To stay ahead of the game, one of the main goals companies strive to achieve is to improve productivity. Increased productivity means higher revenues and a stronger bottom line. So how can you improve productivity in the workplace? In many of the same ways that you improve productivity on the field. Here are what some of the most successful sports figures had to say about how to increase productivity.
1. Understand planning vs. execution.
Football legend Steve Young said, “I was taught early on that I should plan my work and then work my plan. The best strategy in the world won’t be effective if it isn’t backed up with muscle and sweat.”
Setting goals is a necessary first step. But it’s only the first step. Make sure those goals are attainable, and then work to attain them.
2. You can’t improve what you don’t measure.
If you’re not measuring your performance, you have no benchmark for improvement. Cameron MacMillan, co-founder and COO of Daily Fantasy Sports site Rotogrinders says – when it comes to working with statistics – “Numbers don’t lie; every incremental improvement you make can be measured and compared to previous productivity. A graph of your achievements, with the line going up, is just as good as a pat on the back from the boss.”
3. Stay away from time wasters.
Facebook is perhaps the biggest time suck ever invented. It’s useful for a lot of things, but can also be detrimental to your productivity. Golfer Tiger Woods is quoted as saying, “I can either play golf or play on the internet — guess which one I chose?”
The fact that he actively chooses to pursue his passion instead of getting caught up in time wasting activities is what makes him such a great golfer. Angry Birds, Wikipedia, and YouTube can wait until after you get home. When you’re working on a project, give your full attention to working on the project. If you let yourself get distracted, things will never get done.
4. Make room for down time.
On the other hand, no one can be productive all day every day. Vince Lombardi, the uber-coach of the Green Bay Packers, told reporters, “I not only plan to win, but also plan for player down time — it’s a given that has to be factored in. Instead of pulling out my hair in frustration, I just leave some wiggle room in the schedule, so that when it happens I already have a way of dealing with it. That’s why so many coaches go crazy — they never plan for player down time.”
Down time can mean an accident or unforeseen circumstances that keep you from working. Or it can simply mean taking a breather for a few minutes, and pausing to relax and unwind. If you don’t do the latter, the chances of the former are much greater. Either way, if staying on schedule means working constantly, you’ll find yourself behind schedule very quickly.
5. Compete against yourself, not against others.
Sasha Trubnikov is a former Olympic shotputter from Russia and now a productivity engineer at Interactive Strategies. How does he keep focus? “I only try to beat my own record. That way I never waste any time getting mad at anyone else or being discouraged.”
A little friendly competition in the workplace can actually help productivity to some degree. Seeing how well others are doing can motivate you to improve your own numbers. But in the long run, comparing yourself to others is detrimental. If you get caught up in the competition, you to lose sight of your actual goals. Concentrating on improving your own performance instead of beating someone else’s will help you focus more on the task at hand and ultimately motivate you to continue doing better.
Yankee legend and noted wordsmith Yogi Berra once quipped, “What’s a calendar for if it don’t keep my head empty for other things?”
Now we have more than just desk calendars. We have mobile devices that can store all of our important appointments, deadlines and other events. They can even send us reminders of what we have going on. This allows you to prioritize your tasks and budget your time, without having to be constantly worried about how many tasks and projects you still have coming up. Your calendar will keep you on task, and remind you of what you need to do. That way, you can keep your head clear for the work that’s right in front of you.
7. Don’t be afraid to try.
Hockey legend Wayne Gretzky famously said, “You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.” If you’re afraid to act because you’re afraid to fail, then you end up getting nothing done at all. You’ve failed, before you even began.
Sonja Henie, a Norwegian ice skater who parlayed an Olympic medal into a Hollywood career, is quoted as saying, “I was told I could skate but not act, or act but not skate — but I wanted to try doing both at the same time. It didn’t scare me; my parents taught me that failure is only a detour, not a wall.”
Learn to embrace those detours. They may hinder your productivity temporarily, but will improve it in the long run. Particularly over those who aren’t taking any shots at all.
The key to productivity is twofold: half planning and half hard work. Between the two, you can do anything you set your mind to. So get out there and give it 110 percent. If you do that, you can knock it out of the park.