Managing Up [AFP Exchange]

Last year I wrote a piece for the May issue of AFP Exchange about the importance of managing your team to enhance your own personal productivity. I’d like to continue this conversation by telling you about managing up—how managing your boss is a vital part to staying productive at work.

This doesn’t mean manipulating your boss for a lighter workload. Nevertheless, knowing when and how to communicate, and how to set mutually beneficial goals, will improve the work lives of you and your boss. This is a nuanced challenge that practically every individual will face in their professional lives, but there are four guidelines that can help guide the way to a more productive and prosperous working relationship with your superior.

Subscribe and read the rest at afponline.org… 

Executives’ Biggest Productivity Challenges, Solved [Harvard Business Review]

Robert Pozen knows a little something about thriving at the top — he’s the former chairman of MFS Investment Management, a senior lecturer at Harvard Business School, and the author of the book Extreme Productivity. I recently asked him about how demands on executives — and CEOs in particular — have changed over the years, and how today’s leaders can best navigate their busy days. An edited version of our conversation is below.

What are the most pressing productivity issues executives are facing today, and how can they tackle them?

For executives who aren’t part of the C-suite, I think the two most pressing issues are meetings and email. They consume a ridiculous amount of people’s time, and a lot of it isn’t well spent. But they’re both solvable problems.

On email, my suggestions are pretty simple. First, don’t look at it every minute; look at it every hour or two. Second, try to discipline yourself to read only the subject matter in order to discard 50% to 80% of your emails right away. We all get so much spam. Third, practice what I call “OHIO” — Only Handle It Once, immediately deciding what to do with each email. Concentrate on the emails that are important and answer them right away. And don’t put them into some sort of storage system, because by the time you’re ready to finally tackle them, you’ll spend another half an hour trying to find them…

Read the full interview at HBR Blog Network…

Overcoming Big Challenges [Interview with InspiredInsider.com]

What are some of the biggest challenges that you’ve faced? In this interview, Bob Pozen discusses:

-Bob’s best tips for improving productivity.
-Bob talks about his humble beginnings.
-Listen to how Bob handles a school yard bully.
-How do you manage your time effectively and efficiently?
-How to set priority and targets with your daily routine.

Watch the full interview at InspiredInsider.com…

Five tips for improving every-day productivity [MIT Sloan innovation@work Blog]

This is the second in a series of three posts about Bob Pozen’s approach to personal productivity and high performance.

We’ve all been there—staring down the week’s to-do list with the best of intentions, only to find, at the end of the week, that we didn’t accomplish everything that was required us. Our tasks get carried over into the following week, and before we know it, we’re caught in the paradox of being simultaneously too busy and minimally productive.

If this sounds familiar, rest assured: there are indeed solutions to your productivity problems. Robert Pozen provides concrete strategies in his new MIT Sloan Executive Education program, Maximizing Your Personal Productivity, and we share some of them below.

“First, let’s understand that professionals are held back from being productive by both external and internal forces,” says Pozen. “External forces are things like emails and meetings—burdensome tasks that can derail even the most promising schedule. And internal constraints, like procrastination and perfectionism, can make us our own worst enemy.”

Read the Five Tips for Cutting Through Clutter at innovations@work…

Ready, set, prioritize [MIT Sloan innovation@work Blog]

This is the first in a series of three posts about Bob Pozen’s approach to personal productivity and high performance.

What stands between you and the more productive version of you—the person who meets his or her personal and professional goals on a daily, monthly, and yearly basis? Robert Pozen provides concrete answers to this question in his new course, Maximizing Your Personal Productivity, offered on March 20-21 by MIT Sloan Executive Education.

“It became clear that although I spent most of my adult life working in financial institutions, and had written text books on the financial industry, all of a sudden everyone was interested in personal productivity,” says Pozen. “People were stopping me on the street to ask for advice; calling me to say how my book had changed their entire approach to reading and writing.”

When we asked him how the course begins, Pozen focused on setting and prioritizing goals—one of the three big ideas in his book. “Most professionals have not taken the time to write down their goals and prioritize them. Without a specific set of goals to pursue, many ambitious people devote insufficient time to activities that actually support their highest professional priorities.”  Pozen adds that unless you bill your time by the hour, you probably only have a vague sense of how much time you’ve allocated to various tasks and functions over the last year. This discrepancy between top priorities and time allocations can happen to anyone, in any field, at any level of an organization.

Read more at innovations@work…

Quoted In: James Surowiecki’s “The Cult of Overwork,” The New Yorker

If the benefits of working fewer hours are clear, why has it been so hard for businesses to embrace the idea? Simple economics certainly plays a role: in some cases, such as law firms that bill by the hour, the system can reward you for working longer, not smarter. And even if a person pulling all-nighters is less productive than a well-rested substitute would be, it’s still cheaper to pay one person to work a hundred hours a week than two people to work fifty hours apiece. (In the case of medicine, residents work long hours not just because it’s good training but also because they’re a cheap source of labor.) On top of this, the productivity of most knowledge workers is much harder to quantify than that of, say, an assembly-line worker. So, as Bob Pozen, a former president of Fidelity Management and the author of “Extreme Productivity,” a book on slashing work hours, told me, “Time becomes an easy metric to measure how productive someone is, even though it doesn’t have any necessary connection to what they achieve…

Read the full article at New Yorker.com…

Secret Juice: Interview of Bob Pozen [CFA Institute]

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Are obsolete ideas about productivity holding back investment professionals? The modern investment industry is a knowledge-based business operating with an industrial-era mentality about time management, according to Harvard economist (and Future of Finance adviser) Robert Pozen. In the November/December issue of CFA Institute Magazine, he explains why professional investors who want to excel “must totally change their mindset” about productivity.

Read the complete article online here.

How To Be More Productive At Work

Do you wonder how you can be more productive at work?

As a follow-up to his book “Extreme Productivity,” Professor Bob Pozen reveals his secrets to workplace productivity and high performance in this video excerpt published by HBS. The antidote to boring meetings and email backlogs, these excerpts demonstrate how busy professionals can achieve their goals by making a critical shift in mindset: from hours worked to results produced.