• Kathy Svetina

How to Increase Productivity the Right Way

From: "Help! My Business is Growing" Podcast



How to increase productivity the right way


Productive employees are effective, efficient - and happy employees.


They use their time wisely and are more focused and engaged in their work, leading to better results that exceed expectations, like increased profitability and improved customer service.


It's all about working smarter, not harder, and working on what will ultimately provide value for the business.


But, real talk - how can you actually do all that? How can you make "work smart" happen? What does working smarter even look like? How can you make yourself more productive?


It sounds so easy, yet many of us have no idea where to start or find it challenging to improve our productivity, let alone our work teams.


In today's episode, our guest, productivity ninja Dawn O'Connor breaks down the specific steps you can take to help your team develop the skills they need to become more productive and identify and overcome the obstacles that are getting in their way.


She also shares effective techniques on how you can boost your productivity to help benefit your growing business.


In this week's episode, we discuss:

  • 16:00 What is energy management?

  • 20:57 What is eating the frog and how is it helpful for increasing productivity?

  • 33:22 What is batch processing and how can we use that to boost our productivity?

  • 38:39 What are some of the mistakes people make when using time blocking as a productivity tool?

  • 43:41 What is a tangible step to take immediately to become more productive and focused at work?

Transcript


Listen to the podcast here:



What is energy management?


Energy management is when you align your perceived energy with a certain kind of task


1. It is when your capacity to focus is at its highest, and you can be fully present to do deep work which is:

  • Distraction-free work

  • Concentration heavy work

  • Work that results in powerful outputs


2. It is an awareness of when your energy is at its peak, and you are mindful of fatigue and other distractions.

  • You use this awareness to decide when you will tackle specific tasks, so it matches your energy level.


A focus bubble is a bubble you create for yourself, a meeting you set to get your work done.


What is “eating the frog” and how is it helpful for increasing productivity?


"Eating the frog" is a productivity technique popularized by Brian Tracy. It means you tackle the task that you want to do least - and you tackle it first. The idea is that it generates momentum for the rest of the day. Because who wants to eat a frog in the morning? No one. Gross! But if you have to do it, it helps to do it first. Get it over with and move on!


To help you “eat the frog”:

1. Practice self-awareness, identify your frogs and acknowledge it's a task you don't love.

2. Think of some rituals you can practice to find a way to make your "frogs" enjoyable, like listening to some good music or having your favorite cup of tea.



So get over that hurdle, eat that frog, and the rest of your day will be so much easier, guaranteed.


 
"We need to be focusing on outcomes of work, not how we do the work, not when do we do it and not where we do it - but what do we produce?" - Dawn O'Connor
 


What is batch processing and how can we use that to boost our productivity?


Batch processing is the opposite of multitasking. It is when you gather a series of similar tasks and do them all at once.


You'll be able to focus and develop a flow when you work on one type of task, increasing your productivity.


It's also a "no-brainer" - our brains love to batch process naturally. The brain won't be switching over from one task to another, making you more efficient at that particular job.


Examples include:

  • Making all your sales and other work-related calls in one go

  • Scheduling meetings in one block of time

  • Working tasks that are similar. For example, content creation and anything else that is more creative.


Deep work is distraction-free, concentration heavy - it creates powerful outputs. It's the good, meaty stuff that pushes your business forward.


What are some of the mistakes people make when using time blocking as a productivity tool?


Don’t get overzealous and too rigid about time blocking. Blocking too much time won't allow you space for emergencies or "white space."


Also, be aware of the downsides of time blocking. When there are sudden schedule changes, for example, you won’t be able to honor the time you blocked off. If you’re not careful, you might find yourself beating yourself up for not adhering to the schedule instead of celebrating your successes.


 
"Our brains love to batch process naturally." - Dawn O' Connor
 

What is a tangible step to take immediately to become more productive and focused at work?


Start tracking your time.


Become self-aware and acknowledge where your time goes because you can't improve or fix - or even start a productivity process - unless you've analyzed where you currently spend your time.


You can do the following to time track:

  1. Go old school and write it down

  2. Use free tools and apps like Clockify


Disclaimer: It won't be easy at first; Nobody likes this activity or wants to do it, but it is an amazing eye-opener to see where you're spending your time, and once you know (for example, mindless scrolling on social media), it becomes easier to tackle that.


We can force (creative dreaming) by creating the right atmosphere for ourselves and eliminating distractions.



We go in-depth with this topic and more over at the podcast. Listen here:


 

To Recap:


Improving your productivity skills is possible by applying the following tips.


1. Practice energy management

Be aware when your energy is at its peak so you can tackle deep work without fatigue or distractions to achieve the best results.


2. Eat the frog

If you've been putting off that one difficult thing you need to do, stop avoiding it and just do it! Preferably early in your day. The sense of accomplishment you'll feel will generate momentum for the rest of your day and continue to increase your productivity.

3. Start batch processing

Maximize your time, effort, and brainpower by working on similar tasks all in one go.

You'll minimize the mental "start-up" or "switch over" costs and work more productively and effectively.


4. Incorporate time blocking in your process, but avoid its pitfalls

Time blocking is a great way to boost productivity, especially when done in tandem with energy management. Block of time to batch process your tasks based on your optimal energy levels. However, please don't be too rigid or black-and-white about it. Include time allowances for emergencies and essential "white space" or downtime so you can recharge.


5. Track your time - as the first step to boosting your productivity

Discover where your time goes by tracking your activities throughout the day. It will provide an accurate picture of the current state of your time and will help you build a process that will improve and enhance your productivity.



 

About Dawn O' Connor

Dawn O'Connor is a Master Productivity Ninja and Chief Focus Bubble™ Host at Focus Bubbles, professionally facilitated virtual co-working sessions designed to support your productivity.


She is also a productivity trainer and process improvement consultant with over 30 years of experience in the field. She has helped more than 10,000 clients worldwide enjoy being more organized and less stressed and achieving their personal productivity best.


Email - dawn@focusbubbles.ca

Website - https://www.focusbubbles.com

LinkedIn - https://www.linkedin.com/in/dawnoconnorcalgary/


Resources Mentioned:

Dr. Andrew Huberman | Huberman Lab Podcast

Brian Tracy | Eat the Frog: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time

Cal Newport | Deep Work Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World

Susan Cain | Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking



 

by Kathy Svetina

Kathy is a Fractional CFO and the founder and director of NewCastle Finance LLC. She is a financial puzzle solver, focusing on women-owned businesses, providing financial insights needed for a healthy and sustainable business.