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Last Updated on February 3, 2020

How Top Performers Never Let a Second Go to Waste

How Top Performers Never Let a Second Go to Waste

Every person on the planet is allotted the same 1440 minutes each day; it’s how we choose to use them that makes all the difference. Unfortunately, efficient time management can sometimes be a challenge. To help you make the most of the time you’ve been given, check out these 14 simple yet effective time management tips.

1. Tackle the Most Important Tasks First

This is calling Eating That Frog! Start every day by tackling your largest, scariest task first. When you do that, everything else will be simple.

I outline a system for prioritizing tasks called the ABCDE Method. In this method, A tasks always come before B tasks and B tasks before C tasks. D tasks are delegated and E tasks are eliminated entirely. By sticking to this method, you can ensure that you are always tackling the most important things first and using your time as wisely as possible.

2. Make a To-Do List

To-do lists have a way of helping people organize their tasks. They also create a physical embodiment of the tasks’ existence, reminding you that they need to be done and providing you incentive to start checking items off. Be sure to use multiple lists to stay organized. I wrote an article about the 4 types of to-do lists to demonstrate the range of lists that can be useful for achieving all your goals.

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3. Divide and Conquer

If you have a major task to get done, try to divide it up into a bunch of smaller tasks. This collection of smaller tasks will seem much less intimidating than the task seems when viewed as the whole.

4. Get the Momentum Going

Once you’ve divided your large task up into a bunch of smaller tasks, choose the smallest one in the bunch and knock it out. Getting started is often the hardest part of accomplishing something. Once you’ve got the ball rolling by finishing just one, small task, though, pushing forward will be much easier.

5. Start with the Unpleasant

If you’re staring down the barrel of an especially unpleasant task, it’s best to get it over with and get it done. Often times, worrying about your most difficult task will take up more energy than doing it. Avoid this waste of mental energy by getting your most unpleasant task out of the way first.

6. Focus on the Negative

Fear is an excellent motivator, and, if your tasks are important, not completing them is sure to come with some negative consequences. While you don’t want to focus on these consequences so much that you allow them to work you into a worried frenzy, a little bit concern can be great for crushing procrastination.

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7. Come Prepared

When you set about a task, make sure you come fully prepared with everything you need to complete it. Not only will coming prepared keep you from having to trace back and forth getting items, being prepared is a great motivator in and of itself.

8. Take Time to Relax

A little bit of relaxation is crucial for maintaining a positive, motivated mindset. If you work constantly without taking the time to rest and gather your thoughts, you’ll quickly burn out and be unable to efficiently accomplish your tasks no matter how hard you try. My personal recommendation for relaxation time is meditation, but do whatever you find the most refreshing and peaceful.

9. Adopt a Sense of Urgency

It’s not enough to work hard – you need to work fast. Working fast is the best way to make the most of your time and accomplish as much as you can in the time you have available. Find a speed at which the quality of your work is still high and develop the sense of urgency necessary for you to maintain that speed.

10. Reward Yourself

Each time you complete a task (or a significant portion of a task) reward yourself. It doesn’t have to be anything major; step outside and stretch, get a cookie from the cabinet, check your phone, or substitute any other short yet pleasant activity that you might enjoy. So long as your rewards don’t start taking up too much of your time, they can be a powerful way to motivate you to start checking items off your to-do list.

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11. Work Smarter, Not Harder

Before you dive into a task head first, take a step back and analyze the best way to go about it. Often times, a few minutes of advanced preparation will end up saving you hours of inefficient work.

12. Delegate

The best leaders know how to properly delegate tasks. If there is work that you can afford to outsource or delegate to someone else, do it. This way, you can ensure your efforts are always focused on the tasks that are most important for you yourself to handle.

13. Eliminate the Nonessential

Some tasks don’t really belong on your to-do list. If it’s not really important that they are done and you’re pressed for time, strike them out and don’t worry about them. They’ll only distract you from your other, more essential tasks.

14. Lock the Door

Distractions are the fuel of procrastination. Sometimes, the only way to completely defeat procrastination is to lock yourself in a room and avoid all distractions. Put your phone in another room, pull the shades, and get to work until the task is finished.

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Top Performers Make Every Second Count

Time is everyone’s most valuable resource and how you spend it determines how much you can accomplish in life. In order to spend your time most effectively, you must learn the right time management skills for your personality and responsibilities.

The proper amounts of focus, prioritization, preparation, delegation, relaxation, and strategy are essential to maintaining a balanced approach to a productive lifestyle. When it comes down to it, time management tips such as these are among the most valuable life hacks I have ever put to use.

Featured photo credit: Isaac Smith via unsplash.com

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Brian Tracy

CEO of Brian Tracy International

How Top Performers Never Let a Second Go to Waste

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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.

    More Productivity Tips

    Featured photo credit: William Iven via unsplash.com

    Reference

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