How to Manage Your Productivity

When we are talking about productivity, the first thing we need to be clear is that, the productivity is about the outcome, about achieving the goals. It is not about spending the time and putting more and more efforts. More efforts and time can only bring the sympathy to anybody, however productivity is measured directly by the outcome of efforts. So what matters is, what you have achieved, how good are you meeting the expectations and delivering the results for your team, and for your Organization.

Many of the times, amount of time spent for the work is considered to have a direct impact on the outcome. Executives used to be in a mental trap to work for long extended hours in the evening as a responsible team members to meet their goals and to add more to their outcome. But does that really improve the productivity? Burning the midnight oil at the time of delivery or in some critical situations is understandable, however can shedding extra hours on daily basis in the office really add to the result?  This is a big question and is an important point where quality of efforts put in, matters over the quantity of hours. And here is the start point to think that how we can add more quality to our work, so that it can result into desired productivity within regular work schedule. Here are the few principles to add to the productivity.
  1. Match the skills with Organizational Needs - Know what you can do best and then match it with the Organizational needs. Every person has some unique set of qualities which make her better in certain areas. Now the need is to match these qualities with the needs of the Organization. So every employee and the immediate boss should work collectivity to identify the Organizational needs and that how these needs can be met in best possible manner by utilizing the skills of employee. Sometime you can be a expert in sales and good in advertising, however, if Organization needs are currently for advertising then best role for you is in Advertising. You can not achieve your best till you are not put the efforts in the direction of Organizational needs.
  2.  Delegation is an art - Delegation of work is important for managing the output. If we delegate more, it actually decrease the quality as sometime the work can be done better by you or your subordinates can be overburdened. If we delegate less, it can also impact the quality as once you are overloaded, the quality of work will be down. So right delegation is actually an important key to success. First principle is, don't mess up with trivial things which can easily be managed by subordinates. For example, a CEO does not need to manage, who is making most of the noise in common room, or what seat should be booked for a dinner party in restaurant. These kind of tasks can easily be delegated to subordinates with a clear defined set of instruction. Now with some observation, you can keep any eye just as reviewer that thing are working properly as these should be. Second principle can be to keep confidence in the employees and in their skills. Confidence from boss actually make the subordinates to work with their best efforts. Further, they can also make mistakes, however making a new mistake is not at all bad. So everyone should get chance to explain the mistake and to improve it further. The pain is only when any employee is making same mistakes again and again. Doing all important tasks yourself with reason that you do not want mistake, actually leading you to more mistakes due to overburden and then you will just be putting the things either in the pocket that you are overburdened or that you are doing your best. So at first step, delegate trivial work without any doubt. Then delegate other important tasks also with a clear set of instructions. Always try to delegate the tasks for which you are having good skills in your team. Always try to retain the task with you, if you are most skillful for that and the task deserve to be with you. And when you are delegating the work, delegate the authority as well, as execution always need a certain level of authority.
  3. Keep meetings small and effective - Meetings are very important to plan the work, to do the reviews and for brain storming etc. However meeting could be a best time killer if these are not managed properly. To keep meetings effective and in line with the expectations of output, following points can help. 
    1. Fix the duration of meeting in advance and communicate it to every participants. Small allowances can be there to either side.  Open ended meetings are required rarely and should be avoided. Being a Boss does not give you rights to steal time from anybody schedule at your wish.
    2. Fix the agenda of meeting in advance and circulate the brief of agenda to all participants. It will help the participants to come prepared for the discussion and also help to keep the meeting discussions on track.
    3. Filter the list of attendees carefully. Any extra person will only decrease the effectiveness of meeting discussions.
    4. Start meeting with the note like what is the objective of meeting so that everyone can go in same direction without diverting to elsewhere.
    5. Close the meeting with conclusion note and a list of action points with their owner and desired completion date.
  4. Plan your day - Living the day as it is coming, could be the worst 'time and productivity' killer and can easily force you to find the reasons to justify the late hours stay in office. If you can plan the work of others for a desired outcome, your own time is the most important part of your life. It should be planned carefully. So have a TODO list for the day ready in the morning and sort it in the order of priority or in order how you want to execute it. There can be instances when you need to change the sequence in the day, so update the list to reflect it. In evening, update the list with all what you have achieved and what you need to move to any other day. If you spend few minutes on this list in the evening, it will give you a good insight of how you have spent your day and what could have been improved.
  5. Evening extra hours are not the working hours -  It could be the biggest mistake to consider the evening hours in your working hours. Extended working hours in the day are only a way to complete any important work which you were not able to complete due to some other critical work. However if you are taking it granted that evening hours are there, you are going to complete your work in those hours only. Our mind is a strong player, it plays with us to be relaxed and un-focused whenever it get chance. And when we have the chance to complete a work in evening, then why should we focus on it in morning hours, rather we can enjoy Facebook for long time in the morning.
  6. Find small break to relax in the day - Continuous sitting and working can actually decrease the productivity when your body and mind both are tired and you are just pushing both to move forward without their willingness. So have small breaks in the day and relax your muscles and brain. It can re-energize your system for next slot of work. So find the way which can make you relaxed and spend few minutes on it after a regular interval in the day.
  7. Personal life is important - Never take your personal life granted when it is the question of balancing out the time between profession and personal life. You can pull the situation for sometime, however ultimately any problem in personal life is coming to hunt you in profession also. There is no escape. Moreover our work is as good as we are healthy from mind. So if mind is not relaxed, then outcome will match the same rhythm.It is the personal life actually which can fill us with all required energy to achieve our goals. So take proper time for you and your family. Enjoy those moments. For example, a regular schedule to have one time meal together with family or a regular leisure trip can do miracle.
  8. Simplicity works - Keeping life schedule simple can actually help. A complex routine can be very demanding sometime, which you may not be able to cope up with your busy work schedule. And then it can let you down with a feeling like something is missing.
  9. Regular long hour work is a signal - If you are working for long hours on daily basis, it means something is wrong somewhere. It can be, like your productivity is not good or your skills are not matching with the current assignments, or you are really overburdened. Whatever it is, you need to get rid of it on urgent basis. As mentioned above, a plan of the day can help you to go steady with your day and will enable you to judge your productivity. If something is wrong there, fix it, it is in your hand. If you are not fit for current assignment, discuss it with your boss and sort it out. Solution can be to put some efforts for some more time, but then at least, it will be having an end. If you are really over burdened, raise it to higher level and find the solution to level the work load.
There can be many more points depending upon your experience and environmental factors, however the need is to understand the meaning of productivity and to find out the points which are actual blocker in achieving this. Once you find the points, you can apply solutions to these.

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