I’ve been an avid reader of Harvard Business Review for over 35 years. It’s often filled with leading edge research, thoughtful observations, and useful approaches to personal, team, and organization leadership. Every few months an issue like May’s comes along bulging with lots of great articles that I file in my electronic database.

Harvard Business ReviewThe regular “Defend Your Research” feature has a very useful article entitled, “Effective Managers Say the Same Thing Twice (or More).” A team led by Professors Tsedal Neeley and Paul Leonardi “shadowed 13 managers in six companies for 250 hours, recording every communication the managers sent and received. The researchers discovered that one of every seven communications by the managers was completely redundant with a previous communication using a different technology. They also saw that the managers who were deliberately redundant moved their projects forward faster and more smoothly.”

In “The Power of Small Wins” Harvard professor Teresa Amabile and researcher and consultant Steven Kramer discovered that the best way to motivate people to do creative work is to “help them take a step forward every day…. nothing contributed more to a positive inner work life (the mix of emotions, motivations, and perceptions that is critical to performance) than making progress in meaningful work…the key is to learn which actions support progress –such as setting clear goals, providing sufficient time and resources, and offering recognition — and which have the opposite effect.”

The theme of the May issue is “how to get more done.” “Being More Productive” features an interview with two authorities on personal efficiency, David Allen, the author of the bestseller, Getting Things Done, and Tony Schwartz, the author of the bestseller, Be Excellent at Anything and the CEO of The Energy Project.

Here are a few of their personal productivity tips:

  • Today we need to relearn the skill of balancing high periods of focus with intermittent renewal. Work intensely for 90 minutes and then take a break.
  • Four primary dimensions of energy:
    1. Fitness, nutrition, sleep, and rest
    2. Cultivating positive emotions in yourself and others
    3. Gaining more control of your attention
    4. Defining your purpose and what really matters to you
  • Napping drives productivity.
  • Don’t cram your head with things to remember. Download all this onto master project or to-do lists.
  • Always do your most important task or project for the day first thing in the morning when you’re well rested and least distracted.
  • Don’t let e-mail suck away your attention and dictate your time.
  • Break big tasks down into next actions.