What is productivity and how to increase it

Ted Scott
Ted Scott
12 December 2023
7 min

Do you work hard, do not allow yourself to relax during the working day, but at the end of it you are horrified to notice that most of the tasks are left unfinished? Then it’s time to think about improving your productivity. First of all, you need to figure out how to accomplish more in less time. By choosing the right tools and instruments, you will understand in which direction you should move in order to quickly outperform your more successful colleagues or competitors.

Increase productivity with LeaderTask

Create projects and add your colleagues to them for collaboration and more efficient execution. Give task access to different employees to control the process together.

Download LeaderTask

What is productivity in simple words

In order to understand what actions you need to take to be more successful and less tired, first of all, let’s understand the concept of “productivity”. What is it? And how does it affect the work of each individual employee, department or company? Especially since there are many articles and books on this topic.

How to characterize productivity in simple words? It is an assessment of the results of an activity, a person, a company, an industry. Initially, “productivity” was used in agriculture to select elite specimens of animals characterized by excellent health and giving strong offspring. From there, the concept moved to industrial production. “Productivity” in industry denotes the volume of products produced per unit of time. Example: a company owns two conditional factories “A” and “B”, producing certain products. Plant “A” produced 150 units of products in a month, and 250 units of products came off the conveyor belt of plant “B”. That is, it was more productive.

Productivity is measured in corporations, departments, and employees to evaluate their own achievements, both at work and in everyday life. For example, today during your morning jog you managed to cover 5 miles. Yesterday during the same time you ran 4 miles. That is, your productivity has increased.

The answer to the question of what is productivity in work is given by a simple formula: It is Minimum time spent + Maximum results achieved.

In production, in business, this indicator can be easily assessed by focusing on the amount of products produced or growing profits. The labor of a particular person is measured not in the amount of profit, but in the ability to rationally deal with his abilities and talents inherent in nature.

Any labor can be considered productive when:

  • The person gets job satisfaction.
  • It is performed in a professional and quality manner.
  • The performer is not afraid to take initiative in the work.
  • The employee is not looking at the clock all the time, waiting for things to finally end. He is “on fire”, striving to perform at a high level.

Productivity of any work does not depend on the amount of time spent on it. For example, when a manager instructs an employee to make a report by a certain time, he considers this requirement reasonable. After all, it takes a little time to make a report. But if you have other responsibilities and more urgent tasks, you may not be able to complete the assigned work by the deadline. For this reason, another important indicator is used to evaluate the result – the efficiency of the employee or labor.

productivity and efficiency

If productivity is represented as sales revenue from the sale of products, then efficiency is the amount that remains on hand after paying suppliers, taxes and other costs. In other words, efficiency is the volume of output after taking into account costs. To measure efficiency, it is important to consider how the result was achieved.

Let’s go back to the example with the two plants. We remember that plant B was more productive, producing 250 products. But it had twice as many employees as factory “A”. That is, in the end, if the number of employees at the plants was the same, plant “B” would have produced only 125 products. It turns out that the efficiency of plant “A”, which produced 150 products, is 20% higher.

Efficiency is also measured as the ratio of the quality of work done to the time spent on it. Example: two call center employees are assigned to call 100 customers during the working day. The first one called 150 customers during the day. The second called 300 customers. Both of them achieved the desired result, but the second one performed the task more efficiently. She made 200 additional calls, while her colleague made only 50.

Efficiency is important in any job. But you should not fixate on doing your job perfectly, deliberately raising the bar. Constant concern about quality leads to insecurity, anxiety and procrastination. The manager’s anxiety will be transmitted to the team. The team members will be afraid to take the initiative for fear of making mistakes.

In work and everyday life it is important to maintain a kind of balance, working on both indicators, trying to achieve the goals, soberly assessing what costs are incurred.

How productivity is measured

Currently, the Objectives and Key Results (OKR) system, developed by Intel Corporation, is used to assess efficiency and productivity and has spread quite quickly in the business space. It is used by large global companies such as Linkedln or Google, as well as small startups and aspiring entrepreneurs. This methodology makes it easy to formulate tasks, monitor efficiency, and increase productivity.

The methodology involves setting Objectives and identifying transitions along the way (Key Results) to help you make progress. You set desired outcomes, deadlines and track productivity. This requires serious motivation and a desire to achieve the planned results.

