WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT PRODUCTIVITY

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Productivity is critical to success. The word productive is derived from the word produce. To be productive is to have the ability to produce results using the least amount of resources. These resources may be financial, time, or otherwise.

When you are productive, you produce optimal output using less input. Productivity and economics have one thing common; they all employ the least resources to achieve more output.

All successful people value productivity. All successful businesses and governments prioritize productivity. This makes productivity a universal law of success. For you to be successful in any endeavor, you have to find a way of using your resources productively.

Productivity seeks to eliminate wastage. Resources are scarce, everybody is competing for them. This scarcity calls for austerity in their use.

The money will always be scarce for most people. There are so many needs to be met and yet there is not enough to meet them. Time is the scarcest resource on earth since it is fixed. You cannot get more for yourself.

All other factors of production are also scarce. Skills are scarce. The land is also very scarce. Many individuals and institutions do not have all they would want to have in their pursuit of the various goals that they have. They have to allocate the little they have prudently and avoid wastage.

Time is the scarcest resource on earth since it is fixed. You cannot get more for yourself.

Productivity entails two main concepts

1.  Effectiveness

Effectiveness entails doing the right thing. You will never be productive doing the wrong thing. No matter how hard you work in the wrong thing, you can never get the required results.

EVERY goal requires a set of consistent actions to achieve. If you adopt the wrong action, it cannot lead you to the right goal. Actions are paths that lead us to our goals. If you follow the wrong path, you will never find yourself in the right destination.

If you adopt the wrong action, it cannot lead you to the right goal.

There are people who are very busy working hard on the wrong thing. They put so much effort that they get consumed in the activity. After years of hard work and no results, they realize that they were doing the wrong activity. Even businesses sometimes employ the wrong strategy. They put in the resources and the time to back the strategy and it ends up not helping the business.

Therefore, you cannot claim to be productive if you are not effective. You need to identify the right path that will lead you to your goal. It is better to be average at the right thing than work hard in the wrong one. When you lack effectiveness, your effort is lost.

It is better to be average at the right thing than work hard in the wrong one.

2.  Efficiency

Efficiency is simply defined as doing things right. Effectiveness and efficiency are used interchangeably by many people but they are different. Effectiveness is doing the right things while efficiency is doing things right.

Efficiency calls for prudent use of resources. For example; if the government identifies poor road infrastructure as the major cause of economic downturn and decides to fix it, they are effective (The have identified the right thing to do). When they start fixing the infrastructure, we then ask whether they are using our resources prudently. This is a question of efficiency (Doing the right thing the right way).

Effectiveness is doing the right things while efficiency is doing things right.

Efficiency seeks to channel resources where they are most needed and avoid wastage in their exploitation.

If you want to achieve that goal, you must be effective and efficient. If you are effective and not efficient, you don’t get optimal results. On the other hand, If you are efficient and not effective, it is a total waste of time. As an individual, you need to allocate your time and money in the most efficient way.

The first step is to identify what set of actions should be undertaken to achieve the goal. Different actions lead to different results. We then need to weigh these actions and rank them in order of IMPORTANCE and URGENCY.

There will be actions that are important but not urgent, those that are urgent but not important, those that are urgent and important, and those that are neither urgent nor important.

Actions that are neither important nor urgent should be trashed. They do not add any value to the goal. Actions that are urgent but not important should be done during your free time or when you are tired of working on important tasks.

Actions that are important and urgent should be given the first priority. Those that are important and not urgent can wait but they must be done. The fact that they are important means that they cannot be ignored. The secret is to focus on those things that are important.

Let us quickly discuss some of the most important resources that you should allocate effectively.

A.  Time

Time is a FIXED resource. Consequently, Time wasted cannot be recovered. In this life, we are all racing against time. You have to accomplish that which you want to accomplish before your time is up.

When the bell rings, you have to leave the field with what you have already harvested. In this regard, you would rather waste money than time. You can always make more money after wasting some but you cannot make more time after a wastage. It is a fixed resource and it should be treated as so.

