How to Improve Your Work Productivity

by Guest Contributor on May 18, 2011

Productivity: Using the Personal Kanban to Play with Project Decomposition
Guest post by Laura Stack

Did you think that this year, you would improve on some old work habits? It’s May now, and you should reexamine those habits to be sure you are being productive.

Are you Measuring your Results?

Without no-nonsense measurement, it is very difficult to gauge your success or failure. It’s hard to improve what you can’t measure. How would you know if you’ve succeeded? This is particularly true when it comes to tweaking or creating processes.

Keep track of the changes you make and evaluate how they have improved productivity. Did you make the process faster? Involve fewer people? Did the quality of the work improve?

These are the questions you’ll want to ask whenever you change something that has been in place for any period of time.

Enjoy the Risks.

Try something different. Especially when it comes to projects that are very large or very critical, people can get uneasy about changing a process. After all, there is a lot at stake and the old way has never failed before.

The result can be a complicated process that has grown into something more difficult and stressful than it needs to be. Don’t be afraid to take a risk and challenge the old way of doing things. It may be more stressful this time around, but you just might work your way towards a new system that will save tons of time and aggravation later on.

It’s Ok to Have Structure.

Many of us have jobs that are so process-heavy we forget that having a defined procedure in place is, in the best of circumstances, a really good thing. Make sure that when you are dealing with a task or an assignment that needs to be done on a recurring basis, you find a way to put a system in place. When working in a group, it is important to make sure that everyone is on the same page in terms of who is responsible for what – and when.

A checklist can be a great asset. Simply list everything that needs to be accomplished and who is responsible for doing it. If your process stalls, you should have no problem figuring out where the problem is.

You Can Challenge the Status Quo.

Does it have to be done like this? You might not be particularly fond of it yourself. But that’s no reason to stay stuck in an unproductive rut.

All too often, we resign ourselves to the fact that it’s “good enough” and get hung up on a really mediocre way of doing something. Is there a recurring meeting at work that makes everyone groan and hasn’t been worth the hour that it eats up for as long as you can remember? Maybe it is time to reconsider the way that time is spent.

If you have any say in how the meeting is run, perhaps your group’s resolution should be to get the thing back on target. Or maybe it’s simply time to get rid of the meeting altogether and give everyone involved a little extra time in their day.

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Image: orcmid via Flickr, Creative Commons

Laura Stack is a w2wlink expert, a professional speaker and the president of The Productivity Pro, Inc. She’s the bestselling author of Leave the Office Earlier (Broadway Books, 2004), Find More Time (Broadway Books, 2006) and The Exhaustion Cure: Up Your Energy from LOW to GO in 21 Days (Broadway Books, 2008). Laura presents keynotes and seminars on time management, information overload and personal productivity. She is also the spokesperson for Day-Timer (R) International. For more information, visit www.TheProductivityPro.com.


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