Being productive is one of those self-evidently good ideas. Let’s face it, who wants to be unproductive? And yet for all that, most of us have never taken time out to work on our productivity skills. Time can sometimes seem to flow away effortlessly and yet we may not be achieving those key tasks that we really need to get done.
Productivity is not a mythical skillset, though. It is the application of logic to the tasks that all of us do on a daily basis. It is essentially the act of measuring what we do in our everyday lives and then working on methods to make them faster, smoother or better and more in alignment with long–term goals, rather than short-term impulses.
For example, if you find yourself making ten cups of coffee in a day (guilty as charged) then productivity may be enhanced by figuring out how to make those cups of coffee quicker. If each cup of coffee takes you eight minutes to make, after you have gone downstairs, switched on the kettle and then waited around staring blankly at the ceiling, then that could be a very real drain on your time.
You could literally be spending over an hour every day making coffee!
If that describes you then developing productivity skills to make that coffee in five minutes could save you 30 minutes a day.
The twist in the productivity tail though is that you may not want to cut your coffee break time. Those eight minutes may actually be time you consider rest and renewal so it may be time well spent. So you need to make an honest assessment of the things you do and really gauge their value to you.
There are probably plenty of activities that suck up your time, but which offer nothing in return.
For example, how much time do you spend on checking email? If you cut back a little then would it really ruin your social life? Would clients really run for the hills if you only responded to their emails once a day? Maybe, but in truth, probably not, and you may then have a chance to do some work for them, rather than hopping from one crisis email to the next.
The point is that productivity skills really are the stuff of everyday life, and that you need to become actively conscious of how you are spending your time and the methods that you employ to get things done.
Sometimes the biggest productivity skills are actually developed when you realize that doing a task that you could pay others to do for you is a better use of your resources. If you can’t cook then it makes little sense (unless you fancy learning), to spend hours every day trying to learn a skill that you are poor at and don’t enjoy. Instead you may be better off getting a takeaway and doing something more useful with the time.
Productivity skills then are developed when you take a long hard look at your particular circumstances and start to draw firm conclusions about things that you can do differently. It is in those moments of clarity that you can identify areas where you can improve and really grow as a person. It is more fun to be productive and achieve more, rather than feeling like you are spinning your wheels getting nothing done and not really fulfilling your potential.
Make an honest assessment of where you stand in terms of your overall productivity and where you spend your time. It will reward you with all kinds of insights into time wasters you could eliminate and expand your consciousness about how little time you spend on the really productive activities.
If the two are oddly out of balance then now is a good time to change direction and spend more time on the life enrichers, rather than the time suckers.