Defining Personal Productivity

For me, personal productivity means the ability to deliver results when needed, may it be something to your boss or for yourself. Furthermore, the results should be achieved without too much negative stress. How often have you achieved this? Most of us have been truly productive quite seldom. I think that this is something that can be developed, by learning a specific set of six crucial skills. I’ll run them down for you below.

Learning is important for personal productivity. Just think about all the new stuff and things we need to learn, only to keep functioning. If nothing else, the user interface of Facebook has suddenly changed, and you have to learn that all again. Ways to learn more easily include faster reading, using mind maps, and for the more advanced also mnemonics (the art of memory tricks).

Organization skills are also very important, as we are constantly overflowed with new things, papers, and information. Some things we should keep and store, others we should immediately get rid of, or they will just increase the amount of clutter lying around. Personal organization methods can really come handy at such situations. Just think what it means to your productivity,when you manage to find that receipt from 2 months ago within 30 seconds of the situation when you need them.

I see time management as a sub skill to personal productivity. With time management, we refer to the art of keeping your calendar in order, and managing task and email. Good time management also means minimizing the time used for procrastination.

In order to get results, we also have to keep fit mentally. Stress will wear you down, if you are not careful. Luckily there exists practices like mediation, but doing sports and meting friends will do as well. The point is, however, this: even in the most hectic work situations, keep calm. With a stable mind, everything is easier, which leads to increased productivity.

One interesting area is creativity. Our work today if filled with problems, and basically we all get paid for solving them. Can you imagine that there actually exists dozens of small tools to help you on that area? Having creativity handy when you need it, will help you finish that presentation your boss is waiting for, making you both happy. Your boss gets his fast delivery, and you can go home earlier.

Last but not least we have decision making. We all know people who cannot make even the smallest decision, they simply don’t have the guts to do it. What do I say again? There exists tools to help you.

Putting in some effort and studying even little in the areas above will help your personal productivity.

High Personal Productivity Will Bring You Happiness

If you just reflect for a moment on when you have been happiest at work you will probably recall a time when you were busy but also very productive. When we achieve things we feel better about ourselves and this flows through to other areas of productivity. There are a series of steps that you can take to increase your personal productivity and when this occurs you will feel much more relaxed and much happier.

You set long-range goals in both your personal and professional life. Then you work backwards and set shorter range objectives that are tied to your goals. Each objective has a specific target with a deadline and taken one at time they will lead you towards your goal. To do this you have to understand priorities so that you can put them into a logical order. You set goals and objectives, then you rank them in priority order and make a personal productivity plan based on them. Your personal productivity plan fits within your ideal day where you have blocked off certain times to fulfill key tasks.

Your ideal day is a purely personal productivity plan. You know from your own experience your own energy cycles. You know when you are most productive and you know when you’re least productive. If you take this into account when you are planning your day, you will do your high priority tasks during your time of peak productivity and do your low priority tasks when your productivity levels drop. This is a logical way to ensure that you have the energy resources to deal with what you’re doing at the time.

To achieve high levels of personal productivity, you need to start off with your long-range goals and objectives. Once you’ve done that, you will now be in a position to relate the day’s activities to those goals. Your priorities will be sorted out relatively simply. The more an activity contributes to your goal, a higher priority it receives. You can schedule your tasks according to priorities and also to your own energy cycle.

By writing all this down, you can use the plan to guide you through the crises, the interruptions and the unforeseen circumstances that occur every day in a dynamic workplace. Being able to see the plan is of the utmost importance because you can actually show other people and once they see what you have written down, they are aware of where your priorities lie. Without question, if you want to raise your personal productivity, make more effective use of your time and talent, become happier and more fulfilled, then you should make a daily plan in writing and stick to it.

Improve Personal Productivity by Knowing Yourself Well

How do we improve personal productivity at work? Recall that personal productivity is an equation of Me, You and Situation? We want to work on the Me factor. Personal productivity starts from the individual’s awareness or as we term it Personal Awareness. Personal Awareness is based on how our mental model works. Your mental model setups mental boundaries, predict the outcome or process of work. Our personal awareness (surrounding the Me) can be characterized into four quadrants.

