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Race Against The Clock: 15 Time-Management Lessons Should Be Learnt In Our 20s

Race Against The Clock: 15 Time-Management Lessons Should Be Learnt In Our 20s

Time management means getting the right things done, not more things done. It’s about identifying the goals that are most important right now and the most efficient ways to accomplish those goals. Here are 15 lessons to accomplish more goals in your entry-level job.

1. You can’t possibly get everything done on your To-Do List, so stop trying.

It’s a tough reality to come to terms with but a necessary one, especially for professionals working in a fast-paced environment. By simply understanding that you can’t do it all, you’ll bypass unnecessary stress and be more equipped to check off the most important items from your list.

2. Learning how to prioritize is key.

When under the gun, workforce newbies need to learn how to identify which tasks directly contribute to fulfilling immediate corporate goals – like arranging a meeting with a prospect – and which ones – like organizing files – can be reserved for a less strenuous week.

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3. No two brains are alike.

People listen and hear things differently, which always leads to communication issues and misunderstandings, ultimately contributing to lost productivity. When given directives, repeat what you understand back to your boss to make sure that you are both on the same page. Also, try taking a workplace behavioral assessment – they work wonders for understanding different communication styles and how to approach them.

4. By knowing when to multitask, you minimize the risk of shotty work.

We’ve been taught that multi-tasking is a crucial soft skill. But the truth is working several complex projects simultaneously can have disastrous effects on the brain. Cognitive ability is best when spent on one task at a time. While it’s okay to multitask sometimes, many projects require your full attention. A good worker knows when it’s okay to take a phone call while finishing up an email, and when he needs to close himself off from the world to finish a proposal for a client.

5. Being a workaholic isn’t always a good thing.

Taking the time to step away from your work and relax can be the perfect medicine for an overloaded brain. When faced with a desk piled mile-high with paperwork or up against a difficult problem, sometimes it’s best (for your productivity levels and your sanity) to take a deep breath and come back to it with fresh eyes.

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6. More hours do not equal more productivity.

I’m sure you’ve heard all about the decline of the 9-5 worker. Companies have been embracing flexible work hours and remote work options to appeal to the millennial generation. Studies show that people work smarter and better when they’re judged on the outcomes of their projects rather than the time they spend doing them.

7. Coming to terms with your own limits makes you a pro.

Some people lack organizational skills and are bogged down at the end of the week by an office that appears to have encountered a tornado. Others are so detail-oriented that the bigger picture often escapes them. Whatever your limits are, figure them out soon and own them – not everyone’s perfect. What makes someone successful is how he or she responds and deals with inadequacies.

8. Inhale today’s potential and exhale yesterday’s failures.

You’ve heard the expression, “Don’t bring your emotions to work.” Well here it is again. Beating yourself up over a bad performance review or a fight with a friend will surely put a damper on your work ethic. I know it’s easier said than done, but try to view each new day as a new opportunity.

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9. There’s a reason why successful people always ask, “What’s the point?”

Great leaders don’t have time to take every meeting that comes their way or seize each and every opportunity. They achieve their goals by ensuring that everything they do is purposeful and results-oriented.

10. We deal better with hard deadlines.

Deadlines help keep us on track and organized. Assigning someone with an open-ended task always leads to chaos, missed communications, and frustrated tones in the office. People work best when they know exactly what they need to do and when it needs to get it done by.

11. Knowing your “peak hours” will enhance productivity.

Everyone works to a different tune. It’s important to become self aware by studying your own behavior to find out what times during the day you work best. Are you a night owl or an early bird? If you love watching the sunrise, arrange to work on strenuous projects in the a.m. and reserve easy stuff for later on.

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12. Delegating doesn’t make you lazy – it makes you efficient.

Young workers and die-hard perfectionists often shy away from delegating tasks to others. If your swamped with a project or you run into an issue that’s not within your jurisdiction, ask for help. Trying to be superman and accomplish everything will lead to mistakes and wasted time.

13. Procrastinating is ok…sometimes.

Everyone has parts of their job they absolutely hate. Whether it’s spreadsheets or public speaking, we all have one. Ease into your work by accomplishing the tasks you enjoy most first. By the time you get to those spreadsheets, you’ll be “in the zone” and more likely to crush those insufferable responsibilities.

14. Tracking your time is the best way to hold yourself accountable.

By logging the time you spend on certain projects throughout the day, you can see how your time is really being spent. People are always surprised by how often distractions and white noise get them off track.

15. There’s always a way.

If you don’t trust your social media addiction and are on a tight deadline, find an app that will hold you accountable. The Cold Turkey app, for example, blocks Internet access for a specified amount of time so you have no other choice but to get work done.

