4 Rules Of Productivity

4 Rules Of Productivity

Skip To Rule…

  1. Produce
  2. Faster
  3. Lesser
  4. More

The first rule to productivity is to simply produce… Just do it

Zero Results = Zero Productivity

You probably know that the formula for calculating productivity, which is to take the output (Results) divide by the inputs such as money, time, energy, raw materials, etc. Therefore, if your results are zero, your productivity is zero. Period.

Productivity equals Output divides by inputs

Productivity is a measurement, so the first rule of productivity is to get results (output), no matter how much resources you have, if you can’t produce a result, you’ll end up with zero productivity.

Take Action

And so our topic begins – the ability to produce resul(s). Use whatever works to take action that can help you get the results or at the very least, closer to it everyday. (But of course, to do it ethically and hopefully legally)

Zero Actions = Negative Results

While you might think that zero actions can be zero results. Most of the time, it is not… You have to see the changes underneath or the results beyond.

If you do not take action, you are actually moving further away from your action. 

There is no stagnant in life or business as “Change is the only constant in this world”. The world moves on. Look at companies or successful entrepreneurs that got “stagnant”, are they in business anymore?

Or imagine a person who is trying to slim down, but not taking action on any fitness or diet plan. What are the chances of slimming down?

Everyday you don’t take action towards it. You may lose the momentum, the drive, the knowledge and skills, and even the sight of it – How dreams died.

On the other side, you start gaining momentum towards inaction, excuses, self-doubts, and procrastination. At the same time, distractions and other goals get in the way too which could set you off another path. And a vicious cycle of inaction begins…

So your first goal to be productive is to take action. Sometimes it could be a lack of reasons to be motivated to do it.

Define What is Holding You Back

Understand more what is hindering you, and what will push/pull you forward. How can you do what you want faster? What could have been done better? Here are some thoughts:

  1. Poor planning? Lack of Forward-Thinking?
  2. Procrastination? Fear? Doubt? The faster you take action, the faster you overcome them.
  3. Bad habits? Lack of Discipline?
  4. Technological barrier? Time to upgrade!
  5. Lack of Focus? Too many distractions or interruptions?
  6. Creative Learning Disability? Learn more about people, process, system, and environment?
  7. Tired? Fitter = More Energy.
  8. Deadline – Too much time? (Parkinson’s Law: work expands filling up the time available for its completion)
  9. Deadline – Too little time? (Not everyone can thrive in high tempo operations)
  10. Lack of a supportive system for your operation?
  11. Comfort zone? Lack of drive? As most people are highly “adaptable”? If it doesn’t hurt enough, people won’t change.
  12. Lack of preparation (resources, training, skills, state of mind, or etc)?

“Preparation is half the battle won. So have you prepared well?”

So remember… Life is always moving. You are either moving towards your goals or away from it – There’s no stopping.

If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you’ll never get it done. – Bruce Lee

Want to take action already? I hope so.

Stop waiting for the perfect moment. Take the moment and make it perfect

One more thing to inspire you in the right direction…

The things around me and within me now, are not good enough for me to get to where I want. Else, I would already be there… – Max

Start doing something to move towards your goal – No matter how small a step you are taking. Just do it and move forward!

Productivity Rule Number 2: Faster

Become Faster

The goal here is to become faster at getting things done, especially for repetitive tasks. Thus, make your decisions with time being the top priority. Delivering Results Faster includes the following from start to finish:

Start Faster

Life's Only Regret Should Be: "I Should Have Started Earlier..."
Life’s Only Regret Should Be…

By faster, we are also implying starting earlier. However, we do not mean by being somewhere earlier where you have nothing to do but wait. That, to us, is a huge waste of time. We are big fans of Just-In-Time (JIT) strategies/technologies.

But, if by being to an event earlier, where you can network with people more, we definitely support that.

Or if you feel that you need the extra time to prepare yourself or to eliminate the possibility of being late which will cause you certain emotional stress that will undermine your performance. Go ahead. Just bear in mind that Time is Precious.

