Today people are overtired, overworked and overwhelmed. We race against the clock. We’re time poor. We make phone calls while eating lunch while surfing the internet while reading an email, always with one eye on something else we think we should be doing – but many have little or nothing to show for it. It has never been worse.
Because of this problem, everybody wants to improve their productivity, but most people don’t even know what this really means, let alone how to go about achieving it. Productivity is nothing more and nothing less than the outcomes you achieve, the drivers moving you forward and – most importantly – the value that you create. It’s about how your time and energy are spent when you are in productive mode.
Productivity has nothing to do with the number of items you tick off your to-do list. It has everything to do with the value you create.
A truly productive person can calmly work an eight-hour day with only a few items on their agenda and produce huge value for their organisation. An unproductive person can work a frantic 12-hour day and complete a to-do list a mile long and create no value whatsoever. Productivity is all about the value you create. It’s all about moving forward each day. How effective was the work you put in towards achieving sustained and achievable growth? How efficient are you? Work is about moving forward not I got things done. It’s about less, not more. It’s about doing the right things right.
When you have a plan and when you are clear about the outcome and strategy that’s driving you forward, then you have clarity. Being productive is about validating on your scoreboard through your finance systems that you are actually moving forward, and that you can clearly define the outcomes and demonstrate the progress you have made. This is the opposite of being busy (often frantic) yet having nothing to show for it. It’s not about how many things you crossed off your list – it’s about the verifiable results of your effort. It’s about outcome-based thinking and execution.
How do you beat this feeling of being overwhelmed and overtired without having something to show for it? Once you start doing less and having more to show for it, suddenly you’re going to have more energy. If you’re constantly working on tasks and activities that are giving you a positive result towards where you are driving the business, then your ability to stay 100% focused on the essential rather than the trivial will increase dramatically. No longer will you feel exhausted at the end of every day, having completed a long list of seemingly urgent but really not very important tasks. To make this happen you must stop spending time on things that should be charged out at a lower hourly rate. Your biggest bang for the buck is what you are here to deliver, using your skills and doing things that others on your team probably can’t. That’s your job.
It’s not about how do I wear more hats each day? It’s about how do I wear the hat I should be wearing and make the most of my time to move the business or my department forward? The key to productivity is not being broad and wide. You don’t want five miles wide and two inches deep. You don’t want to be doing 100 things a day but not one of them well. You want your approach to be two inches wide and five miles deep. This is where the Productivity Diamond is found. Find where your time is best spent, and do nothing else. It’s about having total clarity and a grip on the most important things that need to be done rather than the lesser things on your to-do list. By getting rid of the trivial, you will have more time to do the most important things and you will be spending more time working at your highest hourly rate. Your goal is to keep increasing what each hour is worth over the long term. This is a process that should never end.
Be clear about things that need to be completed, not only for today but for the long term.
Power to you this week!
Stefan Kazakis on 5 May 2018
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