The idea of writing this blog on how to be productive actually came from a personal experience. A couple of days back my children were watching Spiderman on television. An intense scene between the young Peter Parker and his Uncle Ben caught my attention. His Uncle, trying to reason with young Parker tells him ”With great power comes great responsibility.” I stopped for a while and reflected on what was being said. Are we aware of our power and the responsibilities that come with it? It made me question if I as a bank CEO was making the best use of my power – not just professionally but also personally?
So, I started to notice the way things were being done around me – at home as well as at work. Though there’s not much to complain about my team, but I couldn’t stop noticing how at times my team misses the thin line in being productive and simply getting the job done. We all have 24 hours a day, and yet some of us manage to get work done more efficiently than others, they have the astonishing ability to juggle time and commitments and even seem to be able to make time for themselves. The secret to this is the manner in which they carry out their tasks – what I term as productive ability. So let me share my idea of the five ways in which one can keep himself productive.
The ‘Present’ is a gift. So don’t be careless about it.
In my experience I have often come across people who take time very casually. They make decisions without much thinking, make mistakes and do the same things over and over again. And then they wonder what went wrong? Productivity demands introspection – thought provoking introspection. Introspection of the day, the self, what went right, what didn’t, why it didn’t and so on. The idea of introspecting is not to identify the faults – but to avoid repeating them.
Reviewing each day’s work also helps one in planning ahead and being prepared for tomorrow. It actually takes up only a few minutes of the day but can go a long way in making each day more eventful and meaningful. Personally, I schedule ten minutes before bed time to plan my next day. I set the priorities, the challenges, the not-so-important tasks and so on.
Value your decisions. Learn to be Specific and say No.
Goal setting and achieving it – since that’s how productivity is best measured – is all the more effective if specific. What we call S.M.A.R.T. goals – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time Based goals. You can’t be productive if your goal is as vague as “Have new customers for Diamond Y’ello Account.” Your goals must be SMART as to say “Have 5000 new customers for Diamond Y’ello Account by end of January 2016.” This helps not only in knowing what you want to achieve, but keeps you motivated till you get there.
This means that if you want to be productive you need to value your decisions and learn to say ‘No’ to certain requests. You have only 24 hours and there’s no way you can get everything done if you commit to everything. So be choosey in what you are committing to. Yes, you will be displeasing some people when you say ‘no’, but believe me, you will be pleasing a lot many more people, when you are able to deliver what you have committed to.
Build Your Team and start Delegating responsibilities
Teams collaborate and create. As a bank CEO it is practically impossible for me to attend on every call, make every decision, look into every matter – for that I have my carefully selected team. A team I can trust and delegate responsibilities to.
There is of course the question of how team work improves productivity. Teamwork, in my opinion, is like splitting a big task into numerous parts or chunks, with each person responsible for perfecting his part and aligning it to the overall goal. So the real challenge is not getting the work done, but coordinating and getting the work done. No matter how overwhelming the task is, if it is divided into pieces with each team player giving his/her 100% to the task, in my experience it has only resulted in perfection. As Henry Royce had said, “Small things make perfection, but perfection is no small thing.” Teamwork and delegating responsibilities are the small things that will improve one’s productivity and in turn lead to perfection.
Make use of Technology and treat it as a Friend.
Innovation in technology is supposed to quicken the way things are being done. Productivity begins with being able to identify which technology you can benefit and leverage from. So why not make the best use of it? Today we have software and apps that make things easier for us – I can easily think of a couple of apps I live by! The idea of technology is not to make us dumber but smarter. Remember, technology has been invented by a human mind – to be used by a human mind.
So when I say ‘relying’ on technology, it simply means identifying technologies that will give impetus our speed. For instance, do I really need to do the math when an excel can do it for me? Or do I really have to visit the travel agent for details on hotels/vacation when Expedia can do it for me? So don’t think of technology as a distraction. Use it wisely and let it bring about productivity by being your friend.
24 hours! Where do You and Your Family fit in?
This is a vital question for everyone. Productivity does not only mean being good at your job. It means making time out for the things that are important. I believe that taking care of one self and spending time with family is a top priority for everyone. Productivity after all is a combination of mental agility and personal well-being. So don’t give up on either.
Make a schedule and add to it things that you enjoy or is important for your health and well-being. Keep an hour aside for reading, exercising, taking a nature walk, meditating, playing with your kids, talking with your wife and so on. So, if you haven’t been able to focus on yourself till now – there’s no better time for starting than today!
I believe that doing nothing at times is often more productive than trying to do something. If you don’t want to do something right now – don’t do it. It doesn’t mean that you ignore the important tasks or avoid “eating the frogs” but sometimes it’s fine to delay something. Not everything is as urgent as is made to sound. After all, if you can’t put your heart and mind to something at the moment, how productive do you think you can be? Take a break, and be productive otherwise.