The never-ending journey towards optimal productivity

by Wehan Dreyer | August 24, 2021

In the age of information ad infinitum, the human brain has never been so exposed to such volumes and varied types of information. This is mostly due to the growing importance of the internet and social media. Daily life has become so interconnected and infused with it that we simply cannot imagine a world or life without it, and it has made life in the digital world increasingly distracting. Whether it’s your TV, cellphone, tablet, computer, blaring media or constant notifications, they all have an adverse effect on productivity in the modern age.

Covid-19 has also brought the issue of productivity to the forefront. Every industry in some way or form was faced with the issue of having to send team members home, working whilst having an endless array of distractions and no one to monitor their efficiency or productivity.

Herein lies the first hurdle to achieving productivity – accountability.

Productivity and accountability

Accountability is taking responsibility for the performance of a service, task, project, or action and has a symbiotic relationship with productivity – one cannot be maximized without the other.

Accountability eliminates the time and effort you spend on distracting activities and other unproductive behavior, while productivity ensures you can manage your time to meet deadlines efficiently.

So how can a company create a culture of accountability?

  1. Setting an example – managers and senior staff play a key role, as they are actively engaged in working towards team goals and in helping team members succeed. Team members look toward their peers to set an example or standard of proper accountability.
  2. Motivation – Finding the right balance here can be tricky. Team members need to engage each other and encourage one another to reach their goals. But being too involved can lead to micromanaging which hampers the ability to succeed and can breed negativity in the workplace.
  3. Learning from mistakes – Team members must be encouraged to own up to mistakes and take ownership of issues that arise. This is only achievable if the reaction to those mistakes is handled correctly. Instead of disciplining, the first reaction must be to identify WHY those mistakes happened and HOW they can be corrected in the future – whether through training courses, skills development, or proper guidance.
  4. Consistent 1 on 1 meetings – This has become common practice here at Wauko, a time to focus on improvements that can be made, in a safe and constructive manner. Our team avoids the pitfalls of negativity when it comes to these meetings, enabling the feedback loop and thereby enhancing productivity.

Having team members take ownership of their work creates a natural standard of productivity, but it also leads to innovative ideas to continuously optimize productivity.

Clearing the hurdles to productivity

  1. Plan ahead – As I’ve mentioned before, the volumes and variety of information we are exposed to can often times clutter the mind and cause us to forget crucial information yet remember worthless ones. The brain is fascinating sometimes… This can be overcome with the use of digital productivity tools, such as Evernote, Microsoft Planner, Monday, and Asana – all of which helps to track tasks, assigning dates of completion to them and sorting them according to their importance.
  2. Do not Disturb – Say no to distractions! Saying no involves saying no to both yourself and the people in your life that distract you. It can be as simple as turning off the TV in the background or a more drastic method like setting your team-chat tools to “mute”, “do not disturb” or “busy”.
  3. Change of scenery – working in one place continuously limits imagination and increases tiredness. This reduces productivity but is also bad for your overall health. Get up from your desk and go somewhere else every now and then. Even if it’s just a stroll outside to brainstorm or getting up for a coffee.
  4. Stop Procrastinating – Planning and setting your tasks are just the start. Don’t stop working until everything on your list is done. Believe it or not, that extra work will make you more relaxed, because instead of staying up late worrying about what you forgot to do or must do first thing in the morning, you’ll be ahead of the game. Know what you’re capable of getting done in one day, plan it out, and get it done before you call it a day. This habit does take time to establish, primarily because people often overestimate what can be achieved in one day.
  5. Use social media sparingly – Everyone uses social media in some way. Whether it’s Whatsapp, Twitter, Instagram or Facebook, the urge to constantly check your phone is arguably the most distracting thing in modern life. Think about how much time you spend on social media and what benefit you’re really getting out of it. If you’re learning and perhaps promoting something, that’s productive. If you’re looking at the profiles of old friends, then maybe you’re wasting time.
  6. Automation – Automation has always been propelled by the desire to get more done, reduce costs, and limit the possibility of human error, all at once. It involves using technology to streamline workflows and automate manual processes, which enables you to spend your productive time on the activities that truly add value. Although using these tools might take some initial cost, time and expertise to implement, in the long run it will significantly increase productivity and set the foundation for continuous automation development.
  7. Integrative learning – whether we want to or not, we cannot “unplug” ourselves from the digital world we live in. We must learn to adapt continuously. The digital world changes rapidly and we must change with it to avoid being left behind. However, by integrating our work with the technologies at our disposal, we can increase productivity exponentially. We just need to be willing to learn, integrate and adapt to the world we live in.

Self-Discipline as the path to productivity

We’ve discussed the hurdles on the path to productivity, however it’s a fruitless exercise if there is no self-discipline to maintain an actionable ability to be more productive into the future. It is one thing to put the phone down or not procrastinate for one day, but it’s a totally different thing to do it every day.

Self-discipline can often be seen as a strenuous activity, but the result of self-discipline is ultimately peace and tranquility. Stress results from fear of the unknown. When you complete tasks, you’re minimizing the unknown. Even if you are already productive, you can still plan more often and accurately and even find ways to accomplish more by doing less.

At Wauko we constantly push the envelope to be more productive, in turn giving our team more time to add value to our clients and their businesses, assisting them quicker and more accurately.

We welcome the opportunity to share what we’ve learnt on our journey. Connect with us.


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