x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Success gurus dispense wealth of advice

The Life: Leadership and training gurus focused on boosting workplace productivity are increasingly rolling through the emirates - with rockstar-like marketing efforts pushing them on.

Research shows that humans operate by 90-minute rhythms, indicating that workers should take short breaks after intervals of work.
Research shows that humans operate by 90-minute rhythms, indicating that workers should take short breaks after intervals of work.

Their names may not draw crowds in the way that the bands Coldplay and Culture Club recently did in the UAE, but leadership consultants and so-called success gurus are increasingly rolling through the country, propelled by marketing efforts fit for rock stars.

Jack Canfield, a co-creator of the Chicken Soup for the Soul book series, is coming to the UAE in April for the first time to deliver a seminar on achieving "breakthrough results in work and life".

Robin Sharma, who is returning to the country with an appearance scheduled at Emirates Palace next month, is well known for his bookThe Monk Who Sold His Ferrari. While he's not a monk, and never was, Mr Sharma could probably afford a Ferrari - considering that his biography proclaims that he has worked with more than 5 million employees in 62 countries.

Human-resource experts often focus on ways to boost workplace productivity. Last May, Mr Sharma published on his blog "17 tips to double your productivity in 14 days". This was followed less than a month later by a video presentation on his three "best keys to super productivity".

Some of Mr Sharma's advice includes simple steps such as switching off technology for an hour each day to focus on taking care of the most important tasks, as well as working in 90-minute cycles.

"Tons of science is now confirming that this is the optimal work-to-rest ratio," writes Mr Sharma.

Indeed, another leadership guru, Tony Schwartz - who has spoken in Jordan about maximising performance - has written that people enter a different stage of sleep every 90 minutes at night. Less widely known, he says, is research showing that our bodies also operate by the same 90-minute rhythm by day, meaning that we should take short breaks after intervals of work.

On Sunday, Franklin Covey, a training consultancy and a global brand in human-resource circles, is to preview a two-day workshop for achieving "extraordinary productivity" with a free overview in Dubai.

The company, which is winding down a 175-city "world tour", homes in on five key areas, hence the name of the programme: The5Choices.

Two pointers - acting on the important while not reacting to the urgent; and going for the extraordinary instead of settling for the ordinary - sound obvious.

They also have something else in common.

"It's about how do we make sure we get the right things done?" says Jane Rennie, the senior consulting partner and productivity practice leader for the Middle East at FranklinCovey. "How do we make high-value decisions? How can we focus our best intention on the highest priority?"

A third step may cause some confusion among those who are less familiar with HR-speak: "Schedule the big rocks, don't sort gravel."

To Amanda White, the managing director of Innovative HR Solutions in Dubai, this tip reminds her of an analogy she says she heard more than a decade ago. It involved trying to fit sand, pebbles and rocks into one glass.

"Put in the rocks, then the pebbles, then the sand," she explains. If you don't put the rocks in first, you can't get everything in.

In other words, Ms White explains, it is important to crack through the clutter of emails, phone calls and tweets and identify the most important ones so as not to become distracted.

Another principleconcerns managing energy levels. That is pretty self-explanatory.

But the final step - "rule your technology, don't let technology rule you - circles back to something Mr Sharma blogged about last year in his principles regarding productivity.

"Don't check your email first thing in the morning," Mr Sharma advised, also suggesting that you "turn all your electronic notifications off".

Follow enough of these tips and maybe you too could boost your productivity - and your business - enough to be firing down the road in that monk's old Ferrari.

nparmar@thenational.ae