4 overarching productivity principles

“Productivity is being able to do things that you were never able to do before" - Franz Kafka

Unless you’ve strategically designed your productivity eco system then output can be quite inconsistent. Some days you’ll feel you’re making tremendous progress and other days you’ll seem to be going backwards. Recently while attending an event a CEO asked me for what I consider to be the 3 most important overarching productivity principles. Before I could answer he added “don’t give me 100 different detailed techniques, just 3 overarching principles. I responded I didn’t have 3 but I had 4 if he was interested. Today’s article has the 4 principles I shared with the CEO.

Scalable and sustainable – regardless where you start, people and organisations need to be able to scale up or down and do so over the longer term. I cringe every time I hear productivity techniques along the lines of “get up 1 hour earlier.” Follow this and you can get more done but think of it like a glass full of water. What happens when you have to put more water in? It overflows. Similarly, we can’t keep on waking 1 hour earlier when we get busier otherwise we won’t be able to sustain the pace.

Systemise – by getting economies of scale via defined workflows. Whether it’s a business process or a piece of work being received by an individual worker, everyone needs to understand what happens next and then action it with a minimum of fuss.

Focus on what’s important – what are the activities the company and the people who work there need to do to be successful. Primarily focus on the important key tasks that you and only you can do. For the lesser important tasks look to eliminate, delegate or automate.

Establish a rhythm – in a way optimising productivity is like improving yourself because productivity can ripple through to every facet of your life. Done well and it’s a breeze, whereas it’s a challenge when done poorly. Think how your energy levels fluctuate when there’s little or no rhythm to how you work. What’s your ideal rhythm that allows you to function at your best?

Does your productivity system unlock you to do the things you’ve never done before? If not then also consider customising productivity to suit you by embedding some of the many detailed productivity techniques that support achieving the 4 overarching principles.

What are your key productivity principles?