A quick and effective guide to achieving productivity.
From a broader perspective, increased productivity increases the power of an economy by driving economic growth and satisfying more human needs with the same resources.
There are three useful perspectives in which to frame the value in improving productivity within a system from an economic standpoint:
Consumers/Workers: At the most micro level we have improvements in the standard of living for everyday consumers and workers as a result of increased productivity. The more efficiency captured within a system, the lower the required inputs (labor, land, and capital) will be required to generate goods. This can potentially reduce price points and minimize the necessary working hours for the participants within an economy while retaining high levels of consumption.
Businesses: Businesses that can derive higher productivity from a system also benefit from creating more outputs with the same or fewer inputs. Simply put, higher efficiency equates to better margins through lower costs. This allows for better compensation for employees, more working capital, and improved competitive capacity.
Governments: Higher economic growth will also generate larger tax payments for governments. This allows governments to invest more in infrastructure and social services
The individual or a company producing more with a given set of inputs (capital, labor, and materials) or using fewer inputs to produce the same output has an advantage over the company producing less.
The central mission of a productivity index is to illuminate how a business can get more units of output per labor hour, per machine, or per pound of materials than its competitors.
As Harvard Business Review puts it,
Productivity measurement should focus on overall capabilities, not on one set of costs. How good is your company at taking a pile of raw materials, a bunch of machines, stacks of paperwork, and groups of employees, and turning out useful goods or services? That’s what a productivity index should address. It is, as much as possible, a relationship between physical inputs and outputs.
The formula is disarmingly simple.
Productivity = Units of output/Units of inputs
Check out my 6 simple productivity steps that may change your life.
1. Schedule your day from start to finish.
That even means waking and getting to sleep at the same time every day.
Your body finds equilibrium in routine, along with efficiency for doing daily tasks better and faster, which means you’ll be able to pack more into what was once an unproductive day. One of the most prolific task management apps is Todoist.
2. Work with a team that syncs with your natural schedule.
The famous philosopher, Rene Descarte, met his end because he accepted a gig tutoring Queen Christina. But the problem wasn’t the tutoring or the Queen. It was meeting on cold early mornings, which threw him off his natural beat of waking later in the day.
Make sure that when you accept a role or responsibility or pick your team, that everyone is in sync. That means being honest about availability, what work times are best, etc.
3. Keep your inbox at zero.
An email has a way of piling up, but the worst part is a waste of time it takes to orient and prioritizes our focus every time we sign in.
Even if five old messages are sitting there, most people will read through them over and over until they are filed away or deleted.
To avoid such a time wastage, only keep emails in your inbox that you can act immediately upon, otherwise file them in folders, labeled accordingly, like “one month follow up,” “five-minute response,” and so on.
Also, start using tools like Evernote to begin planning and tracking your goals manage your tasks using apps like Things 3 or Todoist.
4. Use specific instructions.
When you need to get something done, and it depends on others to help you, be detailed in your education. List each item that needs to be done, and corresponding details, and especially a deadline.
Create a format/process for issuing instructions as well, so that part is automated too.
5. Don’t fear the phone
We’re all so used to texting back and forth, which is suitable for record-keeping and group collaboration, but ‘wake up’ when it becomes a waste of time.
In a project management capacity, I’ve seen dialogs between developers and stakeholders go on throughout the day, and adding a new layer of confusion. Everything could have been solved with a three-minute call, then if needed, a typed summary of action taken could have been posted for the record.
6. Avoid meetings without a clear plan
Why does the world still insist on meetings when there’s no reason to gather the forces? It takes time to prepare, end, and process meetings, so don’t schedule them just to have a pow-wow unless there are a clear plan and punch list for everyone attending.