We all spend about 250 days a year at work and do we really get the maximum out of those days for ourselves, our clients and the company? Of course we all strive to do our best, despite that many a time we are left with a feeling that we did not reach our maximum potential for contribution. Is there a simple way we can plan and manage our day to maximize our contribution, results and eventually rewards?

Planning, balance and execution

In an information-based work environment, working hard is not the way to better results. What we need to do is plan /prioritize our work better, bring elements of learning and innovative thinking to bear and not just focus on the pure amount of output. It is also important that there is a steady pace of execution that keeps us moving and prevents us from being stuck on something for hours.

Motivation of reward or recognition versus self rewards

Many of us get motivated when we are rewarded, recognized or pushed by our managers. Such external motivation does not really work to maximize our potential on a daily basis – in the tortoise’s slow and steady manner. We need to build our own reward system that keeps us motivated and contributing in a high impact manner every day.

Self motivation is the best motivation

After struggling with my own productivity, I devised a system that really works like a charm now. The system is built around earning “Value Medals”. Value medals are something we notionally award ourselves when we achieve certain things in a day. The value medals can be of many types, that way we can maintain a balance between output, creativity, learning and more. Here are the value medals we at e-Zest could use (of course each person can tweak the set to what works for them):

  • Value Creation / Output medal
  • Innovative Thinking medal
  • Learning medal
  • Spirit (Zest for life) medal
  • Ownership medal
  • Relationship medal
  • Contribution medal (help others)
  • Self defined (other)

How to use?

Value medals are all about “self approval” and “self recognition”. Every time you achieve something substantial that you wanted to achieve, you reward yourself a value medal. If you finish something that delivers value, reward yourself with the “Value Creation” medal and so on.

For one task, reward yourself only one medal of each type maximum. Also make sure that each task you reward yourself for, requires at least 30 minutes of focused effort. If you are working on one large task all day, then the idea would be to earn different types of medals on that task by being innovative, learning, or helping others.

The goal is to earn seven medals a day – two of which should be related to areas outside of work like self, family and friends. Of course, we can use these on weekends also where we can earn medals only on a personal front.

Learning and growth

Using this method we can review our medals over the week, say on Sunday and reflect on how we can move forward and be more productive and balanced. We can reflect and see if we are learning and developing ourselves, if we are spending time with personal life, family and friends? We can review the balance and also ensure that we spend quality time in whatever we do.

Summary

The whole idea of value medals is that we manage our own time, drive ourselves with self generated motivation and even not be exclusively dependent on external recognition. With this self management approach we are sure to win in life like the tortoise did in the famous Hare and Tortoise parable.