Productivity at work: five tips to take the right steps and not waste your time
Productivity is the foundation of any type of business, but being obsessed with it is counterproductive Whether it's time management or to-do lists, organizing priorities or not procrastinating tasks and actions, the word on everyone's lips is always the same: productivity .
Of course, trying to continuously improve our working methods, in order to be more and more competitive and be able to manage more projects and more customers at the same time is certainly important. Every day we are inundated with articles, posts, videos, books that propose new techniques to improve, speed up, optimize, and increase our work and, consequently, our lifestyle.
In this sea of information we will certainly have the opportunity to find some interesting ideas, some useful advice, and some methodology that really suits our case and that, in fact, can help us improve certain aspects.
But are we really sure you're not exaggerating a bit?
The fact is that productivity is something that is very easy to get carried away and end up in some kind of addiction , a vicious circle that can lead us to focus all our energies on the process instead of on the project, or, using a metaphor , more on the route than on the destination.
If the concept of productivity was already a categorical imperative, now it is becoming a kind of collective psychosis. But the point is, the more productivity obsessed you are, the less productive you are.
Are you afraid of falling for it too? Here are five tips to avoid it.
1. Don't be impulsive
“Measure twice, cut once” is the motto of every good carpenter. It is the pragmatic equivalent of other adages (Night brings advice, Haste is bad counselor, etc.), which invite you to take your time, to reflect before acting.
Excess impulsiveness can be very counterproductive, and any negative consequences risk being even heavier as you are not in the least prepared to face them. This is because, taken by the urgency to act, we have not devoted the right time to planning and strategy.
As difficult as it may seem, in a world where the imperative always seems to be “Everything and Now”, we should always take the time to ask ourselves 3 simple questions:
How will this decision affect my work?
Is it worth taking the time and energy to do this particular thing?
Is it really the most important thing to do right now?
This is what can happen when, for example, we are offered a job and we accept it "by default". We have to ask ourselves if the opportunity we are about to take is really relevant to our business or to our growth. The important thing is to avoid taking any type of action without first defining why we should take it.
2. Don't try to improve what is already working at all costs
Productivity gurus keep repeating: everything can be improved . In itself it is not a wrong concept, no one claims otherwise. But let's also remember another saying:
If it's not broken, don't fix it.
If you feel you need to review and improve your business strategies, focus only on those that are not paying off.
If, for example, you are attracting new customers using Facebook successfully, it may seem natural to try to increase the reach of your target through other platforms, covering as many channels as possible. In this way, however, you risk removing resources from a tried and tested channel that is giving good results to try its luck elsewhere, wasting time, energy and capital.
Remember the Pareto Principle, according to which 80% of the results are brought by 20% of the work.
You then need to find what 20% activity to focus on to bring the maximum impact to results.
3. Don't engage in too many strategies at once
Have you ever tried to google "increase productivity"? Pages and pages of results. How is it possible to think of reading, learning and above all putting into practice all those notions? It is absurd to think that each of those tips, techniques, and methods is really effective.
The concept of productivity is applied to different fields of action, from personal to organizational, from strategic to economic.
Instead of trying to improve some aspects of each area of your business, proceeding, as it were, bites and pieces, select a specific area of activity, work on the aspects to be optimized, and verify that there has been an actual improvement. Try to make small but concrete changes. What really matters is the quality of the changes, not the quantity.
4. Always finish what you started
Jumping from project to project will not benefit your business, in fact it will most likely lead to you losing customers.
The obsession with productivity feeds on the desire to obtain gratification and results as soon as possible. Everything and immediately. Values like consistency and persistence are hardly ever mentioned by productivity gurus, and the ability to get things done right seems increasingly rare nowadays.
Once you have started a project, think about completing it within the times and methods agreed with the client, and then move on to the next goal.
5. Use the right tools
Let's assume you like woodworking. It's just a hobby, but you are very passionate and spend a lot of your time improving your technique. You also have a mentor who shares his secrets with you. Now that you finally have a project of your own, do you plan to go to the hardware store and empty the store by buying whatever they have?
Sometimes a project does not start because you are undecided about the tools to use. When you find yourself stuck in this sort of limbo, for trifles of this type, you have to stop and do a drastic reality check asking yourself:
"Do I really need this tool to do this thing?"
Usually it takes very little to return to reality and get out of this impasse.
For your small home woodworking project, a hacksaw, a hammer, a few nails and some sandpaper will probably be all you need. Not a lathe, not a tunnel, not a circular saw. Choose the right tools carefully, without making them more important than the work you need to do.
Tools such as to-do lists, digital calendars, time measurement systems, can undoubtedly be useful for workflow management, provided they are used in a targeted and selective way. There is no point in using different methods or tools to handle the same thing. Do you have to manage your time? Use a timebox or to-do list. Not both.
Productivity is a fundamental concept for any type of business, indeed, it is the basis of the concept itself. The important thing is that it does not become an obsession, and that it does not distract you from carrying out the normal activities necessary to achieve your goals.
Always keep these five tips in mind, and you can stay focused on your business with greater peace of mind and better results.