Productivity and time management is defined as “the effectiveness of productive effort, especially in industry, as measured in terms of the rate of output per unit of input.” Essentially, it is a measurement of efficiency. For some people, it’s simpler to view productivity in the currency of time. There are only 24 hours in a day, 60 minutes in an hour, and 60 seconds in a minute. If you live 60 years, you will have lived 525,600 minutes.
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While you can lose and gain money, esteem, friends, possessions and more, the one commodity you can never get back is time. Improving productivity in your profession helps you get more accomplished in less time, allowing you more time to go about enjoying the 525,600 minutes you have.
Productivity in business is not simply doing something for the sake of getting it done. It’s about doing the right things at the right time to achieve maximum efficiency for your effort. Believe it or not, efficiency is sometimes about doing nothing at all. Taking a break. Recharging your batteries. Mentally preparing for what comes next.
The real key to remember is that everyone has unique needs when it comes to maximizing efficiency for optimal productivity. If your goal is to accomplish more in less time, then you need to make the following seven steps the foundation of your work week.
- Know your productivity type.
- Discover your peak energy time.
- Get yourself a simple kitchen timer.
- Make friends with your calendar.
- Batch your tasks, theme your weeks.
- Schedule your downtime.
- Review, reconsider, rework.
Each step is essential for helping you learn to manage your time rather than being managed by the lengthy list of items on your to do list. You know, those never-ending lists that just grow overnight. Doesn’t it seem like you cross off one item at a time but you add 3 more items in its place? This kind of rat race makes it seem like you will never catch up and never have time to relax. But as you learn more about your personal productivity needs, you will find that you are not only able to improve the quantity of work you accomplish in your day, but also the quality of work you accomplish.
How does this happen? You will learn how to make small tweaks to your work habits to improve your mood and your productivity. We will focus on learning to do certain tasks during the hours when you are most productive, focusing your attention in short bursts of time and scheduling vital downtime on your calendar so you have an opportunity to enhance creativity, boost energy, and get a greatly improved return on investment for your time.
Take the time to learn the ins and outs of each of these seven steps so you can take your business and career further than you’ve previously dared to dream possible.
Know Your Productivity Type
Are you the type of task-driven person who cannot stand seeing unchecked boxes on your “to do” list? Or are you driven by deadlines and can’t seem to get started until a hard deadline is looming on your projects? Knowing your productivity type can help you prioritize your work so you can accomplish more in your day.
The Four Productivity Styles
There are actually four different productivity styles seen in the workplace today. One of these likely applies to you. The more you know about your own productivity style, the better able you will be to find the right cues to keep you on task and on target throughout the workday.
You prefer to stick to the facts. You like data, logic, and are exceptional at critical thinking. You are so focused on your tasks you may not invest much attention or effort on determining how the task is accomplished.
As this title implies, you are exceptionally skilled at prioritizing tasks so you are uber efficient and can easily meet deadlines. You can make decisions easily but often prefer to work alone.
On the flip side, some of your pet peeves may include: daydreaming, idle office gossip, missing or incomplete data, inefficient use of time, vague instructions, or water cooler conversations.
A Prioritizer is an exceptional worker, even in a team environment; they just don’t want to be in charge of the team. Give them their directions and their deadline and let them go to town.
Prioritizers who work alone can benefit from hiring a business coach to map out a business plan and talk out their goals. Once those goals are set, prioritizers can focus on the smaller tasks leading to those goals.
You are a detailed thinker who is always organized and thrives on detailed plans, lists, and order. You are well aware of deadlines and always make a to-do list at the end of your business day. Time management and productivity come naturally to you.
Planners are not very spontaneous, however, and may struggle with creative thinking or working outside the box. They may also find it difficult to contribute in team meetings because they need a little more time to think about the topic in depth before contributing ideas or solutions. Planners also have difficulty reprioritizing tasks and don’t take change well.
Once you figure out your peak energy and how to maximize your use of those hours you will be an unstoppable force. You’ll know exactly what to do from your list and you’ll feel empowered taking advantage of your peak work hours.
In a team setting, planners are key to finishing projects on time. They are the keepers of the work schedule and will hold the other team members accountable for meeting their deadlines.
You are an emotional being who thrives on working in groups, managing meetings, and creating and selling your ideas. You have a bubbly personality and would cringe at the idea of working alone; you need that personal interaction and you thrive in a group setting. You are thoughtful and encouraging to others and excel in team projects or when partnering with another person.
However, a weakness of an Arranger is easily getting distracted by chit chat and struggling to focus on your tasks. Implementing the Pomodoro technique can greatly help Arrangers focus because they know in a short amount of time they can reward themselves by chatting with others.
In a team setting, Arrangers quickly take control of the group and assign tasks to each team member. They act as the team cheerleader by encouraging other team members and having a positive attitude about the project at hand.
Arrangers who work solo, however, tend to rely on social media for their personal interaction. They can also benefit from a shared workspace or from working in a coffee house where there is a constant hum of activity.
You’re the one who needs to juggle multiple projects at any given time to maintain interest in anything. You’re full of ideas and energy to begin projects, but often find completing them to be difficult. You keep an office that’s nearly as cluttered as your mind and you love it there. If you have 15 piles of paper on your desk, you know exactly what’s in each of those 15 piles.
Visualizers are creative thinkers who are spontaneous. They can easily switch gears on a project and welcome change. Visualizers also see the big picture and tend to focus on the end result as opposed to the smaller tasks which lead to that end result.
Working on a team, Visualizers can run amok with a project if they aren’t reigned in. However, they often have brilliant ideas to enhance any project and are quick to mention ideas in a meeting.
For Visualizers who work solo, batched tasks and theme weeks may help you maintain your focus without growing too bored with the scenery.The better you understand your productivity type, the more tools you can utilize to maximize your potential and that of your business.
Sharyn Sheldon of Content Sparks makes some excellent points in her recent post, 12 Simple Time Management Tips to Be a Productivity Master.
Under her section on How to Implement the Time Management Tips for Productivity my favorite is her second one:
Focus on High Return Tasks
The most productive people follow the Pareto Principle as the guide for all their actions. If you haven’t heard of it, this principle states that 20% of the actions you take provide 80% of the results. The return on your time investment for all your other tasks is minimal in comparison.
Try looking back at the past month and think about which types of tasks you did that had the biggest benefits for yourself and your business. You might be pleasantly surprised at how few of your actions really make an impact. As you plan your day and make your to-do list, focus on the tasks that will accomplish the most.
Connie Ragen Green is an online marketing strategist and a time management and productivity expert working with people on six continents to build a lucrative business on the internet. Get started right away at Online Entrepreneur Blueprint and you’ll be on your way to lucrative entrepreneurship.