Imagine that you have succeeded in what you want to do. Would you have to look back and think why you took such a long time?

Or worst scenario, if someone else had the same idea as you, and they succeeded faster than you. To avoid such regrets or setbacks, Start Faster or Start Earlier.

Performance Psychology

Starting is usually the hardest in terms of motivation, but once you get started, you may not stop that easily, always have a strong enough reason and motivation comes naturally.

For example, you want to get fitter by jogging, but you are always full of excuses. Try putting on the shoes and start running, you may just run out your excuses, and continue running.

Spending time on Facebook, which can be a huge time drain would be a negative example. Thinking that you just go in for a little while and that little while became hours.

Spending more time than intended is a common human behavior.

Once stopped, it may be hard to start; But started, it may not be easy to stop

In human psychology, we call part of this theory, the Zeigarnik Effect. It suggests that it’s human nature to finish what we start, else, we’ll experience dissonance. Basically, you’ll be more likely to finish a task once you actually start doing it – especially useful for procrastinators.

Do it Faster with Focus

Next, would be getting things done faster.  You may even ask “Why? What’s the benefit of doing it faster?” Here’s some:

  1. Faster towards Results/Rewards
  2. Opening up more possibilities
  3. Gaining Momentum and Confidence to push pass failure or expand on your success
  4. More time for yourself on other stuff

So now, how do we get you up to the optimal speed? For a start, you can relook at Taking Action where we list the 12 conditions above that could have affected your progress or preventing you from gaining productivity.

Try confronting the one constraint that will set everything else in motion. Or like what the military would do, analyze their mission in stages:

  1. Before Action Review: Preparations analysis: Examining past experiences and lessons learned
  2. During Action Review: The decisions made and the actions carried out
  3. After Action Review: What could have been done better for future improvements

Focus is all about Attention Management and Concentration – How to prioritize your action while preventing distraction and interruptions?

Brendon Burchard’s How To Stay Focused?

Finish Faster

If you failed, fail faster so you can get rally faster. If you succeeded, celebrate fast so that you don’t get complacent and become stagnant in enjoying your success. Stay Hungry!

Like any competitive sports team, celebrate the night you won and continue training for the next few days focusing on the next match. If you lost, take the night off, reflect and respond positively as there are more challenges ahead.

Being Practical

At times, if you can maintain being practical without the burden of emotions and wanting to appear “nice and friendly”, you may end up doing what you want to do, faster.

Do note that no man is an island – A single man can only do much, a right team can do so much more.

Productivity Rule Number 3: Lesser

A quick recap for the previous 2 rules. The first is to have the ability to produce actions or results. Next is to do it faster. Only proceed when you have accomplished the previous 2 rules.

Getting More With Less

To have more with less is to improve on the Quality and thus reducing the quantity. – Art of Fulfilment

Sometimes, even when we had achieved a lot of accomplishments, and yet we are not excited or happy about it? Do you wonder why?

It is the meaning that you gave to that experience that ultimately determines how you feel. You may think you got lucky, or you could have gotten more and thus you are not over the moon.

  1. Learn to be show gratitude to yourself and others
  2. Be Content with what you have
  3. Don’t be angry with what you don’t
  4. Celebrate your little victories along the way

“What we acquire will never make us happy. Who we become determines our happiness” – Anthony Robbins

Now that you can do it faster, you will have to weigh the balance to be more efficient: Can You do it faster or to do it with lesser resources?

Efficiency is about having the maximum impact (Effectiveness) with minimum effort.