You would rather waste money than time. You can always make more money after wasting some but you cannot make more time after a wastage

The most successful people are good time managers. They cannot afford to waste this precious resource. Such are always working day and night to achieve their goals. They feel that 24 hours are not enough to achieve their ambitious goals and feel they would need more time. As we discussed earlier, they employ people and pay them to give them their time.

The 80/20 RULE tells us that 80% of our results come from 20% of our activities. This means that you have to identify these activities that bring you the highest value and do them 80% of your time. This is proper time management

Keys to time management

Have a To-do list

If you do not know what to do at what particular time, you will most probably find yourself getting lazy. You will most probably engage in an activity that does not add value to your life. If you meet a friend who has not planned what she will do tomorrow, it is very easy to convince her to accompany you to a party. The vice versa is true.

The remedy is to have a program for the next day before you sleep. You do not have to write it down, you can just know it in your mind. This will prevent CONFUSION in the morning because you already know what to do. This confusion causes people to waste time.

Time wastage is a key enemy of productivity.

Use other people’s time

You do not have to manage your own time, you can manage OTHER PEOPLE’S time. This is also time management. You can buy other people’s time and use it to work on your goals through them. We discussed this in the previous chapter. You do this by hiring people to work on your goals. You have trade your money for their time.

Avoid distraction

Distraction is a major cause of time unproductivity. When you are trying to work and someone else is giving you stories, you end up losing concentration. When you try to do something serious and you are online on social media at the same time, your ATTENTION is divided.

The solution is to keep off people and gadgets that distract you during your working hours. Switch off your data when working. You can also do your most important activities at night when people are asleep.

Avoid working and watching television. Avoid working and listening to music. Your concentration will drop drastically is you allow yourself to be distracted. Lack of concentration is a form of poor time management.

Take effective breaks

There are several action techniques (52/17 Rule and Pomorodo Technique) that we talked about in the third chapter that helps us to be productive as we take action. The techniques suggest that we have effective breaks in between work so that we increase our productivity.

The 52/17 rule suggests that we work for 52 minutes without distraction and then take 17 minutes effective break. The Pomorodo Technique suggested that we work for 25 minutes and then have a break of 5-8 minutes so as to regain our concentration. You do not have to use any of these but you have to ensure that you are taking breaks in between your work to boost your productivity.

B. Money

Money should be managed prudently if we are to achieve our goals. Almost all goals require some level of financial resource allocation. You may opt to go to the gym to lose weight, you will have to part with some money for the gym membership fee. Parenting goals, business goals, health goals, spiritual goals, marital goals, career goals, investment goals, etc. may require finances to achieve.

In this sub-topic, we are not talking about making money but allocating money. Make sure you reduce your expenses to make sure that you have the maximum amount you can have to invest in your goal. Identify those areas of priority that need finances desperately.

Invest finances in the activity where you get the highest return on investment (ROI). If you overspend on an activity that does not add value to your goal, you will starve useful activities of the much-needed cash for growth.

To a parent, paying for a child’s tuition is more important than taking the child to the zoo. Advertising your business is more important than CSR to your business. This priority of activities should be taken into account when we are allocating money for growth. Allocate money in those activities that have high potential returns.

If you need to have success, you need to be productive in your use of resources because all resources are scarce. Management has a lot to do with the allocation of resources. A good manager allocates resources productively without wastage. If you are to manage your life and endeavors well, you will need to be productive.

You can resolve today never to waste time on activities that do not take you closer to your vision. Identify what adds value to your life and concentrate on it. Excessive television, social media, and conversation only devalue you. Reading, networking, and working on your dreams are all valuable activities that will yield high returns. You can decide never to overspend on things that you do not need.

You need to be frugal so that you can save more money to allocate to your dreams. Always live below your means. Do not buy things just to compete with your friends or because it is in fashion. Do not purchase what you want but rather what you need. You owe it to yourself. This is what productivity is about.

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