Recessionary Productivity Strategies: How to Get Lean and Mean in 2009 Part 1 of 3 By Laura Stack, MBA, CSP

laura-stack4Times are tough.

That means businesses everywhere are forced to do more with less. Budgets are being cut. Headcounts are being reduced. In many offices across the country, the only thing that isn’t being reduced is the workload. It all comes down to finding ways to do more with less – more work with fewer people, bigger projects on smaller budgets.

Just remember that, historically, great opportunities have been found in times of great challenge and hardship. Now, as organizations and as individuals, we all have a (hopefully!) once in a lifetime opportunity to look a global financial crisis in the face and excel in spite of it.

So how do we survive and thrive in an economy that bites back? It’s time to take the gloves off and get lean and mean in 2009.

Here is the first of three simple ideas that will help managers meet this challenge head-on and come out stronger on the other side.

Share the plan. I’m willing to bet that your organization has made some changes in the last year in response to the current economic fiasco. Have your people been in the loop? If not, it’s time to get them all on the same page.

Where to start? Make sure your folks know the answers to a few simple questions:

Where do we stand? Provide a good, high-level view of what your company is doing as a whole to combat the recession. Your staff will be more productive if they have a sense that the organization is moving in the right direction.

What is the company doing differently? If changes are afoot, share information as appropriate. Employees kept in the dark will inevitably spend some portion of their day mentally updating their resumes, as they fear for the worst.

What should we be doing differently? This is the big one. Empower your employees by giving them specific, tangible objectives to refocus their efforts during lean times. If five people are doing the work of seven, they need to understand where their priories should be. Once they have refocused their efforts, they will have the confidence to set aside their lower-priory tasks and spend their time and energy on activities that add maximum value to the company.

© 2009 Laura Stack. Laura Stack is a personal productivity expert, author, and professional speaker who helps busy workers Leave the Office Earlier® with Maximum Results in Minimum Time®. She is the president of The Productivity Pro®, Inc., a time management training firm specializing in productivity improvement in high-stress organizations. Since 1992, Laura has presented keynotes and seminars on improving output, lowering stress, and saving time in today’s workplaces. She is the bestselling author of three works published by Broadway Books: The Exhaustion Cure (2008), Find More Time (2006) and Leave the Office Earlier (2004). Laura is a spokesperson for Microsoft, 3M, and Day-Timers®, Inc and has been featured on the CBS Early Show, CNN, and the New York Times. Her clients include Cisco Systems, Sunoco, KPMG, Nationwide, and 3M. To have Laura speak at your next event, call 303-471-7401. Visit to sign up for her free monthly productivity newsletter.

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