Featured photo credit: VFS Digital Design via flickr.com

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Last Updated on January 6, 2021

14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

Everyone has heard the term productivity, and people talk about it in terms of how high it is and how to improve it. But fewer know how to measure productivity, or even what exactly we are talking about when using the term “productivity.”

In its simplest form, the productivity formula looks like this: Output ÷ Input = Productivity.

For example, you have two salespeople each making 10 calls to customers per week. The first one averages 2 sales per week and the second one averages 3 sales per week. By plugging in the numbers we get the following productivity levels for each sales person.

For salesperson one, the output is 2 sales and the input is 10 sales: 2 ÷ 10 = .2 or 20% productivity. For salesperson two, the output is 3 sales and the input is 10 sales: 3 ÷ 10 = .3 or 30% productivity.

Knowing how to measure and interpret productivity is an invaluable asset for any manager or business owner in today’s world. As an example, in the above scenario, salesperson #1 is clearly not doing as well as salesperson #2.

Knowing this information we can now better determine what course of action to take with salesperson #1.

Some possible outcomes might be to require more in-house training for that salesperson, or to have them accompany the more productive salesperson to learn a better technique. It might be that salesperson #1 just isn’t suited for sales and would do a better job in a different position.

How to Measure Productivity With Management Techniques

Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to fine tune your business by minimizing costs and maximizing profits:

1. Identify Long and Short-Term Goals

Having a good understanding of what you (or your company’s) goals are is key to measuring productivity.

For example, if your company’s goal is to maximize market share, you’ll want to measure your team’s productivity by their ability to acquire new customers, not necessarily on actual sales made.

2. Break Down Goals Into Smaller Weekly Objectives

Your long-term goal might be to get 1,000 new customers in a year. That’s going to be 20 new customers per week. If you have 5 people on your team, then each one needs to bring in 4 new customers per week.

Now that you’ve broken it down, you can track each person’s productivity week-by-week just by plugging in the numbers:

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Productivity = number of new customers ÷ number of sales calls made

3. Create a System

Have you ever noticed that whenever you walk into a McDonald’s, the French fry machine is always to your left? 

This is because McDonald’s created a system. They have determined that the most efficient way to set up a kitchen is to always have the French fry machine on the left when you walk in.

You can do the same thing and just adapt it to your business.

Let’s say that you know that your most productive salespeople are making the most sales between the hours of 3 and 7 pm. If the other salespeople are working from 9 am to 4 pm, you can potentially increase productivity through something as simple as adjusting the workday.

Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to set up, monitor, and fine tune systems to maximize output.

4. Evaluate, Evaluate, Evaluate!

We’ve already touched on using these productivity numbers to evaluate and monitor your employees, but don’t forget to evaluate yourself using these same measurements.

If you have set up a system to track and measure employees’ performance, but you’re still not meeting goals, it may be time to look at your management style. After all, your management is a big part of the input side of our equation.

Are you more of a carrot or a stick type of manager? Maybe you can try being more of the opposite type to see if that changes productivity. Are you managing your employees as a group? Perhaps taking a more one-on-one approach would be a better way to utilize each individual’s strengths and weaknesses.

Just remember that you and your management style contribute directly to your employees’ productivity.

5. Use a Ratings Scale

Having clear and concise objectives for individual employees is a crucial part of any attempt to increase workplace productivity. Once you have set the goals or objectives, it’s important that your employees are given regular feedback regarding their progress.

Using a ratings scale is a good way to provide a standardized visual representation of progress. Using a scale of 1-5 or 1-10 is a good way to give clear and concise feedback on an individual basis.

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It’s also a good way to track long-term progress and growth in areas that need improvement.

6. Hire “Mystery Shoppers”

This is especially helpful in retail operations where customer service is critical. A mystery shopper can give feedback based on what a typical customer is likely to experience.

You can hire your own shopper, or there are firms that will provide them for you. No matter which route you choose, it’s important that the mystery shoppers have a standardized checklist for their evaluation.

You can request evaluations for your employees friendliness, how long it took to greet the shopper, employees’ knowledge of the products or services, and just about anything else that’s important to a retail operation.

7. Offer Feedback Forms

Using a feedback form is a great way to get direct input from existing customers. There are just a couple of things to keep in mind when using feedback forms.

First, keep the form short, 2-3 questions max with a space for any additional comments. Asking people to fill out a long form with lots of questions will significantly reduce the amount of information you receive.

Secondly, be aware that customers are much more likely to submit feedback forms when they are unhappy or have a complaint than when they are satisfied.

