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Productivity Improvement 101

We all strive to become better. Better at playing piano, better at throwing the football, better at cooking, better at school – whatever it is that interests you, you most certainly want to become the best at it. That’s why self-improvement is so important. Being the best is a goal that we all have. And, depending on that goal, there are some very specific things that you can do to achieve that particular goal. How about productivity improvement?

But one goal that we all have in common is productivity. Being efficient is important in any goal. If you’re able to get more hours of piano practice in, you are bound to become a better pianist. But, how do we achieve that huge goal of productivity? How do we focus our time and efforts on becoming more productive? Never fear!

Productivity Improvement for You.

Here is your personal how-to guide on improving your productivity: 

Step 1: Know Your Goals.

How will you ever improve if you don’t know what you’re striving toward? Set out some realistic goals for yourself. Write them out. Put them in front of your face and look at them on a consistent basis. You must know exactly what your goals are if you are going to achieve them. Make sure you understand your goals. Don’t make up some goals that are foggy and unclear. Create clear and concise goals for yourself. Give yourself exact numbers – not vague ideas. The clearer and more precise your goals are, the easier they will be to achieve. You will know exactly what it is that you are fighting and working so hard to get to.

If you don’t have a precise vision of your goals, why not? Let’s break it down quickly before we move onto the next step. What do you want to achieve in the long term? Do you want to be better at the piano? Do you want to lose weight? Do you want to increase your business? Do you want to get a promotion? Whatever it is that you want in the long-term – focus on that. Now, think about what steps it will take for you to get there. Becoming better at the piano will require hours and hours of practice. So, how many hours a week do you want to practice? If you want to lose weight, what is your dream weight? How long will that take you to get there – realistically? If you want to increase your business, how many sales do you hope to make in a month? How can you get there? What exactly do you need to do to reach that next level with your business? Take that big, idealistic goal and start to break it down into manageable steps. You can’t suddenly become a skinny Warren Buffet – you have to use smaller, more achievable goals to help you along the way. As you start to accomplish those small goals, you will be well on your way to the big goal. 

Step 2: Reward Yourself and Others.

If you are part of a team, it is incredibly important to reward and acknowledge others as you achieve goals. Especially if you are in a position of management – you must take the time to stop and acknowledge subordinates on their great work. Think about how good it feels when someone tells you what a great job you’re doing on a particularly difficult task. It feels great, right? For someone to stop and notice how hard you are working – it is a great feeling and it gives you that push of energy to keep going. Sometimes, we feel down on ourselves and don’t think that anyone else can see how much we’re working. That’s why it is so important to notice and acknowledge a team’s hard work. Take the time to thank them. If you can’t afford some kind of reward, just stopping and telling them how much you appreciate their work will be enough.

If it’s just you working on this goal, take the time to acknowledge your own hard work. Just because you’re going at it alone doesn’t mean you should skip the reward and acknowledgement step. You must make sure to treat yourself for a job well done. If it’s just as simple as a piece of chocolate or just a half hour of your favorite television show, be sure to reward yourself. It’s so easy to get burnt out on any project – especially when your project is to focus on productivity. Avoid burn-out by rewarding yourself.

Another great way to avoid burn-out is to make sure that you are taking breaks. Don’t sit and work on a project for hours and hours on end. Stop and smell the roses every once in a while. Make sure that your team is taking breaks as well. Productivity is not just about getting as much done in any given moment, but making sure that it is being done correctly. The best way to ensure that projects and tasks are getting done correctly is to know that you and your team are taking breaks and not getting too overwhelmed at any point. Rewards are not just prizes, but taking breaks to relax. Keep in tune with your own body and your team to see if anyone is getting too overwhelmed at any given moment during a project.

Step 3: Minimize Interruptions.

Productivity can so easily be diminished through even the simplest of interruptions. One of the biggest ways that you can improve your own productivity is to minimize the amount of interruptions that you have throughout the day. You may be asking yourself how that could be possible. Interruptions aren’t something that you plan out in advance. They are things that pop up over the course of a day that are completely unplanned. But, there are some ways to minimize the amount of interruptions you have during the day.

  1. Stop checking your email. Email is a huge interruption. Leaving your email up and seeing the emails pour into your inbox is a huge interruption because there will be an email that pops up that you have to respond to. You don’t have to respond to it that exact moment. Give yourself a special time to check emails. Then and only then can you check your inbox. And then, you don’t have to respond to everything. Decide what needs to be right at that moment and what can wait.
  2. Close your door. Those brief conversations that you have with coworkers throughout the day are huge time wasters. Close your door and ask to be left alone for a while to get more work done. If you’re a boss with an open-door policy, have a specific time in the day when your door is open. Don’t let others drag down your productivity.
  3. Put your phone away – your work and personal ones. Your phone is a huge time waster. Your personal phone is a mini-computer that is specially designed to take up your time. Put it away. And, if you need to turn your work phone to straight to voicemail – don’t be afraid to do that as well.

Step 4: Do Easy Tasks First.

All too often, we get hung up on those big, daunting tasks. We play that terrible game of procrastination chicken with those tasks and they wind up taking away from other projects all the time. So, get things that are simple out of the way and don’t let them get overrun by the big projects. A good rule of thumb is that if the task will only take 2 minutes to complete, just knock it out. What’s the point of waiting to do something that will only take you a moment to complete? I know that I have a few emails that I have to send daily that only take me a moment to send so I do those first thing in the morning. That way, nothing else can pop up and prevent me from sending those emails. Despite only taking a few moments of my time, they can get easily lost throughout the day between the hustle and bustle of our days.

Step 5: Don’t be Perfect.

It’s so easy to fall behind on a task when you strive for perfection. Don’t worry about getting things done to perfection. Get things done the best that you can in the time allotted. Obviously, if it is a huge project, take the time to get it to be the best. Perfectionists can be the worst at time management because they spend too long on simple tasks. I follow a simple method of getting tasks done. I do it once through and then I go back and double check my work. If time permits, I try to get a third check.

Be sure to utilize your team. Another set of eyes on a project can help weed out any errors. And, it gives you time to move onto the next task when you pass something off to someone to check over.

Productivity is a task that can improved. Just follow the above steps and you will be a productivity professional in no time!

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