Improve Productivity

We all want to know how to

- better balance work and home life

- prioritise work flow better

- limited capacity for distraction

- work smarter, not harder

Need to investigate 3 core work areas to improve productivity, ie 

i) information management

ii) task management

iii) people management

Information management 

filing (physical, digital, correspondence and other material). The key is to have it organised and cull regularly so that information can be found quickly. This means organising your files so that you tidy your desk, files, e-mails, etc. This reduces the time wasted and stress involved in trying to find things 

Task management 

planning (starting with long-term goals like annual, etc and breaking them into short-term mini-goals like six monthly, quarterly, monthly, weekly, daily, etc; prepare a to-do list; user plan and diary with different tasks marked by different symbols, eg events, goals, tasks, etc; for example, plan time for 

", professional and personal development, social impact and volunteering, and then sport, recreation and, of course, my family and friends..." 

Vanessa Sequeira as quoted by 
Edmund Tadros 2019) 

batching (lump certain tasks together when scheduling times for jobs such as responding to e-mails, by allocating limited formal e-mail daily access like twice daily) 

prioritise tasks (do the highest priority, like most urgent and important, first) 

morning routine (it is the time you have for yourself before everyone else wants something, ie 

"... Focus on those important matters that life has a way of crowding out: exercise, creative or spiritual pursuits, or even family time if you often work late. Mornings are the optimum time for getting things done...... this is when people generally have the most discipline and focus...... early-morning start with going to bed early......turning unproductive evening hours into productive morning hours..." 

Laura Vanderkam as quoted by Edmund Tadros 2019 

regular reviews (set aside time like daily, weekly, monthly, etc to review what you had planned to do and what happened; can use web-based project management tools like Trello 

People management 

Guidelines for dealing with people, like how to work effectively with others and how to have productive meetings. 

- working with others (need to understand how you and others prefer to work, learn and communicate. You need to have enough self-awareness to build on your strengths and offset your weaknesses. By understanding how others prefer to work, you can adapt your style to make your interaction more effective. For example, how to manage upwards 

"...bosses...... are individuals and are entitled to do their work in the way they do it is incumbent on the people who work with them to observe them, to find out how they work, and to adapt themselves to what makes their bosses most effective. This, in fact, is the secret of managing the boss..." 

Peter Drucker as quoted by Edmund Tadros 2019)

meetings (must have a specific purpose, a clear agenda and all participants are prepared; meeting should be less than one hour. 

An effective meeting needs to have 

i) purpose (why we are here?) 

ii) people (who do we need?) 

iii) process (how will we work to achieve its purpose?) 


The purpose can fall into 3 broad categories, ie 

i) inform (give, get and share information) 

ii) align (make decisions or agree on a plan) 

iii) resolve (come up with a solution to a problem or conflict) 

" figure out the purpose for your meeting, think about the outcome..." 

Donna McGeorge 2019 


Meetings work best with small groups like 5, ie 

"...if you cannot feed all the participants with two pizzas, there are too many people there..."

Jeff Bezos as quoted by 
Donna McGeorge 2019 

This means that you need to have the right type of people in the room. Factors that need to be considered when selecting people to attend include

i) what role will they play

ii) how well they give, or get, value from their time?

Process (tight schedule) 

i) Scan (What are we here for? What is the context surrounding the meeting? What do people have to contribute to the discussion?) 

ii) Focus ( 
What are the 2 or 3 things that require our attention, or are driving our decision-making or problem-solving?) 

iii) Act (What else do we need to do? What actions are required? What will happen next?) 

NB Need to take minutes of what happened and was agreed upon in the meeting 

To reduce staleness in meetings,, experiment with changing the venue, start time, composition of participants, meeting format, etc 

Myth of Working Long Hours

There is a myth that long hours lead to increasing productivity, creativity and profitability. However, there is
" increasing body of research and anecdotal evidence that working fewer hours and focusing on productive outcomes result in significant increases in a business's productivity..."
Andrew Barnes 2020

 For example, in 2019, Microsoft introduced a four-day week in Japan which resulted in an increase in productivity of around 40%.

There is a need for
"...Rebalancing of work and nonwork time to deliver better productivity and profitability, while addressing key challenges facing our society......removes the linkage between time spent in work as a driver of compensation and performance in favour of output and productivity......see the potential rewards in shorter work weeks and more intense focus on output..."
Andrew Barnes 2020

Follow the 100:80:100 rule, ie
"...100 % of the pay, 80% of the time, provided 100% of productivity goals are achieved..."
Andrew Barnes 2020

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