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Last Updated on December 4, 2020

74 Healthy Habits That Will Drastically Improve Every Aspect of Your Life

74 Healthy Habits That Will Drastically Improve Every Aspect of Your Life

Poor health and low energy levels can negatively impact every part of your life. Your creative spark can be destroyed, leaving you with zero inspiration and ideas. Work would become tedious and hard going, and your social life would become a shadow of what it used to be.

Life for you would no longer be fun. It’s a sorry state of affairs.

What you need to transform your life is a healthier lifestyle. One that will bring back your natural energy and zest for life.

By learning the best healthy habits to take and following the tips in this article, you’ll be able to get back to this optimum state.

What makes a healthy habit?

You may be surprised to learn that more than 40 percent of the actions you perform every day aren’t actually decided by you. They’re actually habits. Habits dictate how we live, how we perform, and the results we achieve in life. This is why it is so important to have strong, positive habits.

In case you’re wondering what habits consist of, think of them this way: something that you regularly do without having to consciously think about.

According to Medical Dictionary, a healthy habit is

“a behavior that is beneficial to one’s physical or mental health, often linked to a high level of discipline and self-control.”

Positive habits are the basis of your success, while healthy habits improve your overall well-being and make you feel good. Good habits include things like regular exercise, a balanced diet, punctuality, keeping promises, etc.[1]

Positive habits make it possible for us to do things without spending exorbitant mental effort. For instance, instead of thinking how to walk down the stairs in a morning, this is taken care of by your subconscious mind which has learned the habit of walking safely down stairs. You don’t need to think about moving your legs, and controlling your balance, etc.

74 healthy habits to improve every aspect of your life

Now you understand what habits are, and the benefits positive habits offer, let’s take a look now at 74 healthy habits you should adopt to transform your life. These habits are broken into four sections:

  • Healthy eating habits
  • Healthy living habit
  • Healthy habits for a peaceful mind
  • Healthy relationship habits

Healthy eating habits

1. Make sure you chew your food well 

Most people gobble down their food, and don’t take the time to chew or enjoy it properly. If you’re one of these people, try slowing down your eating by chewing your food longer than you would normally do. You’ll enjoy the taste of your food more, and you’re likely to eat less too.

2. Stock up on healthy food

At home you snack on what’s in your cupboards, refrigerator and freezer. If all you have in there is ultra-processed foods like fries, chocolate and ice cream, then you’ll find yourself snacking on them (not a good idea). To break this habit, make sure you have loads of healthy foods in your home like dried fruits, seeds and nuts to help satisfy your hunger cravings.

3. Aim to do 10,000 steps a day

Sounds like a lot? Well, it’s actually the minimum amount recommend by fitness experts. It’s not too difficult to reach 10,000 steps in a day. Simply walk in the park in the morning and evening, and take the stairs instead of the elevator at work.

4. Take a walk at lunchtime

Lunchtimes don’t need to be just for eating. You can use the time to get some valuable air, light and exercise. I usually walk for half of my lunch break – the other half I leave for eating.

5. Freeze your fruits and veggies

This is a great thing to do, as freezing these foods means they’ll last until you’re ready to eat them. And of course you can freeze them when they’re at their peak, so they’ll taste great when defrosted and/or cooked. This technique is also a superb way to enjoy healthy fruits and veggies outside of their normal seasonal availability.

6. Focus on colors, not calories

Too many people put their health and diet focus on how many calories they are consuming every day. But a healthy diet is not just about calories.

For example, there is a big difference between eating a handful of raw nuts and the same calorie amount of cake. Sure, the latter may taste better to you – but the nuts will always be the healthier choice.

7. Add an extra serving of greens to your plate

One simple way to boost your intake of healthy foods is to add an extra serving of greens to each of your meals. If you normally eat burger and fries (not recommended!), start adding a portion of peas or a green salad to your plate. Over time, you can start increasing the greens – and reducing the junk food.

8. Be active outside the gym

I’m sure you’ve spotted people at work who go to the gym most morning. They certainly know how to start their day well, but watch their habits after that. Often they sit down all day at their desk, and no doubt go home and chill out in front of the TV.

