Personal Productivity: 3 Strategies for Getting the Clarity, Time, and Resources You Need to Succeed at Work

August 10, 2023 David Witt

People are struggling with time, priorities, and resource issues, say Britney Cole and Betty Dannewitz in an article for the August issue of Blanchard’s Ignite! newsletter.

“One of the big challenges is that most people are just surviving,” says Dannewitz. “They are getting done what they must get done today, and letting tomorrow take care of itself. You can't really hit that sweet spot of being your best if you’re busy playing catch-up all the time. To be effective, you have to think ahead, plan, and do things intentionally rather than just reacting to what comes next.”

Dannewitz suggests that learning to have better conversations with your immediate manager is a key part of the solution.

“Learning how to talk to your manager is so important—how to ask for time, how to convince them to give you more resources, how to prioritize the assignments they give you,” says Dannewitz.

That can be a challenge for some people, says Cole.

“It can be hard to navigate today’s work environment for people who don’t know how to ask for help.  But asking for help is critical if you are going to get the prioritization, resources, and support you need to be effective.

“From there, you can figure out what skills you need and where to put your energy,” says Cole. “Start by identifying the destination you’re after and the things you need to do to be effective.”

Dr. Vicki Halsey, vice president of applied learning at Blanchard, agrees. In an earlier article for Ignite! Halsey shared thoughts on the organization’s research into managerial challenges.

“Learning to ask for help is especially true for managers,” says Halsey. ”More than two-thirds of managers we’ve heard from have reported symptoms of burnout within the past year.

For anyone looking to find increased clarity, identify resources, and ask for help, Halsey recommends a three-step process that begins with self-evaluation.

Step 1: Assess Your Present Status

“Take an inventory of your current state,” says Halsey. “What is your schedule? What kind of demands are you facing at work? What are your goals? What do you spend your time doing?

“Next, compare your desired future to what you are currently experiencing. What's most important? What are the tasks that are draining you and not serving anyone? Can you delete anything from your list?”

Step 2: Ask for Help

“Chances are, identifying a clear path moving forward is going to require a conversation with your immediate manager,” says Halsey. “A one-on-one meeting is a great time to ask for the clarity, prioritization, and resources you need.”

An eBook published by Blanchard sets forth a number of strategies employees at all levels can use to get the most out of their next one-on-one with their manager. Here are a couple of key ideas:

Ask for help or resources using “I need” statements: People are biologically wired to help each other—and they enjoy doing it. Using “I need” statements in one-on-one meetings with your leader is an effective way to get meaningful help. Make these statements short and clear to ensure they are easy to understand. Here are some examples of “I need” statements:

  • I need ten minutes at our next meeting to discuss the resources for the job.
  • I need to work with a subject matter expert to understand the topic better.
  • I need to learn the new software to do the job.

Ask for a decision by presenting three options: Research shows that our brain is wired to look for options and likes to have three choices. “The Rule of Three” suggests that things that come in threes create a comfortable pathway in the brain for making decisions. When you present a leader with three options and back your preferred one with compelling logic, it has a much better chance of being accepted.

There's another benefit to this strategy. Presenting three options shows that you've thought carefully about the issue. You’ve weighed the pros and cons of each option. Your leader will value and appreciate that kind of thoughtfulness.

Ask for clarity and prioritization on goals: 2022 research conducted by Blanchard found that 60% of managers say they have too many priorities to focus on and that they are being pulled in multiple directions.

Here’s an exercise that might help open up a conversation on priorities. Ask your leader to write down what they believe are your top five priorities.  Now compare this with your self-identified list. Blanchard classroom experience has shown there is only a 20 percent chance that your leader’s priorities for you will be aligned with what you believe are your top priorities. Use this as an opportunity for ongoing discussions to make sure you and your leader are aligned on what is most important.

Step 3: Reframe Limiting Beliefs

If the idea of asking for help is out of your comfort zone, Halsey recommends you adopt the right mindset. This is all about overcoming limiting beliefs that could keep you from getting the help you need. Halsey shares a few negative beliefs that can get in the way, each followed by its positive counterpoint that is more appropriate (and accurate).

  • I’ll look weak, needy, and not that smart if I ask for help. (In fact, smarter people ask the best questions.)
  • It's selfish to ask for help. (Asking for help creates synergy with others and provides additional resources for doing your job better.)
  • People are too busy. (Research shows people like to help other people.)
  • Asking for help will erode others’ trust in my ability to do my job. (Displaying vulnerability actually builds trust.)
  • It will take longer to make decisions. (You’ll make better decisions if you involve others.)
  • It feels like a risk. (Asking for help minimizes risk by involving other people.)

“We have to override the common belief that seeking help makes us look weak or stupid,” says Halsey. “Remember the gifts of asking for help. You’ll build better relationships, make better decisions, minimize risk, and be more successful at activating your purpose and helping the organization get to the next level.”

Dannewitz and Cole encourage team members at all levels to look at ways they can take control of their personal effectiveness.

“Don't wait, don't delay,” urge both consultants. “Personal effectiveness requires you to be really intentional, starting with self-awareness and then challenging yourself to do something different to move yourself forward. Better days are possible. Do something today!”


If you, or others in your organization, would like to learn more about Blanchard strategies, be sure to check out additional resources at the Blanchard Community or Blanchard website.  Halsey, Cole, and Dannewitz are all featured speakers—you can access their upcoming and recorded webinars and written materials in both locations.

About the Author

David  Witt

David Witt is a Program Director for Blanchard®. He is an award-winning researcher and host of the companies’ monthly webinar series. David has also authored or coauthored articles in Fast Company, Human Resource Development Review, Chief Learning Officer and US Business Review.

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