Hi Dave, thank you for stopping by Activia’s Expert Insights section. Could you tell us a little bit about yourself for our readers?
I’m an expert in building productive leaders. The irony of my mission is that I consider myself very chaotic and inherently unproductive. In fact, I was once diagnosed by a clinical psychologist as “off the charts ADHD.” I took that diagnosis as a personal challenge and developed simple systems that fast-paced business leaders worldwide now utilize to improve focus, structure, and stability.
My work has appeared in Time magazine, USA Today, Fast Company, and the BBC News. My courses on LinkedIn Learning have received millions of views, and I’ve written three books and counting, including The Myth of Multitasking which was published in six languages and is a time management bestseller. My fourth book, The Power of Having Fun, is due for release in September 2017.
You’re an expert on productivity, which is one of the reasons why you decided to create The Power of Having Fun: How Meaningful Breaks Help You Get More Done. What was it in particular that drew you to this topic?
I saw a consistent pattern in my coaching leaders to be more productive. Just as the idea for my first book, The Myth of Multitasking, came about from me seeing business leaders consistently having problems with their time management and focus, The Power of Having Fun came about because I kept seeing business leaders who were burnt out, frustrated, unhappy with the results they were getting in their career and their business.
With all my books, I first tested the material that I teach long before I started writing about it. The test was simply to add a scheduled fun break in business leaders’ day, week and month, on a consistent basis. As I began doing this repeatedly with many business leaders from around the world, I started to see a pattern emerge. The pattern was that people felt more energized about their career, they had more productivity, and they had a better outlook about their life, not just in a professional sense but also in a family sense. After doing this for many years, I finally decided to put it together into a book.
Who is this book aimed at and how will it help them?
My hope is that this book has value for anyone in pretty much any position or stage in their career. However, the people who are going to get the biggest bang for their book buck are those who have some degree of flexibility when it comes to their work schedule. In this hypothetical coaching-via-book situation, my assumption will be that I’m talking to someone who has some ability to control how they spend their time.
In other words, if you're at the C-level, on salary, a freelancer, a business owner, an entrepreneur, or even a stay-at-home mom or dad, you have the greatest opportunity to get the greatest value from this book. Why? Simply because a significant part of the experiment that you and I will be conducting has to do with crafting your own schedule.
Plans on how to improve productivity is a subject that is very sought after – what is unique about The Power of Having Fun…?
Most books and productivity programs treat “having fun” as something that occurs after we get all our work done. Not only is this kind of a dull way to live, it’s also an unproductive way to approach your day. You will accomplish far more, in a shorter period of time, if you make having fun a top priority and scheduling it into your day first.
That is what makes The Power of Having Fun unique—it’s about enthroning fun as a necessary and vital part of your productivity plan. And when people follow the system I outline, they find that they counterintuitively work with more energy and intensity than they did previously...all while feeling fantastic!
Can you give some examples of famous people (alive or dead!) who are great at improving their own personal productivity through having fun!
Presidents and politicians are often mocked for taking time off, but when you consider the stresses they are under and the responsibilities they deal with, the time off they take is a necessity. Barack Obama was widely criticized for the number of golf days he took during his presidency. It was somewhere in the neighborhood of 300 days. However, when you consider he was in office for eight years, that means he went out for golf roughly once every 9-10 days. FDR was a stamp collector. Ronald Reagan rode horses. I believe that with great power comes great responsibility to have fun.
Richard Branson is another excellent example of a highly productive, highly successful leader who takes a lot of time to have fun. But you and I don’t need to own a private island like Branson to live this principle, we can create our own private “Oasis” that is small and inexpensive to achieve the same benefit.
What would you say is the first step towards having fun to improve productivity?
You must first give yourself permission to have fun. It’s helpful to understand that research proves taking meaningful, fun breaks can help those that are driven to be successful. Knowing this eliminates the guilt and helps drive your ambition to understand that you can be even more productive and successful if you schedule the “oases” I outline in the book.
The tips and advice you give in your book, can these be followed by anyone?
Certainly! Fun and work are not opposites. In fact, they are two sides of the same coin. Your work life and your personal life are inseparably connected. So, while it does work better for people that can control their own schedule, the principles are applicable to everyone including stay-at-home parents or those without a traditional office job.
I’ve designed it to be something like a private coaching session between the reader and me. My goal is to help the reader unlock the power of having fun. It’s something that so many of us want to do, yet we forbid ourselves from doing it. I find that, for bizarre and occasionally sadistic reasons, far too many of us deprive ourselves of having fun. Yet the very thing that we prevent ourselves from doing is the very thing that can help us be more successful.
What’s your most effective tool for improving your self-productivity?
By tool, I’m assuming you’re talking about an app or an object? My office is built to be an effective tool from top to bottom. I always invest in the highest quality monitor, chair, computer, mouse and keyboard I can afford. These are the tools I use for hours each day, so I want to make sure I’ve shaved every single minute out of my day that could be attributed to poor equipment.
Oddly enough, most often, I find the highest quality office equipment to be gaming hardware. For example, the monitor I’m using to write is a 34- inch ultra wide Acer Predator which gives me more crisp and clear viewing “real estate” without the hassle of dual monitors. The mouse I use is a Logitech G700s, which looks like something out of Star Wars. I've programmed macros to all the buttons to make browsing and working go lightning fast.
Learn more about Dave at DaveCrenshaw.com. And order his book at Amazon.