5 Unique and Simple Tips to Boost Productivity
Do you know anybody who says they’re not busy? Most of us wake up each morning facing choc-a-block calendars and endless to-do lists. In the millennial world, it’s even “cool” to be seen as being busy, but are we really doing justice by our time? Everybody’s ultimate aim is to achieve high productivity as their most crucial resource is time.
We only have a limited amount of time to do research, connect with prospects, and ultimately deliver on targets. You need a guarantee of getting the maximum return on the time you invest. And importantly, the company also has to see your efforts and output with the same lens.
A few things to look at before we dive into aspects of improving productivity is to take a look at how the business is operating currently, and consider that things may be different if you change the way you work. Along with looking at time vs. productivity, it goes without saying that it’s crucial to list out short-term and long-term goals and also prioritise tasks, especially if yours is a small business or a small team.
Sometimes, looking at things from a different lens can infuse fresh energy into things. With a little bit of introspection on how to manage productivity and time, here’s a list of unique productivity tips that can help you get done things done efficiently.
Whether you adopt them yourself or work towards ensuring your team adopts all or some of these ideas, I assure you they will enhance your productivity many folds; and I say that from experience.
# Talk to someone you look up to, ask them for a productivity tip:
You may be an entrepreneur who is stuck due to lack of funding to scale up, or you may be an employee that is not making headway in a project and are running into several delays and missing deadlines. It’s a very real situation that sometimes, you can hit a plateau. No matter what you do, it seems like things aren’t moving. These are the times when you lose morale, confidence, and things may not be going according to plan.
It is always beneficial in such times to have a mentor or someone who has already walked the path, has experience and can impart some of their wisdom and experience to you and support you along the way and help you improve your productivity. Mentors can provide support, accountability and can also be used as a sounding board. They can help set boundaries and they can also give the unfiltered objective truth.
Having an experienced person to sound things off also means they can share lessons from all the mistakes they have made in the past, problems they have solved and other issues they have faced over the years and help others avoid the tricky parts by sharing the decisions they have made in such situations. I’ve known peers who have gained from each other by simply asking ‘how do I get this done better?’.
The best part is this need not be a one-way street. If the person you reach out to is from within the company itself then it can also help to re-evaluate some of their own work practices and business decisions, and it can also possibly spark some new ideas and collaborations. This can benefit the organisation overall.
# Make a list of your excuses, and make a conscious effort to not use them:
We are all creatures of habit, and we all tend to put things off to the last minute. Some of us work better under pressure, but some of us just fall off the wagon. Nancy often tended to come unprepared for her Monday morning meetings. She has an ageing dog, and he often needs time to settle in the mornings especially after a weekend.
While Nancy recognised this and was honest with her boss, it didn’t help the situation, as setting the agenda for the week was postponed and as a result, the work was delayed. In such cases, it is important to note that the situation cannot be an excuse for delaying work. Both the situations are part of Nancy’s responsibilities and she has to plan better to deliver at work while taking care of her home. Employees like Nancy need to be aware of the excuses they use not to deliver and make a conscious effort not to use them.
It happens so often in the workplace, does it not? We hear employees say ‘I couldn’t do this task as there is already so much on my plate’. Sometimes this reason may be true and as a team leader, you will have to evaluate the tasks. But if it is not so, you have to help the team member understand that fact and provide support to reverse the situation. What will definitely not help is trying to tell the employee that he/she is underperforming, making excuses and needs to buck up. Chances are you will find yourself hearing new excuses instead of driving change.
We all have to balance several responsibilities at one go. The idea is to be conscious which responsibilities are we converting to excuse to not delivery other responsibilities.
# Focus on being productive rather than being busy:
Busy people have great work ethics, which is why they are always busy. The issue is not that they don’t work hard, but that they don’t work smart. They work linearly without considering if there are better ways to do things. On the other hand, productive people focus on being effective first, then efficient. They are constantly looking for better ways to achieve the same outcome.
Efficiency means reducing the time taken to complete a particular task to move forward to the next step. Effectiveness means you find a way to do a job in the most optimal way. Sometimes, it may even mean eliminating tasks that waste time in order to get the desired outcome.
Sometimes we can be efficient, but not necessarily effective and this can have a trickle-down effect. For example, using a slow computer to design your magazine cover means you are limited by slow processing, even if you are an ace designer. The effective step here is to invest in a new computer to optimise. Or better yet, hire an agency to do it if the cost works out to the same.
You will agree that simply having a long list of to-do things does not make one productive. In a team you first need to understand the difference between being efficient and being effective; and once again, you have to help your team see the difference. At times even coach them to adopt ways in which they can be more effective.
# Use your mind to think rather than remember:
By actually doing something new over and over again, your brain wires new pathways that help you do this new thing better and faster. This is exactly how children learn. How does a baby learn to walk steadily? How does a child learn to eat well without making a mess? It is not about doing something the wrong way but perfecting the process till they learn to eat by themselves or walk by themselves just like an adult does. In other words, with enough repetition, things just become second nature.
Similarly, setting small routines for yourself at work frees up your time and mind space to learn new things, focus on new processes and constantly innovate. This not only improves your learning curve but also helps the company progress and move forward.
Its human nature for us to rely on our past experiences, draw inspiration and make a decision based on them. But is that the best approach? Often we tend to do this due to lack of time. You may have heard employees or even bosses say ‘it has worked in the past, why not now?’. Yes, the experience is important but not so that we repeat our actions but so that we don’t make the same mistakes.
While working on a project, new meeting, new proposal, new task, etc. set some time aside to really think about would be the best approach. Even if it is only 15 minutes, over time your mind will be trained to think rather than to remember. A good team leader will ensure that their team members also practice this trait.
# If you have a mind block, make a mind map:
Mindmaps are powerful techniques to visually represent your thought process. Mind mapping increases your creativity and productivity because it’s an excellent tool to let you generate more ideas, identify relationships among the different data and information, and effectively improve your memory and retention.
Making a mind map is a great way for you to be able to sort through your thoughts and ideas. This allows you to quickly generate creative and even unique ideas in less time. It gives you the freedom you need when brainstorming so that the flow of ideas is not blocked or hampered as linear thinking does.
It’s a great way to categorise and organise the ideas you brainstormed and identify their relationships. By using limited space you can make easy connections that give you all information about a particular topic at a single glance. With time and practice, it can even help you discover new relationships among seemingly unrelated ideas and information.
Mindmaps can look fun too by using colours, images, and keywords that help to enhance your memory and retention. It makes learning more interesting and fun so you become more motivated to remember important details.
For teams, it creates a culture of deep thinking and constantly innovating. It ties in beautifully with the previous point about training your mind to think rather than to remember.
Lastly, Most of the above productivity tips may seem too simple but they are effective and cost-efficient ways to keep employees happy, engaged and more efficient. You don’t even need to spend thousands of dollars on high-end perks to foster this engagement. All you need to do is put yourself in your employees’ shoes and ask how you can improve your work culture so it’s more conducive to productivity. The important thing is to just start. Make way for open communication, let go of micromanaging, and see the good points in what your employees are doing. In the end, it all comes down to this – happy, engaged employees work harder, smarter, and better.
At Yellow Spark, we design and implement customised programmes to make sure you have happy engaged employees who are very productive. To know more please write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Author Profile: Deepam Yogi is an adventurer at heart, socially conscious in her gut and professionally a strategic consultant. She co-founded Yellow Spark to support organisations to build workplaces that people love being a part of. Deepam describes herself as a shy yet opinionated writer and firmly believes that most answers to complex issues lie in simple communication.