When we want to get more done, many of us simply work more hours, move deadlines around and try to multitask wherever possible. While these short-term measures can often provide light relief, they are never sustainable in the long term; pretty soon it becomes a way of life, leading to high levels of stress and eventually poor productivity. How many times have you felt like you’re working for longer but not getting anywhere? We had a situation at LifeSearch in which an adviser felt lost and ended up asking for help, saying ‘I’m working 12-hour days but feel like I’m getting nowhere.’
Productivity is a measure of how much you accomplish, not how busy you are. So it’s far better to learn how to work intelligently and to use leverage to achieve more with your time and resources; only when you have learned to work intelligently will you be able to understand how to increase your productivity. While my experience lends itself to sales, what I’ve tried to achieve in this blog is to outline how to be productive whatever your job.
1. Get organised
The first step in any productivity improvement plan is to get organised. Think about how to arrange your physical space so that it helps, rather than hurts your performance. Messy desks and drawers affect your productivity because you spend valuable time searching through piles of documents instead of doing high-value activities. Prioritise which tasks you need to get done and follow a to-do list.
2. Be self-aware
Organisation also involves self-awareness, and becoming aware of how you spend your time is essential for improving productivity. An activity log can help you to monitor how many jobs you’ve completed, and will help to show you exactly where you use your time well and where you waste time handling low-priority work, interruptions and distractions. Self-awareness also helps you to understand when you do your best work. Some people do their best work early in the morning, others aren’t fully productive until the afternoon or evening. Understanding your work pattern preferences will help you schedule important priority tasks for the times of day when you perform the best.
3. Start with the right attitude
The next part of improving productivity is related to your attitude and approach to your work. Self-motivation is very important if you want to maximize your productivity. Learn what motivates you to do your best work and then create the best environment possible so that you can do so. Think positively and take small steps to improve your performance as this will give you the motivation and inspiration that you need to continue moving forward with your plan.
4. Delegate more
Being productive is not a solo sport. To be truly productive in a work setting you must rely on everyone around you to help. While it’s true that too many cooks can spoil the broth, it’s also true that many hands make light work. Being productive will ensure that you are one of the cogs in a well-oiled machine rather than the rusty old cog that’s threatening to bring the whole thing to a grinding halt.