Imagine the context of an organization where people are at work. In any organization, you will see that there are two types of employees, employees who are great performers and the ones who aren’t. Great performers have good abilities and always deliver more. They are highly productive. They enjoy the good will of the management and also receive better perks and incentives compared to “normal” employees. But, before we go further, let’s look at the meaning of productivity.
What do you mean by Productivity?
Productivity is the efficiency in which the company/individual/team can transform its resources, creating more output from a less input. Increased productivity means much-increased output for the same input. While each employee has the same set of resources and time at disposal, why do you think that some employees are highly productive and some are not so?
Having worked in a corporate, being an outstanding performer myself and having closely seen, interacted and worked with some very accomplished professionals at work, I have researched on the traits or habits of highly successful and productive performers at work.
Here is my list of 8 habits that highly productive employees have.
1. Make truce with Perfectionism
How many of you know somebody who is perfect in everything he does? If you ask me, nobody is perfect.
In the early days of my work, I was a perfectionist. I used to spend a lot of time fine-tuning things though I had completed the work to the satisfaction/requirement. I was very particular on even minor imperfections. This used to make me always slip commitments and stressed up. I was always squeezed for time.
Slowly I realized that there is no merit in being a perfectionist when you are not on time and miss commitment. I need to have contended with the output, provided I had given my best efforts. I stopped nit-picking minor imperfections as this is engaging in a losing battle. It was also making me focus more on small mistakes and negative thinking. Once I understood this and came to be at peace with it, I had more time freed up to work on other pending tasks and was actually achieving more.
Stop being a perfectionist does not mean that you stop doing your best work, it means to stop finding faults and trying to improve something which is not essential.
2. Have a plan for the day’s work
Always start your day with a firm plan and purpose. Take a quiet time, may be half an hour every day, review the day’s work and prepare a good plan for the next day. Make this as a powerful habit. This keeps you focused on your day’s work and also rejuvenated. In your plan, prioritize tasks on hand based on importance and urgency. This will help you to have a complete grip on your work and an effective action plan.
Let me tell you how I plan my work, every day. At work, even today, I maintain a pending task register in which I update all the tasks that are either required to be done by me / monitored by me. Every day before I leave, I review the day’s work and strike off the tasks completed. I update new tasks by making new entries in the register. I also plan for the tasks that are to be done in the next day. I found this method to be very effective as you are well prepared for the next day.
3. Understand others well
Stephen Covey in his well-acclaimed book, The 7 Habits of highly effective people mentions this as the 5th Habit to have: Seek first to understand, then to be understood. Always try to understand others well, much more than you expect others to understand you. This will improve the quality of communication you do with others. This will also prevent you not to judge others and take positions. A lot of time and energy will be saves as you avoid arguing with others if you take this approach.
When you understand others well, in a way you tend to become more competent. You can reflect on the strengths and weaknesses of others so that you know what to expect in return. Also, the review meetings, interactions, and discussions shall be smooth. There will be an air of comfort between you and the person with whom you are interacting.
But, if you think that others should understand you and your view point more than you do, then it’s like reversing the cart before the horse. It’ll go nowhere.
4. Only do one thing at a time
Do not multi task. Always do one thing at a time, with great focus, effort, and commitment. If you do many tasks at a time, then you lose the present moment orientation. While you physically may be doing one task, your mind will be occupied with something else. You will lose your effectiveness and efficiency. But if you focus on just one thing and do it all out, your productivity will increase multi-fold and you will also get the best output for your efforts.
When we introduced the concept of Theory of Constraints (TOC) on a ship building project at L&T, we have found outstanding results. As per TOC, you are not allowed to do multi tasking, activities should be done from start to finish; the schedules shall be with aggressive durations which means that the time allotted will have only 50% chance of completion. When we implemented this, we have seen remarkable results. Just removing multi tasking itself has resulted in the durations to come down by half and also with overall reduction in the deployment of resources.
5. Be flexible to change your plan
Please expect that a certain percentage of your plans will undergo change due to the ever dynamic work environment. While perseverance is good, flexibility is also essential to cope up with the work requirements. At times there shall be emergency situations or client requirements which need you to drop everything on hand and address them on priority.
While its natural to be frustrated to see that your plans are changed, you can do much about it. Do what is really important and required. Don’t be fussy about being flexible. This will also make you and your colleagues be relaxed and go on to work smoothly. Else, you will be bogged down which will have a cascading effect on all and everyone around you.
6. Flush out negative Thoughts
Be quick enough to flush your negative thoughts. Hold back yourself in arguments. When your mind is filled with negative thoughts, you tend to stay in the mood for extended periods of time. You stay stressed. This will take off focus from your work. You tend to be cranky and this will also affect your communication. Make peace with you. Understand that many things are not in your control and stay calm. Regroup yourself and get back to priorities.
7. Become an early riser
Rising early is the best possible way to create time for yourself and do something in peace and tranquillity of early morning before you catch up with your daily chores. Raising early and doing something you love will keep your mind from lack of fulfillment and also keeps you relaxed from being overwhelmed with the business of the day.
While most people think that little less sleep will make you tired and will not keep you fresh through the day. On the contrary, raising early and doing something you love will keep you rejuvenated. The feeling of fulfillment more than makes up for your lack of sleep.
8. Mind your own business
Managing our own issues and tensions itself is mind boggling. There is no need to put our nose in the issues that are not relevant to us and does not add any value to us. Stop worrying about what others think of you. Don’t get annoyed and frustrated with the things that are not in your control. This does not mean that you should not help others. It only means that don’t have curiosity in what is happening to others. Don’t eavesdrop, gossip, carry information about others and chit chats.
Praise yourself when you restraint yourself from getting involved into things which you are not supposed to as this will definitely keep your mind and time free from getting occupied with unnecessary things. While there can be many other factors which will be resulting in being doubly productive, I tried to list down some simple and easy factors which we can start practicing immediately and improve upon.
Do share with us the factors in addition to the above which had helped you to improve your productivity.
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