Flexibility for Productivity

Changes in our daily routines, our industries, and our workplace structures can all disrupt our carefully crafted productivity systems. All too easily, productive gears get gummed up by change and output slows to a creeping pace.

Woman stretching

But those times of change are when you need to be most productive so you can stay on top of your usual day-to-day and tackle the adjustments that come with the changes. Being able to adapt without losing a grip on already established systems makes you invaluable to those around you. In Good to Great by Jim Collins, a top executive of a great company describes the value of being surrounded by adaptable individuals:

“That’s how you build the future,” he said. “If I’m not smart enough to see the changes that are coming, they will. And they’ll be flexible enough to deal with them” (p. 42).

Flexibility is the key to keeping your productivity up while rolling with the changes. But flexibility comes with practice and preparation, both of which need to take place before you actually need the flexibility. So what stretches can you do to improve your change-trumping flexibility?

Have an adventure.

Start by changing your attitude towards everyday challenges in your life. Instead of glancing at them sideways and engaging with them the same way you’d engage with rotten squash guts, try looking at them as an adventure. When you start seeing mountains of paperwork, a seemingly impossible deadline, or a particularly troublesome product feature as an adventure instead of an affliction, you’re stretching your attitude. Once your attitude is conditioned to spring into adventure mode instead of moaning mode, a change in your process or environment won’t be such a downer. It’ll just be one more adventure.

Try something new.

Once you’ve exercised your attitude, start creating adventures instead of just seeing them. Take a different route to work, just to change things up. Change your morning routine by a step or two. Use your notebook from the last page backwards, instead of from the front page forwards. Trying little new things every so often will not only keep things interesting, but it will keep you limber when it comes to tackling change. After all, if you see change every other day because you want to, what’s so scary about a little change you didn’t ask for?

Assess the past.

If you’ve overreached your abilities to deal with change in the past, or if some of your new little changes don’t work out so well for you, don’t write them off as useless and problematic. They’re only useless if you don’t find a way to use them. When you identify a change you’ve struggled with, take a step back and assess what went wrong. Think of different ways you could have handled the same situation, with better results (sometimes thinking about how you could have handled it worse is helpful too). Stretching your problem-solving and imaginative skills this way keeps them in better shape for tackling new problems and changes. When you spend some time imagining better solutions to old problems, you’ll be better at imagining stellar solutions to new changes.

Practice patience.

Sometimes change will disrupt you no matter how flexible and prepared you are, and that’s okay. But if you stress over the disruption and fume at the cause of change, things only get worse. Start developing patience on small things, like a squeaky chair or an annoying insect. Then adjust your attitude with bigger things. Exercising patience towards new developments can keep you calm, which means you’ll be at the highest levels of performance you can reach given the changing circumstances.

With these stretches, you can put yourself in prime change-conquering condition. And even when you’re not facing change that’s imposed on you, you’ll still be having new adventures all the time.

Image by Ambro via FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

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