Over nearly two decades at my own business, I've learned a few tricks to help me and my company stay motivated and productive. One is the idea of forcing functions--or, a method of restraining your choices to force a specific outcome.
You've probably already used them in your personal life. If you've ever deleted the Facebook app when you felt distracted, or chose not to stroll through the grocery store's junk food aisle to avoid temptations, then you know what I'm talking about.
Forcing functions help achieve results by limiting alternatives. Just as they apply to the App Store and grocery store, they have a valuable place in your office, too.
They've helped me improve in these five ways:
I've written previously about how I use calendarization to help spark productivity. If you're the kind of person who adheres to calendar events, they can force your hand--in a good way.
For me, a prime example took place earlier this year. Heading into the second quarter, I knew that learning and development was going to be a major initiative for my company, but I hadn't yet fleshed out exactly how or where it would be implemented.
With the quarter fast approaching, I scheduled a company-wide meeting to detail the company's initiative. I had two options: Have a plan ready in time for the presentation, or continue to push it aside--and be forced to cancel on all my employees.
Putting something on the books adds a layer of accountability. If people are expecting you to deliver, you'll be more inclined to do the work.
2. Goal Attainment
The same concept of accountability can be applied to your individual objectives. At my company, Arkadium, every team member's goals are completely visible--whether you're a co-founder or in your first month as an entry-level programmer.
The same way a looming meeting can force you to build that elusive deck, a public goal can push you closer to completion. Think about how many New Year's resolutions have been abandoned simply due to a lack of external pressure.
Here, everyone can log onto our goal-tracking platform and check my progress. As CEO, that kind of transparency keeps me motivated to set an example for the rest of the company.
3. A Clear Mind
To perform at your optimal level of productivity, you'll need a clear mind.
Everyone is familiar with the drowsiness and foggy brain that follows a heavy lunch. In some cases, no amount of coffee can bring you back to full strength.
Taking control of your diet can sound daunting, but I've found it to be extremely simple. I try to never decide what I'm eating for lunch when I'm already hungry. If I don't pre-pack a lunch from home, I pre-order my lunch earlier that morning--services like Seamless make this easy.
When you're hungry, it's easy to opt for the most convenient or filling meal you find. But by planning in advance, your decision making takes place while you're in a much more health-conscious state.
4. Rest and Recovery
It's common for employees to take work home during a particularly busy stretch in the office. It's not an inherently bad tactic, but as someone who stresses the importance of work-life balance, it's hardly ideal.
If you're constantly hopping online after the sun goes down to tend to matters you could've handled during the day, a little extra motivation might do the trick. I've found that calendarizing your office exit can lead to higher productivity during business hours.
If your day ends at 5 p.m., sign up for a fitness class or volunteer session at 5:30. Knowing that your after-work downtime will be limited could be a simple trick to healthily boost your sense of urgency in the office--and enable you to use your time at home to recharge.
5. Confidence Under Pressure
Do you love public speaking? Congratulations! You're part of a small sliver of the population: 10 percent, to be exact. If you fall in the other bucket, clearly, you're not alone.
At Arkadium, we have a light-hearted, built-in tradition to help every employee practice the craft.
Every Monday, at our office-wide weekly meeting, a team member is chosen at random to "host." The host picks a conversation starter out of a hat - for example, "What's on your bucket list?" or "What do you love about your hometown?" The host then prepares a fun presentation to answer the question, which is interspersed throughout various department updates.
Practicing a quirky topic in front of familiar faces is a fun way to practice presenting--and a great way to learn more about a colleague.
But whether you're trying to accomplish big-picture goals or simply check one box off the to-do list, forcing functions can push you closer to success.