Productivity. We hear and read about it every day. We all ask ourselves how to improve it, but how to get more out of every day, what productive people do before breakfast, and more. Instead of asking the same questions, let’s take a step back and look at more achievable, answerable questions that, by default, will lead to higher productivity.
- Are you working at the right time for the right projects? Timing makes all the difference. Do the right things at the right time and each project will move along more quickly.
- What’s the next step that needs to happen to move a key project forward? Focus on the high value activities that will give you the biggest returns on your time investment.
- Are you trying to be more effective, i.e. doing the right things or more efficient, i.e. doing things right? Note: it makes no sense to get better at doing the wrong things.
- What project, if completed, would likely have the most impact? Use the pareto principle here, and concentrate on the top 20% of activities for 80% of the impact.
- What could you do to get momentum on your oldest active project? Find a way to see the project in a new light, or get some new input to reboot your energy.
- Does the project actually need to be done or is it something you committed to in the past? Maybe you are holding on to a project that will never really be completed. It could be time to scratch it off your list entirely.
- What frogs are on your list and which would feel the best to have done? (Haven’t heard of this term before? It is derived directly from Brian Tracy’s famous book, Eat the Frog. The frog is the hardest challenge of your day that you are likely to put off. It’s best to eat the frogs first thing in the day.)
- What are the specific obstacles keeping you from completing the work you have in front of you? It’s time to identify and overcome them.
- What’s on the list that feels least like work?
- If you’re being interrupted, is there something you can do to prevent the interruptions? Even more, are you distracted by shiny objects that come in the form of internet distractions? Commit to large blocks of time when you do not check email or go on the internet. You’ll be amazed at the increase in your productivity.Is there something you can do today to prepare yourself for a more productive work session in the future?
- What’s nagging at you and is there any way to actually address it? If not, it might be time to let the project to entirely or at least pass it off to someone else.
- Why are you wanting to do with the time you gain? You may have been busy for so long that you don’t really know what you would do with extra time. Be honest with yourself.
- How much is it costing you to not do an item on the list, and are you willing to accept that cost? Thinking of your languishing to-do list as a cost will help you clarify how important the items are.
- What completed project would move you closer to a promotion or the next level in your profession? If the activities you are doing don’t help you get closer to your professional goals, then it doesn’t matter how productive you are.
- What could you get done in the next 30 minutes that would set you up for a productive morning tomorrow?
Hopefully these questions will help you shake loose and get practical about productivity.
Employee Development Systems, Inc. (EDSI) has been resolving employee development, leadership, generational, professional presence, and personal effectiveness issues for over 30 years, and she is ready to tackle any question you have.