5 simple steps for improving productivity

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I’m going to give you a simple checklist for improving productivity. To use it, first make a list of everything you do in your work day. Do this over the course of a week so you don’t leave anything out.

Include everything: seeing clients, paperwork, calls, meetings, administrative. Include your commute and errands. Also include things you do during work hours that aren’t work related (e.g., playing games on your phone, coffee breaks, watching videos, etc.)

Once you have your list, go through every item. Look at the checklist and make notes. For best results, go through the list several times.

CHECKLIST FOR IMPROVING PRODUCTIVITY

1. Eliminate. Ruthlessly purge anything that is unnecessary or does not contribute enough value to continue doing. Peter Drucker wisely said, “There is nothing less productive than to make more efficient what should not be done at all.”

2. Delegate. Just because something must be done doesn’t mean you are the one who must do it. Assign these tasks someone in house or outsource them, so that you can do, “only those things that only you can do.”

3. Do it less. What could you do less frequently? If you do something daily, could you do it once a week? Once a month? What can you consolidate with other tasks? For example, can you do some of your reading or dictation during your commute?

4. Do it faster. What could you do in shorter chunks of time? If you routinely take an hour to do something, find ways to do it in 30 or 45 minutes. How? Eliminate or delegate parts, use forms and checklists, improve your skills, or get help (i.e., do it with a partner).

5. Do it later. Are you doing anything during prime time you could do after hours? What can you do when your energy is lower? Which tasks are routine or low priority and don’t require your full attention?

Improving productivity means improving effectiveness (doing the right things) and efficiency (doing things right). 80% of your improvement will come from steps 1 and 2 which focus on effectiveness. Eliminating and delegating things that don’t need to be done or could be done by someone else frees you up to do more high value tasks. The remaining steps will help you become more efficient at everything else.

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