How to become a productivity master…with Polly [Part 2]
In the 1st part of the article dedicated to productivity Polly Desheva, founder of Webdesh web studio, told us more about the main terminology in the field We also covered 3 ways to be more productive. Now we continue the conversation.
How to be more productive?
4. Use the Pareto principle
“The Pareto principle states that for many outcomes, roughly 80% of consequences come from 20% of causes (the “vital few”).” 20% of the input in your work leads to 80% of the results. [Source: Wikipedia]
You can see many examples online for Pareto. Being productive could be 20% of the effort you give, and can lead to 80% of the results – reading a book (= 20%) can give you 80% of the knowledge you need on a topic. For example, in Webdesh – my first priority is to secure a good cash flow, having customers so that we can cover our monthly expenses. If we don’t have this, then nothing else really matters (=a good marketing campaign, great teambuilding etc). Some tasks, if done, have a big impact. These are the 20%.
5. Manage your time.
Erase “I don’t have time” from your vocabulary. You either don’t have energy or it’s not a priority. It’s good to be honest to yourself, so that you can be more frank with the world.
Tips for time-management:
- Timeboxing: set times for specific tasks & deep work (a.k.a. “Quiet time”). Similarly – set days for meetings and days without any calls. For example, in your calendar mark every Wednesday as a day without meetings.
- Timeblocking: bundle similar tasks (like answering emails, creating client offers, etc.).
“Task bundling is a practice of making similar and related tasks more manageable and executable. This practice is widely used in task and project management. An employee assigned to a bundle of tasks should regard this bundle as a single project or goal for accomplishment.” By bundling tasks we are more efficient in executing them as it takes us less time. You can check emails twice a day – in the morning once and then before the end of the day (16:00 o’clock, for instance). [See also: “How to batch tasks: The basics”]
- Use “do not disturb” features. Preferably that is the “Quiet Time” from point 1 and it is similar to everyone in your company team on a regular basis.
- Work by your priorities (example – start with the most difficult task to gain willpower or start with many small tasks bundled to gain confidence for the more difficult ones; watch out for the Q1 ones)
[Source: https://asana.com/resources/multitasking ]
6. Set shorter deadlines a.k.a follow Parkinson’s law
Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion. The easiest example to give is the one with students’ tests – even if you know the date for your tests months before, you start learning a day-two-three before. The reality is this test is bothering you the whole time, it takes from your headspace and mental health but the actual time you are actually working on could be just a few days. So why exhausting yourself with the pressure of it for weeks or months? What I did when I was a student – I had deadlines set by my MBA professors (usually like 4-6 weeks in advance) but I was always asking them to be able to deliver my project in 1-2 weeks after I get the assignment. Arguably this gives you pressure and stress too, but you need to assess for yourself – is it better to have a little more stress for 1-2 weeks and then – free time, or is it better to have pressure for the whole period of 4-6 weeks? I will let you decide your strategy for yourself. 🙂
On top of that – when you don’t have enough time, the brain switches to a different pace. It goes to pareto mode, it filtrates in a better way and allows you to do the same task for a shorter time, without compromising quality.
How Parkinson’s law can help you with goal setting? The deadline should be so short that if you are very productive (you put lots of effort) it is realistically you will do 80% of the work (so it should be realistic to make it happen). This way your goals are motivating but not too big to be discouraging.
7. Stop procrastinating. (& the 5-minute rule)
Never postpone something that takes up to 5 mins to do. Simple, right. Remember all the times that these small tasks pile up and appear unmanageable? Here’s how to avoid this feeling.
8. Work the “lean” way
By embracing the lean methodology it’s more likely you are not going to copy the same mistake 100 times. For example, if you are making a website you can start by making one page, before you start the next one, or 1 section that you will be reusing many times after. You do it in a perfect way for a MVP (minimal viable product) and then use it as a template for all the other pages. If you copy the same mistake, it will take you more time to correct it – definitely not a productive thing to do, but actually a waste of time and money. This is why you make one and make it perfect – test it, check it out on all browsers, all devices, make sure it’s perfect, collect client feedback, implement it, test it again and THEN you reuse it.
Here is one example of a good MVP
Quick “no-brainer” hacks
Use a mouse.“Based on research results, working with an external mouse increases user productivity compared to a touchpad when performing the same tasks. Using the external mouse allowed many users to be more precise in task performance, and, in some cases, they were nearly 50% more productive versus using a touchpad.” & “Switching from a touchpad to an external mouse delivers a number of benefits like higher productivity levels, better ergonomics, and all-day comfort.”
Take rest & take care of your mental health. Every employer needs you rested, full with energy, positivism and willpower. If you are exhausted or tired – take care and show that you care about yourself first and of course – your job, too, by delivering what is expected from you. If you need to talk to somebody – your managers should be always open for an impromptu one-on-one (I know I am).
In a nutshell as a conclusion: Productivity takes discipline and it’s entirely up to you. It’s not about having time, it’s about how you work with it.
Bonus: Respect people’s time
If you want to be productive, assume everybody else wants the same as well (in our team, we try to be each other’s examples, so we need to lead by example every day). Don’t be greedy for time and attention to put your priorities and tasks straight while hurting and not allowing somebody else to do theirs.
Everytime when you ask somebody a question, think about:
- Is it worth disturbing others or can I find the answer myself? (Is it an easy answer that I can find in our docs/chats/online or it is very contextual and I need specific input from the team?)
- Is this the right time to ask this question?
- Is this the right person to ask this question?
- Do I provide enough information to make it easy on the person to help me?
Може да чуете епизода на FEB Community Stories с участието на Поли, където отново си говорим за продуктивност, но и за женско предприемачество и други интересни теми.
Още от мен: абонирайте се за седмичния ми бюлетин.