“I know what I can do” – The most preferred quadrant. Individuals of this quadrant know what they are doing. Know who, what, where, when and how they can do to achieve their objectives. Usually they are confident individuals that are able to predict the outcome.

“I know what I cannot do” – Usually paired together with individuals of “I know what I can do”; Individuals are conscious of their limit of their abilities. This is important as they can identify which type of work is suitable for them and which are above their abilities.

“I do not know what I can do” – Individuals fail to recognize their fullest potential. Their superiors may have identified their untapped potentials but always stumble with the unwillingness of the individual to unleash them. Usually these individuals are resistance to change.

“I do not know what I cannot do” – Ignorance is not a blessing here. Individuals that fall into this quadrant are usually ignorant and over-confident. They fail to see what they can’t perform and usually get themselves into trouble.

Personal productivity starts from understanding your personal awareness. In the four quadrants, by knowing where you are, you can estimate your effort in a task, the time frame committed, the boundaries you are working in, or even further improve personal productivity. Personal productivity is not merely the personal aspect but it can also be achieved at the situational aspect where for example, you are aware of how much effort is required in performing a certain task in a particular situation.

Of course, there is no one straight cut to a specific quadrant. There can be combinations of quadrant and they can deviate in different situations. Now look back the past events that happened at work. Which of the quadrants do you feel you best relate to in how you are aware of yourself and the situation? Were you able to identify that you were able to optimize personal productivity if you were being more aware of yourself or the situation? Have a thought about it! 😉

Apply the 80/20 Rule and Watch Your Personal Productivity Soar

Before we can apply the 80/20 rule, we need a clear picture of what it actually is and a basic idea of where it originated.

In the early 1900’s, Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto observed that twenty percent of the people in Italy owned eighty percent of the wealth. Over 30 years later, Dr. Joseph M. Juran, who worked in the field of Quality Management in the United States, recognized a similar occurrence, namely, that many things in life are unevenly distributed.

He referred to this trend as Pareto’s 80/20 Principle, which is otherwise known as the 80/20 rule. Basically this means that a small percentage (roughly 20%) of the overall activity yields a larger percentage (roughly 80%) of the result.

Applying the 80/20 rule to your personal productivity will help you to prioritize your work from most important to least important and then to budget your time accordingly. To make prioritizing your tasks a bit easier, estimate the amount of time you will need to complete each task. You will be more productive if you focus on completing the most important tasks first and if you finish time-sensitive projects before tackling other tasks.

One survey revealed that while people spend 60 hours a week in their offices, they do less than 20 hours of actual work. Applying the 80/20 rule, using the aforementioned suggestions, could send the average office-worker soaring to employee of the month in no time flat!

With your priorities set and a definite plan in place as to what work you need to complete and the time-frame you have to complete it, you are well on your way to improved personal productivity. Again, the 80/20 rule suggests that in a small amount time you can be very productive. Therefore, beware of becoming side-tracked by non-essential intruders like procrastination.

Keep in mind the old adage, “why put off tomorrow what you can do today!” Also, be mindful that in the course of a day, unexpected things do come up and require our time. However, this is usually the exception and not the rule. If you really want your productivity to soar, stay focused on the goal of completing your tasks on-time!

Now that you know where you want to be, it’s a good time to ask yourself where you are now in relation to reaching your goal. Are you already in the 20% of efficient, productive workers, are you in the 80% of not-so-productive workers, or are you somewhere in-between?

What does your annual or quarterly review reveal about your personal productivity? What do your peer reviews show? Regardless of your current standing, take an honest look at the work you’ve done lately. You may not need a full overhaul of your work habits but instead you may just need to fine-tune a few areas.

Don’t hesitate. Why not start today? Apply the 80/20 rule at work and even at home and just watch your personal productivity soar!