Signs that the Next Guy is More Productive

435220227_e0488c1d81_mI had a fascinating conversation the other day with a confidant who is a retired corporate executive- a very brief conversation.  I look up to him as someone who is full of both wisdom and humility and I ask for his advice from time to time.  On this particular day, our conversation was good but a bit on the short side.  He was in the middle of something.


It's not that our brief conversation wasn't part of work, it was.  But I could tell that he was in the zone; the signals were clear.  His desk was strewn about with papers and his glasses had that end-of-the nose thing going on.  Last but not least, he had a pen in his mouth.  That's got to count for something.

I was more than happy to recognize these blatantly obvious signs and leave him alone.  After all, a man's got to work and I like working with people who like to crank.  As someone who thinks of himself as generally productive, I got to thinking: how can you tell when the guy next to you is more productive?

What does their workspace look like? This is a loaded question.  Some people are incredibly unproductive and have a messy work space while others crank and have the same overall feel.  Still, you can tell a lot about someone based on their desk.  Is it neat?  Is it littered with a hundred sticky notes?

How relaxed is their conversation? People who act like the mayor (but aren't) are generally not the ones who are banging out their work on any given day.  The more chit-chat, the less productivity.  The more visiting around the workplace, the less we typically get done.  Pay attention to those who don't respect an economy of words.

How fast do they walk? This is a simple sign of how productive someone is.  Notice the intent of getting someplace in a person's walk.

Do they have "The Look"? You know it when you see it.  A person who gets things done is a symbol of productivity.  They look intentional and full of purpose.  They know what they are about and enjoy their strengths while brushing off their weaknesses.  From a spiritual perspective, they operate out of a place of stewardship and faith in God.  Their humility is almost tangible.

As you go through your week, watch those around you.  Productivity is not a zero-sum game where some have it and some don't.  We should be happy when the next guy is productive (as long as you are too).  After all, productive people are the ones who end up changing the world.

Makes you want to join that club doesn't it?

*photo by ochiovivo