Someone has rightly said that we are living in “Instant Coffee Age”. Everybody want the high-quality output in a snap. In short, people either seek for a highly productive resource, or they want to become one. Now you may ask – How to increase productivity? This is a pretty straightforward question, but unfortunately, there is no one-line answer.
In today’s world, achieving success is not that difficult as compared to maintaining it. But for some, even achieving success is far fetched. Is it just hard work which pays off or something else?
I kept reading and hearing smart work and smart people. What is this smartness? Let me guess; it must be related to saving time with high-quality output. Yes, smartness is nothing but being more productive.
Very often I ask people if they are enough productive or not? The answer which I get is either they are doing their best in their current scenario, or they do not know at all. In both cases, there is a lot of room for improvement.
However, I feel “Productivity is overused and a vague term which is mostly misused”. Someone has to understand the productivity definition before even getting into questions like why, how and where?
Let us delve deeper and have a comprehensive insight into productivity.
What is Productivity? – Definition
There are several ways to define productivity, but the one definition which I like most is –Productivity is the ratio of output and input. Productivity = Output / InputClick To Tweet
Inputs and outputs of any process could be tangible as well as intangible. Tangible inputs are such as raw materials in a manufacturing unit, and intangible inputs could be something like working hours (resource utilisation) in a service industry, etc. Similarly, the output of any process is the outcome which could be tangible as the finished physical product or intangible as service rendered.
Now if someone asks you to increase the productivity based on above definition then what you would do? I am sure you would lower down the input which is the denominator. It is simple math! Isn’t it!
But in a real world it is no simple calculation but a cumbersome process of optimum utilisation of resources and raw materials.
Why is productivity important?
I think it’s wise for everyone to brainstorm little behind a question like – Why productivity is important? Let us see some scenarios as below to understand the importance of productivity.
Productivity at work
Suppose if I talk about benefits of productivity at workplace then it won’t be wrong to say that a highly productive employee and the company goes places. If the employee is highly productive, then he can lower down the input cost and in turn, can increase the gross profit margin of the company. As a result, the company may award the employee in the form of salary raise or promotions.
Productivity at home
A typical homemaker could also be highly productive at home. She could save time, effort and money. Time, effort & money are nothing but inputs of a process. Whereas, her savings such as time, happiness, good health, etc. are some of the outputs of the whole process.
How to increase productivity
Till now you must be thinking that “increasing productivity” might be the buzz word of an organisation or its people. But in reality, each and every individual from varied backgrounds could enhance their productivity in some way or the other.
I am listing down 10 steps to increase productivity and sustain it.
1. Plan at micro and macro level
It goes without saying that planning is one of the most valuable tips for increasing productivity. You can plan at a micro or macro level. The micro level could be something like planning at day to day basis whereas macro level is planning based on weekly or month basis.
I would recommend to plan for at least one week and work on day to day basis for achieving the weekly goal.
Take out ten minutes of your time before going to bed at night and plan for the coming day. Also during this time review the current day. This way you can evaluate yourself and target next day with clarity.
Be specific while planning your day or week. For example, if you are going to travel to someplace by car then plan your route, pit stops, layover time, where you will stay, etc.
At the end of the week evaluate yourself to measure productivity. Self-evaluation will also keep a check on you for not committing the same mistake twice.
2. Routine life is productive life
No matter how annoying it sounds but you should always follow a routine life for improving your efficiency at all level.
It will be chaotic if there is no routine and you will be forced to make choices after leaving a couple of important things from your “To Do List”. On the other side, a routine life will help in many ways to keep you happy & highly productive by having control of things.
Make a routine in which you are comfortable. You should account for all kinds of activities in your daily routine like waking up, jogging, eating, reading, working, sleeping, etc.
Within few days you will see the benefits of following a daily routine regarding increased happiness and improved productivity. Also, you would be fully geared up for any possible surprises in your life.
3. Be a morning person
Early morning is the most refreshing part of a day. Make a habit of waking up early. It is also my personal experience that I am most productive in the morning time. Waking up early morning has numerous benefits.
You can stay healthy since you will have ample of time sweating at the gym or doing some physical activity like swimming or jogging.
You may also like : How to start jogging – 11 effective tips
If you are a writer or a blogger, like me, then the early morning is the best time to write a fantastic piece of work.
You can start early to your workplace. There are many benefits of starting early like less traffic, hassle free drive, less travel time, no fear of missing any appointments or conference call, etc.
4. Eat green to think green
Our body requires energy to propel itself. Food is the energy source which acts as fuel to our body. But how many times we give due consideration to our daily eating habits? Our daily dietary plan could be one of the biggest factor determining our efficiency at workplace.
Green vegetables are the abundant source of energy and proteins. Higher energy means an increase in efficiency. We have a misconception that only meat diets have protein. High meat intake is mostly unsaturated fat which causes inability to focus and reduce energy.
Now I will strike a chord by asking a simple question from you. How many of you feel tired and sleepy at your workplace? I am sure most of you would nod your head in YES!
Back in days at least I survived on loads of coffee at my workplace. But coffee did no good other than increasing my acidity level. Huh!
Green vegetables carry flavonoids which act as antioxidants and in turn help your brain in thinking and making fast decisions. Spinach, Lettuce, Broccoli, Cabbage, etc. are some of my favourites. Make sure to balance your diet with green vegetables, fruits, cereals, fibres, etc.
5. Be offbeat
Why shop on weekends or even watch movies on prime days? We never usually give any attention to things which we do on days when everybody also wants to do. As a result, we tend to spend more time shopping or even spend more time in traffic en route watching a movie at the theatre.
