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Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort.” -–Paul J. Meyer.
Right from the early 1970s, productivity (generally referred to as the total amount of output per hour worked) has been consistently increasing in North America. According to the Economic Policy Institute, between the years 1973 and 2011 there has been an amazing 80 percent increase in the productivity of the American worker. This rise in productivity has been a direct result of implementing new tools to bolster our efficiency and focus. However, while it’s obvious that the average level of productivity for American workers has improved significantly, top CEOs, business owners, entrepreneurs are still looking for ways to increase their productivity. So what practices and strategies do highly successful people incorporate into their personal and professional routines?
Anyone can be busy, but you should not mistake movement for accomplishment. People say they are always “busy”, but that does not necessarily mean they are productive or using their time wisely. Instead of being busy, focus on being productive. You may be checking off items on your to-do-list but that does not necessarily mean you’re hitting your set goals, they may just be time-wasting distractions that don’t directly help you achieve your targets. And in fact, you are not focused on high return activities.
Consider some tips that can help you to make a shift from busy to being productive.
SET STRICT LIMITS ON MEETINGS
Business leaders especially need to limit unnecessary meetings or simply avoid them altogether. For instance, Richard Branson, the CEO of Virgin Group conducts meetings standing up because he feels it’s a quicker wayof sealing deals and getting down to business.
Meetings waste a huge chunk of time, usually topics go amiss, people get distracted and agendas get forgotten. For me, I use to loath having a meeting about another meeting. Though there are situations that may require detailed presentations and workshops, meetings should not last for more than 5-10 minutes. Elon Musk also makes sure meetings are efficient, focused and based on fact. Larry Page also made sure that meetings should be decision-oriented with a clear decision-maker.
It’s important that you manage your time wisely and efficiently to ensure that you’re operating at your optimum best. CEOs and top businesses owners have their own individual styles – some break their day into one-hour chunks, while others break each hour into 5- or 10-minutes segments. Whichever style you adopt does not matter, what matters is that the most important tasks fill the most productive part of the day when you’re most creative and sharp. If you realize that any activities are eating a big chunk of your time and are not important to the organization or business goals, eliminate or delegate them as much as possible.
SPEND MORE TIME PLANNING
Everyone on planet earth has the same amount of one currency: time. The counterintuitive secret to doing more is to actually “do” less and spend more time planning. Spend some time to write down your plans for the week so that once the week starts you’re ready to start executing the action plans. Once you cultivate this habit you will realize the huge benefit of planning ahead. It will be easier to eliminate distractions and focus on completing the task at hand.
Set strict boundaries for your time, the right objectives for your results, and communicate them clearly with others around you. It may be easier to say these things in theory, but difficult in practice. But you must endeavor to be intentional and deliver on what matters to you. Once you get a hang of it, you’ll be surprised at how good this feels and how effective it is. However, despite your best effort, the truth is that you will get stressed and busy and unexpected things may happen. That’s OK. Simply start again until this practice becomes a habit.
HIRE FOR LEVERAGE AND DELEGATE
If you have the capacity to hire people, the ultimate leverage is to hire and outsource responsibility to them. If you want to scale your business, that’s the way to go about it. Empower an individual to do a job fully. Delegating responsibilities frees up time for you to work on other things and at the same time, it creates opportunities for your team members to grow and work towards improving their competency.
Being productive is the key to success. Oprah Winfrey, Warren Buffett, Tony Robbins, Bezos and a host of other successful business owners have mastered the ability to manage their time and as such have become extremely productive and results-driven. If you want to achieve your business goals then you need to become more productive and less busy with low return activities.
RUTHLESSLY BLOCK OUT DISTRACTIONS
If you want to be more productive then it’s important to filter out distractions. Just pick things that are hugely important to you and reprioritize the rest. There are different sorts of distractions including people distractions, emails, phone calls etc. Distractions are the enemy of productivity and as such it’s imperative to do everything in your power to focus on the task at hand. Spreading yourself too thin will only reduce your efficiency. Learn to be more present and in the zone with whatever you’re working on at the moment. Avoid the need to multitask as well.
Remember that being productive is a choice, it doesn’t come automatically. Keep in mind that distractions are never going to disappear on their own, and to-do lists are always going to get longer, so you must practice habits that focus on high return activities that lead to being efficient and effective with your time. Multitasking has its place in the business realm, but there are also times when it should be avoided. If you multitask two separate and very important projects, you can end up with two sets of dismal results. Know when to focus on a single task at a time.
Remember, when people think you are too “busy” you might miss out on other opportunities that are important to you and which can progress your professional and personal development. Being productive allows for effective use of your time, resources, and growth.
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About the author: Kyle Kalloo is the Chief Executive Officer, Business Coach with Change My Life Coaching and Change My Business Coaching. Through his management training and experience with McDonalds, Famous Players (Paramount) and WestJet, and all of the ongoing learning and development he’s completed, Kyle has refined and perfected skills and processes and is eager to share how to execute them efficiently to help individuals and companies achieve even more of their dreams. 83% of Kyle’s business comes from referrals. http://www.changemylifecoaching.ca and https://www.changemybusinesscoaching.ca