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How to Help Other People Become Productive

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Woman teaching team

Here at Asian Efficiency, we have been asked this question several times and this has been discussed in our own Productivity Community, The Dojo. Why is this important for you and me?

We all have our reasons but one thing we can all agree on is that we are also affected when those around us are unproductive and inefficient. Whether it be a co-worker or a family member, their productivity is usually tied to our own.  When you’re in a team and you finish all your deliverables but one of your teammates did not, it could also mean that you do not reach your target(s) as a team. And what about those times when additional tasks are added to your own because other people simply cannot do it because they lack focus? Or when you are planning a vacation with your partner but there are so many disconnects because you use Google Calendar and your partner uses the desk calendar.

We can understand the frustration that you go through when you want to help someone be the best version of themselves but they refuse to listen. Or how tricky it can be to offer advice when it’s not asked.

Let’s take a look at some reasons why it can be difficult to make the people around you more productive.

  1. They don’t think they have a problem with productivity

You see that they have more than 2000 unread email messages, but for them it’s okay. It doesn’t bother them because they get to work on the important stuff anyway. Some things may have fallen through the cracks, but it’s not enough reason for them to actually spend the time to go through their inbox and reach inbox zero or to follow your advice.

When the pain is low, then the motivation to get it fixed is also low.  Pain is considered a great motivator. If your partner lost a big project because an email “fell through the cracks,” then this is going to be a motivator for them to actually listen to you and follow your advice.

  1. They do not have the growth mindset

If you believe in continuous growth by learning new skills or honing your existing skills, then you have the growth mindset. Mike and Thanh talked about this in detail in our podcast as well. The opposite of this is the fixed mindset which means that our qualities are fixed–we cannot change it and we don’t work on it. Unfortunately, the majority of people fall under the fixed mindset. That’s one reason why fiction books are most likely to sell out compared to non-fiction books.

  1. They do not want to listen to YOU

Not listening

There could be several underlying reasons for this. It could be that they just don’t see you as the right person to talk about productivity. Or it could be that they just don’t trust you. Sounds harsh but this is a reality for some.

Those are just some examples as to why you fail in helping other people become more productive. But let’s look at how you can avoid failure and be able to help those around you.

In The Productivity Show, we released a new podcast on this exact same topic. And based on that show, there’s only one way to do so: influence them.

If you think about it, this is the same technique that speakers like Tony Robbins or Nick Vujicic use. And they are great influencers. People they do not know personally are influenced by them and are inspired by them to make changes in their life. You can be this person to those around you as well.

When those around you are as productive as you-you also win. You will have accountability partners or even an accountability group. It will also be easy for you to bounce around ideas on how to improve yourself. And wouldn’t it be great that you can share systems with your significant other and vice versa?

Here are some techniques on how you can influence those around you to be more productive, be it a family member or someone you work with.

  1.  Learn to listen and not just hear

Listening to someone

When you hear something, it’s involuntary. There’s a sound, and you hear it. But when you listen, it is an intentional action that you process what you hear. So there’s a world of difference between the two.

If you want to influence those around you, you must first listen to them. By doing this, you get a better understanding of what their frustrations are, what their problems are, where they need help or even if they need help. When you listen, it gives you the chance to also ask relevant questions that would show that you are interested in what they have to say.

  1. Lead by example

You tell someone to follow the AE email workflow to get to inbox zero but when they look at your inbox, you have more than 200 unread emails in your inbox and you have several folders with corresponding flag colors. Why would they even listen to you or follow your advice when it shows that you are not following it yourself?

We often hear the phrase “practice what you preach” and this is very important when we want to influence people to change. When you do this, you build your credibility that you are the real deal. You know what you are talking about. According to Art Markman in his book Smart Change, you need to engage visibly in the goals that you want them to adopt. When you lead by example, you are (part of) their goal.

This reminds me of a time when my partner was having a hard time focusing. His brain was just everywhere and he could not finish the script that he was coding. Then finally he asked me “What was that tomato app you installed when you could not focus?” Ah ha! He was paying attention. I am very vocal when it comes to what’s going on in my head so when I can’t focus, I would tell him, “I got my timer and my headphones, I need to focus.” Then after 3 or 4 Pomodoros, I would stand up and say “Finally! DONE!” And he’s a witness to it all because we share the same office.

When I first joined Asian Efficiency and was introduced to this wonderful world of productivity, I would often share to him what I have learned and for sure I have also encouraged him to use the Pomodoro Technique. But it wasn’t until he kept noticing that it was my go-to problem fixer when I could not focus that finally, he understood.

Lead by example–show results.

  1. Suggest goals that they can aim for

Setting Goal

Now that you have listened to them, you also have a good understanding of ‘what could be their goals’ and with this in mind, make suggestions. Never dictate what their goals should be. You cannot simply tell your teammate that ‘your goal is to reach inbox zero in two days.’ You can suggest by asking questions too like ‘do you think 2 days will be enough for you to reach inbox zero or you need more time?’ With this, you are basically saying to put a time-frame to the action of getting to inbox zero. If they get confused, then you can always go back to the second point and show what works for you. Help them discover how they can work around what you currently practice in case it does not work for them.

  1.  Make them feel that the change they are going to make is important

Pain is a great motivator and you can highlight this to them. Go through a series of questions that they can relate to and ask them their pain points and what they would do to change this. Go through the Five Why exercise if needed.

  1. It’s not about you

In your head, you got it all figured out. You think “What is so difficult with this? This is easy as pie!” Remember, it’s not about you. It’s about the other person and you are there to help and offer assistance–not do it yourself.

Those are just some tips that you can use to influence people on how to be productive. To know more and find out what Mike and Thanh have to say on this topic, listen to the Podcast Episode: The ONLY Way You Can Inspire Change in Others & Make Them More Productive.

You cannot change someone overnight just as you cannot change yourself overnight. But you can definitely start today. You can start by taking our free Productivity Quiz and share it with your team and family members. It’s a great way to start the ‘are you productive’ conversation.

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