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Why Personal Productivity Can Only Get You So Far

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Personal Productivity Gap

Photo Credit: iStock by Getty Images

Published August 30, 2018

Personal Productivity Gap

Photo Credit: iStock by Getty Images

Picture of Jessica Wishart

Jessica Wishart
Senior Product Manager at Rhythm Systems

I like to think of myself as a highly organized and productive person, and I like reading about and Personal Productivity Gapexperimenting with tips and methods for improving my productivity and time management skills. Truthfully, however, being personally productive can only get you so far - it’s only one piece of the puzzle for most of us. While being effective and personally accountable to accomplishing your top goals may be all you need as an entrepreneur or freelance worker, if you work in an organization (either as a leader or an individual contributor), you may be as personally productive as humanly possible and still not be effective.

Why do I say this? You can have all the apps and tools and systems to keep yourself focused and productive, but if you are working on the wrong priorities or not communicating clearly about goals and progress with others, you are wasting all of that “productivity.” I believe those of us who work with others need more than just hacks for increasing your individual contributions. To be most effective, you need a system to manage the productivity of the entire enterprise—you need a way to ensure that everyone is rowing in the same direction so you can maximize the return on all the investments in personal productivity that your individual team members are making. They are all coming to work each day doing something—be sure you are investing payroll dollars well by knowing they are doing the right things to move your company forward.

How to Manage the Productivity of Your Enterprise?

Most of us tackle personal productivity with an arsenal of tools—a well-planned out calendar, a system for capturing to-dos and ideas, an understanding of when we’re at our best for certain types of work. It’s a balance between the right technology, mindset and discipline. And, the same is true for managing the productivity of your company as a whole—it takes the right methodology, the right systems and the right people to execute effectively.

Here’s what I recommend:

  1. Methodology: Use a simple Think-Plan-Do rhythm to establish the right habits and mindset for productivity to thrive. Have a discipline of thinking strategically to know what your long-terms goals are for the company. If you don’t start here, you can’t possibly hope to harness all the potential of your team because they won’t have a common purpose or know what goals they are striving for in the future. It’s impossible to focus on what’s most important in the long-run if you haven’t decided what that is. Also, following best practices for personal goal setting works for your company’s long term goals. Break your long-term strategy down into goals for the next 3-5 years, 1 year and quarterly sprint. Break them down further to figure out what each department or team is focused on to drive the company’s goals and then what each individual contributor is doing to get you there. This is your execution plan. Then, do the work and meet weekly to solve problems and make adjustments to your execution to ensure you achieve your goals for the quarter.
  2. Systems: Don’t let technology be a roadblock to productivity in your organization. You need tools that allow you to prioritize your most important work, to focus on what needs to be done, collaborate effectively with others and to align your entire enterprise around your company’s goals. If you are a leader, you should have a tool that gives you visibility into how the work is going on your company’s top initiatives and help you measure what matters most so you stay on track.
  3. People: Having individual contributors who are highly productive is a good strategy if you’re looking for productivity in your organization - but that’s not all you need. You can have a bunch of rock stars all out for themselves and still miss your team objectives. You need a highly collaborative, highly accountable team of people to achieve success. Without an accountable team, you won’t have clear communication about what’s most important or be able to trust that your team is focused on the right things and giving you the right information. As I said, individual productivity is only a part of the picture.

This sounds like a lot, but at Rhythm Systems, we have formulated a very elegant solution. We have the Rhythm methodology to help you with the right disciplines to identify what’s most important, formulate a plan and get the work done. We have the Rhythm software tool to accelerate your productivity as an entire enterprise. And, we have expert consultants to help you build the right culture where accountability and collaboration can thrive.

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