4 Steps to becoming a Productivity Legend

Stuart Kinsey Published: 

Productivity in any business is a critical element of success. When an organisation is running like a well-oiled machine employees are engaged, everyone is focused and contributing to the goals of the company, and subsequently thats translated into competitive advantage and increased revenues.

And the research speaks for itself:

  • Organizations with highly engaged employees have an average 3-year revenue growth 2.3 times greater than companies whose employees were only engaged at an average level. (Source: UNC Kenanflager Business School)
  • Employees who exercise their strengths on a daily basis are 8% more productive and 6x more likely to be engaged. (Source: Gallup)
  • Productivity improves by 20-25% in organizations with connected employees. (Source: The McKinsey Global Institute)

However, it's not all wine and roses in the day job. Productivity can be hampered amongst other things by poor communication, excessive workload, poor management practises and even email – with a staggering 28% of work-time spent dealing with it.

So how can you sidestep these productivity sapping hazards? We've come up with 4 simple steps to get you from wadding in treacle to skipping through your work day.

1. Multitasking doesn't work!

We all multitask for the wrong reasons. Generally, we indulge in it because it makes us feel busy, and busy feels good, it feels like we're being productive. We are constantly blasted with overloads of information and demands on our time. However, doing lots and lots of tasks at once only facilitates cognitive load, it doesn't increase our brains capacity. In fact we end up switching to less demanding (and often less accurate) cognitive strategies.

So, it's time to ditch the multitasking and focus on one task at a time. Create prioritised to-do-lists at the beginning of each day and plan your time in blocks. And, if possible, set regular intervals to check your email, until those times and if possible – try switching it off.

2. Organize tasks into bite size chunks

The best way to get dug into that big project is to reduce the whole into manageable and digestible parts. It may seem like common sense but taking those tasks and tackling them in a logical step by step approach is not. There's always the temptation to tackle the smaller tasks first. The reason we do this is twofold; we avoid the larger tasks as they feel more daunting and require more time to complete, and secondly we like to feel productive - so lots of little ticks gives us the sense of immediate accomplishment, sometimes to the detriment of the overall productivity.

Stick to the plan. To avoid reworking tasks, work through each one in its logical sequence. Utilise project management software or even a simple spreadsheet and tick off the tasks one by one.

3. Say NO, delegate and create accountability

Trying to tackle too much is a common trait of motivated and driven individuals. It's a trait that is formed by the control based illusion that nobody can do the task better or nobody can do it as efficiently. Subsequently, others learn this behavior and are more likely to pile on the tasks.

Saying NO, and learning to delegate tasks to others is a skill worth cultivating to improve overall performance within teams or departments. A key to successful delegation is to create accountability. Ensure that others will be held accountable and provide a process to monitor the progress of those tasks.

Holding people accountable is the biggest thing managers avoid doing.

A great way to keep informed on the progress of the task is to use the OKR (Objectives and Key Results) system

4. Automate and organise your data to get quicker insights

Another productivity killer is what we like to call data addiction. Its symptoms include hours and hours drooling over spreadsheets, accompanied by further hours of interpreting that data in various, almost fantastical theories, while coming to limited conclusions.

It's time to get your data, Metrics and Key Performance Indicators in shape. By automating these data points onto easy to understand visual representations such as KPI Dashboards or Reports will free up hours and hours to get on with other tasks. It will also allow you to make better more insightful decisions quicker.

Research shows that those people who are engaged in the workplace are simply happier and more productive. A few practical steps can make a huge difference in the quality and enjoyment of work. By improving productivity, communication and delegation skills, a business can benefit with employees focused on the organisations wider goals and strategic objectives, and in turn have a positive impact on the bottom line.

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