Productivity has become an obsession of mine over the past few years.
The question has been: “How much value can I deliver in every hour I am on the job?”
Think about it… Many of us get paid not based on the number hours we work, but the level of value we can bring to those hours. That’s why you see some people making $50,000/year and their counterparts raking in six-figures for perceivably the exact same job description. Employee “A” may be just as qualified as Employee “B” on paper, but obviously Employee B has figured out how to more than double the level of value they bring each and every hour they are in the office.
So, how do we start to maximize our productivity?
Below are the three basic steps you can implement almost immediately and dramatically boost your productivity:
1. Ask “why”?
This is key. If you don’t understand the “why” behind what you are doing, you are not going to be fully invested. If you are not invested, you will not be productive. We all hate working on pointless tasks and if we don’t see the value in what we are doing, these tasks will turn us into zombified drones who wonder why we even show up every day.
Case and point. If you feel that running the daily backups in your IT job is just an act in futility, it’s going to be the dread of your day. But if you understand that this seemingly worthless act could save your company $10,000,000 in loses if there was ever a catastrophic failure on their servers, then the task is put into perspective and you realize the value each hour the task brings to the company.
No mater what your job title is, give it meaning by understanding the “why” behind your 40+ hour/week investment.
2. Schedule your day
Notice I didn’t tell you to jot down a to do list.
Scheduling your day gives you deadlines. We are psychology wired to work better when there is a hard stop to our projects. Think back to our high school years. How many times did we wait until the last minute before an assignment was due and we put in our best effort when the deadline was getting real? When we can get in the “I have to do this now” mentality, it drives us to be efficient and do what needs to be done in order to deliver.
Consider blocking you day off into a series of 90 minute deadlines. Stay super focused for 90 minutes at a time and then take a 15 minute break to clear your head before starting your next sprint. Sure, you may be taking well over an hour and a half in breaks daily, but you will be super productive for the 6 or so hours you are working in sprints. I will guarantee you get more done than you did before. Plus, we all know you hang out by the water cooler for close to an hour a day anyway…
3. Delegate the unprofitable
Now, this is not an option for everyone. If you are the only one in your department, it may be tough to start delegating your unprofitable tasks. And sometimes management does not approve of you offloading part of your work load to someone else.
If you are self employed, a department head, or the owner of the business, you should only be doing the work that brings value to the company. Be it the service you sell or the sales and relationship work that get customers in the door. If you can place a value of $150/hour on your time in production and $2,500 for every hour you spend doing sales, how can you justify keeping your own books or other tasks that do not develop revenue?
Take inventory of what you do everyday that does not directly generate income with your time and find strategic partners to take over these tasks for you. It will free up hours for you weekly to do more of what gets you paid or just to spend extra time with your family, friends, or significant other.