Key Performance Indicators-methodology or KPI is widely used in many companies to assess the efficiency and effectiveness of personnel. This is a quantifiable indicator of actually achieved results. KPI indicators are approved for individual employees and departments of the company. For example, for a specialist in the HR department, the KPI is determined by the number of hired employees who remain in the company after successfully passing the probation period.

Factors affecting productivity

So, we’ve covered what productivity means. It is time to talk about what factors influence it. First of all, it is the condition of the human body and the conditions in which it works. It is known that the concentration of carbon dioxide in the premises directly affects the level of attention and concentration of employees present in them. That is to say, productivity can be improved by regularly airing the office and ensuring its quality ventilation.

Another important factor is the level of lighting in the room. If there is sufficient light, staff experience far fewer problems with eye strain and fatigue. They experience fewer headaches and therefore work more efficiently and productively.

The temperature of the air in the workplace has a similar effect on people. If it drops below 20 degrees, employees make more mistakes. But, if it exceeds 25 degrees, performance also decreases.

To increase productivity, it is important to exercise regularly and monitor the quality and quantity of sleep. The less sleep a person gets, the worse he perceives learning and makes more wrong decisions. In turn, quality sleep together with systematic sports helps to improve concentration, memory, improves mood and reduces the level of stress, which negatively affects productivity.

What gets in the way of being productive

Improving productivity is a conscious process that requires time, discipline and patience. To develop a specific program of action for yourself, you must first understand what prevents you from working efficiently and productively. Here are some of the most common reasons:

  • Excessive persistence. This important quality is necessary to achieve goals. But, when goals lose relevance and importance, some people move towards them by inertia, without noticing the change. To avoid this useless activity, it is worthwhile to ask yourself from time to time about the relevance of your goals.
  • Amplification, the repetition of the same actions to make sure they are correct. Because of this, energy is wasted.
  • Reversion, a return in thought to the past with regret for unrealized opportunities.
  • Haste, getting ahead of events. When making plans for the future, it is important not to lose sight of current events.

Procrastination, constantly postponing work also gets in the way of becoming productive. Promising that you will do it tomorrow, Monday, January 1, is a conscious self-deception.

How to be more productive

There are quite a few effective and real-life ways to increase productivity. Here are some of them:

  • Make plans for the day. If you don’t, you will be distracted by extraneous, meaningless activities, such as talking to coworkers or looking at email.
  • Identify your biological activity peaks. Most people have them in the morning. You should plan important tasks that require attention and concentration for this period.
  • Avoid multitasking. Constant switching between different tasks reduces productivity by up to 40%. Therefore, it is better to focus on the main thing, without distracting yourself with extraneous tasks.
  • Apply time management techniques and tools for self-organization and time allocation (it can be GTD method, Eisenhower matrix, Kanban system or Pomodoro method).
  • Start the day by working on complex tasks. Do small tasks that take a few minutes right away, don’t put them off until later.
  • Put plans in writing and note progress toward achieving them.
  • Don’t become a slave to gadgets, social media, and conversations with toxic people.
  • Get enough sleep, take enough time to rest.
  • Use reminder programs.
  • Be prepared for possible deviations in the plan due to force majeure.

Competently distribute and plan the working day, personal time will help the strategy MITs. This abbreviation stands for “The Most Important Tasks”.

LeaderTask – a handy tool for increasing productivity

Best To Do List Apps

In the age of digitalization, electronic programs are increasingly being used to improve productivity. This includes LeaderTask, a modern, functional task planning application that makes it easy to make plans, monitor their execution and organize any tasks in a rational way. Track the performance of the team working on a project and each team member. Set goals, tasks, delegate them to colleagues and subordinates.

You can evaluate your productivity in LeaderTask on the informative graph, which shows the number of tasks assigned, completed and not completed on time, and the time of their execution. One point is assigned for each successfully completed task. If deadlines are missed or the task is completed poorly, the points are taken away.

Productivity can be evaluated on various parameters:

  • By objectives (general and individual);
  • By time (days, weeks, or months).

In addition to the graph, the result can be displayed as a scale showing the average performance of the user compared to other team members.

To succeed at work, do something you really enjoy. Doing what you love will make it much easier for you to achieve high productivity. Stop in time. You should not try to save a project to the end if it is impossible to change something in it for the better. Analyze the mistakes and move on to successfully complete another job. Competently distribute your forces, do not be afraid to delegate and learn to focus on what is important. And, you will notice how it will affect your productivity.

Professional Task Planner and Organizer
Download the LeaderTask app and enjoy the simplicity and convenience of planning your tasks.