Level Up Your Productivity

Learning Objectives

After completing this unit, you’ll be able to:

  • Describe the importance of incremental change.
  • Identify ways relationships can increase your productivity.

Be in the 1%

There are always ways to improve any system, even this productivity one you’re developing. But improvement doesn’t need to mean sweeping dramatic changes. Just putting a system like this in place puts you ahead of many of your peers. Over time, small tweaks and changes to the system can add up to great productivity wins. Laura Stack calls this the 1% Principle. Increasing your performance by just 1% per workday can improve your overall performance by nearly 37% in one year. 

Working toward your 1% daily improvement goals requires you set aside 15 minutes per day. It’s helpful to choose a task your whole team can share in. Here are some example 1% goals:

  1. Brainstorm on how to improve a project.
  2. Watch a brief TED talk on a topic you can all benefit from.
  3. Share a useful article or two.
  4. Work on fixing a process.
  5. Memorize a new keyboard shortcut.
  6. Program a keyboard macro for repetitive tasks.
  7. Automate a process.
  8. Learn to use a new piece of technology or program.
  9. Make a call instead of emailing.
  10. Take one less coffee break.
  11. Learn a single cross-training task.
  12. Find shortcuts for your most common routes to and through the office.
  13. Shorten a meeting.
  14. Do something difficult before doing something easy.
  15. Take care of matters through calls and emails instead of meetings.
  16. Finish a project a day earlier.
  17. Give a task you’ve been doing back to its rightful owner.
  18. Upgrade apps and programs.

Whatever you choose to pursue, setting aside that 15 minutes every day positions you to make the incremental changes that help you get back even more over time.

Be Willing to Make Mistakes

True perfectionism kills efficiency. It just isn’t possible to plan for everything. According to Stack, “True productivity comes from allowing yourself to make mistakes.” Making a mistake doesn’t mean you’ve failed. It just means you’ve tried a way of doing something that didn’t work. 

For example, have you ever tried taking a “shortcut” when driving somewhere and gotten lost? Or tried a new ingredient when cooking, but didn’t get the results you expected? Were they mistakes? Yes, they were, but they also helped you to make progress as you learned from failed attempts. Not everything works out, but if a few of them really pay off, they can help you define a more productive path.

Use Your Relationships

Yes, sales can be a competitive career. But the fact of the matter is that little gets done in business without people working together. Even your sales wouldn’t happen without a customer to work with. Using your relationships well can be an incredible way to drive your productivity.

Team members/coworkers: How well you get along with your team members (your workplace family) may determine how well you function, and possibly even your sales performance. You can use exchanges of favors, reciprocity, and even peer pressure to maximize performance and produce greater results. 

Colleagues: We spend most of our time working with contacts in our own organization, but over time we build up a network of external contacts within our field. Professional organizations, conferences, workshops, meetings, and research associations can all help you create more contacts you can use when you need help.

Vendors: Vendors who specialize in supplying your industry may be especially important. In cases where nothing has worked, you might be able to use them to locate resources, because those vendors often keep track of the current situations in organizations they supply. They may also be able to share what organizations like yours have done in certain situations or for other clients.

Outsourcing: While definitely not personal, it can provide a way for you to delegate work outside your organization. Whether it’s virtual workers to write, proof, edit, or even a virtual assistant, outsourcing may give you the means to offload some of the activities that are keeping you from selling. If it doesn't violate the rules of your organization, there may be a virtual professional out there who can do that work for you better and faster.

Building out your system to be effective and efficient will give you a great baseline for accomplishing more and improving your career. Adding in these approaches to leveling up that productivity can give you the edge you need to accelerate that work. 


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