Samantha Lane is the founder of Origami Day and a time management coach who completely turned her life around from being a busy, hard-working professional to living her life to the fullest and still making time to make her career.

Today we’re talking about her own technique - Origami Day, which helps you manage your time by folding paper.

Workpuls: Hi everyone, welcome to another episode of Workpuls Productivity Talks. Today with me I have Samantha Lane. She is the founder of Origami Day which is a very interesting time management technique and productivity management technique. We will talk about it a bit later but first let’s hear Samantha tell us a little bit more about what it is that she does.

Samantha Lane: Yes. Hi, thanks for having me. I guess you could say I'm a reformed workaholic who now uses my passion for efficiency to help people bring balance to their busy lives and to be peaceful, and present in life while still being super productive.

Workpuls: Okay, it sounds great. So, on the topic of productivity, how would you define productivity in general? What do you think it is? 

Samantha Lane: Productivity, that’s that I think everyone has a different description but what I would like to think about with productivity is just getting stuff done. Feeling like you are able to maximize your peak performance time and you are able to really output, not just volume, but quality. And so I really like to help people reach a state of flow in their work and execute to their highest level of contribution.

Workpuls: Cool. You work with individuals mostly or do you also work with companies and leadership?

Samantha Lane: Both actually. I started out working with just individuals and as time went on people were successful and then they wanted to bring the training and the tools into their work teams. So I am really happy that I’m able to work both with individuals and companies who really care about productivity and work-life balance in their workforce.

Workpuls: When working with companies, can you say that there is, like what you are doing…Can one size fit all? Or do you still need to change your method a little bit so that it can fit the particular team or particular industry that you are teaching in?

Samantha Lane: Yeah, there is a little bit of adjustment. So I also work with different, in the different companies, I sometimes work with different teams. So some of the teams I tend to have work with the most and help have the most success, is someone who controls their schedule every day. So someone maybe who's in a sales role or they are business owners. There's someone who has variety, versus sometimes there's people within an organization who they come in, they're in the same spot. They're kind of doing the same stuff each day. Those people I try to teach a little bit differently than the people who have a lot more flexibility in their day to day because those are two different approaches, in my opinion to managing time and staying productive.

Workpuls: Yeah, makes sense. It's completely different. You sit down and write the whole day and do client calls all day. Do you think that productivity can be measured and if you can, how can it be measured?

Samantha Lane: I absolutely think it could be measured and I love measuring things, especially when working with… When I work with individuals, a lot of times they just know how they feel and they either feel less overwhelmed or more organized or they don't. Companies want a little more justification and so I love measuring. I think productivity can be measured in hours and goals. One of the things that I work with a lot of people on is before we even get started on tactics, we make sure we're crystal clear on what it is we're trying to get to. What is at the top of that staircase? So then we can backtrack and pick out every single step along the way. And so I like to measure productivity in reaching goals, establishing metrics and reaching them. And then how do you do that with the most minimal expenditure of resources which the resource I tend to work the most with, is time.

Workpuls: And When managers approach you, when leadership from a company approaches you and wants you to do a training in their company what are the usual problems that they're having that they want to resolve? Is it just simple we want to increase productivity or there is a specific problem that they want to have resolved within their organization?

Samantha Lane: Yeah, so honestly, with the increasing and I always think about productivity is like we're increasing their output. We're getting the most we can out of our workforce when it comes to team training. But a lot of times what they're struggling with just as much is, they're getting the most out of their employees, but they're burning their employees out, and their employees are really stressed and are overwhelmed. And it can cost the company up to 60% of that employee's salary to rehire. And so one of the things that a lot of companies bring me in for is how do we keep that output really high, while still protecting the asset and keeping the employee from fizzling out. And so that's a big one that I work with companies on.

Workpuls: Well, it's good that companies recognize that and invite people in to help them out resolve that thing. That's a good one. The managers who want to increase productivity, what would be your first tip to them, like where to start? What to do first?

Samantha Lane: I think prioritizing. I think a lot of times people missed the boat on productivity because they're doing things that don't matter. And so we talk about anything from the Eisenhower urgency matrix, which is a great tool for prioritizing to the 80-20 rule, Pareto's principle, which is another good one, to simply helping people realize that if you look at your job description, you have a better understanding of what your employer needs you to be producing, not just the sake of logging hours without actually providing value.

Workpuls: You just mentioned a couple, when it comes to key method methods that you are teaching besides your own. You mentioned now the Eisenhower matrix, what are some of those that you have been trying to incorporate within these teams or individuals?

Samantha Lane: Yeah, so that one is probably my favorite. We spend a good chunk of time talking about the Eisenhower matrix, not only because it helps you to identify what's important and what's urgent, but also it helps to provide a checks and balances moving forward so that when you start to get overwhelmed and lose that ability to be productive, you sort of have something to go back to and reflect on. So that's one of my favorites that I teach on. But then I also like to teach SMART goals. So that specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, time-bound. I think that's really important if we can't establish a SMART goal, then that prevents us from ever achieving anything. And then I like to focus on really breaking down, I have three steps that I teach in a weekly planning method to help people to just not be overwhelmed in planning but to just execute it in a one, two, three step process.

Workpuls: Okay. And Origami day, so I've seen the video for the daily planner, and I really love that. Is that something that also works within teams because obviously each individual has their own to do list and their own task list for the day. Does it work within teams or if it's better for individuals only?