While going to the gym is commendable, don’t make it your be all and end all. Get out in the fresh air and natural light and move your body the way nature intended – by walking and running.

9. Eat carbs every day

From time to time, carbs go out of fashion. We’re warned their bad for us, and we should avoid them. However, no-carb and low-carb diets usually end up as fads. That’s because carbs are actually are an excellent source of energy for our bodies.

Of course, our ancestors lived and thrived on carb-heavy diets for thousands of years. Just make sure you’re choosing healthy carbs instead of refined carbs.

    10. Choose healthy fats

    Not all fats are the same. Some are good for us, some are not. Which are the healthy fats? If you stick to cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil, nuts and avocados, you’ll be getting the essential nutrients you need – in the healthiest forms available.

    11. Don’t eat until you’re full

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    A healthy person’s stomach is the size of a fist, while an unhealthy person’s stomach can be the size of a football. It’s a shocking fact. The cause of the grotesque stomach expansion is overeating. When this is done regularly, the stomach starts to stretch. Consequently, the person needs to eat more and more to maintain that full, satisfied feeling.

    How to avoid this? Always eat a little less than you think you need or would like. This will keep your stomach at its natural size – and your body at a healthy weight too.

    12. Cut down on your meat intake

    Have you heard of meat-free Mondays? This is exactly as it sounds, no meat eaten on every Monday. If you’re a big meat eater, then meat-free Mondays are a great way to immediately reduce your meat intake. And it will also introduce you to the delicious flavors available in vegetarian and vegan meals.

    13. Halve your sugar intake

    We all know that sugar is bad for us, but yet, most of us still consume masses of it every single day. The problem of course, is that sugar tastes great. So good, in fact, that we literally become addicted to it.

    Now, if I told you to go ‘cold turkey’ and cut out sugar completely from your diet tomorrow – you almost certainly wouldn’t be able to do it. That’s why I recommend a reasonable and attainable goal of halving your sugar intake. You can do this through simple steps like: reducing or cutting out sugar in tea or coffee, stopping adding sugar to your cereals, and choosing healthier snacks (see No. 2).

    14. Swap soft drinks for water

    Soft drinks are typically full of sugar (or artificial sweeteners), coloring and other nasties! They may taste good, but they’ll leave you feeling bad. Instead, ditch the soft drinks and switch to drinking mineral water or filtered tap water. Your body will thank you.

    15. Buy a reusable water bottle and keep it on your desk

    I used to come into the office and drink tea or coffee all day. I never thought about drinking water. Then I started to notice that some people brought in large, reusable water bottles that they kept sipping from throughout the working day. I decided to give this a go, and I was amazed by how easy it was to drink in excess of 500ml of water every day. And the best thing? I noticed that I felt more hydrated, more focused – and definitely healthier overall. Try it for yourself, and I’m sure, like me, you’ll never come to work without your water bottle.

    Healthy living habits

    16. Stop weighing yourself

    This ties in with my earlier comments about calories (see No. 6). Some people – perhaps including yourself – are fixated on their weight. They weigh themselves every morning and every night. If they lose weight, they’re ecstatic. But if they gain weight, they can quickly sink into depression.

    Now, please don’t get me wrong, you certainly should be aiming to have a healthy weight. However, this will be a natural consequence of eating healthily and exercising regularly.

    17. Choose enjoyable exercise

    You might be putting off exercising as you don’t like going to the gym or running in the cold weather. Instead, why not choose fun exercises like dancing, yoga or a team sport? When exercise is fun, you’ll have much more motivation to do it regularly.

    18. Avoid over exercising

    People who over exercise tend to age quicker than they should.[2] Most things in life come down to balance, and exercise is no exception. Over exercising for months and years will deplete your body of its vital energy – leaving you drained and feeling out-of-sync.

