Thinking about productivity

Last month the NZ Productivity Commissioner stated that “New Zealanders are working harder rather than smarter”.  It seems we are working harder but producing less compared to other countries.

NZ’s traffic infrastructure is not helping – the time getting to and from work, or around the city as part of our workday is hugely unproductive and inefficient.

But we also need to take personal responsibility for productivity.

My business mentor Darren Hardy says that if you can’t get all your work done in the time available then you are lazy.  Ouch!

Not necessarily lazy in that you are not working your 37.5 or 40 hours a week, or even that you are not working hard.  But that you are not working smart.  You are not producing the results you want despite working “hard”.

Productivity is about being effective, producing more or better results with less time and effort.

What are the barriers to being productive?

Most of us go to work to be productive, but often end up feeling the day was stolen from us.  Why?

The main causes of poor productivity include:

  • Urgency – crises, deadlines, rework, pressing problems etc
  • The Unimportant – interruptions, some emails / phone calls / meetings / reports, distractions, trivia and busywork.

How can we be more productive?

First, be crystal clear about the results you want, and the required time frames.

Second, determine the key tasks that will best achieve those results – we call these your vital priorities.

Third, focus on those key tasks (avoid distractions and less important tasks).

Fourthly, work smart.  That will require planning, delegating, and investing in tools, technology, training, and systems to execute the key tasks with the minimum of effort or resources.  Working smart involves being fit and healthy, taking regular breaks, simplifying processes, and designing fit for purpose products and services.


“It’s not always that we need to do more
but rather that we need to focus on less.”

Nathan W. Morris, author and finance expert

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