Between the pandemic and the holiday season, my issues of The Economist have gotten backlogged. I received the December 12th issue 3 weeks late! There was a good article in it, though, about what it takes to be more productive – exactly the ideas I needed to set up my own 2021 work structures in a way that would support a little “productivity growth”, as they called it.
More staff or better technology is not necessarily the solution. What’s important is to find better ways to make use of the resources we have – not just to “get things done” but to discover new ways of producing the results – products and services – that we want to generate.
One thing I discovered when I looked at my workplace and my “Results Wanted” list was to clear out some of the things that were pulling my attention away from what I most wanted to focus on. Who knew that having those 4 things posted on my bulletin board, for example, were cluttering up my perspective and my ability to see what was important to me? I hadn’t noticed that as a distraction before, and will likely find many more in my search for better ways to use my resources to produce the results I want.
What I learned from this article was that upgrading technology or revising workplace processes and habits can bring benefits – but only when those things are put into practice with time and experimentation. I see that I have been too impatient, looking for miraculous breakthroughs in productivity immediately upon making a change I’m sure will be beneficial. Silly me.
This time of year is always useful for a reappraisal of habitual management practices. Looking at my notes for an upcoming conference presentation, I reviewed the basic elements of good management:
- Clear statements of goals for the year, i.e., what to produce or deliver, by when, and for what purpose,
- Which people are most critical to talk or work with for the accomplishment of each of those goals, and
- Tracking progress on a regular schedule – preferably with those people identified above.
These aren’t just useful to a manager or team leader overseeing a group of people. Individuals can put them to use as well, stating their personal objectives and tracking progress. I’ve got a little “tracker” I will be using this first quarter of 2021 as an experiment – it’s simple and I’ll let you know what I learn:
GOAL: What, When, Why
That last column is where I write the dates I will be checking my progress, and noting how much progress – 20%, 50%, DONE – there has been as of that date. I have this chart on my computer because it will adapt the size of each box to the amount of space needed.
Happy New Year, and I hope you’re all off to a good start. Just a few goals can give your life a boost of energy. Just remember, though: it’s an experiment, so play with it and make changes as you see the need. Bon voyage!