    19. Go to bed 30 minutes earlier than usual

    In today’s age of Netflix and YouTube, it’s all too easy to find yourself watching just one more video. Pre-internet, you’d have probably gone to bed two or three hours earlier than you currently do. My suggestion? You have an alarm to wake you up in the morning. How about setting an alarm to notify you when it’s time to turn off the TV and get yourself to bed.

    Sleep is a powerful restorative – so make you’re getting an adequate amount of it.

    20. Turn off technology from time to time

    Technology is a great thing. It enables me to type these words – and for you to read them. But let’s be honest, it’s all too easy to become addicted to our TVs, laptops, tablets and smartphones. The majority of people are staring at one of these devices for most of their morning, afternoon, evening and beyond. It’s a non-stop world of emails, SMS messages, news feeds, social media updates, etc.

    My advice? Make sure you step out of this cycle of distraction by having regular breaks from your devices. For example, why not switch off all of your devices when you’re eating with your friends and family. Make conversation be your focus, instead of being absorbed by online stuff.

    Healthy habits for a peaceful mind

    21. Spend time in nature

    Being outside has found to have a profound effect on your mental wellbeing mainly due to exposure to sunshine increasing your serotonin levels. Research has also found that spending even a short amount of time around nature boosts your mood. Imagine spending a day in a place like this:

      22. Have something to look forward to

      Being in a state of positive anticipation and expectancy can increase your happiness level according to study published in the Official Journal of the International Society for Quality-of-Life Studies.[3] Planning something you enjoy and take comfort in, whether it’s a trip, a planned run, meeting friends or curling up with that book you’ve always wanted to read can keep you from dwelling on any negatives.

      23. Meditate

      Meditation is probably the most talked about concept in the happiness camps and it has good reasons to be synonymous with good mental health. Studies have shown regular meditation practices reduce stress, anxiety and health issues. The main reason is it can help reduce overthinking and create a more mindful mindset. It can come in the form of just sitting quietly, yoga, prayer or purposeful breathing.

      24. Move your body

      Endorphins are the chemicals in the brain that basically reduce the perception of pain. When you move your bodies, these are released and essentially tell your brain that all is well. Even if it’s just getting up from your chair, dancing around when doing the housework or taking up a regular exercise routine, these actions can increase the feel-good chemicals and elevate your mood.

      25. Learn something new

      People who continue to learn into adulthood have greater overall wellbeing. This could be because the brain is constantly being refreshed and rewired but also the sense of achievement, optimism and distraction it creates. In other words, it gives you purpose and focus increasing the ability to cope with stress. So learn a new language, take up painting or enrol in a course you’ve always fancied doing to create more mental wellbeing.

      26. Do something nice for someone

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      Kindness may be seen as just good manners but being genuinely kind towards others increases your own happiness as well as theirs. Positive social interactions, no matter how small they may seem, boosts your feel-good vibrations. Giving compliments with pure intentions, holding a door open or offering to pay for a stranger’s coffee will keep you feeling good for the rest of the day. Do this on a regular basis and you’ll keep your positive mindset topped up as well as creating happiness for someone else.

      27. Re-evaluate toxic relationships

      Sometimes people’s mental wellbeing declines because they get used to being around people who bring them down. This can damage their self-esteem and self-worth but they often don’t associate this with others. You are the sum total of the five people you’re around the most. Ask yourself are these five people supportive, kind and fun to be around? If not, it may be time to rethink your relationships.

      28. Detox digitally

      The dangers of too much social media is commonly said. The comparison game can cause you to feel deflated and like failures if we’re not living how others are currently living. This in itself is reason to have a period of detox from your phone or computer. The digital world, as much as it enhances our lives, can take away our present moments and allows us to miss what’s really going on around us. Detoxing will give you that sense of freedom of time to do other things that will boost your mental health.

      29. Sleep more

      Sleep often gets ignored when we’re living busy lives but that’s no excuse. Getting adequate sleep is paramount to an optimum healthy mind. Sleep deprivation causes mood swings, irritability, health issues and all-round disfunction that affects how we think and causes us to react negatively to things happening in our daily lives. More sleep equates to a sense of peace and motivation through your day instead of stress and anxiety.

