Personal productivity is about making the best use of your time by making smart choices. These choices include what you’re going to do and how you’re going to do it.
It comes down to these two questions: 1. What activities are the best use of your time? 2. What is the most efficient way to go about these activities? The answers to these questions fall into these three (3) categories.
1. Activity Choice
Activity choice is difficult when it is strongly influenced by a longstanding routine or bad habit.
Here’s an example that involves both a routine and a bad habit. Your normal routine and bad habit dictate that you spend each evening watching hours of mindless television starting with the news. In order to increase your personal productivity, a better choice would be devoting at least an hour of that time to meditating, planning, reading, or exercising.
When you begin your workday, which tasks do you do first. Taking on the most difficult one first is the best choice for increasing your productivity. Save simple tasks like reading and replying to emails for the latter part of the day.
The important issue here is taking the time to deliberate your activity choices by asking yourself which option will improve the quality of my life now and in the future, A or B.
2. Most Efficient Approach
There is an expression that goes something like this, “Just dive in.” This implies that we should just jump into a project without first considering the most efficient way to go about it. I don’t think this was how it was intended. I believe that the author meant that you should get started without delay.
Determining the most efficient approach isn’t something that you quickly decide as you begin a project and then just stick to it. You deliberate on the most efficient approach before you start a project so that you don’t waste time or make serious mistakes. Then as the project proceeds, you must continually look for ways to increase efficiency. Once the project is operational, you should continue to look for ways to improve its efficiency. Maximum efficiency equals maximum personal productivity.
The motivation for this comes from the desire to produce high-quality work in the most efficient manner possible whether you created, led, or participated in it.
3. Inspiring Participants
Personal productivity is often influenced by the productivity of participants in your project. The key is to get their “buy-in” by clearly explaining the benefits to them for achieving the goal and involving them in the planning for how you’re going to accomplish it.
The approach is very similar whether you are speaking to your staff at work, employees at your business, or volunteers at your non-profit organization. You can be dictatorial at work and your business, but you will not achieve as much productivity from workers if you are. I’ve led both a marketing group for a large corporation, contract workers for my business, and a volunteer group for a nonprofit organization I started.
The skills required to motivate a volunteer group are much more refined than what is needed to motivate people who work for you. If you gain the skills to inspire a high level of productivity from volunteers, imagine what you could accomplish by using the same approach with people who work for you.
The point here is that getting others to give their all to help you achieve your goals requires a lot of skill and tact. Much of this involves pointing out to them what’s in it for them. I have found that using your position or authority to motivate people will only produce minimal results.