Do shopping on a weekday. Late evening is even better. Watch your favourite movie at the theatre on non-popular days; It will not only save money but will save time.
Similarly, we could be unconventional at many things and become more productive.
6. Myth of Multitasking
Do not be a jack of all trades and multitask. Perform one task at a time, which will increase your quality of work and even increase your productivity.
Focusing on different things at a time will hamper your creativity, quality and productivity. You will end up spending up more time than what it is used to take if you would have done everything individually.
It is a fact that you take the time to adapt in between changing tasks. Eventually, you end up incurring productivity loss.
Learn the art of delegation. Let others do the work if they are the best person to do it. Do not worry; you will get the fair share of your contribution after successful delivery of project or work.
7. Learn to say “NO” when required
It is awesome pleasing everyone by saying “YES” to all requests. I know the importance of being in good books of everyone.
But what will happen, if you are not able to deliver something as planned to even one person whom you promised? You will lose his/her trust.
Next time you may not get even a chance to say “Yes” or “No” because you failed your promise the first time.
I knew few people who could do the Herculean task and take up multiple requests at a time. They even complete every work as required, but soon in time they will be stressed out and lose productivity.
You should always analyse work in hand and decide wisely on taking any new request. Say “NO” whenever required. After all, you cannot please everyone. It is never easy to hear “NO” but eventually people will understand.
8. Take scheduled breaks
Research has shown that by taking scheduled breaks, you can significantly boost your cognitive energy.
You can plan small breaks at the workplace, maybe for ten minutes, every one hour. During this break do not work on something else or browse social media. Rather you stretch, eat a fruit or listen something interesting such as music.
If you follow Pomodoro technique, then you may consider taking 5 minutes break for every 25 minutes of work. Every 25 minutes of work is one Pomodoro, and after 4 Pomodoro, you are allowed to take a 15-minute break.
I would also suggest people unwind from the daily hustle bustle of life by going to some quiet scenic place once or twice a year. You will return rejuvenated and more productive than ever before.
9. Declutter for maximising productivity
Declutter your workplace to maximise productivity. Organising things starts from your home, and it goes up to your workplace in your company.
Do you remember last time when you had to hunt down your pen, wallet or even something like mobile phone set on vibration?
I am sure for most of you out there; it must not have been more than few days to few weeks. It happens all the time, and the reason is the unorganised workplace.
There is a Japanese methodology known as Kaizen. Kaizen talks about continual improvement. Today most of the biggest organisations are following this method for achieving their long-term goals.
Kaizen is made of two words as KAI and ZEN. KAI means change and ZEN mean good. Initially, the sole intention of Kaizen was to organise the workplace for efficiency.
Kaizen follows the 5S approach where ‘S’ stands for sorting, systematic arrangement, shining, standardising & sustaining.
10. Limit smartphone usage
I won’t be wrong if I say a smartphone is the biggest time killer. Nowadays, we do over usage of smartphone and always remain distracted.
Do you know, why someone invented the smartphone? The sole motive was to get in touch with people at times. But now we are too much involved in networking with people.
Do not check your mail too often. Make a habit of checking your emails one or two times a day. This way you can cut down a lot of distraction.
Same goes for any social networking platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. Best idea would be to disable automatic notifications for email and all social media platforms.
If someone has the urgency of reaching out to you, they can use calling feature.
Best productivity tools for maximising productivity
Look around you. Can you find something valuable which may help you in improving productivity? You might think that I am joking, but actually, I am not.
Most of the time we have everything required, but it is just hard to focus. Do not worry since I will help you locate best productivity tools which are available free of cost.
- Evernote – This is the simplest tool I have ever used on my smartphone. This app just stores your notes, articles, presentations, etc.
- Google Drive – Google Drive is again a free cloud-based tool. It comes in rescue when you have to unsupported file formats locally somewhere else other than your personal computer. You can share common documents within your team for editing or reading.
- IFTTT – IF THIS THEN & THAT is an intuitive tool for productivity. It serves various purposes such as – IFTTT app tracks your movement via smartphone and could mute your phone once you reach office. You can set something like replicating Twitter messages automatically on Facebook. Also, you can configure the application to add your incoming attachments automatically to google drive. There are other features too.
- Boomerang – This is an email productivity tool for Gmail users. This tool comes in handy when you do not want to deal with some important email instantly. Boomerang can schedule your reply to send at a later date and time.
- Pocket – Pocket is an intelligent bookmarking tool. You can just right click on any article of your choice on a web browser and bookmark it with tags. Later you can search based on a tag. It has the option of downloading the whole web page on the pocket app for offline reading on smartphone or tablets.
- Grammarly – Grammarly is proofread tool to check your grammar while you type in emails, articles, comments, etc. anywhere and everywhere. Grammarly has extensions for Chrome, MS word and outlook. The free version can check for standard errors, but you may require paid version for advance checking.
- Multiple screens – It is my experience that I am highly productive when I have more than one screen at my workplace. You can utilise multiple screens for document comparisons, references, check emails, etc. Even one of the world richest person such as Mr Bill Gates uses multiple screens.
So now, next time if you come across someone who is by far the most productive person you know, then do not just wonder with questions like how and why. Rather follow above steps of increasing productivity and become one highly productive person.
Do you know any other techniques for improving productivity? If yes, then drop your points in the comment section below.
And if you have liked this article on productivity, then please do not forget to comment and share your feedback on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, etc.