Did you know that the 20th of June is World Productivity Day? As an accounting business we obsess about productivity. How can we work more effectively? How can we help our clients to do the same? World Productivity Day recognises the importance of being productive and gives us a chance to reflect on what we could each do to increase our productivity.
What is productivity and why is it important?
Productivity is defined as the efficiency of production of goods or services. Many people think of productivity in terms of how busy they are, but you can be constantly busy without being productive. Stop viewing how much time you spend working as a measure of productivity, and start thinking about how much you actually achieve, or how much “stuff” you can produce with your mind or hands.
One of the best ways to make your business more profitable is to increase the productivity in your business. It’s not always easy to achieve without working out what sucks up your time and figuring out how to manage it more effectively.
What factors block productivity?
Productivity in the workplace can be reduced by many factors that exist in environments where lots of people work together, such as:
- Distractions and interruptions
- Lack of information
- Ineffective communication
- Unclear priorities
- Insufficient training
- Inadequate tools and equipment
- Lack of motivation
- Having too much to do.
These factors affect individuals within your team differently. Look for what causes the most problems in your business and tackle that first. Some things you can try include:
- Improving training within the workplace
- Providing the right tools and equipment for your team to do their jobs properly
- Having regular team meetings to improve information flow and communication (with a clear agenda and limited time commitment)
- Having clear priorities for each staff member.
Some factors are down to the individual, how they are feeling about their role within the organisation and where they fit into it. Workload overwhelm and its evil counterpart, stress, can cause a lot of problems. Make sure you communicate responsibilities and priorities clearly so your team know exactly what is expected of them and when.
Then there is procrastination, which is one of the biggest blocks to productivity.
We wrote a blog earlier in the year about procrastination and how to form good habits to make yourself more organised. The basis of the blog was that we can all start a new habit by committing just 2 minutes per day and that, over time, 66 days to be exact, your new behaviour becomes automatic. So, in just over 2 months we can all be more productive if we put our minds to it. It’s easy, isn’t it?
What can I do to be more productive?
To be as productive as possible we need to have good habits. These habits form a pattern to our working day and could be as simple as reading your email when you log on each morning, doing the most important tasks first, or breaking down those large, I-don’t-know-where-to-start jobs into manageable chunks. Taking a 5-minute break each hour to walk around the block can clear your head and give you time to assess how the day is going!
The 80/20 rule is also good to keep in mind when prioritising tasks. Did you know that 80% of results come from 20% of the effort? First you need to identify the most important 20% of your tasks for the day. Get this done first and then aim to cut down the other 80% of the work that needs to be done. The most interesting thing about the 80/20 rule is that it gives you the ability to analyse your goals and tasks differently. You will start to tackle those daily jobs that give you the most results first. This will help you to focus and more importantly, handle one task at a time. Think about the rule as a way to help you to determine what is of vital importance, and what will give you 80% of your results. The rest can be deprioritised or transferred to another member of the team, or left for another day.
James Clear has a good head on his shoulders when it comes to creating good habits and organising your life. He suggests, to “make 80/20 work for you:
- Make a list of the 10 things that you spend the most time on.
- Circle the 2 that truly drive your results. Do more of these.
- Look at the other tasks. Eliminate ruthlessly. Automate or outsource what you can. Press pause on the rest.
- Repeat” – James Clear
What can you do in the workplace to help improve productivity?
World Productivity Day is a great opportunity to take a step back and challenge what you do and how you do it. Look at what changes you can make to help your business really shine and recognise those employees who really know how to get the most done with their time.
You could think about holding a workshop with your team to discuss how they can improve their individual productivity, and to get their input on how the business can become more productive. Sometimes it can be the simplest suggestion that has the biggest impact. A team workshop can identify the biggest factors within your business that reduce productivity, and may lead to useful discussions on how to overcome this barrier. Think of the way that productivity could increase if you managed to clear this stumbling block! The world could be your oyster!
If you only do one thing, do this
At the start of every day write down the one thing you really want to get done. Make sure it is achievable, or break it down into smaller chunks and pick one thing from that list. Before you get sucked into the normal craziness of your day block everything else out and do that one thing. One simple change could be the key to increasing your business productivity.