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12 Things Highly Productive People Don’t Do

12 Things Highly Productive People Don’t Do

Do you struggle to get things done? Being highly productive is a skill that everyone should master. It’s not what a productive person does that sets them apart, but often the things highly productive people don’t do. Here’s a list of 12 things you shouldn’t do if you want to become highly productive.

1. They don’t waste time.

Wasting time is the antithesis of productivity. Productive people get things done. The first step to getting things done? Start doing it. Put down the phone, turn off the TV and close down the social networks. All those things can be done when the task at hand is complete. The best way to be a highly productive person is truly simple. Start a task. Finish a task. Don’t waste time before or during.

2. They don’t make excuses.

When something needs to get done, don’t let anything stand in the way. Obstacles are your responsibility to overcome. Plan for them, add cushion in the amount of time to account for them, but in the end, excuses are just obstacles you failed to account for. Learn to anticipate all the possible challenges you may encounter in a task and ensure you have a plan to overcome them. By taking responsibility for the challenges, you won’t need excuses.

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3. They don’t forget deadlines.

Take pride in doing what you set out to do. Highly productive people understand everything they need to accomplish and when they need to accomplish each task by. No matter how small, each task that gets completed on time makes the next, more complex task more likely to completed in a timely manner. So set deadlines, write them down and knock them out. You’ll find you have much more time than you thought and get much more done.

4. They don’t expect help.

Highly productive people control each task and ensure that they have a plan and a back-up plan for each aspect. Depending on others, especially those who haven’t been fully vetted and proven, is one of the pitfalls that can drive a project timeline into the ground. While you will always need to depend on others and use the resources available to you to start at an optimal production level, it’s vital that you ensure that you give those resources ample time, needed motivation, and always have a drop date where you move to plan B. Take help where you can. But never expect it. Ensure that you keep control of your timelines, deadlines and quality, and you’ll be more productive in everything you do.

5. They don’t over-promise.

Productivity is about setting a goal and taking the steps needed to deliver on that goal. When you are over zealous with your goals or over aggressive with your timelines, you open the real possibility of failure. To remain highly productive, it’s paramount that you understand your strengths, weaknesses, and what you can accomplish in a given time. Know you can accomplish what you set out to and ensure you have a plan. By making a conscious effort to understand what you can do, you will minimize opportunities for failure and stay highly productive.

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6. They don’t blame others.

Take pride in what you do and take responsibility for each task, project, and goal you accept. There will be problems, obstacles, and hurdles that you must overcome. The people you depend on may not live up to their end of the bargin. But remember that in the end, you are responsible. Don’t make someone else the scapegoat if you miss a deadline. Take responsibility and learn from the experience. Learn how to utilize your resources and ensure you have a plan if and when they fail. You’ll find that when you take responsibility, you will finish sooner, plan for the obstacles and learn how much to trust.

7. They don’t forget to plan.

Highly productive people know what they are going to do and have a plan to get there. No matter how hard you work, without a plan, you leave more opportunity for failure. Write down your to-do list daily and come up with a plan to accomplish it daily.

8. They don’t stay stagnant.

Highly productive people are always looking for ways to improve their processes. Reading LifeHack is a great start. Finding new, creative ways to accomplish tasks will help you become more productive. Always work to optimize your processes. The more time you save on the little things, the more time you have to finish the big stuff.

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9. They don’t stop learning.

Highly successful people have a thirst for learning. Whether reading books, reading articles, taking classes or finding time for mentoring, a successful person will continually learn and become more educated. Keeping your mind sharp will help you solve problems, allowing you to stay more productive and better able to meet the challenges that you face on a daily basis.

10. They don’t back down.

You will run into problems, encounter obstacles and hit road blocks. Don’t back down! You have the tools to overcome even the toughest problems. Take them head-on, find a solution that fits your abilities and time frame, and start fixing it right away. You’ll learn that there’s nothing too big for you to overcome if you face it head-on.

11. They don’t let failure stop them.

You will fail. But failure is not a reason to stop, rather an incredible reason to move forward. Learn from your failures, find ways to overcome them, and never let them stop you. Even the most productive people fail. But it’s how you deal with failure that separate the truly highly productive people.

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12. They don’t ignore the details.

Often times, when you boil it down, the difference between someone who is productive and unproductive is the details. It’s the small things that make the difference between getting projects done and failing to meet deadlines. Focus on the details and you’ll enjoy more success, and you can truly become a highly productive person.

Featured photo credit: Kris Krug via flickr.com

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Kyle Robbins

Kyle is the founder of Branding Beard. He writes about communication tips on 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.

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    Featured photo credit: William Iven via unsplash.com

    Reference

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