Productivity Improvement at Workplace
1. One Task at A Time
During early days of career, I was trying to be more productive in task completion. More effort I was putting by slogging extra hours , more I was failing in achieving designated tasks.
Until one conversation with Line Manager who was industry veteran of 25 years which improved my productivity forever.
Conversation was as follows:
Manager: Write your task list for day
Me: Here is list of 10 tasks to be done today
Manager: How will you accomplish these tasks
Me: Slot 1 hour for each task. If not completed in 1 hour move to 2nd task and so on. 10 tasks to be completed in 10 hours.
Manager: ( Smirking) You will not be able to compete any of the tasks
Me: (Surprised). Why
Manager: Try it out
Manager: How many tasks completed
Me: Not a single one
Manager: How are you feeling
Me: Frustrated and exhausted
Manager :Let us try tomorrow
Manager: Write task list
Me: here are the 10 tasks
Manager: Start with most important task. Complete it fully and then move to next important one
Me: What if not even one is completed in entire day and then remaining also will not be done.
Manager : Trust me. Try it out
Manager: How many tasks completed
Me: All of them. 10 out of 10.
Manager : How are you feeling
Me: Productive, satisfied and happiness of achieved something .
I learnt the Mantra of Productivity improvement at workplace is to take one task, give it full focus, attention, at that time don’t worry about other tasks and complete it before moving to next one You will accomplish more in less time.
Now comes the real question?
If this is real key to productivity, Then what about multitasking ?
Actually when small tasks are done efficiently and quickly in a sequential manner , then it is called multitasking but however basic productive approach remains the same.
P.S.- Do one small exercise to understand it practically. Close your eyes and think. One thought will come to your mind. Now try to bring another thought at the same time. You will realize that thoughts are alternating between each other and at any one point of time mind can hold only one thought. It explains that mind is capable of only one thought at one point of time and that is why approach explained above works the best.
2. Improve Email Efficiency
Emails occupy lot of our time during the day and sometimes it can be overwhelming too which can give people sleepless nights.
Tips to improve email productivity are useful in better email and time management. This time can be used in doing other important activities.
1. Structure the Inbox:
Organize Inbox so that each sender mails are at one place and easier to locate. Right click on Inbox folder to create new sub folders with relevant names. Create rules so that mail from sender goes directly in his name folder
2. Priority Setting:
3. Immediate action:
4. Thoughtful replies:
5. Work offline :
If emails are not managed well, they can be a burden and stress upon you. This aspect is very important in today’s life for productivity improvement at workplace as you can easily be overwhelmed by the amount of tasks need to handle
3. Practice Routine to Build Mastery
Learning the basics in every field can be challenging initially. But over a period of time by continuously repeating the routine activity, mastery is built. Building Mastery of fundamentals is essential for productivity improvement at workplace and sustainable career success
Explaining with real life true story about how to build mastery
At the age of 15, I started learning the game of basketball. My basketball coach was an expert in his art. On first day, I was given a Spartan ball and told to run with the ball along the side of the court and clearly instructed not to enter the basketball court until told to do so.
Go straight and come back and so on. I started doing it.
Daily routine was run with the ball alongside the court and not to enter the basketball court. I followed the instruction diligently and continued.
I saw other boys playing game inside the court from day one. They enjoyed the thrill of scoring baskets from various angles, using strategy and tactics to beat others and I was just running with the ball for 3-4 hours on daily basis and doing nothing else.
One month passed by and my mother asked me what have you learnt. I said nothing except to run with the ball.
Another one month passed with same routine. I told my father I am not going to play this game anymore and should try something else. It is very boring. Just run with the ball and nothing else.
He convinced me to continue and same routine continued for another one month. Ninety days had passed and I made my up mind to quit the monotonous and boring game.
When everybody in the court was playing the game, I was the one left on side lines only to run with the ball.
I went to coach to communicate my decision but before I could say anything, he told me that now the time has come for you to enter the basketball court. So, after practicing dribble for 3 months, I played the first game.