      30. Do things by yourself

      Low self-worth or self-esteem can cause people to believe that they can’t do things by themselves. The need to always have someone to do things with can create a sense of neediness and lack of self-love. Going off and doing things by yourself builds confidence and a sense of freedom.

      Don’t be afraid to be alone and make time for yourself; it’s a wonderful way to really reflect on yourself and have a breather away from others.

      31. Express gratitude

      Gratitude has been found to increase happiness and reduce stress creating a more positive mindset. People often get caught up on what didn’t go well in their day even if the majority of what happened was positive. A good habit to start is to think through your day and note everything that was great – from the straight-forward commute to work, a smile from a stranger, the delicious food you had for lunch or a text from your friend.

      32. Sit and stand up straight

      Body language is tightly connected to our mindset. When you slouch, it subconsciously creates the overall feeling of hostility, sluggishness, and negativity. When we sit or stand up straight it creates the feeling of power and confidence.

      33. Find something to laugh about

      Laughter is powerful as it reduces stress levels, improves mood and even short-term memory. Laughing together with someone is probably the best kind of laughter but just watching a funny TV show or even laughing by yourself can do the trick.

      34. Write things down

      Writing things down is very powerful because in the act of writing, the brain processes what’s being written down more slowly and so it becomes a kind of therapy. It can help you process emotions and identify difficult areas or limiting beliefs that continuous overthinking makes worse. Writing down goals and dreams can bring about a positive boost and making lists of past achievements can help show you successes in your life.

      35. Spend time with your pet

      Any loving animal can increase your feelings of positivity in small and meaningful ways. They decrease loneliness, get you active, create loving bonds, keep you present in the moment and give you purpose.

      36. Change your routine

      While routine can keep us comfortable, it also creates a sense of mundane life and can result in depression. Making just small changes in your routine can trick the brain into thinking you’re doing something completely different. It could be taking a different route to work, walking instead of taking the bus, going somewhere different for lunch or getting up slightly earlier in the morning. Changing things up creates variety and opens you up to different experiences and opportunities.

      37. Explore your city or town

      Being a tourist in your own town or city is not something people tend to consider. Pretend you’re visiting for the first time – what neighbourhoods would you visit? Where would you eat? Doing this can help you appreciate where you live and gain a different perspective to a familiar place which helps open up the mind.

      38. Practice forgiveness

      Forgiveness can be a hard concept for many. But a lot of our angst is caused by our inability to let things go and move on. This doesn’t mean condoning what someone has done but just dropping the negativity around it and moving forward. Studies have shown that forgiveness protects against stress and forgiving yourself is important too in order to release any baggage and self-hate and create a happy life.

      39. Connect with someone

      As social beings, we thrive on connection. When you’re feeling depressed, the last thing you want to do is talk or reach out to others. Keep in mind that talking to people, even just short conversations with friends or in support groups, can repair your sense of disconnection immensely. Relationships with others builds a sense of belonging and self-worth so make time to connect with someone.

      40. Spend a day being mindful

      This is a great way to examine how you move through your day. How does your breakfast taste? How do your legs feel when you’re walking? Where did the ingredients for your lunch come from? What emotions are you feeling in each moment?

      Don’t judge yourself but just be in each moment. Bringing your mind to the present moment can help reduce depression in the process.

      41. Consider a more positive perspective

      A negative mindset creates a negative life. If you’re in this category of seeing the glass as always being half empty maybe question why you think this way. It could simply stem from beliefs you’ve picked up but understand there is always a choice in how you see things.

      Choose to consider a different, more positive perspective next time. Doing this regularly will slowly help change the way you look at the world around you.

      42. Stop taking photos of everything

      While it’s great to take photos for keepsakes, spending too much time taking the photo rather than enjoying the moment can decrease our happiness. Psychologist Maryanne Garry of the Victoria University of Wellington in New Zeal has found taking endless photos “manipulates both our memories and subjective interpretations of lived experiences,”[4] meaning we end up remembering less and don’t fully appreciate the moment.

