Want to know what are some ways to improve productivity and efficiency? Then you’re in the right place.
How to be productive? There are many methods and theories about productivity. We are constantly looking for ways to make ourselves more efficient and effective. Subconsciously, we all know what to do to be more productive. Productivity is about doing what you’ve assumed and planned to do.
To be productive, you need to maintain iron discipline, be persistent, avoid procrastination, and act until you reach your goal. What can help us with that? Learn a few theories, most of which have been scientifically researched, tested and tried. They have proved useful in improving productivity. They can also work for you.
7 Ways To Improve Productivity And Efficiency
1. The Pareto Principle 80/20
Relatively often quoted Pareto principle states that in the case of many events, about 80% of the effects are due to 20% of the causes, e.g. 20% of the company’s employees produce 80% of all products; 20% of the customers bring the company 80% of the profits; 20% of the read text allows us to understand 80% of the content, 20% of the bugs cause 80% of the service requests, 20% of the tasks take 80% of the time, and so on.
The theoretical scheme underlying this principle was discovered by the Italian economist Vilfred Pareto. He analyzed statistical data on the income of the Italian population in 1897. On this basis he concluded that 80% of Italy’s property is owned by 20% of the country’s population.
In a broader context, the name “Pareto Principle” was first used in 1941 by Joseph Juran. In his work to improve quality and production, he formulated this principle as the “Pareto Principle”. – He formulated this principle as “vital few (20%) and trivial many (80%)”. (key 20% and many insignificant 80%).
Values 20 and 80 should not be seen as the only right solution. This proportion may in fact be greater or less. However, it is a proportion that appears relatively often in observations – the distribution of many features assumes the right ratio of 20 to 80%.
The Pareto Principle makes it easier to analyze the root causes of problems, allows you to set priorities and helps organize time, thus achieving maximum results with minimal time investment.
What’s the most important thing?
Everything we do can therefore be divided into two categories. The first is ‘important’, the second ‘not important’. Focusing your attention, energy and action on “important” things is the most effective, but engaging in “not important” activities is ineffective.
The key to success is therefore to identify those most important factors that are responsible for the largest part of the final outcome. To be more productive, invest time in tasks and activities that are primarily responsible for the final outcome and create the greatest value. So it is worth to think carefully and choose the most beneficial for the success of a given project action.
This principle also leads to the conclusion that it makes little sense to be a perfectionist. There are, of course, critical areas where we aim for 100% values such as the protection of human health and life, areas related to safety, e.g. in aviation, where “perfection” and absence of mistakes are necessary, but in most cases this is not so important. So why invest more time and money than necessary? Remember done is often much better than perfect.
2. Hawthorne effect
Hawthorne’s effect is a psychological phenomenon that causes an improvement in human behavior or performance as a result of increased attention from others.
This phenomenon was discovered by Elton Mayo during his research on work performance among Western Electric Company employees at the Hawthorne Works in the United States. Experimental researchers have tried to measure the lighting conditions in which productivity will increase.
It turned out that productivity increased in both experimental and control groups, due to, as the researchers concluded, the researchers’ involvement in the research process and their continuous presence, which made them try to work more and more efficiently during the course of the experiment. The awareness of workers that they were the object of someone else’s interest made them work more efficiently and more susceptible to collaboration.
The findings of the research can be particularly useful for leaders and managers as they indicate how they should behave towards their employees and what the organisation of the workplace should be. Mayo also highlighted the importance of the informal contacts that are created between workers and their impact on workplace performance.
How can you use this to increase your personal productivity? As people, we are sometimes concerned about how we are perceived, and often unduly attach too much importance to other people’s opinions. Our mind is subconscious. We care about our social reputation and want to be well received by those around us.
Tell the others about your intentions.
Although the Hawthorne Effect works primarily for the work environment organization and based on how others treat us, you can use it to your advantage. For example, if you are thinking about starting a new venture or want to achieve a goal that nobody knows about yet, you can tell your friends about your intentions and ask them to ask you from time to time about the progress you have made on your way to achieving it.
Your motivation to keep your word can then be greater. So think about who I want to share my goals with? Once you’ve defined it, choose the best moment and way to tell them about it. Your motivation to keep your word and be more productive can then be greater.
The idea is that you use the Hawthorne effect to use people’s expectations to motivate yourself.
3. Zeigarnik effect
You probably know the feeling when you leave something unfinished and still have it in the back of your head. You think about it and it doesn’t leave you alone until you’ve done it all and achieved your goal. You experience the so-called “zeigarnik effect”.
This effect was discovered and described by Bluma Zeigarnik in 1927, according to this theory, tasks that we do not complete are better remembered by us than tasks completed.
A practical example of the Zeigarnik effect can be a waiter who remembers better the customers who have not yet paid their bills than those who have already left the restaurant.
From this phenomenon, we can learn a lesson that can increase our productivity. If you want to do a job that you care about, you should start it, even if you don’t do it all at once. You will begin to think about this unfinished sentence that you have started and you will be more motivated to do it quickly and free yourself from the tormenting feeling that something is hanging on to you.
