iStock_000012546945XSmallI’m always on the lookout for unique corporate cultures that shake things up to boost productivity, creativity, and service levels.

A recent New York Times article featured 37signals‘ interesting culture and approaches. 37signals is a software firm that creates web solutions that help clients manage projects, customer relationships, and team collaboration. In the NY Times article, 37signals’ founder Jason Fried shared how their small firm builds change into their work schedule to increase focus, productivity, and creativity.

From May to October, for example, the company shifts to a four-day workweek. 32 hours per week, not four 12 hour workdays. Fried says, “When you have less time to work, you waste less time. Constraining time encourages quality time.” The article presents other interesting experiments that 37signals has found to keep employees inspired and engaged through the year.

Shortening the work week may not be a viable option for you – your workload may not cooperate or you may not be “in charge” of changing the work hours for your team or organization. However, I believe you can learn from 37signals’ approach to increase your focus on what’s really important and get more done in less time.

Leverage Your Skills & Brain Power To Accomplish Goals

We’ve all experienced the frantic “all nighters” to meet a deadline or the overwhelmed feeling of too much to do in the available time. The negative impact on our well-being and (sometimes) on the quality of the work we produce in our sleep-deprived states erodes our ability to perform, our satisfaction with work, and our enthusiasm for our customers.

Consider these suggestions for increasing your efficiency and focus:

  • Clarify Goals and Expectations – Ensure your goals and projects are clearly defined so there is no confusion about the deadlines, quality, or usability of the product or service you’re responsible for. Wherever possible, seek freedom to do the work in the most efficient ways available. Certainly there are goals and projects that are regulated and require activities to be done a certain way, but many goals and projects do not have those limitations.
  • Refine and Leverage Your Skills – Be a benchmark performer on your team. Grow and fine-tune your skills so that you have the most current knowledge base for the goals and tasks you face. You can only be efficiently creative when your refined skills meet up with opportunity “in the moment”!
  • Manage Time for BURSTS of Efficiency – Reduce or eliminate distractions. Spend 12-15 minutes straight on skill application to accomplish key goals. Don’t check email, texts, or voicemail during that time – focus exclusively on the task. You’ll be surprised at how much more of the right stuff you’ll get done.
  • Track & Deliver on Commitments – Keeping your promises and delivering high-quality products and services will earn you greater freedom for “doing what you do well” down the road. Be proactive, informing internal and external customers about progress (or delays) with projects and goals. Your personal integrity will benefit from these steps, as well.

Join in the conversation! What ways have you found to boost creativity, efficiency, and productivity? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Get your FREE EXCERPT from my new book, #POSITIVITY AT WORK tweet, written with the delightful Lisa Zigarmi. View our video on why we wrote the book, understand the research on positivity in the workplace, and more!

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The music heard on these podcasts is from one of Chris’ songs, “Heartfelt,” copyright © Chris Edmonds Music (ASCAP). Chris plays all instruments on these recordings.

S. Chris Edmonds

S. Chris Edmonds

Chris helps leaders create purposeful, positive, productive work cultures. He's a speaker, author, and executive consultant. He blogs, podcasts, and video casts. He is the author of The Culture Engine and six other books.
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Reader Interactions


  1. AvatarJuan Ortiz says

    First off, I love the concept of presenting the post in audio and text forms. I listened to the podcast, and with it had a better grasp of the topic (sort of like a second read). 🙂

    I definitely agree with keeping tight headlines to make us more productive. I have found myself on projects that have a big stretch of time to work on, to be somewhat lazy and until the deadline approaches.

    However, one has to be careful with short-timed projects; one could be biting a bit more than they can chew. And that could hurt brand image and credibility for your business.

    Basically, it comes down to knowing yourself and how much time you REALLY need to finish a particular task. If you manage to calculate correctly, you’ll end up being more efficient to you and your surroundings.

    Great post Mr. Edmonds! Hope you’re having a great day! 🙂

    • S. Chris EdmondsS. Chris Edmonds says

      Juan, thanks so much for chiming in! Great job pointing out a big hurdle – close deadline projects that require more than available resources can really cause harm to the player or team responsible.
      I love your suggestion to “know oneself” and accept responsibilities with “eyes wide open”!


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