How to Improve Your Personal Productivity and Achieve More

We have heard many people say, “There just aren’t enough hours in the day.” And we have probably said it ourselves. If you want to achieve more in any given time span, stop and take stock of what you’re doing. The chances are that you suffer from interruptions, a lack of planning and jumbled priorities.

To achieve more, you need to eliminate or minimize interruptions. These are the things that steal your time and distract you from your objectives. Secondly, if you don’t plan to be effective, you won’t be. Your personal productivity will suffer without effective planning. Thirdly, unless you have clear priorities your days will be unproductive. The combination of these three factors will gobble up your time to the point where you will feel busy but achieve little.

When you take stock of your particular circumstances remind yourself of the 80/20 rule. This is the approximate rule that you can apply to improving your personal productivity. It’s not exact because sometimes the ratios will be 60/40. Just remember that 80% of your time is spent with 20% of your customers. By the same token these 20% of your customers create 80% of your problems.

To put this into context, 80% of your profit comes from 20% of your customers. If you identify these customers, you can work towards developing more of a similar type that will increase your profit.

From a personal productivity point of view it is wise to remember that 20% of your effort produces 80% of your results. It makes sense to isolate that effort that produces those results and duplicate it.

You will waste 80% of your time through interruptions, a lack of planning and unclear priorities. The secret of achieving more in less time is to increase your productive time by reducing interruptions, better planning and setting clear priorities.

Make a list of your interruptions over the period of a week. Assemble them into columns, those that you create yourself and those that are created by other people. Interruptions to yourself can be dealt with relatively easily. This means not surfing the web when you should be focused on the task in hand.

You will improve your planning if you plan each day the evening before. Never write a “to do list” that contains more than five items. Put these items in priority of doing the worst one first. This means every time you complete a task, the next one will be more enjoyable. This little tactic will motivate you to achieve more.

To improve your personal productivity, you must stop and look at what you’re doing. It’s very hard to improve without this objective self-assessment.

Strategy Facilitator: Align Organizational Thinking

Organizations hold meetings for a number of different reasons. Whether the organization is looking to tackle a major problem or wishes to focus on new objectives, meetings are a great way to get everyone within the organization on the same page. Yet businesses might find that if the meeting is not lead effectively, it will be inefficient and ultimately ineffective. While companies might be tempted to put an organizational leader in charge of a gathering, it is better if they hire a facilitation expert. Depending on the company’s need, experts can be found that specialize in a number of areas, like a teambuilding facilitator or a strategy facilitator.

What do these experts offer?

Facilitation experts provide support before and during the meeting.

How do they prepare before meetings?

Prior to the meeting, these professionals will research the company and the problems it hopes to address by interviewing the organization’s leaders. When a teambuilding facilitator is brought in, he or she might sit down with members of the group individually to try to learn if personality conflicts or biases are holding back productivity. Similarly, a strategy facilitator could meet with organizational leaders to understand the current strategy and how it aligns with the company’s goals. Using the information collected from interviews and independent research, the professional will prepare a comprehensive report that participants will receive before the day of the discussion. With this information, everyone will be on the same page and the facilitator will not have to worry about working with a group in which nobody can see the big picture.

What is their role during the meetings?

These professionals are primarily in charge of leading the discussion. The big reason that internal employees should not handle this task is because they might bring their own biases into the room. Internal employees might allow certain individuals to dominate the conversation and might even put down or reject certain ideas before others have had a chance to respond to them. Consequently, potential solutions are never considered and individuals will even become reluctant to speak up. The facilitator will use a previously prepared agenda to make sure that certain topics or questions are covered, and will direct the discussion back on-topic if the group goes off on a tangent.

The above-mentioned are general duties covered as some facilitators will handle specific tasks, depending on the type of meeting. A strategy facilitator will have to make sure that a consensus is reached when the team thinks that it has determined a strategic direction to follow. He or she must also ensure that all team members understand their role in helping the organization reach its goals. A teambuilding facilitator will teach and lead exercises or games that companies can use to develop teambuilding skills. This individual might also have to settle personality conflicts, usually by addressing the problem rather than the personalities.

To find a strategy facilitator or teambuilding facilitator that will help the company reach its goals, organizational leaders should consult an online database to find individuals with the right mix of training and experience from similar companies.

An Example of a Personal Productivity System

I believe that everybody could benefit from a personal productivity system. There is nothing more rewarding at the end of the day than enjoying a sense of achievement. I’m going to share with you my personal productivity system so that you can adopt it and modify it to suit yourself.

So the first thing to do is to write down a list. No, not a “To Do” list. The list should be a “Not To Do” list. Make a list of the things that you shouldn’t do because they are barriers to your personal productivity. Here are five examples that are often on my list. I have included the explanations so you can see the reason for the items.

1. Don’t procrastinate.

Sometimes I’m guilty of putting things off rather than planning my day so I do the hardest thing first.

2. Don’t waste time on the web.

Whilst I’m looking for something on the web, I get distracted by other interesting pieces of information. When I look up words in the dictionary or the thesaurus, I am prone to looking at other words as well.

3. Don’t encourage interruptions.

Often I don’t close my office door, so people who are passing sometimes interrupt me to socialise. This wastes a lot of time.

4. Don’t lose your focus.

I have a sign in my office next to my monitor and it says, “If what you are doing is not moving you to your objective, don’t do it!” This helps me to consider what I’m doing on a regular basis to make sure that I am doing things which are going to make me progress. It is so easy to get sidetracked.

5. Don’t forget to plan tomorrow.

The last thing that I do at the end of my working day is to plan what I’m going to do the following day. This enables me to start my day quickly. I don’t have to think about planning. I can get straight into my work.

As part of my personal productivity system, I have included 20 minutes a day for thinking. During this 20 minutes each day, I turn off my phones, make sure I’m not going to get any interruptions, put my hands behind my head and think. This thinking time is used for strategy planning and problem solving.

It requires a certain amount of discipline to take time out to think because of the temptations of socialising, coffee and other distractions. Some of my best thinking has occurred during this 20 minute break when I have been really creative.

My final strategy is to take a break every 50 minutes. This time is flexible but generally speaking I make sure that I have a stretch, stand-up and move around for a few minutes after every block of 50 minutes. I organise my work in blocks of time during my daily planning at the end of each working day.