In 2017, the business world is in the middle of some dramatic changes. With the growth in digital technologies, automation, machine learning and artificial intelligence, most of the jobs we recognise in the world today will have disappeared by 2025. Some will have been replaced by machines, other will have evolved into something completely different. The question to ask yourself is: are you prepared for this future?
To protect yourself in this changing world, developing key, so called soft skills is vital. The ability to communicate, the ability to make decisions quickly and to solve problems creatively are just some of the skills you need to develop, but by far and away the most important skill is that of personal productivity. Personal productivity means you are able to manage all the work that comes your way, handle all the distractions from your smart phone, colleagues and computer without missing anything and not becoming overwhelmed and stressed. If you cannot do that, you will not survive in the future business world.
To survive, you will need to know how to get the most out of your technology and to give yourself time and space to grow yourself professionally and personally. You need to become the master of technology and not allow technology master you. Companies today are not going to give you that kind of training. In the past, when employees stayed with a company for 10 to 15 years, companies were willing to invest in the personal development of their staff. After all, it benefitted the company in the long-term. Today, with so many employees staying with a company for no more than two or three years, it is no longer economic for companies to invest in the personal development of their employees. Your personal development has now become your responsibility.
The trouble with personal productivity is you do not become productive overnight. It takes time and it takes deliberate action to get your life organised and together. You need to read, study systems and learn what works best for you and your lifestyle. None of this will happen unless you take action. Too often I find people thinking they do not need to change, that they are okay and job losses only happen to other people not themselves. Sadly, over the coming years that is not going to be true. The people who survive are the people who have taken it upon themselves to get the training that will develop their skills so they can adapt to the changing nature of work. And the work is going to change. Autonomous cars, Robots and AI are here already and their development is not going to be over a period of decades, it’s going to be over a period of months. Uber intend not to be ‘employing’ drivers by 2030 — that’s only thirteen years away!
Just reading books and taking part in courses will not, on their own, help you. To really get the most out of the courses you take and the books you read, you need to make a determined decision to change the way you work, to be focused and to set up the systems you need to become a master of productivity. You also need to be reading about the latest developments in technology, experimenting, learning new applications that may, or may not, help you to do your work more efficiently and more creatively and most of all, be open to change.
It is not difficult, but it does take time. Taking time to really get your life organised and productive is not something you should take lightly. Your very survival in the business world and your career will depend on it.
I teach a lot of 40 plus year olds and many of them have settled into a career destroying mindset of “I don’t understand all this new technology”. It doesn’t matter if you don’t understand it. You have no choice but to learn how to understand and use it. You need to be better than the Snapchat generation at using the technology that is at your fingertips, and if you are not, your responsibility to yourself is to schedule some regular time to learn how it all works and how it can benefit you and your organisation.
Once you decide to get yourself organised and more productive, the benefits are more than just professional. You will experience less stress, less time having to work late and your creativity will reach new heights. Lack of creativity is caused by all the stuff your brain is trying to remember. Once you get all that stuff out of your head and into a trusted external place, your brain will be free to think of new, creative ways of improving yourself, your business and your life.
It takes a huge commitment to become organised (just take a look at the above video with David Allen, the GTD creator). It will not happen with the reading of just one book, it will take many months of experimenting, making a few mistakes and learning. But the effort is worthwhile. Once you get organised, you no longer forget things, you will not wake up in the middle of the night suddenly remembering you should have replied to an email from your boss but you had forgotten about it, and nothing will stop you from achieving your goals. You will be more focused, more creative, less stressed and you will achieve much more both at work and in your personal life. The effort is truly worthwhile.
As ever, it’s up to you. You can carry on as you are, hoping one day you will get the promotion you desire, or you can take positive action now and and take control of your future and make the necessary changes to your lifestyle so you move yourself closer each day to the life you want to lead in the future. Your future is in your hands.
Carl Pullein is a personal productivity specialist, presenter and author of Working With Todoist: The Book as well as Your Digital Life, a book about using your technology to achieve greater productivity. Carl works with clients all over the world to help them focus on the things that are important to them and to become more productive and creative.