That’s the name of the game of this week.
We are doing a deep dive into our effectiveness and our work output. This past week has been a really difficult time for many of us leading into the election and certainly coming out of it this past weekend. Going into work, or for some of us, logging on this week may prove challenging, thus meaning our productivity will likely be decreased.
Before we get started and dig into tactical tips, we should briefly chat about the real definition of productivity and why it’s important to think critically about how to be better at it.
Productivity is performing a task in minimal time and effort with an optimal work product in the end, it’s also about getting more things pushed to completion, consistently.
You know, that thing we frequently see, “work smarter, not harder.”
It’s easy to fall into the mindset that multitasking is the best way to get things done, and honestly, it makes sense. If we are able to touch all of the things in a short amount of time, it’s better than one thing getting all of our attention at once, but is that really true?
Aside from the fact that multitasking does not increase your productivity, it reduces your efficiency since your brain prefers to only work on one thing at a time. Also, you aren’t giving your brain a true opportunity to commit your task to memory. Your short term memory struggles to keep up with the pace of your multitasking and it doesn’t do it as effectively as you might assume. There’s an inherent risk of introducing stress by the constant shifting of tasks.
It’s no secret that it’s not in human nature to ever be at 100% productivity, nor is it really possible. However, on average the typical work tends to be most productive around 10am and even at that point, 85% of productivity is reached.
What Encourages and “Determines” Productivity?
Well, the same thing that drives you to do anything else.
It’s mostly mental effort, motivation, and level of effort required. Our work environment can drastically influence these levers, for better or worse. It’s fairly obvious that a positive work culture encourages more productivity. Employers will find that happier employees produce better work products, they’re more engaged, retention tends to be higher, all of which drives the bottom line forward—always a win for the business.
It then begs the question of: What can YOU do to ensure your productivity is at its highest agnostic of the work culture and environment, especially as we are working mostly remote.
From an HR and human capital perspective, it can be difficult to quantify an employee’s productivity. We would likely view this as an assessment of your work product and the accompanying quality. That, of course, is not to say there isn’t a calculation, because there’s always a calculation or formula.
Here is an example of productivity as a metric provided by Smartsheets:
“You can measure employee productivity with the labor productivity equation: total output / total input. Let’s say your company generated $80,000 worth of goods or services (output) utilizing 1,500 labor hours (input). To calculate your company’s labor productivity, you would divide 80,000 by 1,500, which equals 53.”
Enough with the facts and data, right?
Okay, I hear you.
I thought it would be helpful to provide a few tips that you can easily, relatively speaking, put into place to have a great Monday and beyond.
Prioritize, Prioritize, Prioritize!
This is an obvious one, but severely underutilized. Figure out what needs to be done as a P0 (highest level of priority) and figure out what could potentially be either delegated, or pushed off until a later time—whether it’s in a day, hour, or week. Make this task come down to urgent vs. important.
As a rule of thumb, it’s best to tackle the most difficult and time consuming tasks first. You’ll want to expend most of your fresh energy and mental capacity here instead of handling the low-level items that are fast and easy to complete, but still a time suck. Flip this around and knock out the most difficult things first.
When Time is of the Essence, Use a Timer!
I know we’ve all been there. We said we would only spend thirty minutes on emails, and we look down and it’s been ninety minutes and you missed half of your lunch time.
Now you’re pissed and hungry…
After you’ve prioritized your work and ranked it from urgent, important, to unimportant, you can start to allocate reasonable amounts of time towards each task, AND STICK TO IT! It’s easier said than done, but it’s not impossible if you develop this habit.
Implement a Batching System for ‘Like’ Tasks
If you need to accomplish administrative tasks like returning phone calls, emails, scheduling meetings, etc. do it all at once. If you need to attend meetings, try your best to schedule them together so you’re not interrupting your work flow which can be hard to get back once broken.
Work Standing Up
Remember in school when your teachers said “sit up and stop slouching?”
There was something to that.
Sitting up straight kept you alert and prepared to learn. The same is said about standing while you work. Your posture is set to allow more oxygen to flow through your lungs making for a happier heart and brains increasing your productivity.
Tip: Many employers will purchase a standing desk for you. Ask your manager and HR about getting one or having one mailed to you if working remotely.
Get Cozy, But Not Too Cozy
Personally, I hate being cold, yet I’m always cold.
There’s something to be said about working in a slightly cooler room, again, you’re more alert.
Give one, a few or all of these a try and see if your productivity increases over time. There’s no one approach to make you more effective, but you may find a sweet spot that strikes the perfect balance of what you need and what you’re doing.
Try these tips out and let us know how it works for you, or let us know if you have any questions or hacks you implement to keep your working at max performance consistently.
We’d love to hear your thoughts!
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Chief Everything Officer/Only Operating Officer at The Cultured Career and Workfluence; Tech HR Executive; Forbes HR Council Member, Human Resources and Personal Branding Expert, Diversity, Equity + Inclusion Enthusiast. Your personal hype woman—I unabashedly bully you into believing your dopeness, potential, and greatness. Somewhere comfortably located between glitter and gangsta where my black girl magic is shining.