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How To Improve Personal Productivity

Rabi Gunaratnam16 December 2012

How To Improve Personal Productivity

Productivity is affected by factors such as poor systems, lack of organisation, procrastinating and lack of discipline. The result is that we fail to keep our commitments, work long hours and take work home. Although it feels good to be busy, it is a lot better to be productive. The following tips will be of help in becoming a productive person.

Make Every Day Productive

Every day is an opportunity to get today’s things done, to clear the backlog and to catch up on missed commitments. That is why it is important to plan to make the best use of every available moment. The recommended steps are:

1.Start by identifying your business and personal goals. Knowing these will help identify your priorities. Our list of to-do’s gets focussed and a lot shorter when we know our work related and personal goals.

2.List all the things you need to do and the appointments that you have on. We call this a ‘brain dump’. Once we do this, we create capacity in our brains and have in front of us a list that we can work on. Give each item on your list a priority – High (H), Medium (M) or Low priority (L) based on how they relate to your goals. Eliminate the low priority items. Activities which are related to our goals have the highest priority.

3.Develop a weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual plan for events, meetings, holidays, special marketing activity, etc.

4.Plan your day, every day and do only the things that have an ‘H’. If you have time left do the ‘M’s’.

5.Load share or delegate as much as you can, especially the ‘M’s’. Dump the ‘L’s’.

6.Overcome procrastination by breaking down the task into sub-tasks and starting on the sub-tasks you enjoy doing. Before long you would have got so absorbed that you would most likely have completed all your sub-tasks.

7.Make use of every minute of your day whether you are driving, standing in a queue or sitting at your desk to complete tasks.

8.Keep your meetings short and focussed on the agenda.

9.Evaluate your day and apply the learning tomorrow.

Eliminate Desk Clutter

The time spent looking for things on a messy desk can be better used on urgent & important stuff.

Spend a little time planning out a good filing and information retrieval system. When we do not have a system of filing and putting away things, desks get messy.

Handle everything only once. If possible respond immediately to mail or file it. You can have folders such as “Urgent & Important”, “Urgent & Unimportant”, “Not Urgent but Important” and “Not Urgent Nor Important (this is usually the round file)”. File all completed correspondence immediately.

Have a place to put your ‘To Be Paid’ bills in chronological order. You can purchase document/bill holders, pen holders and organisers at any office supplies store.

A neat desk does indicate an organised person.

Minimise Interruptions

We are interrupted by the arrival of every email and SMS. This is something we can do without.

Turn these alerts off. Turn your Mobile to silent. Allocate slots of time to read and respond to emails and SMS’. In other words, plan to get to your emails/SMS’ and don’t let the emails/SMS’ get to you.

Put your emails in folders (electronic) just like the paper stuff. Some recommend that you have your inbox almost empty all the time.

Identify other common sources of interruptions and have an action plan to deal with these. An example of an action plan is to meet with the person who interrupts you most, explain how this affects your productivity and have pre-assigned times to meet with this person.

There are several techniques to deal with other forms of interruptions and we advise you to seek help should this be a major issue for you.

Leave Work At Work

If you list everything, plan the day and work through your tasks in a disciplined way you will minimise the need to take work home. Schedule all the things that did not get done into your next day plan. Thus your mind will be at peace and you can leave work to relax with family and friends.

You may think that stewing over work problems on your own time demonstrates your commitment to the job. Sorry to say, it just means that you are disorganised. If your boss thinks you are great for doing this, he too needs to read this article.

Taking work home can actually affect your workplace performance. An inability to leave work behind can cause trouble sleeping, generate stress and resentment, and damage relationships – all of which put your productivity at risk.

If you are experiencing difficulty in any of the above mentioned areas, schedule into your Daily Plan a meeting with us. Get organised and regain your freedom.

Rabi Gunaratnam is a business coach, trainer and consultant to small and medium sized businesses. He has used his 35 years of business experience to help grow and develop businesses for the past ten years. Rabi can be contacted on and +61407956223. 

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