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7 Books You Should Read to Increase Your Productivity

7 Books You Should Read to Increase Your Productivity


Learning to be more productive is one of the best things we can do to be more effective and efficient with everything that we do. Being more productive means stuff takes less time, you make fewer mistakes and you make better quality progress towards some desired outcome. That said, it’s amazing they don’t teach basic productivity skills in schools and colleges. So, I’ve put together a short list of some of books that teach the essentials of productivity that everyone can benefit from.

1.The 4-Hour Work Weekby Tim Ferriss

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    The 4-Hour Work Week teaches techniques to increase your time and financial freedom giving you more lifestyle options. By automating a passive income and liberating yourself from unproductive tasks, you can live the lifestyle of the “new rich”—one defined by having, doing and being what you want. Even for those people who have no interest in starting their own business, the principles in The 4-Hour Work Week can be applied to almost any situation or environment you find yourself in. The ideas behind the 80/20 principle, outsourcing, elimination and liberation will help you develop a much more productive mindset.

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    2.
    Getting Things Doneby David Allengtd

      Getting Things Done is arguable the world’s most well known book on productivity. The lessons in this book should be considered essential reading for anyone looking to pursue a more productive lifestyle. Getting Things Done takes you through a workflow which you can use to manage your workload much more effectively. The principles in the book are simple, but are often the things we forget about that we need reminding of. Getting Things Done was recently updated to reflect how this workflow applies to modern technology.

      3.How to Win Friends & Influence Peopleby Dale Carnegie

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        Everyone, and I mean everyone can learn something from How to Win Friends & Influence People. The principles in the book are simple, but something a lot of us fail to use or remember. This book will help you to convince people to your way of thinking, avoid arguments and become more liked. If you’re in a leadership or sales type role, I strongly recommend this book. HTWFIP was one of the first best-selling self-help books ever published. Written by Dale Carnegie and first published in 1936, it has sold 15 million copies world-wide. But what has it got to do with Productivity? Well, by managing people more effectively (particularly in a working environment), you can produce better quality work together. This increased effectiveness goes hand-in-hand with higher productivity.

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        4.I Will Teach You to be Richby Rami Sethi

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          I Will Teach You to be Rich helps you identify where your money is going and gets it working for you so that you can save for the things that will bring you true happiness and lead a rich life. The six week program identifies how to create a system for optimising your bill payments, savings and investments so that your money goes to all the right places with less than an hour of maintenance a month. Now who wouldn’t want to spend less time managing their bank accounts while at the same time knowing that your money is going to the places it needs to be. Automating your finances like this is incredibly rewarding and will save you heaps of time every month.

          5.Manage Your Day to Dayby 99U

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            As the book describes; should you answer that email, or answer your calling? Tune into social media, or tune in to your own voice? Respond to other people’s needs or actively set your own agenda? When it comes to creative work, every decision, every day, matters. 99U brings together the insights of 20 creative experts to produce Manage Your Day to Day. Learn how to build a rock solid routine, find focus and sharpen your creative mind.

            6.Sleep Smarterby Shawn Stevenson

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              Sleep Smarter

              is a quick and easy read packed with facts, studies and scientific insight all about getting better quality sleep. Author, Shawn Stevenson takes you through the essential components of a good nights sleep. The book also contains a few surprises about how much impact sleep has on your day to day health. When you improve the quality of your sleep, almost every aspect of your life improves, including—yes, you guessed it—your productivity. By the end of the book you’ll definitely be settling in for a good nights sleep.

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              7.What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfastby Laura Vanderkam

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                Productivity researcher Laura Vanderkam has combined her three mini e-books into one comprehensive guide. Through Laura’s research and interviews, What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast reveals how to plan your mornings, weekends and work time to be achieve greater productivity and happiness. It was after reading Laura’s book that I transformed my morning routine which is now one of my favourite times of day. If you’d like to learn the most common productivity skills among the worlds top performers, then this is the book for you.

                Featured photo credit: PicJumbo via picjumbo.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

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