What would you do to gain 4 more days per year?

13.11.2019: Today I wanted to share some insights about personal work productivity. A key topic for all of us which has been very important to me since the start of my professional career.

Why? In my first job I had to quickly realize that my studies hadn’t prepared me well for work life. Among other things, my work productivity was poor. Despite my undoubted motivation and my best efforts, input and output where way out of sync. So, in order to give my career any chance at all, I needed to urgently do something about this.

So I started to look for and adapted many best practices, techniques and tools which over the years helped me to massively improve my own productivity. From zero to hero, you could say – at least within the limits of my personality.

What is personal work productivity?

As you know, productivity is defined as the ratio between output and input (P = O / I).

Consequently, personal work productivity is the ratio between the results of your work and the efforts/hours you had to put in to achieve them.

In practice this means that you can improve your work productivity if you either minimize your input (e.g. the time spent reading emails) and/or if you maximize your output (e.g. by achieving better results).

Why is our personal work productivity so important for all of us?

In line with the above definition, if you increase your productivity, you will either improve your results and/or profit by having more time.

To me, these are very significant, potential benefits. Because better results will help you to be more successful in whatever you are trying to achieve. And more time will allow you to either get even more things done or to invest it in other elements of your life which are important to you.

Consequently, increasing your own productivity will improve your chances to be more successful and/or will make you happier. Which is great, right?

What I really like about this topic: it is a true win-win situation for people and companies. Primarily, the individual person profits from his/her increased productivity. But this will of course also create additional value for who- or whatever they work for. So, we have a 100% alignment of interests and both should jointly strive for more productivity.

The modern (work) life productivity dilemma

Today, more productivity is needed. 2018, a study by the AKAD University in Stuttgart shows that working people feel more stressed out and have less time than ever before:

  • 84% of 1200 participating employees say that they work more than ever before without achieving everything they should.
  • More than 50% feel stressed by the permanent attainability e.g. via email or phone. They complain that they are too distracted to be able to do quality work.
  • Work life and personal life continue to merge. E.g., 2/3 of the participants claim that they answer emails during off-office hours.
  • The average overtime per week has increased from 5.8 hours in 2013 to 7.5 hours 2018.

To summarize: modern work life is very demanding. The fundamental dilemma is that we are constantly distracted by the buzz around us which makes it hard to focus. Ultimately, we struggle to deliver what is expected from us. This – by the way – despite all the new benefits and tools of digitization.

But why aren’t we more productive?

Reasons for low productivity differ but may include:

  • Too much distraction e.g., email, calls, messages, open space offices etc.
  • Lack of organization, planning and prioritization
  • Doing the wrong things, often at the wrong time. Not saying No to unimportant tasks.
  • Unawareness of smart technological tools & processes, or inefficient use of them
  • Lack of discipline, e.g. trying to multitask

What can we do to improve?

There is good news! We can’t change the times we live in but we can definitely deal better with today’s challenges. Here are three simple insights I gained during my career:

  1. Regardless of how productive – or unproductive – people are, everybody can improve.
  2. If you want to, it is quite easy to be more productive. Just be curious and open for better tools & practices.
  3. Being more productive is always better than being less productive. There are no negatives associated with higher personal work productivity.

As a summary: I strongly encourage everyone to optimize their personal work productivity. Just do it, there are only upsides!

So, what would you do to gain 4 more days per year?

Coming back to the title of this blog, well, I really don’t know what you would do…

But what you could do, is to e.g., spend 10% less time on emails. It is that simple. As an average office worker spends about 90 minutes/day on email, saving 9 minutes per day will gain you these 4 additional days. Probably even more.

How? Well, it is actually quite easy. Just apply a few simple changes to your daily routine:

  1. Apply smart automation & rules
  2. Focus on a few email blocks per day. Apart from these blocks, don’t look at your inbox.
  3. Read and/or touch an email in your inbox only once. After an Email block, your inbox should be empty.
  4. Work with quick steps and unsubscribe unwanted newsletters.
  5. Simplify your folder structure and leverage the powerful search tools.

This is just one example. But there are many more which will either make you more efficient or – which I find even more important – more effective. And some of them might just be the ones you have been looking for.

Now, are you motivated to improve your own personal productivity?

I hope so! And I would be very happy if I could help you. This is what I am planning to do:

  • After this broad, initial article, I will continue to regularly write about this subject. The focus will be to give hands-on tips and best practices which you might want to implement. Please continue to read my blogs and/or sign up for my newsletter on my homepage.
  • Under downloads, I provide useful information to download. E.g. a list of effective productivity apps and of relevant productivity literature as well as an overview of the most useful windows key commands. More to come of course!
  • Finally, I am offering trainings to companies and individuals. These tailor-made and entertaining workshops will make participants more productive. Guaranteed! If you are interested, please contact me and/or find more information here.

I hope that this will help you in one way or the other on your path to a more productive, successful and happier life.

If you enjoyed this article, please like it and/or share it with people you know are interested in this subject. As always, I am especially looking forward to your comments and/or your productivity insights!