From the top rungs of the management to the first line worker, everyone across sectors is looking for ways to be more productive at work. There are no magic pills to boost productivity and caffeine only helps so much. The other option of working extra hours to increase your productivity screws up your work life balance, leaving you burned out. So what can be done?

Learning from what Paul J. Mayer said “Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort.”You can harness your productivity by taking note of these five things:

Be a master chef and chop your work into tasks

Most of the successful projects have a common theme; all of them would have been broken down into activities and tasks with owners and resources assigned against each one of them.

Ask yourself these questions before you start on an assignment.

  • What do you need to achieve?
  • How will you know if your task is successful – what’s the measurement?
  • What’s the timeline?
  • What resources do you need? – People, budget, tools, support etc.
  • How many of these resources are under your control?

The devil lies in the detail – chart out the process

You have a plan, so what? The next step is to break down each of the tasks in the process through which they will get accomplished. When a problem is large or complex, and the optimal solution is unclear – charting a process pushes you towards a solution even though you may not be able to visualize the entire path at the first instance.

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It will be a good idea to buy a flow-charting software to help you see the work progress sequentially. Use the software output to communicate your plan to others. Detailing the tasks improves your chances of success and Increases your productivity. A word of caution- Detailing the process is tiring but don’t give up.

Set up a monitoring mechanism

Once you have set your goals and the plan has been broken down into tasks with process steps, the next move is to set up traffic signals and lights to know your progress status. You should know how much time it would take to finish the plan, raise the red flag early on by giving timely feedback to all your stakeholders. Deliver bad news in advance, senior management team hates surprises. Knowing where you stand is a very important aspect of increasing productivity and avoiding the last minute rush.

Avoid the Activity trap and be focused

Research shows that effective managers focus of one or two key tasks derived from the organizational priorities. They tend to keep away from distractions and allied activities, which generally fill up most up to our time. Don’t confuse being productive with being busy, most of the managers take on one or another task to fill the time. Always being busy can make you rigid and narrow-minded. Create free time or have quick breaks in between to get those creative, productive juices going again. If you have spare time, go read a book rather than carrying someone else’s monkey on your back.

Manage your time

Plan your time and manage it against a spend plan, in case you are not valuing your time start doing it now. Time will not come back and this life is only for once. Make the best use of it.

It is a known fact that the 80 % of the things you do account for only 20% of your results, and vice-versa. I think that’s a pretty important observation to increase your productivity. Figure out your largest time wasters and eliminate them to increase your productivity. Time management is the key to increasing productivity. Taking time to plan and set priorities for your life actually frees up more time rather than diving into the middle of activities.

These five tips will help you in increasing your productivity by accurately scoping out your work and using efficient processes to deliver them.

As Shia LaBeouf said “There’s a tendency to mistake preparation for productivity. You can prepare all you want, but if you never roll the dice you’ll never be successful.

Thanks and be happy !

Jappreet Sethi

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