Secrets to Personal Productivity

To achieve optimal personal productivity, one must be aware of himself, the situation as well as the other party. Who are the other party? They can be your co-workers, bosses, director, vendor, etc. in a workplace context. We can also describe personal productivity as an awareness of three things: Me, You and Situation. This is not something special and it had been mentioned in Sun Tzu’s Art of War quote:

It is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles; if you do not know your enemies but do know yourself, you will win one and lose one; if you do not know your enemies nor yourself, you will be imperiled in every single battle.

In our modern day context, we are not trying to win a war. We know “war” is too costly (it’s all in the news). The fundamental objective is to achieve personal productivity through understanding ourselves, the other party and the situation. Understanding ourselves involves awareness of our choices of actions, responses, our thinking, self-discipline and exertion of self-control. Strengthening the “me” is our core principle of understanding oneself. Understanding the other party involves awareness of their thoughts, anticipated responses within the given situation. We cannot change the perspective of another person, working styles, life’s need or nor a situation, but what we can do is to prepare our state of mind and body to adapt and handle various situations when they arise. Through this, we can “position” ourselves and influence any decisions and outcome. It goes the same when you enter the wrong “position”, the results are negative consequences.

How does it have any relation with improving personal productivity? Chances of us knowing the other party (or person) and situation dynamics is limited. But we have awareness and control of ourselves. Having being able to control what we can, we then anticipate and influence what is out of our control. Understanding oneself is one part of the equation to personal productivity. To further enhance personal productivity, it is necessary to complete the other half of the equation: understanding and reacting appropriately to other’s behavior in different situations. Sun Tzu’s Art of War quotes have been widely used in the business world. In our context, we bring it a level down to for the purpose of enhancing personal productivity at work.

Throughout the journey of finding productivity (is it work or life) with us, you will find that we begin working on one’s personal awareness and self-control (Me factor). Following through to understanding of the other party (You factor) and handling of situation dynamics (Situation factor). You will find what’s written here able to address your needs, if you have trouble finding personal productivity at work or having a grumpy boss always concerned with your performance. Simple as the concept is, we believed that what we are sharing here will be helpful in your search of personal productivity at work.

How to Double Your Personal Productivity in Just 30 Days – 1 – Preparing Your Attack

How often have you said to yourself, “If only I could get twice as much done as I do now!” The good news is, you can… as long as you have the right method and the motivation to change. In this 3-part series, I’m going to teach you a step-by-step method that will allow you to double your personal productivity in just 30 days. Actually, you could do it in a week, but I prefer to allow for the fact that most people aren’t very consistent at applying new information!

1. Scheduling the Time:

As I emphasized in Part-1, you want to schedule your High Value Tasks (HVTs) for times when your mental and physical energies are at their peak, usually first thing in the morning, although that varies from person to person.

Your next decision is how much time you want to set aside for a given task. In general it’s pretty hard to stay focused for more than one hour of solid working time, so dividing your working time into one hour chunks is a smart way to go. Then, even if the task you’re working on takes two hours to complete, you need to schedule at least a 10-15 minute “stretching break” in between your two one-hour chunks to ensure you’re at your best when you start the second round.

The next vexing question is when to STOP working. Do you quit when you say you’re going to quit, no matter where you’re at, or do you plow ahead until, come hell or high water, you’ve completed your entire tasks?

This is where many people get into trouble. The danger of plowing ahead is that you can end up just working and working longer and longer, until your whole day disintegrates into an undifferentiated mass of low-productivity work. And you DO NOT want that. On the other hand, completing a task has such a huge psychological payoff that you won’t want to stop if you’re close to the finish line. So how do you resolve this conflict? Just apply these guidelines:

1. When you’re scheduling a task, first determine how you’ll know when you’ve finished it! Since you may well be working on a sub-task – one component of a larger task – admit that to yourself and make sure you specify what determines completing the sub-task rather than the larger task.

2. Then determine how long the task will likely take. Then add at least 25% as a safety net – most of us consistently underestimate the time we need.

3. If the task can be completed within a one hour time chunk, then you work at it until it’s completed.

4. If the task is a longer task or a more “creative” one where it’s difficult to say how long it will take, then you stop working after your allotted time expires, no matter what.

2. Preparing Your Workspace:

Make sure your work area is clean and neat: a messy environment will compromise your productivity. Be sure to lay out any documents you’ll need in advance and make sure you have any electronic documents or web pages you’ll need open and ready before you begin. Otherwise, you may spend the first 10 minutes of your “working time” just digging up these items and becoming more and more frustrated.

Next, turn your phone’s ringer off and send all incoming calls to voice mail. If you’re in an office and have an assistant, make sure he or she knows you don’t want to be disturbed. If you’re working from home, negotiate with your family so they know to leave you alone as much as possible when you’re really working.

