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Move & Act: the efficiency cycle to improve your productivity

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More and more frequently I note some people, both managers or team members, move wisely their first step toward tasks to accomplish following the so said:

who start is halfway of the work

missing the “who WELL start”. Didi you notice? Missed. This is a substantial difference in meaning. Of course, start from one point or another is a good start, so starting to move is really important. Because you probably are a smart person who already know the great difference between have a start and have a good start, I however want to reveal the difference between movement and action to further define the efficiency cycle made up by four simple steps you can use in your everyday life in your most important projects.

Movement VS Action

Movement is when you are busy doing anything and that particular thing isn’t inserted into a broader context, oriented to get a result. Action, on the other hand, is a planned movement that follows a strategy designed to achieve a broader goal.

Some samples I’ve collected in my everyday life are:

  • if I make 10 calls a day with leads and I can talk to each other, then it’s movement. If they “buy” – everything in life can be seen as a buy: an idea, the restaurant you want to convince your friend to go, the movie at the cinema, etc. –  something from me becoming my customers, then it’s action.
  • if I study to get a certification needed by my job, then it’s movement. If I do by planning an exam to get the certification and I’ll get certified, then it is action.
  • if I take note of 10 ideas for my blog articles, then it’s movement. If I write just one, by following a strategic plan, then it is action.

Movement is great because it teaches to learn, have ideas, start something. It can allow to plan for a strategy. Except movement doesn’t complete a thing being it useful or not. You can go to the gym everyday – and talk with your friend – but only when you get trained you tone up. Training with a scope in mind is action.

So why are we moving with no planned results in mind? It is because our brain think it is as if we are progressing in a zero-risk environment. It is likely to overcome unwanted criticism and advices. That’s why frequently people prefers movement to action, to delay the idea – the idea only! – of failure. Some samples?

Yep, I would like to have more and more clients and leads, but if I try to sell or promote something I could feel uncomfortable due to the potential failure, so I do prefer to send 10 emails and stay at the window watching if anything might change

In short, movement is something getting you as if you are progressing, while you’re simply making the ground that needs a following action.

The efficiency cycle

A person is efficient when he completes an action in a way that is measurable and with a purpose in mind. Productivity is a performance index (KPI, Key Performance Index[es]) used to get a measure of efficiency. Sometime productivity is confused with making more things per day but this idea is unuseful and unfructful.

productivity means making important things with a consistent and organic plan toward a purpose through a targeted action

When this concept will be crystal clear in any part, then go further reading the article; on the other side, read and read more this concept and answer the question: how much am I fruitful? How can I measure? Which result do I get by moving?

Now you have understood that taking a measure or making a product in 10″ less time, isn’t productivity but movement. To build up efficiency what you need is the efficiency cycle that is a solid ground to get your result (by the way, I have written a book in Italian you can download from here: strategie di successo: come ottenerlo in modo semplice e divertente).

At first, look at the following picture:

efficiency cycle, productivity, efficiency

 

This is the big picture beyond the steps. Let’s go deeper into them.

Time management

Dwight Eisenhower probably was the most prolific of the US President. He was previously an US-army General, then during his career he was President of the Columbia University, then a a NATO Commander and despite his duties he found time – perhaps better to say he built time – to devote himself in painting and golf. How could a so important, influent and busy person to find time for his hobbies?

Eisenhower strategy was very simple, he puts everything in a 2×2 matrix where he categorized activities for his day:

time management, time, management, urgency, importance, delegate, delete, do, decide, Eisenhower

Box are divided between IMPORTANT and URGENT in a two-steps only form. The astonishing simplicity of this matrix is due to its applyability in both wide and narrowed plans, like a month or quarter planning or a single day plan.

Among things to do we can have: read an article within today

Among things to decide we can have: call someone, get info, plan in a mid-term

Elements to be delegated are: book a train, manage comments, share news and articles

Things to delete are all things with no added-value to your strategy like: watching TV, reading spam-emails, manage social media

Increasing focus

I was told Warren buffet used a 3-steps-trick to get focused on important things, and I really think he is a person really able to get great results. The steps are:

  1. write 25 things you would like to gain in your career (personally, in sport, job, etc.)
  2. review the list and highlight the 5 goals of your major interest
  3. all is not highlighted must become the list of avoid-at-all-costs things

The reason is simply clever: everything you do in list-B get your attention away from list-A that is the major goals for your career.

The power of focusing lies in eliminating the superfluous.

Empowering productivity

Everytime we start our day, after being waken-up, doing gym or meditation, have breakfast or other, then we start doing something to get our results. How long do you spend in getting your results? Start from things you can delegate or delete otherwise you will react to external inputs giving your time to activities not focused at your results. The following method comes from Ivy Ledbetter Lee, an advertising and publicist in the USA considered as the father of modern public relations.

His method is very simple: considering that:

The early bird catches the worm

and that we waste lots of time in reacting to things, his strategy is:

  1. everyday, before sleeping, write the 6 most important things to do in the following day. You’ll rest beautifully and you’ll know already what to expect and do for the following day, better managing time, attention, focus
  2. put your tasks a priority from the most to the less important
  3. start from the first in the list and go on until you complete it
  4. proceed with the next task until you complete it
  5. repeat this process every day, shifting to the new list elements you haven’t completed from the day before

This method works because it is very simple and our unconscious brain loves simple things. Then you must take important decisions, practical, sharp. As said above, this method clear all delays in starting new days and tasks, letting you focused only on important things. Moreover, your brain loves single task activities: so get your focus on the first element, then skip to the second and so on.

There could ba cases where a remaining task could be shifted day by day; so take a moment to think: if a task is continuously shifted and put in a position you never reach, highly probably it can be romoved!

Start building good habits

Yep, start. At this point someone could ask ok, understood how to manage time, focus on important things, empower productivity; said that efficiency is a productivity measurement; so how can I measure my productivity?

A simple hack let you measure instantly your progression:

  1. establish the number of micro-tasks you have to do in a day (e.g. 100 phone calls or 100 abs in the gym)
  2. fulfill a jar with as many clips as your tasks (in this case 100)
  3. every time you do a task in the list, put a clip from the jar to another one
  4. take your jars under your eyes

so, having micro tasks measured and visually pinned, this hack will let you have a good start, giving energy and power until jar-B will be full, and your daytime will be rewarding.

Another trick is to use this hack for any set of tasks you repeat in your day, on the average of tasks you do in your day. This will be a great push for your productivity and efficiency!

Conclusions

I don’t think to have revealed any golden rule or secret rule; I only wrote here something other achievers used in their life. Efficiency measures productivity, and productivity is effective once it is targeted to a superior goal. They are simply strategies everyone can use, and they are for free – except for stationery.

Make them your good starting point!

 

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