HOW ANDROID BOOSTS MY PRODUCTIVITY
Any gadget should help you get things done. Sure, each is fun in its own way but if it doesn't help you to do your work, it could be fodder for the paperweight drawer. For me, Android is lots of fun. As someone who likes to tweak and customize my experience, it's perfect. I'm willing to make some hardware compromises in order to get more done. Android is less of an experience of in-app/out-of-app productivity and more of doing what you need to do while using multiple apps. I feel as if I'm using a more full-bodied computer and it's doing what I want it to do instead of what the company tells me that I should do with it.
That's a gadget that I look forward to using today and for months to come.
Question: How is your smartphone a help/hindrance to your productivity?
Photo courtesy of AC
Sometimes you own things and sometimes they own you.
I was at a mini retreat on Sunday and a friend, Chip, was constantly checking his iPhone. I figured that his lovely wife, Aida, would have kicked him under the table but she apparently has gotten used to his 24/7 online status. Either that or he's setting up a new gadget to his liking.
Having recently switched from an iPhone to an Android smartphone, I've been deep in that same mode. Tweaking, checking and getting the new phone do what I want it to do... I've gotten a kick or two from my wife along the way.
I switched away from an iPhone after having jailbroken my previous iPhone 5 (translation: "jailbreak" = a geeky move you can do on your iPhone to allow for cool features). Wanting more flexibility and personalization, Android was the perfect option. Everything I loved about a jailbroken iPhone, I can now do on my Google Nexus 4 and more. It took me a while to give myself permission to switch. After all, aren't all of the cool kids using iPhones?
Then I read about another iPhone guru who switched to Android. If he could do it, I could too.
Faith is sort of like this as well. It's got to be your own. If you were to take an All Star Saints photo of this century, it would probably include Mother Theresa, Padre Pio and Maximilian Kolbe. We have tons to learn from them and we ought to familiarize ourselves with their lifestyle and Gospel message. All three were amazing.
But at the end of the day, your faith is yours and not Mother Theresa's. After all, you can do things that she could not. God has special plans for you that He did not apply to Maximilian Kolbe, amazing as that may sound.
So when it all comes down to it, whether you are an iPhone or an Android user, make it your own. Just like your faith and walk with God. Get into it. Enjoy the ride because no other person has the exact same experience.
Challenge: Pray today for the grace of knowing how exactly your relationship with God is different from that of others.
Photo courtesy of FDP