Also, close your email, your Twitter, your instant messaging and any other means of electronic communications you have. If you’re really serious about doubling your personal productivity, you MUST be willing to make your self 100% “available” to your work for defined periods of time, and that means making yourself 100% unavailable to the demands and interruptions of other people while you’re doing a blitz on your HVTs.

3. Before You Start:

Now that you’ve prepared your physical workspace, it’s time to spend a few minutes on your mental workspace. Going into a task fully motivated will significantly improve your productivity, a lesson every athlete knows all too well.

Find whatever inspires you in your work. It could be success stories in your industry, a book about personal effectiveness, time management or productivity, or simply the vision of what you are working towards. Then spend a few minutes reading or thinking about this until you feel “in the zone”. But don’t stop there…

Close your eyes and visualize yourself working on your task. Make sure you FEEL how easily you’ll complete it and the feeling of personal satisfaction that comes from that. Once you can feel all that, then you’re truly ready to begin.

And once you begin, have a timer or stop watch nearby so you can play “beat the clock” – a phenomenal method for keeping your relentlessly focused on the task at hand.

All these preparations – which most people simply skip over – are absolutely critical to doubling your productivity. Without them, no matter how well you’ve prioritized, your execution will be second rate and the time it will take you to complete a given task can easily increase by 3-400%. So resist the temptation to dive into your work without doing these preparatory steps first. At first these steps may seem tedious but once they’ve become a habit for you, you’ll understand how essential they really are.

Join us next time for the third and final installment of this 3-part series on how to double your personal productivity in just 30 days, when I’ll share with you the strategic secrets of flawless execution.

– Dr. Symeon Rodger

How to Improve Personal Productivity – 4 Quick Tips

Are you getting tired of working at only 50% efficiency? This list of quick tips, optimizations and productivity strategies will get you working at 100% power in no time.

Read them, apply them, and watch as your work output improves, your time input decreases, and your lifestyle shoots right up dramatically. Let’s go:

Personal Productivity Tip #1: Micro-test your work times.

Do you often find that you’re more efficient and productive in the mornings? Shape your work day around those times.

For example, spent a week or two working with different day times for your major workload, and see which one produces the best results. After the quick test period, shape your workday around those peak times and watch your results increase.

Personal Productivity Tip #2: Remind yourself to work.

This can be as simple as posting a message on your laptop screen or setting a new desktop wallpaper.

Get an inspirational quote, a personal message, or even just a text file saying “get more done.” These changes aren’t huge, but they’ll teach you how to improve personal productivity like no other.

Personal Productivity Tip #3: Limit and restrict yourself.

Are you often tempted to waste time on irrelevant websites? Use a Firefox plug in (Leechblock is one of the best) to make sure that you don’t waste any more time on websites that aren’t directly related to your work output.

Personal Productivity Tip #4: Don’t look for optimizations, look for major changes.

What major problems are sucking up most of your work time and minimizing the amount of time that you can spend on your workload? For many, the things that waste the most time aren’t the things that are easiest to change.

Spend a couple of weeks working on the big changes, and then use the small optimizations to improve your stable work platform.

By applying these quick tips, you’ll learn how to improve personal productivity, boost your work output, and enjoy a lifestyle that isn’t 100% dominated by work.

Personal Productivity – 3 Tips For Personal Productivity Improvement

Need to boost your work output and minimize the amount of time you spend head down in your papers? Every professional wants to improve their productivity, and while thousands invest in tools and strategies that have the potential to help them, few actually see any substantial gains from them.

These three tips are designed to work on the opposite principles of most productivity theories. They don’t force you to adopt behavior that makes you uncomfortable, they encourage you to work to your strengths.

Invest in these tips and you’ll see your productivity increase without the needless expense of your work comfort.

Personal Productivity Guide #1: Ignore external advice or information.

Sounds silly, doesn’t it? Here I am giving you advice, and you’re supposed to ignore it. However, it all makes sense.

When you’re working, there are hundreds of distractions out there waiting to take away your time.

Allocate yourself time to work and ignore any external information or advice. In the digital age, we’re surrounded by information, and the real key to personal productivity improvement is the ability to distance ourselves from that information.

Personal Productivity Guide #2: Create ‘standards’ for your day.

Need to work four hours per afternoon? Allot that time on your daily schedule, but don’t stop there. Mark down when you’re going to eat dinner, when you’re going to brush your teeth, and the exact time that you’re going to get out of bed.

By forcing yourself to stick to a rigorous schedule in other parts of your life, you’ll find it much easier to focus on work in its allotted time slot.

Personal Productivity Guide #3: Audit your weekly output.

At the end of the day, ask yourself a simple question: “What have I achieved today?” Don’t just stop with the question though, take stock of what you’ve achieved and write it down.

Keep a spreadsheet and make sure that your work output is constantly on the up-and-up. By monitoring your output, you can set simple targets for the coming days, weeks and months of work.