Getting to know about productivity
Each to their own but in general terms, productivity is the ability to create, enhance, or produce goods and services in line with pre-set measurable parameters. Productivity is a common index of measuring the efficiency of a workplace and the workers there. With its rising importance in view of the constantly intensifying competition, organizations are constantly striving to become better than before with each passing day.
Most commonly, productivity is employed to assess a person’s efficiency, though productivity can have many different types. In nutshell, it’s all about doing a task expending the least possible time and the least possible effort. Productive businesses are obviously more profitable and the economic productivity of a nation is the basis of any improvement in its people’s living standards.
Productivity- The Workplace Currency
We all would love to up our workplace productivity and enhance our time management strategies to have a more productive and fulfilling life. But quite often, we may face so many distractions that come in the way of our efficient performance.
It’s pretty common to think of an excuse to postpone a task and instead, waste time. Consequently, all those glamorous to-do lists you were confident of ticking by the evening, are thrown out of the window. With the work as yet unfinished, you come back self-doubting and annoyed, knowing you could have got far more if you were a little more focused and less distracted.
In reality, one’s productivity is a function of mental energy, motivation and alertness and most frequently, it happens when you are naturally enjoying what you do. Productivity can be fostered through a focus on a larger, meaningful goal that can help you mobilize the required energy and drive for executing the task.
Enhancing Workplace Productivity
We all would love to feel contented over our time well spent and checking off our to-do lists. Unfortunately, it doesn’t happen all the time:
Reactivity Vs. Proactivity
We unintentionally develop the habit of being reactive instead of being proactive and imbue habits that interfere with productivity. However, finding a remedy for this one isn’t difficult as anyone can replace bad work habits for good ones in order to become proactive. In that manner, you can claim a real ‘ownership’ of your time.
That 36- Hour Day
Cribbing about always running short of time and praying for a longer day isn’t going to be of any help. Accept it gracefully. That’s how Nature works! Everyone has those same 24 hours in a day; so getting the most out of your time is crucial. And to make it happen, you only need to start working smarter, not longer or harder than before as effective time management is quite crucial to achieving your optimal productivity.
Watch How You Can Manage Your Time Better to Boost Your Productivity
There’s nothing more important to any business than its employees. Happy employees are productive employees, and that’s exactly what you need to grow your business. Making small changes can drastically improve productivity and workplace efficiency as you get more quality work done in a shorter time and also reduce the time on unnecessary tasks.
So whether you’re pushing files on an office table or are tending to machines on a shop floor or are studying for a degree and are on the lookout for ways to get more in lesser time, here are my Top 13 tips and tricks to help you up your productivity quotient!
Many of us go about our lives and careers having certain goals in mind. Such goal-setting provides not only a general direction to our life but also milestones of goal achievement, which can inspire satisfaction and fulfillment on our part.
Research reveals that specific and challenging goals rather than having easy goals can result in higher performance than “do your best” goals or no goals at all. Goal-setting directs our attention, mobilizes effort, and improves persistence and strategy development to help us in goal achievement.
Therefore, setting goals and trying to achieve makes the workplace life more fulfilling. Use the SMART concept given by workplace counselling experts for goal setting and achievement i.e.
S – Specific
(Having measurable goals can help you track their progress and remain motivated. They help you develop focus, meet your deadlines, and get closer to your goals.
Such a goal should answer
How will I know when it is achieved?
(Rather than saying I want to learn a new job skill, make it clearer by rephrasing: I want to learn to make a better buying decision)
M – Measurable
(State it in terms of numbers e.g. bringing down the number of customer complaints to a maximum of 5/ 1000, bringing down the number of machinery breakdowns to a maximum of 5 per month, reducing the down time to a maximum of 1 hour or reducing the response time to less than 2 hours)
A – Achievable
(The goal should look like a challenge that requires time and effort. Try to fix a goal slightly beyond your current capacities and you may be surprised with what you can actually deliver.
The goal fixed should stretch your capabilities but should remain within the range of possible achievement. With an achievable goal, you can identify previously overlooked opportunities or resources, which can bring you closer to it)
Such a goal should answer
How can I achieve it?
How realistic is the goal, in view of other restrictions like finances?
For example, you may need to ask yourself if the goal of developing the skills necessary for a finance head is realistic, based on your existing credentials. Can you spare the time to complete your training effectively? Can you really afford to do it?
