To be able to become more productive it is important to review your work regularly, what you are doing and how you are doing it. Be aware of what work and activities you are doing and why you are doing them. Ask yourself are you working to build battlements and walls for protection, or are you working to provide the best outcome? Safe Zones are not where we are impenetrable, protected and hiding behind a wall. Safe Zones are where we are calm, confident, strong in our abilities and approaches, trusting ourselves and those we work with.
Give yourself a break, and break down the walls
A psychological safe zone is very important for a high performing team. Building an environment of trust, a place where no idea is “wrong” and it is all about learning, a supportive, respectful environment is challenging. A safe zone is where everyone feels respected and able to contribute as a member of the team. Building this for your own productivity space is important too. So to increase your productivity you need to be able to give yourself a break. I think that we aim for instant perfection too often, and what we really need to do is understand that it’s more of a journey than we normally do – especially if it comes to productivity. We also need to break down the walls or barriers we build around ourselves.
To be safe you need to think about your relationships with others around you. This is why I like to list out my work in the grid I described in my previous post. It allows me to consider those around me, and how I am interacting with them in terms of delivery of their needs, respecting their drivers, and providing for them as well as for myself. You will become almost instantly more productive if you are delivering for the needs of others as well as yourself.
To help build your Safe Zone study your work – learn about what you are doing and why you are doing it. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is an important consideration when you are looking to increase your productivity by focusing on the right thing at the right time. It sounds odd, but if you are scared of losing your job, you won’t be at ease, thus you will be reactive rather than proactive, which means you will have clouded judgement and you will not have clear priorities, you won’t engage well with others and you won’t be as productive as you would like.
I know that is a long bow to draw, but if you are able to look at your work you can classify it as basic, psychological, or self fulfilment. Once you have classified your work you can see if you have the right balance, or are you focusing on one area too much? Are you driven by a more base need, or are you focusing on your fulfilment work to the expense of the other aspects of your work?
What thoughts do you keep having? What’s nagging you? Look at what you are worried about. Being productive means that you are focused and efficient at what you are doing. If you are constantly being distracted by a thought or an idea, your mind is clouded and you are not able to focus on the work at hand. It will take you longer to do, cause frustration and get you out of your “flow state” which is where productivity reigns!
Trust yourself and your abilities so that you can focus on delivering rather than worrying about failing. Having clear goals is a quick win for a safe zone and productivity as it means that you are focused on achievement, which is a great confidence boost. Check for meaning and purpose, keep focusing on this when considering your work. Asking “why am I doing this activity” is a very powerful way of ensuring you are doing the right thing at the right time.
Growing yourself and your skills is the attitude that a Safe Zone promotes. Learning about what you are good at and what you may need to spend more time on is part of this safety, but doing it with empathy and compassion, not judgement. Being confident in what you are doing means that you do it quicker and with more ease. If you are not confident about doing something on your “to do” list, then think about how you can grow your skills in that area, then allocate the time to it.
Being vulnerable is also an important part of a Safe Zone. Not being defensive, aggressive, shutting thoughts down or shutting people out is a very important part of being that member of a high performing team. It is also important when you are considering your own personal productivity. How much do you self criticise? Can you imagine talking to someone the way that you talk to yourself? If you do give yourself a dressing down regularly, try to look at your opportunities to be open and vulnerable, rather than defensive and resistive to change.
Create a Safe Zone by tearing down your walls, sharing your work priorities, being open with your team mates about what you are doing and why. Remove the challenges and competitiveness and focus on the shared goals and outcomes.