Productivity is a lot like making money. It is an almost exclusively mechanical process that doesn’t require creativity nor does it respond to innovation very well. It is for this reason the most productive organizations often have a fairly rigid set of principles that helps them protect their time and energy and helps them guarantee the work they do will produce results.
Other organizations find productivity to sometimes be a considerable challenge. There can be myriad reasons for this, but some common ones seem to show up again and again.
Disruption and interruption are anti-productive, virtually without exception. Humans by and large don’t change frame very well or very easily. It takes a human being time to acclimate to new requirements, new tools, and new circumstances. This is why interrupting someone and making them return to their work later or disrupting someone and making them start a brand new project without finishing the first both reduce productivity.
Protecting your ability to get things done means minimizing interruptions and disruptions.
Everything on Earth operates according to a fairly specific schedule. The diurnal rhythms of the planet’s rotation drive everything from seasons to weather patterns to sleep. It is for this reason humans respond very well to set schedules. Planning your time and returning to the same tasks at regular intervals will make those tasks easier and more difficult to interrupt or disrupt.
To protect your productivity, you must protect your time, and that means establishing and managing a regular schedule.
No company can be expected to succeed if its equipment fails. A chemical company, for example, might find their chemical mixing processes might fail and create an unsafe environment without proper heating and cooling equipment, like a powerblanket or a process cooler.
The sudden loss of tools or equipment can produce both interruptions and disruptions to a company’s work. If this happens too often, not only can it make a project harder to complete, it can also reduce the quality of finished work. Therefore, maintenance of equipment and tools must be a top priority for any business.
Highly intelligent people often overestimate their ability. For this reason, they often take on an exorbitant number of projects, believing their intellect will overcome the challenges posed by trying to maintain so many different enterprises at the same time.
These same people become both confused and frustrated when it turns out they aren’t quite as capable as they thought. They end up working harder instead of smarter in an attempt to now rescue multiple projects instead of calmly shepherding one project to completion. After a time, they burn out and fail to deliver anything.
Productivity is enhanced by focus on a single goal instead of spreading talent too thin. Any business that recognizes this basic principle has a much higher chance of success.
Getting things done isn’t just a matter of brute force. Often a single hour of smart, properly focused work can make up for many hours of stressful, frantic effort. Productivity depends on the latter.