Do you feel like you have a never-ending to-do list? It happens to the best of us – finishing the day with a longer list then when we started. But being productive can be hard, and knowing how to get the most out of our days can be even harder. That’s why we sat down with Lu McKay, a Business Coach at Luminary Business Coaching, to hear her suggestions on how we can put our time and efforts to better use.
How do you measure productivity?
For me, productivity has to be measured as progress towards your vision. If your activities are creating outputs that step you closer to your pre-defined goals, efficiently and effectively, then you are highly productive.
In practice, this means having real clarity of your vision, and the strategy that will get you there, regular check-ins, course-correction when required, and celebrating the little wins as well as the significant milestones.
How can we balance productivity and high expectations in the workplace?
Productivity and high expectations should go hand-in-hand.
High expectations are hugely powerful. They make us ambitious; they teach us to raise our standards and strive to be our best, they drive out mediocrity and reject apathy. But, they can also generate burnout. So, to be effective, high expectations must be three things:
- They must be shared. You have to create a culture of excellence, a group of individuals who hold themselves to high standards, who are brought into a high level of achievement. It has to be 'the way things are done around here'.
- They must be realistic. People need to be able to meet your expectations so they must be achievable and, importantly, celebrated when reached.
- They must be meaningful. The why and what of your high expectations must be clearly articulated. Your team has to know what is required of them and why – they must understand and believe in your vision, the shared reason why these high expectations are necessary.
By making your high expectations shared, realistic and meaningful, you create a space for people to work with focus and impact – hitting the sweet spot of productivity and high expectations.
How to help your teams be more productive?
A target is a lot easier to hit if you know what it looks like. If you create clarity for your team on your vision and strategy, you are essentially handing them a destination guide that shows them where you're headed, what it looks and feels like, and a map to highlight the way. With this knowledge, your team members can identify the tasks and activities that will deliver the most value, they'll have higher levels of autonomy and personal accountability, which in turn, drives productivity.
As a leader, you need to be on hand to support any changes in direction, helping your teams navigate new territory. As a manager, your role is to manage complexity, helping to remove any blockers that get in the way of your people as they work to deliver the vision.
What are your top five tips to increase self productivity?
- Get clear on your vision. Spend time figuring out what you really want, then imagine you've already achieved it. Get visceral. What does it feel like? What are you doing on a daily basis? What's your morning routine? Get really clear on what success looks and feels like for you.
- Revisit your vision daily. Your vision is your why; it's the reason you need to be productive. You have to make your vision something that feels real, something that you can't possibly live without. So, every day, take a couple of minutes to remind yourself what you're aiming for and how good it will feel when you get there.
- Create accountability. Tell someone (or everyone!) about your vision. Write it down, stick it on post-it notes around your house. Make it something you can't ignore.
- Create a plan. Behind every compelling vision is a sound strategy, so create a plan that is going to get you there. Start at a high-level then get granular, assign yourself time-bound tasks with regular milestones so that you feel a sense of accomplishment as you progress.
- Set goals. Be clear on what you are going to achieve each day, week, month and year. Start each day with a list of goals that are going to help you achieve your desired outcomes; it could be something small, like time for self-care, to ensure you're in the best possible shape for success, or something chunkier, like securing a meeting with an investor.