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      43. Smile (even if it’s fake)

      Genuine smiles portray our inner happy feelings but research has found even fake smiling tricks the brain into thinking we’re happy.[5] So even if you’re in a quiet room by yourself, smile and you’ll notice overtime, it creates a sense of mental wellbeing.

      44. Do something that’s out of your comfort zone

      One of the main reasons people can become depressed is their need to stay comfortable. Blame this on the brain; it’s doing all it can to stop you from doing something fearful because it’s a survival mechanism – if you’re comfortable then you’re safe.

      Breaking out of comfort zones is never as scary as your brain imagines it to be and it creates confidence, wellbeing and opens up new and exciting possibilities.[6] The result? Better mental health.

      Healthy relationship habits

      45. Respect your loved ones

      The foundation of any good relationship is the level of respect within it. Being honest, avoiding gossip, and valuing your loved ones for the unique individuals they are sets the tone for all your interactions.

      46. Thank them

      Showing gratitude can be as simple as a verbal “thank you” or a short note, but the effects are far-reaching. Whether your partner just did a load of dishes or your friend swooped in at the eleventh hour to save the day, don’t miss the chance to say thanks.

      47. Express yourself

      If you really love someone, don’t be afraid to let them know. Say, “I love you,” often, and when you say it, mean it. Tell your significant other, friends, and family how much you care about them. Be generous with your affection.

      48. Take a walk

      Taking a stroll through the neighborhood is a great way to reconnect with your friend or partner. These walks are a great chance to get some fresh air and catch up on life without having to spend an arm and a leg.

        49. Make each other laugh

        Humor is a powerful way to bond with one another. Never miss a chance to make your loved ones laugh. Be a goofball, watch a comedy, and don’t be afraid to crack a joke at your own expense occasionally.

        50. Set goals together

        This habit is especially important for romantic relationships, in which you’re operating as a team. When you don’t set goals together, you risk sabotaging one another. Uniting to overcome a challenge is a powerful way to bond.

        51. Take up a new hobby

        Nothing kills friendships and romances faster than boredom. Don’t let things stagnate. Pick up a new hobby that you’re both interested in every now and then. Challenge one another to perfect your skills, and reap the benefits of growing together.

        52. Do something nice “just because”

        A great surprise requires thoughtfulness. It can be as simple as showing up with a cup of coffee or picking up your partner’s favorite treat on your way home. Send your mother a bouquet of flowers at random, or offer to help your friend with a project. You’ll make their day and show them how much you care.

        53. Relax together

        It’s not necessary to turn every moment together into an elaborate outing. Friendships and romantic relationships with staying power are those which can thrive in everyday situations. Learn to love watching TV together, going for walks, or sharing simple meals.

        54. Take time for yourselves

        Even the closest couples and friends need time to explore their individual interests. You don’t have to like the same things to get along. Your individuality is likely part of what drew you to one another. Make sure that you and your loved ones get time to nourish their talents and interests.

        55. Reconnect on a regular basis

        Texting and calling 24/7 isn’t a healthy habit, but touching base is great for a romantic relationship. For friends and family, it isn’t necessary to send a message every day, but connecting periodically gives you a chance to share your lives.

        56. Do chores together

        For couples, working in the house together prevents one party from feeling resentful toward the other. A 2007 study found that 62% of couples believe that sharing chores leads to a successful partnership.

        57. Take time to snuggle

        Physical contact influences how you feel about your significant other. The act of cuddling causes your bodies to release oxytocin, a hormone responsible for bonding. Hugging also causes the release of oxytocin, so this healthy habit applies to non-romantic relationships as well.

        58. Tell them what you love about them

        Saying, “I love you,” is great, but sometimes it’s nice to back the sentiment up with some examples. Let your friends and partner know what specific attributes you love about them. This confidence boost helps them weather whatever storms come their way.

        59. Pay attention

        Asking thoughtful questions and responding may seem like common sense, but many friend, family, and love relationships lack attentiveness. Listen deeply. Make eye contact. When a loved one talks to you, they should feel that they have your undivided attention.

