Productivity in business is very important. The 3 elements to improve productivity are the corner-stone to move the dial on your business goals.
Do you feel you can’t finish a sentence related to business without throwing in ‘productivity’ and ‘efficiency’?
Many will tell you it’s the most important thing to focus on while in business. (I’m not sure if it’s the most important thing, but productivity is mighty important. There’s no arguing with that!)
However, the definition of productivity is muddled. I mean, how do we make sure we are productive? If it’s THAT important, surely it’s a question that needs to be asked.
Often, we assume productivity means getting more things done in a certain amount of time.
Guess what? It’s WRONG.
Productivity is getting important things done consistently, in a certain amount of time.
How does that work????? I mean, everything is important, right? And what’s with the consistency?
I say it’s time to have a proper look at the meaning of productivity.
The 3 Elements to Improve Productivity
When you think about it, there are 3 elements at the very heart of productivity:
It’s a concept I subscribe to, but it’s not my brainchild. (I wish it was, though. It is one of these a-ha things that changes EVERYTHING!)
The ‘3 Elements To Improve Productivity’ is an idea that has been well researched. It’s sometimes referred to as ‘The TEA Framework’, a term that was first introduced by entrepreneur Thanh Pham, host of the ‘The Productivity Show’ podcast. Sometimes it’s also called ‘The 3 Pillars Of Productivity’.
Anyway, those 3 elements are at the centre of productivity, because without those 3, productivity limps. Guaranteed!
Have a look at this:
- Energy + attention, but no time = overwhelm
- Time + attention, but no energy = exhaustion
- Time + energy, but no attention = distraction
In other words, in order to be the most productive person we can be, we need all 3. Simple!
So, the logical next question is: how do we make sure we have all three elements to improve productivity?
Elements of Productivity: TIME
No matter how we look at it, our day has 24 hours. (Frustrating) FACT!
We talk about ‘stretching time’, but there is no such thing!!!
No matter how much we fight against it, time is limited. We can’t add time. But we can be wise with how we use it!!!
Time is usually the first place people look when they want to be more productive. Which is not entirely unfair. Just looking at the definition of productivity (see above), even on a superficial level, the direct link between time and productivity is clear.
And as a result, our default response is to looking at productivity tools that are marketed left, right and centre.
I SAY HOLD YOUR HORSES ON THE TOOLS (and potentially save yourself some money)!
Before we jump to any conclusions and end up getting distracted by all the shiny objects that promise us the moon (the productivity tools), we need to ask ourselves whether it is indeed wise spending.
Before we pull out the credit card, let’s ask ourselves: How do we use our time?
Because, if time is limited, this is where the key to being smart with our time will be.
1. Do A Time Audit
- Document every day of an entire week. Log your activity for every half hour you are awake in detail.
- After that, analyse how many hours you spent on each activity: cooking, cleaning, clearing your inbox, in meetings, on the telephone with clients, scrolling through social media, commuting, etc.
- The analysis shows you where your time waste is. It gives you a starting point to make improvements.
2. Look At Strategies And Systems
- Start looking at how you can make improvements to your time waste area. (Obviously, which strategy will target the pain point area depends on where your time waste is.)
- Thanks to the time audit insights, you can look at systems to implement so you use your time more productively.
And finally, if your time is limited, you can expand it by adding somebody else’s time. In other words, delegate tasks to make your time spending more efficient.
Elements of Productivity: ENERGY
Luckily, energy is a different story!
We can’t create more time slots in our 24 hour calendar, but we CAN fill ourselves up with more energy to get more things done!
Insight in to how our energy flows allows us to fill up the energy cup to the brim and tackle important tasks when we will be at our most energetic.
I’m not revealing any secrets when I say that this is a very individual thing. You only have to think about morning people and night owls to get the gist.
The Energy Audit
To figure out how you are wired, you can do an energy audit, just like you did for the time audit. (Just don’t do them together. Focus on one, and then on the other the next week.)
- Pay attention to your energy levels, your body and your body clock. How do you wake up in the morning? What is your energy like as you get the kids ready for school in the morning? Do you need to get a coffee before you can start work? When do you find yourself most focussed? At 10 am, at 5 am, or is it a 9 pm?
- Pay attention to the patterns.
The value of this is that you listen and respect your body and your energy levels and plan your day around when you feel most energised.
But there are still things you can do to be your most energetic self.
3 Things You Can Do To Improve Your Energy
- Sleep: get adequate sleep. Most people need at least 7-8 hours of sleep.
- Implement rituals: create habits, do the same things at the same time in the same order every day of the week. It means you don’t waste energy. (This is a topic we’ll return to in a later podcast.)
- Move your body: Although it may sound like you exert energy when you exercise, the reality is that it enhances the energy. It’s a hormone thing, and I’m not a scientist, so I’ll refrain from any comments on the why and how. But it works!
Elements of Productivity: ATTENTION
And finally, there is ‘attention’.
There is this myth that we should be able to focus anywhere. Busy office, ringing telephones, distractions galore.
But ask yourself what’s easier, studying at the library on your own, or in the middle of a crowded pub on a Friday night?
Simple answer, right?
I’d like to take it even one step further: Not only is it important to have an environment where we can focus. It’s also important to be intentional in where we put our focus. Because where we put our attention, things flourish.
Yep, I’m back on the yearly and quarterly plan. It’s SOOOOO important!!!!
1. The Plans
Remember the definition of productivity and the emphasis on doing important things? This is where our yearly, quarterly, and monthly plans come in. Putting these plans in action moves the dial for the goals we have for our business. We’ve discussed it in previous episodes, so I won’t go into it again here. You can find the relevant episodes here and here.
As to getting the important tasks done, think library, not pub. Put your time aside to focus your undivided attention on a particular task you want done (block time in your diary, so nobody will disturb you). Do this when your energy levels are at their highest.
Change our mindset. To achieve our goals, we need to tell ourselves that this task is important enough to deserve our undivided attention. (Check out my blog and podcast on full focus productivity here).
Ready To Boost Productivity In Your Business?
Take some time over the next month to do the time audit and energy audit.
Allocate time in your calendar when your energy is at its best to do your most important tasks (think about the ones on your yearly and quarterly plan). In doing this, you are bound to move the dial towards your goals and become more productive.
It’s a promise!
Will you do it? Will you do the time audit? The energy audit? I’d love to know the outcome. Did you have an A-ha moment about the elements to improve productivity during this podcast? Please come and tell me! Take a screenshot of wherever you’re listening to this podcast and share it on Instagram. I am Sandrajulian.co.