Work, Interrupted

Think work distractions are a pain? Top CEOs tend to disagree.
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This story appears in the September 2004 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Colleagues perched on your desk regaling you with weekend anecdotes, customers insisting they must see the president now-who doesn't hate interruptions that bust your concentration and muddle work flow? Top CEOs don't, says Stephanie Winston, an organization expert and bestselling author of The Organized Executive. In her latest book, Organized for Success: Top Executive and CEOs Reveal the Organizing Principles That Helped Them Reach the Top (Crown Business, $19.95), Winston reveals surprises about how high-achieving businesspeople keep their ducks in a row. One is that the execs regard interruptions not as disruptions but as valuable tools for connecting effectively with fellow workers and thereby getting more work done.

Another unexpected finding: High-producing CEOs rarely try to multitask. Instead, they focus laserlike on one task at a time, pursuing completion relentlessly before going on. This topic is as well-covered as any, but Winston's original observations make her new book well worth a look.

Play Nice

Mom taught you to say nothing if you can't say something nice. How Full Is Your Bucket: Positive Strategies for Work and Life (Gallup Press, $19.95) goes Mom one better by insisting: Say something nice-usually. Authors Tom Rath and Donald Clifton (the co-author of the bestselling Now, Discover Your Strengths)-are Gallup management consultants who used 50 years of research to reveal how positive reinforcement can powerfully boost productivity, satisfaction and stability in all kinds of organizations. Though brief, it's highly specific. Example: The best ratio of positive to negative reinforcement is 5 to 1. Increase to 13 to 1, and it does more harm than good. Looks like even Mom could learn a few things.

Mark Henricks is Entrepreneur's "Smart Moves" columnist.

Edition: July 2017

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