This section will explore productivity by discussing:
- WHAT IS PRODUCTIVITY?
- WHAT DOES PRODUCTIVITY LOOK LIKE IN THE WORKPLACE?
1. WHAT IS PRODUCTIVITY?
"It’s not enough to be busy, so are the ants. The question is, what are we busy about?"|
Henry David Thoreau, American Writer and Philosopher
If you’ve ever seen ants hard at work, you might have noticed how efficiently and effectively they get a job done. Whether it’s building a new nest or carrying food to the colony, ants inherently understand how to manage their priorities, resources, and time. In the human world, this skill is called productivity, and when it comes to your life and career, productivity is absolutely essential for your success.
Productivity isn’t just about being busy for busyness’ sake, though. It’s about working in the best way possible to get the job done. If you’re a productive employee, you can manage tasks to meet deadlines and share project plans, schedules, and task lists with others so that everyone knows how the work you do fits into your team’s vision. And, if something doesn’t go as you hoped, you can easily create a new plan to fulfill your changing needs.
Productivity is the skill of strategizing, organizing, and planning your time and priorities to accomplish the tasks you need to finish to achieve your goal. It’s all about working smarter, not working harder. We all have lots of things to do, and practicing our productivity skill lets us use our limited time and energy to complete our tasks without wasting effort.
At work, at school, and even in your personal life, being productive is your secret weapon! And anyone can learn to organize, plan, and manage their time to stay productive every day.
- WHY FOCUS MATTERS
A big part of productivity is focus. You only have so much time every day, and you have to treat it like a limited resource. The world’s full of things competing for your attention: work, your family and friends, school tasks, movies, games, music, TV, you name it! Using your productivity skill means figuring out which things you need to focus on right now, and then directing your attention towards those things long enough to get them done.
To stay focused on what you’re trying to accomplish, try asking yourself the following question:
- The thing you’re doing right now: Does it actually help you accomplish what you need to accomplish?
If the answer is no, it might be time to put that thing aside until you’ve met your goal. Checking items off a to-do list is rewarding because it causes your brain to release the “feel-good hormone,” dopamine. So by concentrating on a series of attainable goals, you can actually make yourself feel better, which encourages further productivity.
- The ability to strategize, organize, and plan to effectively and efficiently manage priorities and time.
2. WHAT DOES PRODUCTIVITY LOOK LIKE IN THE WORKPLACE?
Think of the amount of time you spend at work. Then, think about how important it is to use that time well. Success in the workplace requires a laser focus on what matters and the ability to tune out distractions to deliver results. Employers value—and reward—employees who use their time wisely to get the results employers are looking for.
- Here are some simple tips for practicing your productivity skill in the workplace:
- Know when to say “no.” Sometimes being productive means eliminating tasks that won’t help you reach your goal. (This applies to your personal life too!)
- Understand that it’s not about the amount of work you do. It’s about doing it efficiently and effectively.
- Use an organized set of steps to achieve your goals. Breaking down a goal into achievable parts helps you reach it.
- Determine your priorities and then work to complete them.
- Understand how to delegate things to coworkers or ask for help when it’s needed.
- Reassess priorities throughout the day based on what the organization needs.
- Decide which are key issues and which are distractions.
Once you get used to practicing your productivity skill, you’ll find it easier to make progress professionally and to go above and beyond your supervisors’ expectations. At Poodle Jumper, we encourage every employee to use the productivity matrix as they plan their week. With a small team, it is critical that we have conversations about the things we can eliminate from our workload. Here is a version you can use too!