4 Ways to Turbocharge Your Productivity
Is there a template to follow to become a highly productive person? This article seeks to answer that question. A successful model I have adopted and used for years goes roughly like this: 1) remove the fat from what you do; 2) reduce complexity; 3) create a repeatable way to do work; and (if possible); 4) use bots. We will now expand on each of these steps.
1. Cut out the fluff
The first step in mastering how to complete one’s tasks in the shortest time possible and increase productivity is to look for things that can be eliminated altogether. Eliminate work that doesn’t need to be done at all, or that doesn’t need to be done by you. A surprising amount of work is undertaken just because. Inquire about the value of the work and whether it needs to be done in the first place. If it turns out that the work is valid, the next step is to determine if it must have your name on it. In other words, can it be done by someone else, or is someone else already doing it (in which case there is no need to reinvent the wheel)? It is not uncommon, especially in big companies, for two departments to produce essentially the same report. My point here is that for you to be more productive at work, make sure you are not spending precious time creating reports that are easily available elsewhere. The more of this type of work you can cut out from your daily routine, the more productive you can be.
Another elimination tactic is to transfer the work to others by leveraging the principle of comparative advantage. Do for others the work that you know you can do faster, better, etc., and let them do for you the work that they can do faster, better, etc. Role specialization is a proven productivity booster because more value is always created when you do work commensurate with your skill. The more drudgery you can cut from your work, the better position you are in to win. Comparative advantage generates value for everyone.
To recap, productive workers eliminate unnecessary tasks. One way to cut out unneeded work is to question its relevancy to the bottom line. A second way is to use the principle of comparative advantage to argue for the transfer of the work to someone with a different skillset.
Do for others the work that you know you can do faster, better, etc., and let them do for you the work that they can do faster, better, etc. Role specialization is a proven productivity booster…
Of course, even with the two methods described above, you would not have eliminated all your work. That is not possible, and it is not the aim of the article. Our aim is to cut out the fat. After you have eliminated what you can, the surviving grunt work will have to be simplified so you can focus on increasing the value of the hours you spend working.
2. Simplify your work
Many people cannot articulate what they do. If you cannot clearly state that “I’m responsible for A, B, and C” and/or “I’m accountable for X, Y, and Z,” then your work needs simplification. If your job duties are not well defined, seek clarification. The first step to simplification is clarification of expectations. Once it is clear in your mind—and on paper—what is required of you, you can have a definite plan. You can put a structure around the way you work. Sometimes during simplification, you may see more work that needs to be eliminated. Eliminate it and continue to simplify.
The output of the simplification process is to have S.M.A.R.T. goals. (S – Specific, M – Measurable, A – Achievable, R – Realistic, T- Time-bound). Clear expectations enable us to set achievable goals. The beauty of having goals in place is that they simplify. A well-defined goal gives energy and direction. It gives a sense of purpose. It unclutters. Goals simplify decision-making. Goals eliminate waste. They enable us to stop wasting effort on the irrelevant and start investing time on the important, ultimately improving our productivity. Goals put the employer and the employee in a condition to win.
In sum: Most people can’t describe their work well. We need clarification of our duties and responsibilities so that we can simplify. When we have clarified our duties, we are then able to set smart goals. Goals help us eliminate and simplify—important steps to become highly productive.
The next step in gaining efficiency at completing work and increasing productivity is to standardize the simplified work, our next topic.