How To Plan For Daily Standups During The Holidays

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For many employees, the holidays offer a welcome break in routine. But for team leaders, the last few weeks of December put a pin in their team’s productivity.

When so many people take off at the same time, it leaves the few remaining souls at the office with a ton of work on their plates. They need to get more work than usual done, and in less time.

Every second they spend in their typical in-person daily standups (that would otherwise help them track progress) eats away at time they could be using to pore through their mountains of work.

Frequent checkins are an important part of ensuring individuals are on track to meet their goals and working as a team. But especially when the holidays roll around, managers need to alter how they run standups and create additional support, without sacrificing their employees’ time or autonomy.

Here are some ways to revive your daily standups and simplify your workflow during holiday madness.

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What Michael Jordan Can Teach You About Productivity

Who are your productivity heroes? If Michael Jordan isn’t up there, he should be.

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Most people know Michael Jordan for his phenomenal scoring ability, superhuman dunks, or his starring role in Space Jam. Over a 20-year span, he scored more than 32,000 points, won six NBA titles and was named the league’s most valuable player five times. But to his teammates and coaches, he was notorious for his diligent work ethic.

Jordan’s longtime coach Phil Jackson once wrote that Michael “takes nothing about his game for granted.” He spent so much time preparing for competition that when it was game-time, he didn’t have to think about what to do next. He relied on instinct and muscle memory to dominate his opponents.

Professional athletes have to squeeze as much as they can out of their prime years, making them perfect productivity case studies. Here’s what some of our most famous athletes have to say about getting stuff done.

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The Science of Trust in the Workplace

A 2015 study at NYU Langone showed that when mice were given oxytocin—the hormone that enhances bonding—they started caring for other mices’ babies, as if they were their own. This behavior continued even after the mices’ oxytocin receptors were shut off.

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Wouldn’t it be nice if you could give some to your manager?

It turns out oxytocin can actually teach us a lot about working together as a team and building great work relationships leading to more trust in the workplace. Here’s how it works.

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3 Project Management Methodologies That Create Better Work Culture

People like to dismiss project management methodologies (PMM) as frivolous techniques that won’t really improve their business’s productivity. While they’re wrong on that account, they actually miss the point completely.

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What people don’t realize is that PMMs are more than just process-improvement tools. Project management is really about changing attitudes to create a trusting, collaborative company culture. By adopting practices that encourage communication, unity, and openness, a company can instill positive values within itself and become a great place to work.

We’ll take a look at how companies can use project management methodologies to unify teams and encourage collaborative attitudes for a better work culture.

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An App Addict’s Guide to Beating the Task Management Blues

This week’s post is a guest article by Ben Brandall, a writer for Process Street.

Last weekend I found myself in a cafe, alone and without a laptop for around 2 hours. With just my phone, I wanted to do something worthwhile so I decided to organize my tasks properly — something I hadn’t done in a while.

I realized pretty quickly that my task management system made no sense at all.

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How to Handle 3 Types of Workplace Conflict

Hollywood would have you believe that workplace conflict is awesome. Movies depict the best offices as filled with macho dudes in suits screaming at each other, throwing around insults, and somehow also getting fantastic results.

That’s entertaining, but let’s look at the facts: a 2010 study revealed that the average U.S. employee spends 2.8 hours a week dealing with disputes at work, resulting in losses of $359 Billion across the American economy. In reality, conflict pulls people away from their jobs and kills productivity.

With that in mind, your instinct might be to ruthlessly stamp it out wherever you see it. But that’s not always the best course of action. You need to recognize that not every workplace conflict is the same. It’s like criminal justice—a first degree crime is sentenced differently than a second degree crime. The context, causes, and intentions should influence how you deal with conflict in the workplace.

Here’s a rundown of three of the most common types of office workplace conflict, what they mean for your company, and how to solve them.

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How Distractions Ruin The Most Important Thing You Can Be Doing At Work

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We live in the most distracting time in history. When else did people have access to so much information with so little effort?

It’s a phenomenon that can be both beautiful and terrible. You can easily stumble on to a new favorite song, or a link to a book that changes your life. You can take personalized Portuguese lessons with a native speaker without leaving your house. Or…

Cats. So many cats. One click on a Facebook link can send you down the rabbit hole of lost time and missed productivity. Who knows how many hours and dollars you’re costing yourself in the long run.

Even worse, we’re most susceptible to these kind of distractions at work, where our attention and energy is at its most vulnerable.

Not only is it taking away your time. And taking away your money. It’s taking away the most valuable, important thing you can be doing at work.

It’s taking away your flow.

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How Procrastination Can Be Your Best Productivity Tool

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Consider the cliche job interview question — What’s your biggest weakness?* What’s the worst answer you can give?

“I’m a procrastinator.”

Probably no quicker way to ensure you’re “not the right fit” for that job. No matter what the job is.

Procrastination has become one of the ugliest words in modern work. It’s practitioners are stigmatized more than employees who make bad choices and blow up the company. They at least were doing something, the thinking goes.

But what if we’re thinking about it all wrong. What if the impulse to procrastinate is one of the more valuable tools we have?

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Managers, Are You Sabotaging Motivation at Work?

3 Ingredients of Intrinsic Motivation: Autonomy, Mastery, Purpose

Given a choice between solving puzzles for free or for pay — which would you pick?

If you want to stay motivated and solve more puzzles, the surprising thing is that you should do them for free.

In the early 1970s, psychologist Edward Deci wanted to study how money affects motivation. In one experiment, he paid one group $1 (that’s about $6 today) for each puzzle solved within three sessions, while the control group received no payment. In the middle of each session was an eight-minute free period in which people could continue puzzling, read magazines, or otherwise spend the time how they wished.

It was the paid group who chose to spend less time working on puzzles in the free periods. The extrinsic monetary reward made them lose intrinsic motivation, where the reward is the activity itself.

Over forty years later, managers still rely on the old model of dangling external rewards like money and prestige to motivate their people — but in today’s era of knowledge work, this model is increasingly misguided. If you think your people are going to continue to put in their best efforts with monetary rewards, you’re sabotaging the most powerful sources of motivation.

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This One Word from Managers Helps Teams Work 48% Better

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In many ways, work is getting increasingly solitary.

We’re rejecting meetings with colleagues as inefficient time-wasters where nothing gets done. Technology is mediating communication, replacing face-to-face interaction. Remote work means that we’re often physically alone even when we’re working on a team.

The upshot is that even when we’re working together with colleagues on a team, it can feel like we’re working alone. Yet social contexts can be powerful motivators at work. Without them, we can get disengaged and feel like our work doesn’t matter.

It turns out that, even in the absence of working physically together with a team, it’s possible to evoke the power of social context with one single word. Stanford psychologists discovered that saying this one word inspired individuals to work an incredible 48% harder by using social context to fuel intrinsic motivation.

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