What is productivity
There are as many definitions for productivity, as there are productivity bloggers. I didn’t want to break a tradition, so in my understanding:
Productivity is simply the rate at which a task is being done.
If a task was done in 10 hours, then your productivity is 1 task per 10 hours. If the same task has taken you 1 hour, your productivity is now 1 task per 1 hour.
In both cases, we still use the word productivity as it simply states the rate of work being done.
There are 2 more words that go hand in hand with productivity. In the second case, when you only spent 1 hour instead of the usual 10, you got more productive. Also, efficiency per time invested has improved.
Efficiency is a tricky term. To understand the word efficiency correctly, you need to specify the task and what inputs are being taken to complete this task. Efficiency always has something related to it. In our example above, it was the time that you have gotten more efficient with.
If we are talking about a company, then your productivity would be the rate at which a product is being manufactured. While improving the output would make your company more productive and improve efficiency based on the time spent per product.
Labor productivity is a hot term right now for CEOs of big companies. Labour productivity is just the amount of goods or service a total of your workforce(or labour force) produce in a given period of time. This is exactly the same thing. It is the productive rate of work.
What does it mean for you?
As humans, we always tend to choose the paths of least resistance. Sometimes it is crossing the road without the pedestrian crossing. Sometimes it is using the already known but outdated method of solving a problem.
Productivity, as a buzz word, that has been thrown around the internet a bunch. But the bottom line is that it can be improved and should be improved in everyday tasks.
What is better, solving a problem in 5 hours right now, or spending 1 hour on research and completing all of the future problems that are similar in 1 hour? Most of the people would irrationally choose the option of doing a task now, for 5 hours.
Process of learning has always been the most painful process for most of us. That is why our body and brain try to stay away from learning as much as possible.
The bad news here is that if you want to improve your productivity, you have to start learning every day and in every aspect of your life. Improving productivity can work wonders, but you have to put some amount of work to learn what to improve and how to improve.
The main problem is that increase in productivity has a marginal diminishing returns to time spent on it. Which means that with each increment of time you put in, less you will improve your productivity. It is effortless to increase your productivity 2x, but after that increasing, it 2x again can take twice as long.
That means that those that put out steps to improve your productivity and your work x10 straight away, make the process of learning as easy as possible. This reduces the time needed to learn, which in turn makes sure that you will stick with the hole task of improving.
Why are courses such a huge part of our lives? There are productivity courses on hard skills(productivity, design and marketing) everywhere right now. But now even soft skills(public speaking, presenting, communicating and thinking) courses are just as relevant.
With the time of google and information overdose, it is tough to have a clear picture of topics. Those that make a clear picture for you and organise the best content in a very easy to consume way are rewarded with dollars.
That is why some of the professional productivity courses can be very expensive.
Professional and work-life
Some of the courses in professional space can cost huge sums. Some of them are as expensive as 100$ thousand. You probably don’t want to spend that much money on a course or an MBA program yourself. That is when your communication skills with your boss come into play.
Improving your productivity is not something that only will improve your personal life. Productivity will improve your professional life, as well.
Imagine a scenario:
Your boss can hire 2 new employees, that are at the middle level of skills, and spend $100 thousand per year on salary.
Or he can hire you and pay you $60 thousand in salary but also buy courses for $20 thousand that you will have to understand fully.
Let’s think that these courses will improve your productivity at work-related tasks x4. Now the employer has spent 80$ thousand, and you can do as much work as 4 other employees. Basically, you are saving an employer $120 thousand.
This is a very common thing that employers consider when hiring. If you show passion for learning and willing to improve and take critique on the interview, that shows that you are the type of person that can be invested in.
There is research that shows that some of the bootcamps for professionals can improve productivity at specific task x25. That is why x4 is not an exaggeration. Knowledge is power. It was, and it always will be.
This is just a simple case that can be done on a big scale, but think of countless udemy courses that for $10 can make an oblivious junior engineer into a decent high-end junior? Knowing from personal experience, that $10 can save you 100 hours for your senior engineer and the junior will have a good base to understand how to carry forward.
Improving Productivity is easy
If I asked — how much free time do you have? Most people would say no free time. I get it we all are busy bees.
But I bet you have 5 minutes per day of free time. I even bet that you have more, but 5 minutes will do for now.
What you need to do is to choose 5 minutes that will be free for you every single day, 365 days a year. Do you have a time slot chosen? Okay.
So now, I want you to spend this 5 minutes every day working on your productivity. Buy a course for your work for $10 on udemy, download YouTube tutorials relevant to you. I want you to spend those 5 minutes learning on how to improve.
If after 5 minutes you want to carry on for a bit, sweet. If no, then just stop after 5 minutes and carry on with your day. Make sure, though, to do this every, single, day.
Why? Let’s do some maths:
5 X 365 = 1825 minutes or 30.5 hours that you spent learning. I would gladly take out 5 minutes from my day for 30.5 hours of improvement in a year.
It is all in compounding. Just getting better for a little bit will make all your life easier. Getting better for a little bit but in the long period of time, constantly, will change your life entirely.
If you improve your productivity by 1% each day, then at the end of the year( 1.01^365 ) you will be 37.8 times better then when you started.
This whole learning and productivity processes are what actually differentiates the average from the great.
For freelancers, it is what separates the $5 an hour and $500 an hour professionals.
A person can finish 10 projects and earn a $1000 or can do 1 project and get $10000. That is also an example of efficiency that has gotten improved.
If you don’t improve your productivity, someone else there will and will most likely drive you out of your comfortable life.
Productivity is a buzz word everyone throws around. Next time when you are doing anything, think of a word improvement. As long as you improve, it doesn’t matter what you are doing and how.
You as always have to start small to get somewhere big. It is all in the process. Get so comfortable with the process, that without it, you will be bored.
You want to become a person that is a constant learner, and that is efficient in everything. Only then you can guarantee success.
Start now. Get perfect later.