Practical Ways to go about being more Efficient with Clarity

  1. Eliminate
    • Eliminating wasteful resources should be the No.1 thing to do to increase productivity.
    • Evaluate our action systems, processes, resources, and even our own habits in details and do what is necessary and less of what is unnecessary.
  1. Reduce
    • Distractions and Interruptions.
    • Decision-Making Crossroads – The less you need your human input, the more automated you will be.
    • Frequency of unproductive activities – Having a rule to handling a piece of information only once, be it on paper or in the email:
      1. Get it Done
      2. Delegate
      3. Archive
      4. Destroy
  1. Substitute
    • If elimination or reduction is not practical, then the next best thing is to look for alternatives
  1. Improve
    • More & Better Training to improve results, especially when frequency to perform the action is high
    • Reward Motivation

The Pareto’s Principle – 80/20 Rule vs Striving for Perfection

20% Input Creates 80% Output

Pareto’s Principle, named after Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, who found that usually 80% of an outcome is accomplished by 20% of the input. 

The famous distribution of this principle is that 80% of wealth is accounted for by 20% of the people. For business-wise, 80% of sales come from 20% of your clients.

It would be wise not to strive for perfection because the effort and resources to attain that are way harder, as it would have taken up like 80% of your effort. 

For instance, 80% of a student’s result would be accounted for by 20% of his effort studying. In other words, for a student to score a distinction, he/she have to study much harder and covering more topics and more in-depth. He or she could have scored 5 subjects well with the same amount of effort and resources.

Perfection… An Infinite Goal

Everything has to be interpreted with context, sometimes there will be things that are worthy to strive for perfection. But most of the time, perfection would be more of a hindrance, as you most likely never get something perfect. 

Like in competitive sports, if you plan to have a 100% shot to goal ratio, what are the chances of you being the top goalscorer at the end of the season or even score in the game itself?

Perfection is a temporary state of mind. As your thinking change, things will not be perfect anymore – Everything can always be improved. When you think something is perfect, the tendency to be complacent or stagnant becomes a threat to that state of perfection. In addition, remember that you can’t please everyone in life.

“Be Perfect in Getting Results. Not Getting Perfect Results”

Productivity Rule Number 4: More

Be Results-Oriented

In our fast-paced modern world, results matter.

If you are an employee, you have to sell your achievements to get promoted. If you are a job seeker, your interviewers would probably ask about your previous accomplishment and what can you bring to the company?

Almost everything is based on results and relationships. Even great relationships is a result in itself.

Let’s say you are a football fan, your personal favorite striker would be likely the one that scored the most goals in a season than a guy with a 100% accuracy record of 3 goals with 3 shots over the season. Right?

In a metaphor like this, having more actions (shots at success) means increased chances of results in both success and failures. However, usually, that one success can outweigh a lot of the failures.

Quick Summary: 4 Rules Of Productivity Frameworks

If you had gone through the previous 3 Rules of Productivity frameworks, now is the time to put everything together.

  1. Take Action – Regardless of success or failure, we must produce a result. And to obtain a result, we must carry out the actions. No action equals no results and no results equal zero productivity.
  2. Be Faster – As time is the most precious “resources” we will ever have, ensure the highest and best use of it. Therefore the need for us to improve, to become faster, and to get results faster, especially in a competitive environment, becomes paramount.
  3. Lesser – After becoming faster, if you can accomplish whatever you want to achieve with lesser input, the marginal gain will be maximized. Thereby improving productivity.
  4. More – By adopting the first 3 rules, you will be able to do more with less, get faster results with lesser resources. This frees you to do whatever you want, be it accomplishing more things, or quite simply having a 4-hour workweek. It will be your choice of life.

More More MORE!

With productivity increasing, further riding on the momentum and your sense of achievement may not necessarily imply that production should increase too.

“Improving Human Productivity Only to Increase Production Usually is CounterProductive”

Reflect and plan for more meaningful goals with the increased productivity in your life. Are there special benefits of doing more of the same or getting more of the same? Does more money really make you happier?

In conclusion, what other areas can we improve, now that we have some freed-up resources?

  • Getting Fitter?
  • Working on your Passions/Hobby?
  • Spending more time with family and friends?
  • Making someone’s day Great!?

Or working it in greater detail with Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs or Tony Robbins’ Life Wheel to discover what’s missing or lacking in making your life greater.

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