Ep 152 – The Bigger Strategy Behind Workplace Productivity

the bigger strategy behind workplace productivity

The search for optimum productivity and maximum efficiency is a struggle as we juggle our personal lives and professional ones, not to mention friendships, families and our personal interests. There never seems like there is enough time to get things done. Our next podcast guest walks us through strategies for being your most productive and effective self, and tackling that to-do list.

Episode 152: The Bigger Strategy Behind Workplace Productivity with Maura Nevel Thomas (@mnthomas)

Maura Nevel Thomas is a productivity expert who trains individuals, organizations, and teams on how to be their most productive, organized, and happy selves. Maura’s work has been featured all over the world in publications like the Harvard Business Review. In my ongoing quest to drive my own productivity, I didn’t just want to focus on tools but the bigger picture and strategy behind being more productive at work, which is what Maura absolutely does.

Maura talks us through what she calls attention management, which is very different from time management. Attention management is giving that person, that meeting, or that moment your full attention. You can manage your time well, but not be present in a conversation with a friend, say, over lunch because you are waiting on a call from a business colleague. Maura says that attention management is just as important as time management, if not more so.

With all of our modern distractions, the ability to be present in the moment during a project or meeting is of the utmost importance. If you can focus your attention, Maura says the ability to be present in your moments and to engage your flow can bring out your highest performing and best self.

Bringing Intentionality to Your Work Day: Workflow Management

Maura says that it isn’t just focus that can drive success. The decision to be organized and productive is an intentional one and it keeps us from getting swept away by all of the demands that are constantly assaulting us. Maura says that offering training and support in this area is how an organization can support the productivity of its staff. Doing so frees up their people to really bring the full weight of their genius to the organization, contributing to the organization’s success.

Intentionality is more than being focused. It’s about promising yourself, your team, and your organization that you won’t fall into the trap of reaction. As a leader, we can really help our teams grow and flourish by giving them the tools to be successful not just at work but in all aspects of their lives through productivity training and resources.

One of these intentional philosophies and processes when it comes to productivity is something that Maura calls workflow management. The system serves as a guide and process for those of us (including myself) who aren’t fans of those things. It still needs to be a part of our lives in order to be able to function at our best. I’ve been diving into Maura’s book, Work Without Walls, and am committed to bringing more structure to my life. Maura shares that creative people (which I am) especially need this so they can be their most creative selves.

I love Maura’s insights and the idea that we have control over the environment and the distractions that we let into our lives. Interviewing Maura reminds me of this as, during this podcast interview, I had no less than two phone calls, three text messages and a handful of emails notifying me that they had arrived. It’s easy to fall into that trap where we have to be always available. I hope that together we can help become better at attention management and workflow processes together. It’s something I’m really focused on the rest of this year.

Connect with Maura Nevel Thomas.


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*A special thank you to my production team at Total Picture Radio.

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell is the founder of Workology, a digital resource that reaches more than a half million HR and workplace leaders each month and host of the Workology Podcast. Jessica lives in Austin, TX, with her husband, daughter, and an assortment of furry family members.


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