Personal productivity is paramount in gauging an individual’s or an organization’s success. How productive you are impacts results more than how hard you work. Yet, many business leaders overlook personal productivity, rarely discussing it during interviews or making it part of their training or performance metrics.
During interviews, I always start with a few questions about productivity, like “How do you organize yourself?” Naturally, if their response is as brief as a “to-do list,” I dig deeper. I then ask them to outline a typical day in 15-minute increments. The idea here is to see if there’s a routine and if it matches how they organize themselves. When asked about their email and messaging habits, many, aiming to impress, reply, “I’m extremely responsive, or I reply instantly.” Unfortunately, this often translates to them allowing constant interruptions — counterproductive, for sure.
In today’s digital age, staying productive demands even more discipline. There are constant disruptions — emails, chat messages, alerts, not to mention the ever-present pull of social media, which many can’t resist checking every five minutes. Do you see where I’m going with this?
Enhancing productivity by just an hour or two daily can create significant differences. For instance, consider a support desk team with a daily average of seven resolved tickets. Upon refining their process, this number might jump to 12. For less straightforward roles, breaking down primary responsibilities is essential, devising ways to quantify and agree upon productivity benchmarks.
Recalling my early days at my MSP, we had an employee responsible for all our quotes and proposals. Whenever she’d fall behind, affecting our responsiveness to clients, I’d intervene. Each morning, we’d categorize the quotes by size and urgency. I’d then guide her on prioritizing tasks, emphasizing focused work. “Handle these specific tasks. Avoid emails or calls for now.” Typically, we’d overcome the backlog within two or three days, revisiting this strategy weekly to maintain momentum.
Never take for granted that your team inherently grasps productivity. It’s a skill often taught, not instinctual. If you need a starting point, introduce your team members to “The Myth of Multitasking” by Dave Crenshaw. This initial investment in time can pave the way to a more efficient team and faster profit growth.