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Reaching Peak Performance for Knowledge Workers

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A presentation about attention- and time-management for "knowledge workers": people who solve problems and approach problems creatively, and who deal primarily in knowledge (mental labor) rather than physical (manual) labor.

Prepared and presented by Richard Thripp of Toastmasters of Port Orange, FL on 2015-05-20, in fulfillment of Competent Communication Project #6: "Vocal Variety" in the Toastmasters curriculum.

Published in: Self Improvement
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Reaching Peak Performance for Knowledge Workers

  1. 1. Reaching Peak Performance for Knowledge Workers RICHARD THRIPP
  2. 2. Definitions
  3. 3. Definitions “Knowledge workers are workers whose main capital is knowledge. Typical examples may include software engineers, doctors, architects, engineers, scientists, public accountants, lawyers, and academics, whose job is to ‘think for a living.’” Reference Davenport, T. H. (2005) as cited on Wikipedia. Thinking for a living: How to get better performance and results from knowledge workers. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.
  4. 4. Definitions: Reference: Buckingham-Shum,S. (1998). “Negotiatingthe construction of organisationalmemories,” in: Information technology for knowledge management, edited by U.M.Borghoff & R. Pareschi, pp. 55-78. Berlin: Springer. (Reprinted from: Journal of Universal Computer Science, 3 (8), 1997, 899-928) Knowledge work: * Ad-hoc behaviors * Less structure * Fuzzy job titles and duties * Inconsistent methods & output * Diverse & variable * Mobility and satisfaction valued Procedural work: * Structured behaviors * Inflexible filing system * Well-defined roles * Consistent methods & output * Clear information flow * Seniority and compartmentalization valued
  5. 5. Time vs. Energy
  6. 6. Time vs. Energy Free time and free mental energy are not the same.
  7. 7. Time vs. Energy For example, you might have free time in the evening, but be exhausted from your day job, and not be able to do any knowledge work.
  8. 8. Time vs. Energy You might have the energy to do knowledge work but not the time, due to pressing procedural work such as paperwork, household chores, childcare, driving, cooking, etc.
  9. 9. Time vs. Energy Possible Solutions
  10. 10. Time vs. Energy
  11. 11. Time vs. Energy Keep a journal of your energy levels throughout the day. Then, schedule menial activities (procedural work) during your downtime and hard mental activities (knowledge work) when you have the most energy.
  12. 12. Time vs. Energy Typically, hard mental work should be done early in the day.
  13. 13. Time vs. Energy However, many creative artists are more productive late at night or in the wee hours of the morning!
  14. 14. Distractions
  15. 15. Distractions Self-distraction may be your greatest enemy!
  16. 16. Distractions How many of you check/visit/use at least one of the following websites/apps/services mindlessly?
  17. 17. Distractions Email, SMS (text messaging), Facebook, Facebook Messenger, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Yahoo, Wikipedia, Meetup, Pinterest, Google News, local news, Snapchat, Instagram, Candy Crush (puzzle game)
  18. 18. Distractions You are not alone!
  19. 19. Distractions But you will not reach peak performance by following the crowd.
  20. 20. Distractions • What if, instead?
  21. 21. Distractions • What if, instead? You re-train yourself to do something useful when your mind wanders?
  22. 22. Distractions
  23. 23. Distractions
  24. 24. Distractions
  25. 25. Distractions • You may find that working on your plans, budget, pleasure or educational reading, or online courses is even more compelling than: Email, SMS (text messaging), Facebook, Facebook Messenger, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Yahoo, Wikipedia, Meetup, Pinterest, Google News, local news, Snapchat, Instagram, Candy Crush (puzzle game)
  26. 26. Distractions • You may find that working on your plans, budget, pleasure or educational reading, or online courses is even more compelling than: Email, SMS (text messaging), Facebook, Facebook Messenger, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Yahoo, Wikipedia, Meetup, Pinterest, Google News, local news, Snapchat, Instagram, Candy Crush (puzzle game)
  27. 27. Interruptions
  28. 28. Interruptions “Please do not disturb.”
  29. 29. Interruptions Are you sure about that?
  30. 30. Interruptions
  31. 31. Interruptions PRESENTING: The art of making yourself scarce.
  32. 32. Interruptions PRESENTING: The art of making yourself scarce.
  33. 33. Interruptions If possible, silence the phone and don’t answer it. Let them leave voicemails. Call everyone back in a designated block of time, on your terms.
  34. 34. Interruptions Stop answering emails immediately!
  35. 35. Interruptions Schedule two times a day to check and respond to email and stick to it.
  36. 36. Interruptions Do intense mental work early in the morning before anyone is awake. 
  37. 37. Interruptions Save time on Facebook by “liking” replies rather than responding to them. 
  38. 38. Delegation
  39. 39. Delegation Not just for elitists—consider that your “underlings” may be gaining valuable experience by doing your procedural “grunt work.” They may also enjoy it.
  40. 40. Delegation Delegation can be done via the Internet, saving time. For example, you may have others proof- read your writing or manage your website, without ever meeting in-person.
  41. 41. Delegation Balance costs vs. rewards: delegation may require a large upfront cost (training) and take a long time to reach the break-even point.
  42. 42. Priorities
  43. 43. Priorities Or, I used to be a gamer.
  44. 44. Priorities What keeps you busy in the short term might not be what your heart wants in the long term.
  45. 45. Priorities Consider focusing on Quadrant II priorities (Stephen Covey): things that are important in the long term but not urgently necessary.
  46. 46. Priorities Your priorities and aspirations can and will change. You can alter them as time passes and situations change, while still being true to yourself.
  47. 47. Priorities Saying “no” and “yes” to the right people and things is far easier said than done.
  48. 48. Priorities But ignoring or making phony excuses is far worse.
  49. 49. Priorities Recently, I have found that people do not take offense when I decline opportunities because they do not “interest” or “motivate” me.
  50. 50. Priorities Perhaps phony excuses are no longer needed?
  51. 51. Priorities Respect the value of introspection, research, and long-term planning. They are very important to peak performance throughout life.
  52. 52. Call to Action
  53. 53. Call to Action What can you do tonight that will set you up for a better Thursday?
  54. 54. Call to Action Plan the first thing you will work on in the morning.
  55. 55. Call to Action Send an email or text message asking if someone else can help, or start doing the work they are supposed to be doing.
  56. 56. Call to Action Tell others you will be indisposed tomorrow.
  57. 57. Call to Action And do the great things you are meant to do.
  58. 58. END RICHARD THRIPP

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