Alert: Be mindful of fixing goals over which others have control and power e.g. “Getting an early raise !” depends on your competitors and the boss’s decision, too. But “Getting the experience and training needed for a promotion” is all within your abilities only.)
R – Realistic
Try to set goals, which are achievable by using currently available resources rather than ‘planning’ for the future goals. For example attending a full time 3 year course along with a full-time job and a family is not a realistic target.
T – Time-bound
Every goal must be tagged with a target date to let you keep a focus on the deadline. In this manner, you can prevent everyday tasks being priortized over long-term goals.
A time-bound goal should answer
What can I do 6 months later?
What can I do 6 weeks later?
What can I do today?
For example, to learn the skills necessary to improve your industrial disputes negotiations, may require you to have additional training/experience. How much time will you require to acquire those skills? Do you need some further training to become eligible for certain certifications? A realistic time frame is warranted to achieve the smaller goals that are part of achieving the final goal.
And while at work, we mess up from time to time, become angry and have a bad day. But it’s a bad day, not a bad life, after all. Take some me-time to recharge yourself with meditation, music or a walk. It will help you get back on track and make you regain your productivity.
Tracking and Limiting
Many of us consider ourselves good at estimating how much time we need to spend on different tasks. But employee productivity research reveals otherwise as just 1/5th among us can accurately estimate the time we need to spend on specific things.
A tracker can help you monitor tasks and the time they need for completion. You can have a better understanding of whether you are using your time productively and if some tasks are consuming excessive time.
Tracking time can help you understand the distractions like meetings, interruptions or unscheduled tasks. It can also help identify the bottlenecks and those workflows, which may require to be automated to save some time.
People differ so far as when they reach their productivity peak during the day is concerned. You may be ready to go after your morning tea or you may be far more productive in the afternoon. A time tracking system can help you find your golden productivity hours so that you can match the tasks and your energy levels. The work requiring greater focus can be reserved for periods of maximum productivity, while others taking up less energy can be completed at another time.
Failing to plan is simply planning to fail!
One of the worst enemies of employee productivity is not enough planning. Many people get stressed out while visualizing a busy work week ahead, especially while enjoying the weekly holiday or a vacation. However, things look to be in greater control if you plan them beforehand. Planning can yield several benefits as you’ll be spared the worry over what’s going to happen as you can make an effective plan to remain accountable. On the contrary, without any clarity about what you need to do on a given day, you will feel busy but you’ll have low productivity.
Many cases of workplace counselling are actually about lack of good planning. So, plan your days and weeks in advance to see how you can get more done in much lesser time and enjoy a comfortable flow of work. Schedule your day at least a night before so that you may get the best out of it.
Cultivate the habit of making a note of everything you have to do in the course of the day and their order. Once you’ve done it, it will be easier to see what consumes the major part of your time. Such a thing can help in re-thinking your plan for better productivity. Only if we could manage better, we wouldn’t be praying for those extra hours to get more done and have spare time for exercising, cooking or meeting friends.
Reactivity means you don’t display initiative. Rather, you let others at the workplace tell you what to do, while you’re the ‘doer’, who does or gets things done. In contrast, pro-activity implies you anticipate things, think of newer ways of working and offer new ideas i.e. nobody has to tell you what to do as you’re already ahead on the path.
To gain a proactive attitude and use your time productively, you need to:
- Ask yourself about the things likely to happen and ensure that you have a way to deal with them before they happen.
- Try to visualize the “big picture” and take the steps necessary to stay ahead of time.
- Stay on the top of your game, always. Doing something you love will also help you become proactive as you would like to give your best to your task.
Just Do It
Workplace counselling experts opine that many people plan well but they get stuck in a kind of analysis paralysis. Thinking too much about things and worrying won’t get you anywhere. Instead, try to focus on what you can do to move forward. Ask yourself about the small steps you can take daily to move towards your goal. Make a written note of it and get it done.
Utilizing commuting hours
While talking of workplace productivity, in the context of modern workplace, commuting is unavoidable but we can take some steps to make it productive. For example, while commuting, you could
- Plan your day ahead
- Answer emails that tend to take lots of time. By the time you finish your commute, you’ll be in a position to begin your day with a clean inbox
- Learn by listening to a podcast or catching up with the latest in your chosen domain.