Samantha Lane: Actually, it works really well within teams. And what I like about it is, it's one tool that everyone can use and customize. I was very intentional when I created the planning systems that I use in my business to keep them simple. So that there is extreme customization, so that people in multiple aspects and multiple roles within a team can use the same tool, which is nice. And what it also does is it gives you the ability to sort of all have the same common tool so that it makes it a little bit easier I think when you're troubleshooting and dealing with things together. It's both a customizable and unifying tool.

Workpuls: Okay, so you've mentioned prioritizing as a big thing. And like breaking down that into smaller chunks then, what are some other key tips you would share with any manager that wants to increase productivity of their employees? What should they do?

Samantha Lane: Yeah, so one that I think is really important is, I like to use those tools to create weekly templates with people, and so that's something that an entire team can do. Everyone can have their own weekly template, but as a team, you can agree on certain things that you're all going to do together, for example, choosing one or two days a week that you don't have meetings. So I'm always an advocate for “don't have meetings on Mondays” and “don't have meetings on Fridays”. And I like that, because then Monday, you get the chance to come in and sort of ramp up your week. And then I like not having meetings on Fridays because it gives a chance to wrap up your week. And in a lot of industries where I train, wrap up and follow up is key. So having a dedicated day where you can sit down and you can tie up all the loose ends and get everything lined up is really critical. So that's one. And I really also encourage teams to establish planning on Friday. So every Friday sitting down with your team or individually and figuring out what are the things that are happening in the following week, and it's the best way to avoid… I don't know if you've ever had this but Sunday scaries or Sunday night comes around and you're really stressed about your week ahead. So planning on Fridays is like the number one way to avoid that. And then the other nice thing is that you have that whole week planned and then I usually tell people once that plan is made, then don't take any other appointments in that week. Unless you really have to because that helps to respect and hold our time to actually make traction. And so if a whole team can implement that together, then every last one of them is going to be more productive.

Workpuls: Okay, cool. I guess that can also be implemented not only on a weekly level but on a monthly level or more prolonged because there are projects that simply take longer than a week. Yes, they are broken down into smaller tasks, but I think... okay, we should break them down. But there should be, as you said earlier, what's on the top of those staircase, what's happening over there? And that should kind of always be in everyone's mind. So it's good that it works on a daily, weekly, monthly basis.

Samantha Lane: Yeah, and that's a great point. One thing that I think people don't do enough of, is we do goal setting, but then we don't go back into goal planning. And so like that's another thing that I try to help do in teams is you say, “Okay, as a team, this is our revenue goal.” So then what is it when you break that down? What is it we're supposed to be doing that you each week, and each month and each quarter to actually execute that. And I think people sometimes miss that second step and they set the goal and then there's like, “Okay, let's try to get it done.”

Workpuls: Do you have anything else you would like to share with our listeners and viewers?

Samantha Lane: Well, I mean, I think productivity is I mean, that people think is only possible if you have no recovery. And I spent a lot of time helping people understand that recovery makes you more productive and so teaching people to utilize that recovery opportunity because as people we work with energy. So knowing what you use to expend energy and how you recharge it and making sure you schedule both of those things in your day, a productive block and then a recharge block. I think that's a critical step that people miss out on and they just go go go and they never recharge their battery and it makes people way less effective in doing work slower and less quality work. So I would say people need to remember, you can be productive while still being present in your life and being a better version of yourself.

Workpuls: And just taking breaks. 

Samantha Lane: Yeah, taking breaks.

Workpuls: I think we have done a blog about that as well. Like, why are breaks so important? And why should people take more breaks in order to be more productive is the exact same thing that you said, it's recharging. It's just recharging. So I know it for myself, it makes it so much easier. I start doing something and I’m completely stuck. I have no idea what to do. I go outside, sit there for a couple of minutes, talk to my coworkers, grab a cup of coffee or whatever. And suddenly I have an idea how to resolve it. Go back and do it, and I feel much better and it's definitely something that should be practiced a lot more within the companies. I have one more question only. What advice would you give to managers who are trying to implement something within their team or trying to have their team follow a certain method? Whether it's Pomodoro or whatever it is, whatever they're trying to do to increase productivity, how would you advise them to approach their team on that?

Samantha Lane: Okay, so I love the concept of marking a transition with a moment. And so there's so much research that shows us that if we create a moment, then that sort of this opportunity to make a change, which is one of the reasons for example, people do well with New Year's resolutions. There's really not that much that's different from December 31 to January 1, but because we have this whole like marker of, it's a New Year and we celebrate it, people suddenly feel more motivated to start something new. And so I would say if there is a team that wants to implement a new tool, a new software, any process, anything like that, create a moment in it, whether it's, we're going to have bagels and coffee this day during our meeting because we're just going to make it something different to kick it off. Or if it's we're going to go out of the office, or we're going to learn about it in a different place, just creating the moment around, it helps people to see it as a line in the sand and the marker to the new path.

Workpuls: I like it. I like that. That's a really interesting approach, a really interesting take. So that would be all when it comes to my questions actually. I would love to thank you so much for participating in this. It was lovely hearing your side of the story and how you're utilizing the technique you created to help others and to organize yourself as well. And thank you all for listening to Workpuls Productivity Talks.

Samantha Lane: Thank you.

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