Interview with Colin Boyd: “Understand How Your Brain Works to Become more Productive”

Colin Boyd

Who doesn’t look for ways to improve their performance and increase productivity? Everyone who understands the importance of being efficient immediately goes on Google and looks up different tools and techniques. But what is a better way to learn how to be more productive, than ask a productivity coach?

So, that’s what we did! We interviewed Colin Boyd, a productivity coach from Oxygen Coaching and Training to give you useful tips on enhancing not only your personal performance but also the performance of your business. Enjoy!

1. Please tell us a bit about how you built your career as a productivity expert/speaker/coach?

I wasn’t always productive. I would say that I’m naturally disorganized. I’m naturally someone who reacts to things and quite creative. And so, through running my business, I discovered very quickly that if I wasn’t able to get some strategies and method implies to harness my creativity and spontaneity I wasn’t going to be able to build my business to the point it is today.

And so, my journey has been through starting my business 7 years ago. I looked at the various productivity methods and tools that people were teaching. I found that some of them where useful, and some were not. The reason I love productivity is because I realized that it is a foundation of all performance. Either when you are in sales, leadership or HR, all is based on your productivity level.

2. At what point of your life you understood that this was your passion?

I’d say that productivity is one of my big passions. The biggest passion of my life is leadership. But productivity became incredibly important especially when I had children. And for those parents out there, you realize that you don’t get the time back with your kids. When I realized that business demanded so much of me, and also my kids did, I wanted to make sure that I could not only grow my business, but I could also play Lego with my kid at 5:00-5:30 pm before he goes to bed.

That’s why I’m passionate about productivity: so that I can make a difference with my business and spend time with my kid.

3. Tell us a bit about Oxygen Coaching & Training.

Oxygen Coaching and Training is leadership training company, and we specialize in high-performance leadership. We essentially work with large corporations, and we also have a few small business owners that we work with as well. But a lot of large corporates like HP, Fuji Xerox, Suncorp Insurance.

We work with their leaders for around 3 core topics: productivity, communications, and emotional intelligence. Those are the three skills that create a high performing leader.

4. How do you usually help companies? Do you work with top management only or do you also train employees?

I like to take the top approach, working with at least the senior leadership level if not the C-suite level. And yes, I do train front-line employees as well, and I love it because at most of the times they really understand the business, they understand what the customers are saying and sometimes that feedback does not get up to the senior leadership.

So. being that link between senior leadership and front-line employees can also be really exciting and valuable part of what I do.

5. How do you define productivity?

I define productivity in the context of impact. So standard time management looks at the time essentially, in a way that you can save time, that you can have more time. But for me that isn’t my biggest concern. Time is something you can’t change, we all have 24 hours a day.

However not every activity has the same level of impact. So, my obsession is all about impact and discovering ideas, practices, strategies that will make the biggest impact in someone’s job or business with the time that they have.

For example, there are $10 activities, $100 activities and $1000 activities, that’s per hour. If we can decide which activity has the highest value and schedule them with precision in our diary more efficiently, than we can make more impact. And that’s what it’s about.

6. What are the do’s and dont’s for high productivity?

The do’s would be:

Understanding how your brain works: part of my work is teaching people the limits of their brain. For example, if brain was designed to be distracted, if your environment is continually distracting you then you’re not going to be able to get any flow and create high-performance productivity.

Working context: if you’ve got a whole bunch of phone calls to do, do them at once. If you’ve got strategic documents to write, do them all at once. So, the more you can work in context, the more productive you can be.

And the dont’s would be:

Don’t give yourself 10-15 hour work days. Parkinsons law says how ever long you give yourself to do a task, that’s how long it will take. So, for example if you give yourself a month, it will take a month, if you give yourself a day, it will take a day. And what I notice is that people set themselves really long work days, and that’s how long that work takes. And I agree that sometimes you have to work longer, but if your boundaries are not clear, then you end up being unproductive for longer periods of time. I find that if we can shorten the intensity and focus on our timeline, we get more productive.

And what I notice is that people set themselves really long work days, and that’s how long that work takes. And I agree that sometimes you have to work longer, but if your boundaries are not clear, then you end up being unproductive for longer periods of time. I find that if we can shorten the intensity and focus on our timeline, we get more productive.

7. What are the tools and strategies that you use to train/coach?

First of all, I’ll get people really clear on their high impact activities, I’ll help them to understand how their brain works. I can set the limitations like: your brain us designed to be distracted, you got

  • your brain is designed to be distracted;
  • you got limited resource in terms if your thinking power;
  • you can only focus on one complex task at a time.

So understanding the neurology and physicality and how that all interacts is essential.

In terms of tools, I’ve built dozens of helpful worksheets and checklists, like daily worksheets, weekly worksheets. I’ve got the program called The productivity academy, that helps people in 9 weeks to double their productivity.

There’s one particular method that I use, it is called the 90-day method, and it is one snapshot of 90 days and how they’re going to make you more effective

So, really good-quality checklists and templates and then conceptual ideas around, the thinking makes a big difference.

8. What are the vital skills that a person must have to efficiently manage the company and people?

Some of the vital skills is prioritization. What I mean by that is productivity has moved from efficiency – the Fordism, that was about efficiency; to priority which was Steven Covey “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” and now more and more it’s moving towards leverage, which is about technology, hacks, systems and giving people more time to think and prioritize.

So, the leader should understand priority and leverage. And some of the new tech companies are really getting this and use the tech tools to leverage themselves out of their business and get more free time.

Understanding how to leverage, understanding how to strategically plan and connect strategy with execution, that’s probably the biggest problem that I find senior managers have. To do that you should have good-quality communication that’s continuous, that’s consistent and creates clarity.

9. What are the key metrics that the company should track and improve in order to efficient?

For most businesses I work with, it’s obvious sales. And there’re two ways of looking at sales because you can either track ends, which are sales and you can track means, which are sales calls. And for every business it’s different. They need do discover means that they need to get the ends.

So, maybe they are leads on the website, so one should track how many hits or post on social media are needed to create the leads. Some people focus on the ends, but they need to focus on the means that will show efficiency and productivity.

10. Have you ever had experience with using time tracking software for boosting employee productivity?

I don’t use it regularly, but I do have a small degree of experience with it.

11. What is your opinion on time tracking within the company?

I think it’s good for awareness, which is a foundation for productivity. And from that awareness, we can work out what priorities people are spending time on.

I think if it’s used as an awareness tool – it’s great. If it’s used as a discipline tool – it’s really poor. Because what’s important is that people feel empowered, not afraid.

So, if it’s used for the insight – it’s great, if it’s used for control, then it’s not useful. And I also think the tool is fine, it’s the intention of its use that makes the difference.

12. What are your favorite techniques, gadgets and tips that help you stay productive?

I’ve got a lot of apps on my phone that I use, like Voxa, Dropbox is great, Evernote, Text Expander or Phrase Express that creates shortcuts for sentences that you are writing over and over again.

Dictation is a great productivity hack if you want to dictate your email not write it.

But when it comes down to your thinking, your ability to critically analyze, prioritize each day that is going to drive your productivity.

That’s all we got for you today! But stay tuned, because there’s an upcoming interview with Julia Roy!

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