How to be Productive – Simple Yet Tricky Art To Do More With Less

While it is easy to lose your way in pursuit of productivity, sticking to the minimal essentials will help you see light at the end of tunnel

Consider this quote – “My goal is no longer to get more done, but rather to have less to do.”

These words conceptualized by Francine Jay, author of the famous book The Joy of Less: A Minimalist Guide to Declutter, Organize and Simplify, present succinctly the purpose of this article.

Is productivity about quality or quantity? Or Both? The versions of understanding productivity may vary, but the idea is to squeeze out maximum without being stressed or burdened.

It is to have such a state at the end of 24 hours, which are same for everyone, where you feel content with the outcomes in your personal and professional arena.

The general notion about productivity sparks different relative words in mind like hard work, time management, scheduling, fancy productivity tools, efficiency and so on.

Although in a tug of war between hard work and efficiency, the chances of efficiency winning hands down are always more.

There are many business success stories, especially of the startups to validate this thought.

Companies like Instagram and Snapchat were able to create great products with limited number of employees.

Facebook, after all bought Instagram (a 13-employee company at the time of its acquisition) for a billion dollars.

Before we get to the grind of discovering how to be productive, let’s take a small pause to fathom what is productivity and how is productivity measured.

The web definition of productivity puts it as the average measure of the efficiency of person, machine, factory, system, etc., by converting inputs into useful outputs.

It is computed by dividing the average output over a time period by the inputs (cost, energy, resources, material, personnel).

This ratio called productivity is critical determinant of cost efficiency.

In the real world, however, it is less of formulas and more of quick to use productivity indicators such as:

  • Of Tasks completed
  • Speed of Delivery (used often to measure service productivity)
  • Of product sales
  • 360 Feedback and Customer Feedback
  • Subjective judgment by managers
  • Value of Outcome from business perspective
  • Individual and Departmental Self evaluations

Having sorted out the basics, let’s take a dip into the productivity practices that actually give results as testified by global industry practitioners.

How to be Productive? – Answered in 7 Brief Steps

#1 As clichéd as it may sound, Prioritization matters

Many start their search for excellence with planning. However, the steam fizzles out in due course as they don’t pass the ‘How to Prioritize’ test.

The idea is simple. Priority list should include very few tasks that fall in either of the below categories:

  • Mean the most to you / Highly Passionate About
  • Require your expertise as others have limited or no exposure to that area
  • Critical for success of your plan and overall business

Rest everything can wait or delegated. The less you have, the better you can do. A list with 3-5 highly specific tasks with less of abstraction works well.

#2 Create a Routine that Works For You

There might not be many takers for this route, but getting up early does help to do more.

Evaluate your day and identify time slots when you are bouncing with energy and times when you just shut off.

Question previous planning failures and take a detour. Work out a routine and see how it benefits you. Avoid slips by checking on self-accountability at set intervals.

#3 Tune your whole Being instead of some quick fixes

Being productive is a holistic process rather than a standalone one-time activity.

To be actually on top of your game, consider channeling your inner happiness to relax your workspace, being more open to others views/ideas, spending time in solitude, shaking off prejudices and working on your health.

Small habits reap big returns.

#4 Make Space for Desirable Technology

Kensington Productivity Survey – June 2015, revealed results that come as no surprise in today’s world.

More than 60% of professionals used multiple devices at work and 90% of them believed integrating devices would enhance their productivity.

While nobody is denying the importance of face-to-face interactions, more employees are favoring e-communication and virtual meetings as they save time. Smart tech gadgets and apps can prove to be highly efficient.

This technology parameter of course delimits time wasting social websites.

#5 Seize the Small Wins

The more you achieve, the more motivated you are.

This ideology is known to boost productivity as the moment a task is checked off, you feel a burst of happy energy inside (Fuelled by release of Dopamine) that gears you to stretch and achieve more on the list.

A self-pat on the back is all we need to be intrinsically satisfied with our accomplishments, however big or small.

#6 Perfectionism doesn’t help, Acceptable Quality Does

The problem with perfectionism is that over a period of time it converts to obsession thereby making you spend more time on unnecessary things or by making you miss the big picture by overemphasizing small things and ‘right moment.’

A psychological study published in University Affairs magazine identified robust correlation between increased perfectionism and decreased productivity.

So watch out!

#7 Churn Out Maximum from All Your Tasks

Quoting David Allen (Originator of Getting Things Done, time management method) “Your mind is for having ideas, not holding them.”

Building on the thought further, action and that too full throttle action justifies having ideas in the first place.

Using time block method where you cut yourself out from everything else except the task at hand helps to gain maximum results.

Counter-intuitively schedule less time for important work, so that you expend maximum energy to finish it faster.

– – –

Like all good things in life, Productivity is a self-driven process that requires one to make hard decisions and overhaul derailed aspects with grit and discipline.

Organizations can contribute significantly in ensuring employees get stimulating environment, facilities and support for them to see new productivity highs.

CakeHR is one such software that helps companies and its employees manage leaves online, giving them room to focus on other important work areas.

Want to be Productive? Well the time starts NOW!


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Written By

Mitalee Chhatre

Mitalee, a true professional with over 5 years of corporate experience in Human Resources and Health Sector. Contributor on CakeHR where tracks the newest trends and practices of the work-life world.