The work-life balance is a constant struggle for many people. It’s not always easy to find productivity hacks and life hacks in the midst of work. Even when we’re able to carve out a few minutes, it can be hard to figure out what we should focus on.
We have all been there at one time or another. You’re an accountant deep in tax season, a junior doctor in residency, or an entrepreneur juggling a startup and an actual baby. Many of us go through seasons of life when we have very little personal time. Others may be committed to jobs that regularly involve intense and long hours, creating a long-term lack of rest.
While this kind of overwork is not ideal, there are undoubtedly situations in which it becomes a necessity or makes personal sense. I’ve certainly done it for periods of my life, for instance, in the lead-up to exams or to put final polishes on my article.
The COVID-19 pandemic is also having an impact on productivity. Many individuals have found that dealing with working remotely and coping with the COVID pandemic has been a difficult task.
In this article, we will define what productivity is, how to measure them, and how to increase productivity.
What is Productivity?
Productivity means different things to different people and in different contexts, but it essentially refers to how efficient an individual or organization is at using the available resources. If you increase your productivity, you will get more done in less time; similarly, if you decrease your productivity, it will take longer for a task to be completed.
Basically, it measures how well your work is being performed and the productivity of a company or individual can have far-reaching consequences for success in life, be it financial or otherwise. People with high productivity are more likely to achieve their goals faster than those who struggle with productivity issues.
What Productivity Is Not
When you think of someone who is productive in your life, you may immediately picture a person who is constantly busy. This individual is constantly going from one activity to the next, pushing deadlines and seemingly being buried under a mountain of responsibilities every day. We frequently make the error of equating being busy with being productive, but they aren’t synonymous.
When you’re working toward the genuine meaning of productivity, you won’t be trying to meet deadlines or keep up with everything you need to accomplish each day, week, month, or year. It’s rather the opposite; you’ll almost certainly be ahead of schedule.
The bottom line is that we all have 24 hours in a day; the ability to make the most of them and develop long-term achievements and fulfillment rather than pursuing an endless list of tasks. In other words, work smarter, not harder.
How To Measure Productivity At Work
In a workplace context, productivity could be defined as the amount of work (or output) that an employee produces during their shift (their input). So put simply, the productivity of a baker could be measured by how many items they bake during their shift.
When measuring productivity, it’s important to look not just at how many items are produced but also at the quality. So if that baker only produces half of what they normally do during their shift because they made some mistakes or had a bad day, then you shouldn’t count those products as output and deduct them from their input (the number of hours worked).
The best approach is to use time and motion studies: Track how long an employee works on one task (input), then measure how much work is completed in that timeframe (output). You can either directly clock employees via video observation or by recording device usage such as keystrokes. For example, you could track whether someone was idle for more than 30 minutes after completing a task or you can track how many keystrokes an employee makes in a minute.
For instance, if an office worker spends 20 minutes on one task and completes four tasks within that timeframe, then he is as productive as someone who does five tasks for the same amount of time (20/25=0.80). If there are eight hours left to go in the workday, this person has completed 80 percent of their day’s work with two hours remaining – which means they have a lot more capacity available than a colleague who only manages 50 percent productivity during those first eight hours.
In general, it’s best to focus on employees completing high-quality output during all of their working hours rather than trying to incentivize employees to complete a certain number of tasks within any given timeframe.
A good way to measure productivity is through “objective task completion” – that is, what percentage of assigned workload employees have actually finished. It often makes sense to set up key performance indicators for this metric, as doing so can help managers gauge whether or not they are seeing improvement over time and identify obstacles in the process.
Some companies also try using subjective metrics such as surveys asking how many hours per day each employee spends on high-value work rather than low-value distractions like social media – but it can be difficult to gain accurate insights from those kinds of measures unless problems with engagement or satisfaction manifest themselves clearly in other ways first (such as through missed deadlines or low morale).
How To Measure Productivity At Home
The same principles apply at home. If you are trying to increase your own productivity, it’s important that you first understand how much time you spend on various tasks and activities – even if they make you feel good or seem worthwhile in the moment. Track them carefully for a week (you can use an app like Toggl) and then review what categories of work absorb most of your day: Are those tasks accomplishing as much as possible?
How To Measure Productivity In School
In school, measuring your productivity might be a little more difficult. After all, there are so many different types of tasks you have to complete each day that it would take forever just to list them!
The best way is to measure school productivity by how much you do in a given day and how well you did it. For example, if your goal is to read 20 pages each night for homework but only end up reading 15 – then the next time around try harder to achieve that initial target of 20.
How Can You Be More Productive
It’s not as difficult as it may seem.
The first step is to recognize that productivity doesn’t equal work; productivity equals results, and working more hours certainly won’t make you more productive if those extra hours don’t produce better results than your current habits do.
Here are 10 productivity-boosting ideas:
- Eliminate as many distractions as you possibly can. Turn off your phone, close the door to your office, and shut down Facebook or Twitter so that nothing will distract you from whatever task it is that’s occupying all of those hours in a day.
- Set a specific time limit for all tasks. Set a timer and stop work when it goes off, even if you’re in the middle of something important or interested in what you’re doing. – Take breaks to stretch your legs or get outside into some fresh air.
- Change your environment from sedentary to active as frequently as possible by going on short walks around the block during lunch hour, taking trips up and down stairs instead of using elevators, etc.
- Limit meeting time. Meetings can be a productivity killer if they go over the allotted time. Before scheduling any meeting, set an endpoint and stick to it no matter what.
- Limit multitasking. Multitasking is one of those things that seems great on paper but rarely works out in practice. Instead, try giving each task your full attention for as long as it requires. This will help you to get the task done much quicker and more effectively than if you were trying to complete multiple tasks simultaneously.
- Record what’s working. It’s important that business leaders understand how their team members are spending time during work hours, so they can identify areas where productivity is lacking and find ways to improve them.
- Tackle one task at a time. Tackle what’s most important first, then move on to the next priority.
- Be proactive in communication. Business leaders should aim for open communication between themselves and their employees with technology like Slack or Skype making it easier than ever before.
- Set goals individually and as teams so everyone is clear about expectations. Too many unmet deadlines can lead to frustration among workers which results in lower productivity levels overall. Set realistic deadlines where possible – sometimes this might mean extending them gradually over several days rather than trying to fit everything into just 24 hours! It will help keep team members motivated and happy if you treat them with respect, listen to what they have to say, and give credit when it’s due.
- Keep track of your progress by measuring productivity levels regularly (perhaps once per week). Make sure those numbers are included in monthly reports along with information on any obstacles you’ve overcome together as a team. If there aren’t enough hours in the day to include this into other reports, then it makes sense to produce a separate one.
There are no one-size-fits-all productivity solutions. You need to find what works best for you and your business. Knowing the priority of your tasks will help you to focus on what is the most important, which will help increase productivity.
And, remember to measure your activity, and make good use of the data you collect to identify bottlenecks. Once you’ve identified what’s preventing you from performing at your best, get rid of the obstacle and you’ll be able to increase your productivity.
We hope that this article was useful in understanding what productivity is and how to improve it. Please let us know if you have any more suggestions, and please email them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org