How People Influence Your Productivity


Last Friday Joey Faucette wrote a Halloween-themed article about office vampires and their effect on your productivity. He describes these office vampires as workers that “have a poor attitude about the [work]place … [and] drain valuable time and energy you could be using to run your business.”

There are other vampires who can suck out your produtcitiviy. Productivity vampires can be all sorts of people: people you can’t get to stop talking, people you can’t say no to, and yes, those negative nay-sayers Faucette talks about in his article.

Avoid Productivity Vampires

Productivity vampires leave you feeling worn and suck away the morale you need to get things done. You should find a way to make peace with or avoid productivity vampires for a fairly simple reason: achieving a goal is easier when you surround yourself with people who support that goal.

Keeping yourself cocooned in a community that builds you toward your achievements is one of the greatest things you can do for yourself: it’s more important than a well-structured to-do list, a nifty productivity trick, or a fancy new system. People have a strong effect on what you want to do and what you can do, so you should do your utmost to surround yourself with people who contribute to you as much as you do to them instead of one-sided productivity vampires.

Make Peace with Your Vampires

Your community and your situation is unique to you, but here are a few ways to deal with the most common productivity vampires.

Eternal Talkers. If your productivity vampire is someone who could talk long enough to tire the living dead, you need to find a way to control your conversations with that person. If you’re in the middle of a project, don’t answer this person’s phone call. If they’re a coworker, close your office door when you know you don’t have time, or establish a code that signals when you’re too busy. If you can’t avoid talking to them, tell them up front that you don’t have much time. Say, “I’d love to chat, but I only have five minutes.” If this is someone you know and love, get back in touch with your eternal talker when you have time to spare. Connect in the evenings when you’re done with your work, or on weekends when you’ve set aside some time for them.

Compelling Committers. Maybe your productivity vampire is someone who comes to you with compelling projects and asks for your help: as though you’re bewitched, you just can’t say no. Overburdening yourself with projects can weaken your performance in everything on your list. To deal with this type of productivity vampire, learn to say no. Lay ground rules with this person before he or she comes to you with a new commitment. Tell them you’re running at full capacity right now, so for the next few weeks they shouldn’t plan on you. If the person’s projects are things you like to work on, volunteer before they ask when you have time. Say, “I’m busy a lot right now, but I have time this week to help you with a project if you need anything.” Then this person knows you’ll help if you can, and will be more accepting of your refusal when you can’t.

Necromantic Nay-sayers. Negativity is a surefire way to kill morale and motivation. If you’re forced into a situation with one of Faucette’s office vampires, try using one of his three methods for dealing with them: change the subject, point out positive viewpoints, and remove them from your situation.

Surround yourself with people who help your productivity and you’ll have a community helping you to succeed.

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