News In Brief

A day in the life of Kai Ryssdal, and 10 ways to improve it

Kai Ryssdal Dec 16, 2010

Today on Marketplace I interviewed Amy Pascal and Michael Lynton, co-studio heads at Sony Pictures Entertainment. The company has recently undergone a culture change, putting into practice a variety of creative ideas aimed at improving worker productivity and creativity. The ideas range from installing a new employee lunch room that features subsidized healthy meals to giving employees free time to just “daydream.”

The ideas behind Sony Entertainment’s strategy comes from Tony Schwartz, whose company The Energy Project worked with Pascal and Lynton on Sony’s culture change.

During my interview with Schwartz, he quizzed me about my own daily routine and coached me on ways that I could be more productive. A few highlights: get more sleep, focus on the most important thing at the start of the day, and make time to work without interruption for between 60 to 90 minutes. You can listen to the full interview here.

10 tips for Improving your productivity
Schwartz also sent us a list of 10 ten things you can do to improve your energy, engagement, focus and productivity:

Sleep Better: Make getting 7-8 hours of sleep your highest priority. After breathing, sleep is our most fundamental need. It’s also the first thing we’re willing to give up in an effort to get more done. The fact is that even small amounts of sleep deprivation make us vastly less efficient.

Take Back Your Lunch: Get away from your desk, and preferably out of the office altogether, so that you come back to work more focused and fueled to face the rest of the day.

Track Your Steps: If you’re struggling to find the time or motivation to start an exercise routine, buy a pedometer and record the number of steps you take every day. Shoot for 10,000 — the recommended amount to ensure you are fit and getting enough movement in your day.

Feel Your Feet, Hold Your Fire: When you sense you’re getting frustrated, annoyed, or anxious, apply “The Golden Rule of Triggers:” Whatever you feel compelled to do, don’t. Instead, take a deep breath — in to a count of 3, out to a count of 6. Feel your feet to ground yourself. Then you can make a choice about how to respond.

Show More Appreciation: We’re far quicker to notice what’s wrong than to celebrate what’s right in others. Write a note of appreciation once a week to someone in your life and send it by snail mail. Small gestures go a long way.

Do the Most Important Thing First: Most of us have the highest energy and the fewest distractions at the beginning of the day. Decide the night before on the most important task for the following day. Try to do it first thing, for 60-90 minutes, without interruption.

Daydream on Purpose: Schedule at least one hour a week to brainstorm or strategize around some issue at work. You can help access your right hemisphere by doodling, daydreaming, or going for a long walk — anything that lets your mind wander. That’s when breakthroughs and spontaneous connections are most likely to occur.

Create a Transition Ritual: Find an activity that allows you to make a transition from work to home. Take a few minutes to stop at a park, listen to music, or make a call on your way home to connect with someone you love. The key is that by the time you get home, you’re not still at work.

Do the Right Thing: The next time you find yourself in a difficult or challenging situation, ask yourself: “What is the right thing to do here?” Under pressure, we sometimes take the expedient route and then rationalize the choices we’ve made, but most of us instinctively know the difference between right and wrong if we stop to think about it.

Chase Your Passion: Think of the aspects of your job that you find most challenging, enjoyable, and meaningful. What specific steps could you take to spend more time engaged in these activities?

To evaluate yourself using these strategies take an “Energy Audit” quiz from The Energy Project, and read more tips.

There’s a lot happening in the world.  Through it all, Marketplace is here for you. 

You rely on Marketplace to break down the world’s events and tell you how it affects you in a fact-based, approachable way. We rely on your financial support to keep making that possible. 

Your donation today powers the independent journalism that you rely on. For just $5/month, you can help sustain Marketplace so we can keep reporting on the things that matter to you.