As soon as I started playing the game, I had very strong dribble and when I run with the ball, had full control of it. I realized it was due to focused routine of running with the ball.
My shooting skills were also better than others due to consistent practice. Being focused on brilliant at basics helped me to become a decent basketball player.
Many a times in life we are doing jobs which seems monotonous and boring but somewhere down the line this boring job done day in and day out will build expertise which will differentiate our performance in the long run and productivity improvement at workplace.
Mastering the basics in every field is the foundation which needs patience and perseverance and on which bigger and higher success stories are built.
P.S.- Within short time, I had a podium finish at state level basketball championship and my coach went on to become national level basketball coach for India team.
4. Deliver Your Best
My Son : Papa let us play a game
Me: I am very busy today. We will play some other time
Son: One game and one time
Me: Ok. It will not take much time
Son: Game is like this. Write name of things in room on piece of paper
Me: Very easy game. I will take 1 min to write. You can take as much time as you want.
Son: (Amused) Ok
I quickly scribbled 9 words on paper in 1 min
Me: Look at it once you have done
After some time
Son: Here is my slip and this is yours
Me: (Stunned) – What is this?
There were 32 words on son’s small slip. Simply Unimaginable!
He was outright winner by more than 3 times the margin
Me: How did you do this?
Son: I thought that you will win easily as you are elder and have so much knowledge. I stopped competing and tried to better my previous best which was 29 words on slip .
He was trying to better himself whereas I was trying to beat him in no time
Rather trying to beat others beat your previous best. You will be more successful and less stressful.
Delivering our best is important for productivity improvement at workplace and to be productive in today’s world and learnings and tips from the story can be easily implemented in practical life
P.S.- Next day son told me nonchalantly that I had played this game earlier and I am two times champion of this game in my Class 1
5. Improving Self for Productivity improvement
Improving Self for productivity improvement at work place is very important. Sharing a small story on how people spend the day at workplace and how can they make it more productive.
Suzy was always very busy and fully occupied at work throughout the day. Time flied in days, months and years without much awareness.
If her colleagues asked what she has been doing, she would start thinking but could not verbalize clearly.
She felt that lot of effort was exerted and nothing significant had been achieved which was impacting productivity improvement at workplace. There was not much control on the situation and she wondered where the gap is?
She approached a leadership coach John to come out of this dilemma. John explained that It primarily happens when one is driven more by priorities and urgencies (person/email/meeting/project) of others.
Mind takes the path of least resistance and start working in auto mode following a routine, which is influenced by others.
Once it becomes a habit, mind is attuned to routine and it becomes difficult to come out or even think about breaking the cycle. Overcoming this cycle is essential to improve productivity at workplace
John advised her three simple yet effective steps to break this cycle:
- Know what you are doing:
First step was to create awareness about activities that are being done. She made a weekly timesheet with day and hours and tracked the activities every hour.
Then categorized into subunits like meetings, email checking , breaks, training , improvements and was surprised to know the amount of time spent on non-value add activities.
Refection is thinking everyday about what we did and why we did .Was it essential or non-essential. In rush of things people tend to forget to be reflective. It is habit, which has to be nurtured by following daily discipline.
- Improvement plan:
Reflection provide insights into what could have been improved or done better. It enables defining one’s own priorities and sticking to it. As improvement plan was implemented, Suzy had more available time to deliver extra output and productivity improvement at workplace
By following the three steps, Suzy experienced enrichment at work place, improved thought clarity and in full control of what is being done.
Mind automatically started thinking about how time is spent and is it spent productively. Now, she had the time to take additional projects for learning and growth.
She self-realized that experience is not gained by number of years but by amount of time spent reflecting on knowledge and learning that has been gained over the time and this learning will enable for productivity improvement at workplace
These 5 Actionable tips of One Task at a time, Improving Email efficiency , Practicing routine to build mastery, Delivering out best and Improving self productivity are paramount for productivity improvement at workplace.
Implement them and see the difference !
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