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How to Improve your Productivity

How To Improve Your Productivity

How To Improve Your Productivity

When you are feeling down and uninspired, your productivity levels will inevitably suffer. It can be difficult to get out of a rut and focus on the task at hand. However, there are skills you can master to re-inspire yourself and get back on track.

Key Productivity Skills

The key productivity skills to focus on, are:

1. Set specific goals

Productivity training is about setting goals and achieving them, in the minimum amount of time, money, and effort. Productivity is a measure of how effectively you achieve your goals.

You need to set goals and then you need to focus on them for many days, weeks, months and even years.

2. Write detailed plans

Once you have identified your goals, you should write them up into a plan. Break down your goals into smaller steps, and identify what you can do each day, week, and month to get closer to achieving your goal.

3. Communicate your plan to others

Nobody can succeed on their own, and you may need help to achieve your goal.

In order for your employees, friends and family to understand your plan, you need to communicate three elements:

  • "What?" is the goal
  • "Why?" is the reason and the motivation for the goal
  • "How?" is the plan that will achieve the goal

4. Implement your plan and avoid unnecessary mistakes

Your goal and plans are both theoretical. The implementation of the plan is when you actualise the plan - when you put the plan into practice. This may involve some effort - you may need to get up early, stay up late, or travel somewhere.

When you implement your plan, do so with full focus. Do the best job of which you are capable.

5. Solve problems quickly and efficiently

As you implement your plans, you are bound to come up against unforeseen problems.

Now your productivity will depend upon you solving your problems, in a quick, efficient and timely manner. Problem solving comes in two major types:

  1. Logical problem solving is about using analytical methods to seek solutions
  2. Creative problem solving is about using your imagination to create solutions

Both of these methods can be improved by problem solving training.

6. Create and sustain a positive mental attitude

Productivity relies on a certain state of mind. We need to create and sustain a positive mental attitude; especially during tough times. Productivity is the product of the inventive mind. If your mindset is productive, then your actions will be productive.

If you have a non-productive mindset, then your actions will also be non-productive. Improve your productivity by developing a positive mindset. Positive mental attitude training can be of benefit in achieving this.

How to create and sustain a positive mental attitude

Keep control of the content of your conversation. There are five types of conversational categories:

  1. The future will be better than the present. These are goal orientated and optimistic conversations. These are usually productive conversations
  2. The future will be worse than the present. These are fear inducing conversations. They are not very productive
  3. The past was bad. Conversations about how the past was bad are often anger-inducing conversations. These are not very productive
  4. The past was better than the present good. These can be nostalgic conversations. These are non-productive.
  5. The present moment. These are usually productive conversations.

How to have a productive work day

Your day to day actions will have a huge impact on reaching your goals. It is important to stay productive every day in order to meet targets and make progress. During a typical working day, there are tools you can use to keep focused and stay productive. Productivity tools include:

The productivity ratio

It is important to improve your productivity, because your success depends upon it. The more productive you are, the faster you will progress.

Your productivity is a ratio of the value of your work, divided by the volume of your work.

The value of my work = (Value added to my customers, company and myself).

The volume of my work = (Time-Effort invested).

  • It is better to spend a smaller amount of time working on difficult, but high value tasks, than it is spending lots of time working on low value, easy tasks.
  • It is better to have a smaller number of quality clothes, than lots of crummy clothes.
  • It is better to have one terrific idea than it is to have many terrible ideas.

The Zones of Productivity

It is possible to exert a lot of effort, to be really busy all day long, and not produce any results. Therefore, it is important to distinguish between Busy-work and Productive work.

  • We can define "Busy" as a measure of the VOLUME of your work.
  • We can define "Productive" as a measure of the VALUE of your work.

Look at the opposing diagonals on the following diagram.

Personal Development : How To Improve Your Productivity

  • Productive work is high value, not-late work
  • Busy work is lower value, non-productive work

To be most productive, we must avoid being in the Busy Zone and get into the high-value Productive Zone.

Our productivity training is about increasing your productivity by helping you to eliminate "busy work" and replacing it with value-added productive work.

The elements of productivity

There are three different elements of productivity, which you must utilise to meet your goals. These are:

1. Hard skills

Refers to technical knowledge, technical skills. For example, a Paramedic needs to know anatomy, and an engineer needs to know mathematics.

2. Soft skills

Leadership, time management, planning, communication skills, persuasion, negotiation, conflict management, sales skills.

3. Attitude

Self-confidence, motivation, self-discipline, work ethic, a sense of entrepreneurialism.

Combining soft skills, hard skills, and your positive mental attitude will help you to make progress and reach your goals.

Why time management is important for productivity

We offer a time management course to help improve your productivity. The following topics are covered on the course:

1. Work according to a plan, not your mood

Many people do not work to a plan. They make it up as they go along. As a result of not having a plan, they are forced to respond to the current environmental pressures.

As a result of that, they become forever reactive to current events; driven BY the events, rather than being in control.

People with no plan feel as if they are the victims of circumstances. They feel less in control and more victimised by fate.

Correcting this error is simple to do. Every day, make plans for the future.
Your plan should be as detailed as is reasonable:

  1. Make plans for your work
  2. Make plans for your money
  3. Make plans for your family
  4. Make plans for your education and continued learning

2. Use your down time to your advantage

Down time is defined as "time that is spent in an activity that does not require much brain power, but cannot be avoided".

Examples of down time:

  1. Sitting in traffic jams
  2. Waiting for someone to arrive
  3. Mowing the lawn

All these tasks must be done but to do them requires only a fraction of your available brain power. So what are you going to do with the rest?

You could use it to:

  1. Learn new material
  2. Practice skills
  3. Make plans
  4. Analyse the current situation

For example, when you are stuck in traffic you could practice learning a new language.

3. Prioritise

Because your time and your brain are both limited resources, you cannot do everything at once. Because you cannot do everything at once you must prioritise.

Prioritise tasks according to:

  1. The value of the task (do the most important first)
  2. The deadline pressure (do the most urgent first)
  3. The necessary logical sequence (the washer must precede the nut)

Do the most valuable and most urgent things, in the right sequence.

4. Keep your mental focus on the task at hand

Distinguish between two types of person:

  1. The focused individual
  2. The butterfly mind

The focused individuals can keep their minds on the task at hand.

The butterfly minded individuals cannot keep their minds on the task at hand.

Focus your mind on the task at hand, for as long as you can, then take a break, and then focus your mind on the next task.

5. Feed your brain what it needs

In order for your brain to function like a well-oiled machine, it needs the right maintenance and fuel.

Your brain needs:

  1. Sufficient oxygen
  2. Normal blood sugar levels
  3. Accurate information

Therefore you should:

  1. Breathe deeply and regularly
  2. Take occasional walks around the office to improve circulation and wellbeing
  3. Don't skip meals

Productivity Training

If you would like to reach your full potential by being more productive, we recommend you attend our Productivity Training Course.

About the Author: Chris Farmer


Chris Farmer is the founder of the Corporate Coach Group and has many years’ experience in training leaders and managers, in both the public and private sectors, to achieve their organisational goals, especially during tough economic times. He is also well aware of the disciplines and problems associated with running a business.

Over the years, Chris has designed and delivered thousands of training programmes and has coached and motivated many management teams, groups and individuals. His training programmes are both structured and clear, designed to help delegates organise their thinking and, wherever necessary, to improve their techniques and skills.

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