The context of productivity has gone through a world of change in the last decade. Companies were following the traditional manufacturing thought process of measuring resource output against hours. That’s the productivity formula anyway. Today productivity means a lot more than just more done output per resource. Productivity has evolved into the more holistic concept with the focus on collaboration, process innovation, and business outcomes.

According to a research by Global O.C. Tanner, leaders are looking for people who are less concerned about being perfect, and more concerned about improving outcomes. (Forbes)

In essence, productivity can no longer be forced onto employees as a performance metric. It pays to help them look at productivity as a habit. In this article, I will highlight aspects that can help teams build that state of mind

Plan your day, week and month

One of the most common productivity killers is the lack of visibility for teams on scheduled tasks and clear deadlines. The more unstructured the schedule is, the higher the risk of lapses in timelines and quality. The onus lies on both the manager and the team member to ensure that the time estimation is done properly and tasks are being scheduled diligently. When a team member starts his/her day with a planned set of tasks, they have a clear goal in mind. If you extrapolate this kind of structure across the team over weeks and months, you are enabling a highly productive work environment.

Respect your time and other’s time

The possibilities of what one could do with their time are infinite, but time itself is finite. Organizations lose a significant amount of productivity in poorly planned meetings and conference calls.

This stems from a lack of respect for one’s own time and other’s time. Some of the most common problems with regard to meetings are people showing up late, not showing up at all, showing up unprepared or showing up and not contributing. These lead to huge chunks of time being wasted with little or no outcomes. The fundamental issue is a lack of seriousness about time. A part of the solution lies in building a sound organizational culture but the responsibility clearly lies with the individual. One has to develop a certain level of awareness and respect of their own and other’s time. In the long run, these principles become a part of the personality and reputation.

Get time on your side

I have had the privilege of working with some people who have mastered the art of having time on their side. They get in at 7 am every single day without fail, after an early morning workout. They have a well-planned to-do list for the day and they get right to it once they reach work. They have specific break timings and prefer working lunches on most days. They know when to say no and are obsessed about delivering on time. They power through their to-do list and have enough time left after work hours, to dedicate to their families. Yes, it may sound impossible but it is just a matter of planning and having the focus and discipline.

Use technology to your advantage

Technology has had a huge impact on the way organizations go about measuring and optimizing productivity. With the kind of tools available today, teams ideally should be able to track down every minute of their workday and the insights generated from these platforms should enable organizations to drive consistent productivity improvement. The reality is far from ideal though. U.S. government data suggests overall labor productivity has only grown by 1-2% per year during the tech boom (Source: Forbes). People are quick to blame this poor showing on inadequate or complex technology but that’s not fair. It is important to use technology as an enabler of the right strategy, planning, adoption and leverage to make an impact on productivity and other key business metrics. I am always amazed by how the manufacturing industry has leveraged the right mix of process excellence and technology to continuously improve productivity.

Your happiness holds the key to your productivity

A healthy body and a healthy mind go a long way in building a successful career. A research study by economists at the University of Warwick found that happiness led to a 12% spike in productivity, while unhappy workers proved 10% less productive (Source: A positive frame of mind helps get you through the tough situations and heavy workloads. Being able to see the Brightside helps you stay focused on the outcomes and get past the day to day challenges at the workplace. Practicing mindfulness helps to improve interpersonal relationships, concentration and keeps the stress at bay

Keep distractions at bay

A cross-platform media study found that more than 90% of adult Americans spend 15-18 hours/month on the site (Source: That’s just Facebook; if you take into account the whole range of apps and gadgets, it’s scary how distracted people are. I recently came to know that there is a syndrome called nomophobia – the fear of being without a mobile device, or beyond mobile phone contact. On the office floor, this kind of addiction to mobile devices, apps, and social networks can lead to a time management disaster. It’s time for people to recognize the evil and address the issue at hand. Many organizations have started imposing curbs on time spent on social networks and mobile apps. Employees also need to be conscious about the downside of distraction and do their part towards building a productive work atmosphere.

At the end of the day we can blame the sun, the moon and the stars for our nose-diving productivity but let’s be honest and call the spade a spade. We are completely responsible for how we use our time and have the ability to control the factors that prevent us from being productive. It’s time we take back the control of our time and make the most of it. Let me close with a quote I see as most apt for our generation and the new.

Time is what we want most, but what we use worst.

William Penn
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