September 10, 2010
Are You Sabotaging Your Productivity?
There is nothing like the feeling of being in the zone and knocking out a huge project or just decimating that “To Do” list. True and consistent productivity is that allusive and blissful state of work Nirvana we all strive to attain.
Like the sonic boom from a passing fighter jet, we often don’t know true productivity was achieved until it is already gone. Consistent productivity is the Holy Grail of the business world, but it can be achieved. We simply need to train ourselves to avoid those things that squash our efficiency and rob us of the motivation to crank out projects like we’re under sentence of death.
Take a step back from your work environment, your habits and the work itself and target productivity killers like you were a sniper. Eliminate your targets one by one and when the dust has settled only you and your coveted productivity will remain. Let’s start by putting together a hit list of two of the biggest productivity killers; multi-tasking and wasting time on small and unimportant tasks.
No matter whether you are an employee with a single job title, a manager or run your own business we are all forced to wear several hats. Even the most routine job has several tasks that you must achieve in succession and often overlap. We have been brainwashed to think that the more things we can do simultaneously, the better workers we are.
Yet, study after study has shown, and your own personal experience will probably verify, that the more things we try to do at the same time, the less effective we are at the individual tasks. You’re not going to be giving 100% to either task and your overall results will suffer. This will end up causing mistakes that you have to go back and fix later. Not only are you burning time and resources but also productivity goes right out the window.
Focus on one task at a time. If it’s a large job, break it up into smaller portions so you can feel a sense of accomplishment and devote all of your energy to the task at hand.
Spending Time on Minor Tasks
This is a classic productivity killer and is just a form of veiled procrastination. If we are dreading working on a project, we’ll simply do all of the small, uncomplicated and mindless tasks possible to put off the major work. They may be peripheral to the project or not, but in the long run they aren’t really helping us get to where we’re trying to go.
This is the worse of the productivity assassins because it makes us feel as though we are working and busy. But there is a big difference between being busy and being productive. Lay out what needs to be done to complete your work, rank it by importance and tackle the most important first. After the heavy lifting is done, doing the small things will be a breeze and you won’t have the crushing weight of a deadline bearing down on you.
While the list of your enemies in the fight for productivity is almost endless, if you perform a gangland execution on these two, you’ll be way ahead of the game. In upcoming posts, we’ll examine other aspects of achieving the kinds of productivity levels that not even Japanese managers dare dream of. Stay tuned!