“It’s easier to prevent bad habits than to break them” Benjamin Franklin
Wise words indeed from an extremely productive man. If you want to become more productive, one of the secrets can be found in that quote from Ben Franklin. Not so much in the words, but rather in the meaning of what he is saying. To me, first and foremost, you’ll need to be honest with yourself and acknowledge if you currently have any bad habits that might be chewing into your time… and honestly, pretty much all of us do. So, once you’ve been honest with yourself and identified your bad habits, it’s time to break them.
What Ben Franklin, I believe, is talking about, is addressing your overall approach, how you regularly go about your work, don’t look to quick tactics or tricks to become more productive, address your core habits… this is a bit more confronting but it will have greater benefits in the long run. It’s about creating a consistently better way of working and ultimately being productive.
To help you along a bit, here are a few areas that people can quite easily lead to less production…
Do you see yourself in any of these Bad Habits below?
1. Lack of Balance and Moderation?
Do you unrealistically try to jam too much into every day, every week? Do you gr
avitate towards certain types of work that you favour because you like it or it’s easier for you to do which creates an unbalanced focus in what you’re doing? Are you all work and no play?
Work hard, but not to your own detriment
Set goals that you feel are realistic and achievable
Make sure to have fun along the way
2. Lack of Order?
There’s an old saying: “Cluttered Mind, Cluttered Desk”, if you have no routine or no order to the way you work, manage your calendar, your inbox, your desk etc, whether you like it or not, it all serves to cloud your mind and your focus.
Simplify, Simplify, Simplify!
Unsubscribe from those newsletters you never read
Throw out stuff you are never really going to use
Get your desk and inbox tidied up and keep it that way
My Dad was a career military man and he always said “A place for everything and everything in its place”
Get some order and rhythm to the way you operate, be ruthless with this (you need clarity to operate effectively!)
3. Unclear on what exactly you are trying to produce?
With every client I coach we make sure that every person in the business is 100% crystal clear on what their ‘Accountable Outcomes’ are… in other words, what they are responsible for producing. It’s an interesting thing when you ask someone who wants to be more productive a simple question: “What, exactly, are you trying to produce?’ you often get a strange look. This is a point that too many people overlook, they are so focused on getting more done as opposed to what they are trying to produce. Being really good at time management is one thing, spending your time doing things that produce your intended outcome is another thing altogether. I believe it was Peter Drucker, one of the all-time great management consultants, who said: “Efficiency is doing things right, effectiveness is doing the right things”. So if you want to be more effective (or productive), you need to do the right things first.
Make sure you understand exactly what your role(s) within your business is, be crystal clear on what your ‘Accountable Outcomes’ are?
Quantify the main tasks you do, so in other words, if you need to produce ‘x’, what are the steps that lead up to producing ’x’?
For example, if need to attend 5 meetings, do 3 quotes and get 1 sale per week, prioritise those items to ensure you produce your outcome
Don’t get lost in a sea of doing unimportant things the right way, sure you may be really good at doing those things but to what end?
Always have your ‘Accountable Outcomes’ in plain sight, after all, that is why you’re super busy doing all of the things your doing, isn’t it?
Eric J. Gregory is the Author of ‘Would you like Profits with that?’ and the founder of Gregory Business & Trades Coaching which specialises in working with SME Business Owners and Entrepreneurs to ‘Create Quality Lifestyles through Business Success’.