By boosting your productivity on your commute, you’ll gain a sense of accomplishment, which is a bonus to start the day with.
To ensure optimal productivity, you need to stay clear of typical time stealers like emails, phone calls and social media notifications. The sad fact is that we’ve become so addicted to online stuff that we get lost in whatever we see, thereby wasting our productive hours.
Try out a digital detox by having one internet free day weekly, when you disconnect totally from the digital world and spend face time with other people. Go out, read a good book, catch a good movie – do whatever you like but get offline! There’s a whole big world out there and you’ll find that by disconnecting for a while, you feel recharged. Not to mention the bonus of spending good time with the people in your life.
At workplace too, a colleague may want to share a tea or just chat with you while you’re busy with your task, thereby creating interruptions and a productivity drop. So what can you do? You need to work smarter by:
Setting ‘office hours’ to let others know when you are ‘available’
Putting phone notifications on the silent mode
Pre-deciding a time to check social media notifications and emails
Use suitable apps like Evernote and Clockify etc. to let you work and use pre-planned breaks to derive the most out of your day by minimizing distractions.
Blocking time-stealer websites
You’ll find how fast your productivity rises and there can be no other feeling more satisfying than the sense of accomplishment that you got everything done that you had intended to.
Reviewing Your Work
Many among us hit the sack at night, bogged with the thoughts of what we need to do, forgot to do or couldn’t find the time for. Interestingly, we have hardly any time to think of our “successes” i.e. what we actually got done as the excessive stress doesn’t let us do so. So, every week, review your lists and daily schedules to find how you utilize your time and while doing so, ask yourself
Did I succeed in achieving what I wanted to?
Could I have achieved it in lesser time?
This powerful tool can help you determine whether you are really managing your time productively. Once you get the answers to them, you can think of possible improvements to boost your productivity.
Break To Make
Those researching workplace productivity say that there is enough research to prove that the longest a human mind can have complete focus on a task at a time is about 1.5 hours, beyond which the brain begins to lose its peak efficiency. So, take a break every 1.5-2 hours and leave your desk, take a stroll around, sip water or tea/coffee or get some sunshine. It diverts your attention and re-energizes you. Just give it a try to realize the difference it can make!
Getting Enough Sleep
Many people tend to doze off at work simply because they feel the need to. Early-morning commutes, long working hours and too many domestic responsibilities may result in fewer sleeping hours. But not getting enough quality sleep can adversely affect our performance in all spheres, especially at the workplace as the brain part needed for logical reasoning and thought is adversely affected by poor sleep, thereby impairing our cognitive performance.
Enough quality sleep will ensure that your productivity remains in top gear. While planning your day, try to ensure that your to-do list gets completed in time to let you have 7-9 hours of sleep.
Quality sleep restores and rejuvenates the mind to help you focus effectively and achieve more in lesser time. Poor sleepers suffer from poor overall productivity and feel sick more often.
Checking our email box gives us a dopamine rush, which makes us check our email again. Obviously, it interrupts the flow of our work for some time. And every time we stop working to check email, it means reduced productivity. It’s much better to fix certain specific times for checking and responding to those emails.
Any life coach can tell you that it’s not necessary to do all that work by yourself as not only does it keep you over-occupied but also deprives others of learning the things and feeling a sense of achievement. Delegating your tasks does bring some risk, but the increased responsibility is vital to improve the morale and job satisfaction of your staff. Give some responsibilities to employees with a proven track record and trust that they will perform the tasks well.
Your employees will get a chance to gain skills and leadership experience and the organization will also benefit by providing them a sense of achievement and direction.
Life coaches always advise us to encourage, motivate and reward our employees when they do a good job and offer them constructive criticism. You may think of giving incentives for a job well done – a paid holiday or cash vouchers for performing above and beyond their roles. Beyond a certain managerial level, non-monetary incentives like appreciation certificates, tokens and medal are far more powerful motivators than bonus or cash rewards.
They cultivate a sense of fulfillment to motivate others, too. Motivated employees are more likely to work harder and ensure increased productivity in their tasks, say life coaches.
The workers who constantly operate under stressful conditions are less productive, disengaged and report more absenteeism … They need to be happy! Showing them how much the company appreciates, respects and values them by different means.