So What is Productivity? Productivity is the measure of efficiency of a person, machine, factory or a systems in converting inputs into desirable outputs. It’s calculated by dividing the desirable outputs by the resources consumed during a nominated timeframe.
In real terms, if you are more productive then you get more shit done in less time.
When you’re a woman in business, the ability to focus and increase productivity can seem like an unattainable nirvana…… I know I have those thoughts on a regular basis, it just seems like there’s never enough hours in the day!
But in all honesty, I’m a productive person. I pump out quality work faster than the average person. I know that I do because I work full time in a job that I love, I’m studying full time to obtain my MBA, I run The Female Entrepreneur Collective and manage all the associated social media accounts. I’m not saying that I do all of those things perfectly, but the productivity tools and techniques that I use help me to get as much shit done as possible in the limited time I have available.
The five productivity techniques that I personally use and would recommend to all business women are:
- The Pomodoro Technique
- Time Blocking
- The KanBan Method
- The Action Method.
Productivity Tools for Business Women
The Pomodoro Technique
The Pomodoro Technique is by far my favourite productivity tool. It’s a very simple tool, that I’ve had great success with. When applied correctly it helps you to:
- Manage your time effectively
- Eliminate burnout
- Manage distractions
- Improve work-life balance
To use the technique you need a timer – your smart phone will work perfectly. Set a timer for 25 minutes and work consistently on a set task for the entire 25 minutes. During the 25 minutes you don’t do anything else – no checking Facebook, or Instagram or reading emails – just the nominated task for that time block. You then have a five minute break to focus on other things – I’d recommend using your five minutes for non-screen time (away from the computer and your phone).
You can use your five minute breaks for lots of different things – here’s a few I personally use:
- Active Breaks – a plank, squats, 5 minutes of a Ballet Beautiful video, quick walk around the building (I sit on the ground floor but if your up high perhaps go up a few flights of stairs and back again or just walk around your office floor).
- Make a cup of tea – or coffee, whatever floats your boat but I love a good herbal tea to get me re-energised.
- Visit a colleague – say hi to your office mate and have a quick chat.
- Get some sunshine – stand outside for 5 minutes and soak up that Vitamin D.
- Stretch – sitting at a desk does all sorts of horrible things to our posture. Even just standing up for a minute or two each hour with a gentle stretch will help improve your health and wellbeing.
Batching is another one of my favourite productivity tools. It involves breaking down your regular tasks that you have to do on a regular basis and grouping them into task types and completing them all at once. For example, when you write a blog post you do a number of things – check SEO keywords, find photos, write headlines, write content, schedule social media shares etc. You also generally write more than one blog post……. so if you batch those tasks, say by doing all your SEO keyword searching at once you’ll save yourself time by not switching between tasks.
I generally do a brainstorm for blog post topics and write down about 20-30 potential topics, then I do all my SEO keyword searching, then plan my content calendar (when I’m publishing each article) I write all my content (blog posts), find my photos and then schedule all my social media at once. It may not sound like it’s a super productivity tool, but believe me you will save yourself loads of time and it will help you find your rhythm.
Time blocks is a great method for anyone that is easily distracted by interruptions…. like social media notifications or emails (guilty as charged!). Research has demonstrated that small interruptions, like an email or a question from a colleague, can result in a loss of focus and productivity of up to an hour!!
Again, this is a very simple method that involves planning out your day in chunks – allotting each chunk to a specific type of work and ignoring all other tasks during that time. For example:
9:00-10:00 Blog Post Brainstorm
10:00-10:30 SEO Keyword Searching
10:45 – 11:00 Break
11:00-12:00 Headline Creation
12:00-12:30 Content Calendar Planning
12:30 – 1:30 Lunch Break
1:45-2:00 Social Media
2:00-4:00 Content Creation (writing)
4:00-4:30 Source Blog Post Images
The KanBan Method
The KanBan method is a great productivity tool for people who start lots of tasks or projects and struggle to finish them (also guilty as charged for this one). It’s a visual tool that can help you to see your progress against each of your tasks or projects.
The method involves using a whiteboard or pinboard and creating three columns: To Do, Doing and Done. Write each of your tasks on a post-it note and stick them in the relevant column, as you move through the tasks move them along the columns. It’s super simple but it will keep your goals front and centre and help you become a task finisher, not just a task starter!
The Action Method
The Action Method is ideal for creative thinkers. Creative thinking and associated processes have a tendency to be a little messy – and that’s because innovation rarely comes from following existing systems and thought processes. Having said that, in order for innovation to be implemented you need a system that helps convert creativity into action.
The process involves classifying ideas into three categories: Action items, back-burner Items and reference Items.
The action items are the things that must be done for the project to be completed. Backburner times are great ideas but they don’t fit neatly into the current project – keeping them on a backburner list helps ensure good ideas are not lost. Reference items are resources or information that will be needed to complete the project – kind of like supporting research or information that you’ll need to complete the action items
Do you use any of these productivity techniques? Or do you use something else to keep you on track?