You can offset this tendency by asking everyone to take the survey at the end of their interaction. This will increase compliance and give you a broader range of customer experiences, which will help as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

8. Track Cost Effectiveness

This is a great metric to have, especially if your employees have some discretion over their budgets. You can track how much each person spends and how they spend it against their productivity.

Again, this one is easy to plug into the equation: Productivity = amount of money brought in ÷ amount of money spent.

Having this information is very useful in forecasting expenses and estimating budgets.

9. Use Self-Evaluations

Asking your staff to do self evaluations can be a win-win for everyone. Studies have shown that when employees feel that they are involved and their input is taken seriously, morale improves. And as we all know, high employee morale translates into higher productivity.

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Using self-evaluations is also a good way to make sure that the employees and employers goals are in alignment.

10. Monitor Time Management

This is the number one killer of productivity in the workplace. Time spent browsing the internet, playing games, checking email, and making personal calls all contribute to lower productivity[1].

Time Management Tips to Improve Productivity

    The trick is to limit these activities without becoming overbearing and affecting morale. Studies have shown that most people will adhere to rules that they feel are fair and applied to everyone equally.

    While ideally, we may think that none of these activities should be done on company time, employees will almost certainly have a different opinion. From a productivity standpoint, it is best to have policies and rules that are seen as fair to both sides as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

    11. Analyze New Customer Acquisition

    We’ve all heard the phrase that “It’s more expensive to get a new customer than it is to keep an existing one.” And while that is very true, in order for your business to keep growing, you will need to continually add new customers.

    Knowing how to measure productivity via new customer acquisition will make sure that your marketing dollars are being spent in the most efficient way possible. This is another metric that’s easy to plug into the formula: Productivity = number of new customers ÷ amount of money spent to acquire those customers.

    For example, if you run any kind of advertising campaign, you can compare results and base your future spending accordingly.

    Let’s say that your total advertising budget is $3,000. You put $2,000 into television ads, $700 into radio ads, and $300 into print ads. When you track the results, you find that your television ad produced 50 new customers, your radio ad produced 15 new customers, and your print ad produced 9 new customers.

    Let’s plug those numbers into our equation. Television produced 50 new customers at a cost of $2,000 (50 ÷ 2000 = .025, or a productivity rate of 2.5%). The radio ads produced 15 new customers and cost $700 (15 ÷ 700 = .022, or a 2.2% productivity rate). Print ads brought in 9 new customers and cost $300 (9 ÷ 300 = .03, or a 3% return on productivity).

    From this analysis, it is clear that you would be getting the biggest bang for your advertising dollar using print ads.

    12. Utilize Peer Feedback

    This is especially useful when people who work in teams or groups. While self-assessments can be very useful, the average person is notoriously bad at assessing their own abilities.

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    Just ask a room full of people how many consider themselves to be an above average driver and you’ll see 70% of the hands go up[2]! Now we clearly know that in reality about 25% of drivers are below average, 25% are above average, and 50% are average.

    Are all these people lying? No, they just don’t have an accurate assessment of their own abilities.

    It’s the same in the workplace. Using peer feedback will often provide a more accurate assessment of a person’s ability than a self-assessment would.

    13. Encourage Innovation and Don’t Penalize Failure

    When it comes to productivity, encouraging employee input and adopting their ideas can be a great way to boost productivity. Just make sure that any changes you adopt translate into higher productivity.

    Let’s say that someone comes to you requesting an entertainment budget so that they can take potential customers golfing or out to dinner. By utilizing simple productivity metrics, you can easily produce a cost benefit analysis and either expand the program to the rest of the sales team, or terminate it completely.

    Either way, you have gained valuable knowledge and boosted morale by including employees in the decision-making process.

    14. Use an External Evaluator

    Using an external evaluator is the pinnacle of objective evaluations. Firms that provide professional evaluations use highly trained personnel that even specialize in specific industries.

    They will design a complete analysis of your business’ productivity level. In their final report, they will offer suggestions and recommendations on how to improve productivity.

    While the benefits of a professional evaluation are many, their costs make them prohibitive for most businesses.

    Final Thoughts

    These are just a few of the things you can do when learning how to measure productivity. Some may work for your particular situation, and some may not.

    The most important thing to remember when deciding how to track productivity is to choose a method consistent with your goals. Once you’ve decided on that, it’s just a matter of continuously monitoring your progress, making minor adjustments, and analyzing the results of those adjustments.

    The business world is changing fast, and having the right tools to track and monitor your productivity can give you the edge over your competition.

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    Featured photo credit: William Iven via unsplash.com

    Reference

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