“The effectiveness of productive effort, especially in industry, as measured in terms of rate of output, per unit of input”
As a solo entrepreneur, I have often overlooked what it really means to be productive. Often we sit at our desks, in our pyjamas, and think that writing a blog, or an article or reading a piece of learning material is being “productive”. Is it really?
In an effort to find out what productivity really is, I came across a number of articles discussing how to boost productivity. This seemed far more of an important subject and in fact, I learned a few useful tips to improve my daily habits. Since productivity is based on input, as it’s definition tells us, bolstering input and supporting efforts in that regard, has become my personal focus.
Here are some of them.
Scheduling important projects and high impact decision making, during your best and most productive awake cycle, is a common suggestion made.
A friend of mine, who has a high level and high powered position in a global company mentions that she is often more productive to her general administration tasks in the evening after the children have been put to bed. This makes sense for her personal circumstances since during the day she is often involved with virtual meetings, calls from colleagues, and strategic discussions around company output. For me personally, I am more of a morning person where I find that my business focus is stronger during the first part of the day.
Different strokes, for different folks.
Read some really interesting information on this natural process that is embedded in all of our genes. It’s what regulates our sleep-wake cycle, so implies that having a schedule around this, is all-important.
Less is More
Having been in varying work environments, from private to corporate companies, I often found that my colleagues who were on a “half-day” structure, were often more productive at the office. Their focus was clear, they managed their shorter time in the office more effectively and generally got a load more done than some of us who were on the normal 9 to 5.
In support of this, it does seem that the suggestion is that working less each week, does bolster productivity. A study by Stanford economics Professor John Pencavel found that working more than a 50 hour week resulted in a decline in productivity. It makes sense when you think about how all of these extra hours are being used. Is it realistic to think that every hour in a normal day of work is aimed directly at input? I would hazard a guess, and say no.
Break the Fast with a Healthy Breakfast
I am no dietician and nor can I claim that my eating habits are in any way productive to my overall wellbeing, but I do understand the benefit of a good breakfast. Protein, vitamins, and fiber are the keywords here, and even I have replaced these declining a sugary option of my favourite childhood cereal.
Sleep Deprivation as a form of Torture
I can totally relate this, and if I don’t get my standard seven hours I operate at half capacity. I don’t know how new parents and parents of young children do it?! Going back to our own circadian rhythm’s having a set bedtime and a set waketime, ensuring a good night’s sleep goes without saying.
To Break, or not to Break?
Now that I know a lot more about the circadian rhythm and my own natural processes here, I tend to break more often during my day. Getting up from your desk, taking a walk, having a lunch break and even a nap all tends towards better productivity.
A clear desk is the sign of a clear mind?
Not always true and I will leave this one to your own personal habits. I do find that clear surfaces, and an orderly working space works best for me, but I have known some incredibly effective and competent people who can work in what looks to me, as complete disarray.
The idea towards productivity here is that if you have to spend valuable time looking for something you need, taking you away from your daily schedule, then perhaps its time for clear out.
Trying to attain Perfection, is not a good use of your time
I bet the gymnast, the high diver, the ballet dancer, or the synchronized swimmer reading this has just scoffed and rolled their eyes backward. I would agree with them, and the last time I did witness such perfection was watching the Olympics at these particular events and Swan Lake at our local theatre. In business, however, having this lofty expectation can often lead to being a backstop to the strategy and lowering productivity.
So when is something good enough? When can you feel that your goal has been achieved and you can happily tick that item from your to-do list.
We learn in digital marketing that if your content or product is solving a problem and addressing the need, or conveying a message then it is good enough. If the quality is consistent, equal, or exceeds the level of your previous work, then it is good enough.
When you think about this process then, perfection is not something you achieve when you first head out of the door, it is attained, it is something you strive towards.
I think the gymnast, the high diver, the ballet dancer, or the synchronized swimmer would agree with that.