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        60. Figure out their love language (and speak it)

        The 5 Love Languages: Secrets to Love that Last, tells us that there are five main ways that people give and receive love. Knowing your significant other’s love language helps you learn the best ways to show your love based on their needs. It’s worth noting that the love languages are not limited to romantic relationships.

        61. Ask about their day

        This is a great way to start any conversation, whether your chatting with your dad or talking to your best friend. You’ll get a ton of information that can help you be present for them, and you’ll show that you’re genuinely interested in their life by asking this simple question.

        62. Be honest

        Honesty is critical for any relationship. When you care about someone long, you must be able to tell them the truth. They’re counting on you to be someone they can trust. Besides, it’s kinder than lying, and you never have to worry about them finding out that you fibbed.

        63. Be their cheerleader

        We all encounter challenges, but having someone who can cheer you on your worst day is a real gift. Be the person who can give them the encouragement they need to face whatever is in front of them. Sometimes your loved ones just need to know that you believe in them.

        64. Unplug to reconnect

        You can’t have quality time if you’ve got your heads buried in your phones, video games, or laptops. You can certainly enjoy those things with one another, but commit to spending some time together screen-free as well. If you’re out to lunch, make a no-screen policy so that you can actively listen to one another.

        65. Show that you’re loyal

        Fidelity is a no-brainer in a romantic relationship. Fidelity isn’t the only way to show loyalty, though. In all your relationships, be sure to shut down gossip and stand up for loved ones even if they can’t stand up for themselves.

        66. Be the person they can count on

        Your partner and friends should know that whether they had a bad day at work, or they’re sick, you are always ready to jump in and help. When things are going poorly for your family, your parents and siblings, know they can turn to you. You’re there on time every time they need you to be, and you mean what you say.

        67. Pull your weight

        It’s unfair to expect one partner or friend to shoulder the burden for everything. You don’t have to split every responsibility down the middle, but you do need to reach an agreement so that neither of you carry the load alone.[7] This applies to things like household chores, but it also relates to things like deciding where to eat or choosing an outing.

        68. Make time for them

        Stephen Covey, author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People once said:

        “The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.”

        If you want your relationships to last, you have to make them a priority. Schedule “appointments” with loved ones if you have trouble making the time to connect with them.

        69. Love without judgement

        Unless their behavior is a deal breaker, re-frame how you think about the other person’s flaws. To have real love, you have to love the real person. To see who someone truly is, they have to feel safe enough to show you without feeling judged. Your family, friends, and significant other should know that you love them, warts and all.

        70. Forgive their mistakes

        You aren’t perfect, and neither are your friends, your partner, or your family. When someone you love messes up, put yourself in their shoes. If it’s not worth ending the relationship over the mistake, forgive the person.

        71. Be vulnerable and accept vulnerability

        Being vulnerable can require practice in friendships and romantic relationships. With friends, this is your chance to show them who you are, and it gives them permission to be more open with you. With your partner, vulnerability with one another builds trust.

        72. Start the day with them

        For couples, beginning each day with your partner is a show of solidarity. Even if you work opposite schedules, you can find ways to share the beginning of a new day together. Write a note or spend a few minutes in the morning seeing them off.

        73. Call it a day together

        You don’t necessarily need to be on the same sleep schedule as your partner, but winding down together is a healthy habit. This act builds trust, and it gives you one more chance to reflect on the day.

        74. Make decisions as a team

        Independence is great, but when a decision you need to make will have a serious effect on your family, friends, or partner, it’s best to include them in the process. Remember that you’re in it together, and take time to establish how your team will communicate about major life decisions.

        Taking up the healthy habits

        To take up these healthy habits, pick one from the list and focus on that first.

        Check out this step-by-step guide and learn how to develop good habits for a healthy lifestyle:

        A Step-by-Step Guide to Building Good Habits

        When you put in the time to develop these 74 healthy habits, the effort that you put into your body, mind and relationships will come back to you many times over.

        Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

        Reference

        More by this author

        Leon Ho

        Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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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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