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Increase Productivity

- Craig Copeland.

Increase Productivity

One of the best ways to increase productivity in anything you do even before organizing your projects is to get it out of your head, and put it somewhere you can see it every day. This cannot be on a device you turn on or off every day such as a computer or smartphone.

I was assisting a producer whose default habit is to work like she’s always in a tornado. Whenever I come to her office paperwork is scattered about the desk and office (her husband is actually worse), she keeps the majority of her tasks and project goals inside her head, and worst of all, she multi-tasks. 

Observing her is revealing. When typing a document and either the phone rings, a Skype message pops up, or an email comes through, she shifts her focus from whatever she’s doing to immediately attend to those things. Then returning to her work, you can almost hear the wheels turning as she struggles to remember what she was typing before the distraction.

With no clear focus, she’s always running late, always behind, and can’t seem to get the piles of paperwork to a manageable level. But she refuses to break this bad practice.

When teaching someone how to break these habits, at first they are very resistant to change. Partly it’s because they have been in charge for so long that they absolutely feel their way is the right way.

The excuse is typically, “I don’t have time to learn anything new.” Days are literally lost. Time is wasted. Productivity suffers.

The first objective towards changing this habit is to show how much time is really wasted using their current method of operation, and the how much more free time could be gained, if done smartly, which could devote more time to greater productivity or enjoying more of their personal life.

MULTITASKING

Many people will argue that they are good at multitasking, that they’re capable and actually thrive doing several things at once. Unfortunately, when multitasking, several things happen. Your brain has to shift from task to task, back and forth, and this creates a lag in productivity. Secondly, you cannot possibly devote enough time to perfect something when giving it only a minimal amount of effort.

PERCIEVED IMMEDIACY

When you have to drop a project you’re doing and attend to something else, you’re actually training your mind to work ineffectively, and these tiny distractions, when added up, can make your ultimate goal less attainable. Without realizing it, when you constantly shift your mind from one task to another, it takes valuable time to refocus, and you shift your creative energies away from the objective at hand.

Even something as seemingly simple as email or texting can fool you and make you a victim. When you take time away to answer an email, Skype, or text, most people aren’t conscious of how much time is actually wasted. So let’s break it down.

Email:

If you average twenty emails per day (and that’s being generously lite for most people), each email typically takes 1-2 minutes to read, and 3-4 minutes to respond. That comes to 2-hours just for email alone. Keeping in mind I was being very frugal for most business people on the amount of emails the average person answers every day.

Texting:

A text on average takes 10-20 seconds to read and 30 seconds to (think about) and reply. Most people these days receive an average of 50 or more seemingly tiny texts per day, as this is perceived to be a fast and economical way to respond. It is anything but economical. So now you’ve added almost an additional hour to your day wasted in responding to text messages. Added to the emails, that comes to 3-4 hours per day used just for correspondence.

There is a solution

One way to solve this dilemma of not having enough time is to ask yourself what the consequences are for doing a particular task? In other words, by doing something else what are the rewards or benefits? Will doing it move you closer to your goal? And does that task drive you closer to reaching your objective? When assigning a value to everything you do, you’re able to see if putting it on hold while you shift to something else is worthwhile.

The story of Ivy Lee

The president of a big steel company had granted an interview to an efficiency expert named Ivy Lee. Lee was telling his prospective client how he could help him do a better job of managing the company, when the president broke in to say something to the effect that he wasn't at present managing as well as he knew how. He went on to tell Ivy Lee that what was needed wasn't more knowing but a lot more doing. He said, "We know what we should be doing. Now if you can show us a better way of getting it done, I'll listen to you and pay you anything within reason you ask."

He then handed the executive a blank sheet of paper and said,

  1. "Write down on this paper the six most important things you have to do tomorrow."
  2. "Now number those items in the order of their importance to you or to the company."
  3. "Now put the paper in your pocket. And the first thing tomorrow morning take it out and look at item number one. Don't look at the others, just number one, and start working on it. And if you can, stay with it until it's completed. Then take item number two the same way, then number three, and so on, till you have to quit for the day. "Don't worry if you've only finished one or two; the others can wait. If you can't finish them all by this method, you could not have finished them with any other method. And without some system, you'd probably take 10 times as long to finish them and might not even have them in the order of their importance.”
  4. "Do this every working day."

The entire interview hadn't taken more than a half-hour. In a few weeks the story has it that the company president sent Ivy Lee a check for $25,000 with a letter saying the lesson was the most profitable, from a money standpoint, he'd ever learned in his life.

For the next seven days try the $25,000 idea in your life.

  • Tonight write down the six most important things you have to do.
  • Then number them in the order of their importance.
  • Tomorrow morning, go to work on number one. Stay with it till it's successfully completed, then move on to number two, and so on.
  • When you've finished with all six, get another piece of paper and repeat the process.

You'll be astonished and delighted at the order it brings into your life and at the rate of speed with which you'll be able to accomplish the things that need doing in the order of their importance. This simple but tremendously effective method will take all the confusion out of your life. You'll never find yourself running around in circles wondering what to do next.

The reason for writing down what you consider only the most important things to do is obvious. Handling each task during the day successfully is important to the degree of the importance of the tasks themselves. Doing a lot of unnecessary things successfully can be pretty much of a waste of time. Make certain that the tasks you take the time to do efficiently are important tasks, tasks that move you ahead steadily toward your goal.

Don’t worry about tomorrow or the next day or what's going to happen at the end of the month. To increase productivity, take things one day at a time, handled successfully, and it will carry you over every hurdle. It will solve every problem. You can relax in the happy knowledge that successful tasks make successful days, which in turn build a successful life. This is the kind of unassailable logic no one can argue with. It will work every time for every person.


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