Secrets to Personal Productivity

To achieve optimal personal productivity, one must be aware of himself, the situation as well as the other party. Who are the other party? They can be your co-workers, bosses, director, vendor, etc. in a workplace context. We can also describe personal productivity as an awareness of three things: Me, You and Situation. This is not something special and it had been mentioned in Sun Tzu’s Art of War quote:

It is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles; if you do not know your enemies but do know yourself, you will win one and lose one; if you do not know your enemies nor yourself, you will be imperiled in every single battle.

In our modern day context, we are not trying to win a war. We know “war” is too costly (it’s all in the news). The fundamental objective is to achieve personal productivity through understanding ourselves, the other party and the situation. Understanding ourselves involves awareness of our choices of actions, responses, our thinking, self-discipline and exertion of self-control. Strengthening the “me” is our core principle of understanding oneself. Understanding the other party involves awareness of their thoughts, anticipated responses within the given situation. We cannot change the perspective of another person, working styles, life’s need or nor a situation, but what we can do is to prepare our state of mind and body to adapt and handle various situations when they arise. Through this, we can “position” ourselves and influence any decisions and outcome. It goes the same when you enter the wrong “position”, the results are negative consequences.

How does it have any relation with improving personal productivity? Chances of us knowing the other party (or person) and situation dynamics is limited. But we have awareness and control of ourselves. Having being able to control what we can, we then anticipate and influence what is out of our control. Understanding oneself is one part of the equation to personal productivity. To further enhance personal productivity, it is necessary to complete the other half of the equation: understanding and reacting appropriately to other’s behavior in different situations. Sun Tzu’s Art of War quotes have been widely used in the business world. In our context, we bring it a level down to for the purpose of enhancing personal productivity at work.

Throughout the journey of finding productivity (is it work or life) with us, you will find that we begin working on one’s personal awareness and self-control (Me factor). Following through to understanding of the other party (You factor) and handling of situation dynamics (Situation factor). You will find what’s written here able to address your needs, if you have trouble finding personal productivity at work or having a grumpy boss always concerned with your performance. Simple as the concept is, we believed that what we are sharing here will be helpful in your search of personal productivity at work.

Tips for Increasing Your Personal Productivity in the Workplace

Today we are considering some tips for increasing personal productivity in the workplace. Productivity is a measure of your efficiency. It is the relationship between your output and your input of time and other resources. Every serious individual engaged in some form of employment, production, enterprise or activity desires to have higher output. You don’t need your boss or poor business results to compel you to improve your productivity. Every working person should do everything possible to increase his or her productivity. But how do you get this done? What are the critical things that come into focus to increase your personal productivity?

  • Time management is paramount in increasing productivity. You should value your time and use appropriate time management tools. Avoid distractions as much as you can. Identify your most productive hours where your energy levels are high, and do the most important work during such times. Diminishing returns tend to set in at some point. Use your downtime productively by identifying good time-fillers. These are activities that are not part of routine but make use of extra time you have. You may for example use such time for reorganization and learning.
  • You need to distinguish between important and urgent things. Not every urgent thing is important. In fact, when you manage around important things, you tend to have less urgency. This is due to the fact that you will have already taken care of the things that may surface as urgent.
  • Make use of the power of focus. You don’t have to, rather choose to. A focused employee can be very productive through the power of choice. You can manage your time and output through self-management. Don’t you think so?
  • Inculcate the habit of discipline and control. You should eliminate bad habits that waste time. Such habits include unnecessary internet surfing, misuse or excessive use of social networks, misuse of phones, outright laziness etc. Delegate as much as you can. Learn how to manage information overload. Is there any senior employee in today’s working world not facing this challenge?
  • Planning in advance and being organized also help boost your productivity. If you are proactive in your approach you tend to be more efficient. The reactive and crisis approach to issues in the workplace breeds inefficiency.
  • Schedule your priorities by putting first things first. Your failure in this aspect can always earn for you rebukes. If you have ever worked with people who never get this right then you know what I’m meaning, don’t you?
  • What about your workstation? Does it enable you to be more productive? The physical organization and arrangement of your workstation affects your productivity. Additionally, the availability of vital resources such as equipment, reference material, appropriate technology etc can increase your productivity. Haven’t you interfaced with people who always blame the tools? If you don’t have the right tools then start by addressing that problem.
  • If you are action oriented you can increase your productivity. You should avoid deferring issues. It is said that procrastination is opportunity’s assassin. Why not develop your personal execution culture and deploy it always while working?
  • Now, people you work with can also determine your productivity. Build excellent relationships and learn how to deal with people. This boosts your morale and improves your productivity. A word of caution however – avoid toxic people and time wasters. Be assertive and you will eliminate the negative elements. If you fear people you cannot improve your productivity, can you?
  • You can also improve your productivity through balanced living. You should address aspects of health and attitude. Balanced living can awaken the high productivity giant within you. Take care of the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual aspects of life. You should learn to re-energize through approaches such as relaxation and stress management. These approaches also help avoid job burnout.

Now, if you are not yet making use of all the above tactics then you need to start right away. Don’t you think so? You don’t need to wait any longer.

Apply the 80/20 Rule and Watch Your Personal Productivity Soar

Before we can apply the 80/20 rule, we need a clear picture of what it actually is and a basic idea of where it originated.

In the early 1900’s, Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto observed that twenty percent of the people in Italy owned eighty percent of the wealth. Over 30 years later, Dr. Joseph M. Juran, who worked in the field of Quality Management in the United States, recognized a similar occurrence, namely, that many things in life are unevenly distributed.

He referred to this trend as Pareto’s 80/20 Principle, which is otherwise known as the 80/20 rule. Basically this means that a small percentage (roughly 20%) of the overall activity yields a larger percentage (roughly 80%) of the result.

Applying the 80/20 rule to your personal productivity will help you to prioritize your work from most important to least important and then to budget your time accordingly. To make prioritizing your tasks a bit easier, estimate the amount of time you will need to complete each task. You will be more productive if you focus on completing the most important tasks first and if you finish time-sensitive projects before tackling other tasks.

One survey revealed that while people spend 60 hours a week in their offices, they do less than 20 hours of actual work. Applying the 80/20 rule, using the aforementioned suggestions, could send the average office-worker soaring to employee of the month in no time flat!

With your priorities set and a definite plan in place as to what work you need to complete and the time-frame you have to complete it, you are well on your way to improved personal productivity. Again, the 80/20 rule suggests that in a small amount time you can be very productive. Therefore, beware of becoming side-tracked by non-essential intruders like procrastination.

Keep in mind the old adage, “why put off tomorrow what you can do today!” Also, be mindful that in the course of a day, unexpected things do come up and require our time. However, this is usually the exception and not the rule. If you really want your productivity to soar, stay focused on the goal of completing your tasks on-time!

Now that you know where you want to be, it’s a good time to ask yourself where you are now in relation to reaching your goal. Are you already in the 20% of efficient, productive workers, are you in the 80% of not-so-productive workers, or are you somewhere in-between?

What does your annual or quarterly review reveal about your personal productivity? What do your peer reviews show? Regardless of your current standing, take an honest look at the work you’ve done lately. You may not need a full overhaul of your work habits but instead you may just need to fine-tune a few areas.

Don’t hesitate. Why not start today? Apply the 80/20 rule at work and even at home and just watch your personal productivity soar!