Via LinkedIn : There has been much in the press in the UK in the last few days about “the productivity puzzle” and why it is that on average the British worker is 27% less productive than his or her counterpart in France and more than 30% less productive than those in the United States.
There are many reasons that can be cited for why this huge gap exists but we haven’t seen many clear ideas about how to overcome it.
The Government has produced a report entitled Fixing the Foundations: Creating a More Prosperous Nation and has set up an independent enquiry to consider the problem and come up with some solutions. That paper looks across a number of factors including investment, skills and knowledge, economic infrastructure, science and innovation, and the elements of a more dynamic economy and market structures. All have some relevance but on their own will not solve the issue.
And what of other research? A quick trawl of the internet can tell you that productivity issues result from office temperatures, long commutes to and from work, poor office design, lack of natural light, the colour of the walls, outdated technology, noise… the list goes on. I’m sure all of these have some or more effect on productivity but they are not the answer.
It seem to me that the real keys to increasing productivity lie, as most things do, with us, the human beings who lead, manage and work in organisations. At each level in an organisation there are roles that must be fulfilled and personal responsibilities that must be taken to ensure that productivity reaches at least a minimum acceptable level and then continually challenges the status quo to exceed that, sometimes exponentially. It all start with individuals working more productively so here are my Magnificent 7 ways to beat the productivity puzzle.
1. Seek Clarity
When we start to undertake any task we will complete it much more quickly and successfully if we are absolutely clear about the outcomes we are seeking. Starting a task without a clear view of the ideal outcomes is like starting a journey without knowing our destination. We might drive around for a while but any progress we make will be purely by chance. By making sure you know exactly what you are seeking to achieve you can cut hours off any task.
2. Plan Carefully
They say that every minute you spend planning will save you ten in the execution. Before you start your day, make a list of tasks to be accomplished during the day. Always work from a list and think on paper. Working to a list makes it easier to keep track of your progress and you get a great sense of achievement as you strike off completed items with a red pen.
3. Set Priorities
Think your list through before you start your tasks and prioritise them according to the potential consequences of not completing them. Concentrate on your most important tasks, those with the most significant consequences.
4. Do Difficult Stuff First
Brian Tracy’s Eat That Frog is probably the best book ever written on overcoming procrastination and getting more productive. The book title comes from a quotation by Mark Twain who said “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” The Frog is your most difficult task and once that is out of the way the rest of your tasks will seem like a breeze
5. Work Smarter
Remember it isn’t just the number of hours you work that’s important, it’s the value of the tasks you complete in the time available and you should measure both the quality and quantity of the results you achieve. The more time you spend working on higher value tasks the greater results you’ll achieve from each hour you put in
6. Focus on the Work
Discipline yourself to concentrate single-mindedly on your highest priority task and stay with it until it is completed, then move on to your next priority. Just by concentrating on a task and refusing to do anything else until its completed you can reduce the time you spend on it by as much as 80%
7. Develop a Sense of Urgency
Get on with the job. Develop and maintain a fast tempo in your work activity. Recognise how effective you can be when you have to because of some external deadline and apply that energy to everything you do. Set your own deadlines to maintain that pace.
Apply these Magnificent 7 rules and watch your own productivity soar. Help your work colleagues to implement them and your organisation will be well on its way to super-productivity. And the more individuals and organisations that take them up the more progress we will make towards solving the “productivity puzzle”
As I mentioned the best book I have ever read on the subject is Eat That Frog by Brian Tracy. You can download a free electronic version of that book here with my compliments. Or contact me now for more information on how together we can tackle the productivity puzzle in your organisation.
Rob Morgan is a Certified Business Coach with FocalPoint Business Coaching helping business owners, executives and leaders to achieve more of the potential already present in their businesses.