If you’re struggling with prokrastication, just start the “zeigarnik effect”, and it will do the rest for you. Your mind will not leave you alone until you do what you have to do.
4. Theory of expectations
Victor Vroom’s theory of expectations is based on the assumption that a person’s motivation depends on two main factors:
– how strong our desire is,
– what’s the probability of a thirst quench.
This theory assumes that when people start working, they have different expectations regarding the consequences of their behavior and calculate their expenditures and expected benefits in a rational way. As people we have a choice of how we can behave and we do it depending on the expected results.
Motivation mobilizes us to make an effort which, together with the combination of our individual skills and the environmental conditions, leads us to the expected results and achievements in our work.
These achievements result in different results, each with a different value attributed to different people. Naturally, we assume that an increase in effort will result in higher achievements.
When we take an action, we think about what results the action will bring. How much effort we will have to put into achieving the goal and how much meaning or reward we will get when we achieve it. It is assumed that we are motivated by expected results, the higher the expected reward, the more efficiently we work.
If we are confident that good performance will ensure satisfaction, both in terms of internal and external compensation, and if practice confirms these assumptions, we will be more involved in the job.
Think about the reward
To increase your productivity, think about the benefits and rewards you’ll get from the task you’ve completed. Visualize the effects of your work, create a mental image in your mind that will push you to complete the task.
If possible, try to make the benefits you expect more emotional, fulfillment, satisfaction, pride and not just physical and material. Use your goals to grow, to set new limits to your comfort zone. Let the vision of the end and the benefits of its fulfillment lead you forward.
Use the theory of expectations, think about the final results and ask yourself: Why do they matter so much to me? If your “why” is strong enough, your motivation to work and achieve your goal will be much higher and you will automatically act more effectively.
5. Parkinson’s law.
The law according to which “work shall be extended so as to fill the time available to complete it”. Prof. C. Northcote Parkinson a British military historian, presented this thesis in 1955, jokingly mocking bureaucracy and showing the causes and consequences of its growth.
If we have a predetermined time to perform a task, we often use up all the available time to perform it. People often delay their tasks, even though they could do them faster, but the very fact that they have available time means that not all the time they have at their disposal is used up in a productive way.
If someone gives you an hour to complete a task and you know that you can do it in 20 minutes, it is still a good chance that you will complete the task after an hour. Sometimes people do this for fear that they will get less time next time and prefer to have more time to spare.
Specify the time for tasks
The tasks you are performing should have a deadline to complete, without which they will drag on indefinitely. However, in order to be more effective, this time cannot be too long, there should be no large buffers, because then there is waste.
How to be even more effective? Combine Parkinson’s law with the Pareto rule. Of all the tasks you have to complete, choose the ones that give you the most effect and gain (“magic” 20%), and then set yourself ambitious short deadlines to force yourself to act. Think about the reward you get from achieving your goal.
6. Hofstadter’s law
In opposition to Parkinson’s law, there’s Hofstadter law. According to this law, “doing something always takes more time than you expect. Hofstadter’s law is connected with underestimation of time for completing a given task. The more demanding the task, the more unclear it is, especially if we have not done it before, the less accurately we estimate the time to complete it.
This happens to many of us. We think that we will be able to accomplish a task in a certain time, and in fact, due to different circumstances that we have not taken into account, the time for completion is getting longer.
Balancing Parkinson’s law with Hofstadter’s law can be difficult. On the one hand, we don’t want to postpone the task, on the other hand, the tasks usually take longer than we expect.
To be more productive, rather give Parkinson’s law an advantage. Set shorter deadlines for execution, even if they are exceeded and you need to postpone them. In the final analysis, this may be a more effective strategy than setting up large time buffers at the very beginning.
But be aware that reality is often much more complicated than you think and consider the different options and eventualities that can affect your productivity and deadlines.
7. The Pomodoro Technique
The Pomodoro Technique is a time management technique that proposes a division of work into intervals, traditionally 25 minutes long, separated by short breaks. The idea behind this method is that the Pomodoro technique teaches how to work effectively with time, instead of fighting it.
As a rule, one “pomodoro” is 25 minutes of work, 5 minutes of break. If the task is more time-consuming you can do some “pomodoro” in a sequence. After four “pomodoro”, it is worth taking a longer break 20-30 minutes.
According to proponents of the pomodoro technique, we are more productive when we take short breaks while working, compared to working continuously for a longer period of time. Dividing your work into relatively short periods of time allows you to concentrate – it’s easier to concentrate when you know you’ll be working for a predetermined period of time.
Remember about discipline
However, this technique requires discipline, if you take a break after 25 minutes of work, it should be really short. It is designed to allow you to get away from the task you are working on only for a while and to refresh your mind. After about 5 minutes you should go back to work.
Your break must not drag on and last longer than the time you devote to work, because then the technique becomes ineffective in terms of higher productivity. The Pomodoro technique is a very simple time management technique that you can use practically immediately.
Here are 7 scientifically researched ways to help you increase your productivity. Experiment with them and see what works for you. Applying and combining these different techniques, laws and theories in practice can bring you even greater benefits.
Your approach to work, good habits and developing your strengths and skills are a mix that will allow you to achieve what you decide.