Recently I was having dinner with my girlfriend from way back.
And just when I was floating on the cloud that appeared right after the coconut cream pie, which was accompanied by a fine wine, she declared:
“Don’t you just wish that your day had 27 hours so that you could get more done? Can you imagine how this would double your personal productivity?”
Wha!? I rolled off my floating cloud and landed right back on good old earth!
What is the matter with this woman? Her sense of timing was like a sprained ankle when you’ve just bought a brand, new pair of hot high-heeled shoes!
Since she was paying, I knew I should answer sooner because later could not even be negotiated.
“Can I have 24 hours to think about this? I really will answer your question in the morning when I’ve had time to "un-wine!” I offered as my opening gambit.
“12 hours only! If you’re going to be super productive, 24 hours is too long!” she shot back.
Knowing that there was no way out of this topic, my mind went to work increasing personal productivity, as I took the long way home.
So, just to be mean to her, I’m sharing my thoughts with you first and she will have to read this post to get her answer.
If you agree with me, and you also want to increase your personal productivity, let’s take a deep dive into how you can do just that!
1. Understand what is productivity
A good place for us to start is by defining “productivity”
Never mind what the economists and the theorists tell you (and OMG, forget the convoluted wording in some of their definitions!)
For realists like me, and I hope you, it’s simply the rate at which you transform a given amount of input into output.
For example, if we think of hours as input and cushion covers as the output, productivity is the number of cushion covers you can produce in an hour.
2. Understand increasing your productivity
To increase your productivity, you would have to do 1 or 2 things:
- increase the rate at which you increase output with the same level of input. So, in the example above, you will have to find a way to produce more cushion covers in the same hour.
2. or you can produce the same amount of cushion covers in less time than it now takes you. You could even try to produce them in about half the time. If you could, you would be actually doubling your productivity.
The thing is, you would have to change how you do things or change your behaviour in some other way in order to increase your personal productivity.
3. Now let’s unpack personal productivity
To increase your personal productivity, let’s be very clear what it is. When I talk about personal productivity, here’s what I’m talking about:
personal productivity is consistently completing those actions (inputs) which move you closer to accomplishing your goals (outputs) in a manner that brings balance and ease in your life.
This is how my clients understand it when I work with them on their self-development. It’s what my girlfriend was referring to when she challenged me to find a way to double it.
What this means is when your personal productivity is high you will accomplish your goals without drama and stress. In addition, you will have what Consultant of Consultant, Alan Weiss, calls “white space” in your life. And lots of it.
It follows that if you improve your personal productivity, you will increase your overall rate of productivity. This means you will consistently get so much more done in a whole lot less time (and that’s not the wine talking!)
But personal productivity won’t improve by accident.
For some, it requires a painful separation of sluggish bum from comfy chair and actually taking action to get something done.
For others, it means a reluctant change in mindset. Instead of constantly trying to find time for important projects in an already busy schedule, you have to prioritize and make time for what’s important.
But for all of us, some system, preferably simple to understand and easy to implement, is what we really want.
4. A System to improve your personal productivity
Enter my 4- Step (COPE) Productivity System™!
With this system, your mission is to learn, in a single day, how to effectively manage your available time so that you reduce overwhelm, increase productivity up to 50%, achieve your important goals and get more time to spend with loved ones.
I developed and refined this system when I worked in the non-profit sector and each person had to perform many, many roles.
Meanwhile, here's a brief description of each step.
- COLLECT - and write down all your projects and tasks. The key advantage of this step is to understand which of your long list of activities is a task and which is a project and how to group them appropriately, to drive your goals.
- ORGANIZE - the projects and tasks in some logical and meaningful order. This step produces a structured list which is driven by your “desired results” for each project and task. This is critical to reducing the feeling of overwhelm.
- PRIORITIZE – identify your most important projects and your most important tasks in every project. This is important because as Stephen Covey highlighted in his book “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” Important things are not always urgent, urgent things are not always important.
- EXECUTE – do what must be done in a focused and relaxed manner. If you have followed steps 1-3 up until now, you will be able to do what must be done in a calm and methodical manner.
The execute step is a harmonious blend of work, family and personal life and includes your circadian rhythms, how to park interruptive thoughts and ideas, your diet and how to develop completion criteria.
Your next step...
So there! I have shared with you, in a nutshell, the Personal Productivity System I use to COPE with my productivity levels. What’s more, it’s the same system that I use to coach people to increase their personal productivity.
You can work on it one-on-one with me or have me work with your team.
I guarantee you that by implementing my full productivity system, you can dramatically transform your personal productivity and achieve your personal and professional goals.
All you have to do is contact me and let’s get started!