Productivity

Discussion in 'Education & Personal Growth' started by Viswamitra, Nov 29, 2021.

  1. Viswamitra

    Viswamitra IL Hall of Fame

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    I questioned myself in the last 5 years how much impact my age has on my productivity at work. In fact, I have noticed that I am doing the same work I was doing in less than 50% of the time I took earlier. How is it possible? I am not reinventing the wheel when I need to do the same work as all the processes I followed earlier are all embedded in my mind as work product. I am not using work product here with the legal meaning but purely to assign a name for the embedded processes.

    Earlier, I used to work 12-14 hours a day without any tiredness but now after 8-10 hours of work, I see a little bit of tireness as my body is requesting me to rest. But the enthusiasm to wake up and do my work has never gone down as yet. Many started working from home due to pandemic but I have started working from home since 2001 and I have completed full 20 years already working from home. When you work for yourself, the flexibility you enjoy is unlimited.

    Without digressing further, let me get to the topic. A friend of mine asked how do I maintain my interest to work and keep my productivity high. By asking this question, he allowed me to investigate my work and my habits during work. I have come to the following conclusions:

    1) I do have preference of what I really like to do and what I don't like to do and choose what I like to do first in order to motivate myself to work. I feel it is inevitable for everyone. However, I don't prolong that work just because I enjoy doing it. Once it is done, I move on to the next best work I like without dreaming about what I just did.
    2) I also realize that when I do the work I like, time passes quickly and I lose elapse of time. When I mix my work with something new that I had never done before, it helps me learn new things but also makes me feel as though I have more hours in a day.
    3) The biggest set back in my work happens when I need to switch the context multiple times. It is common for all of us to meet an emergency situation with the clients resulting in us dropping an important work to address the most urgent request from the clients. But in the routine work, we control our time and it is always best to do context switching in an organized way.
    4) I have the discipline to check my emails and voice mails only 2-3 times a day and the rest of the time is assigned for doing various tasks. No matter how many emails popup in between, I don't address them right away.
    5) The work consist of multiple tasks doesn't flow in an organized way to my desk but how I decide to do it helps me to improve my productivity. I definitely know that I don't have to match the outflow with inflow and sometimes elapse of time helps something to be resolved on its own.
    6) Meetings whether they are virtual or physical involves time and attention. I purposely assign time in 15 minutes slot for the meeting and get to the topic quickly. If someone decides to lecture or stating something everyone knows, I gently request to be excused from the meeting so that I can move on to do something more productive.
    7) I keep the goal behind every task in my mind's eye as sometimes the work itself becomes the goal without focus on the time used. In my view, I consider myself in a zone when I enjoy what I do allowing me to enjoy the present but without the feeling of 'I'. However, every task has a finish line. Productivity improvement is possible only when a task ends and another begins.
    8) I am habitually self-disciplined. My drive to work comes from how I enjoy doing them more than how much I am appreciated for my work. I don't drift from my self-discipline to get a word of appreciation. Even if I had to encounter an adverse comments, I don't allow that to occupy my mind for long. I review, analyze and discard it quickly.
    9) I am conscious of how my work affects others around me. It is important to contribute to a collective effort in a timely fashion. If I have to make a little bit of an extra effort, I do that in order to make someone's life easier. My input in a collective work product should not be a hindrance to someone else.

    Kindly share your insights. Let us continue to discussing everything relating to productivity in this thread.
     
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  2. Srinidhi007

    Srinidhi007 Silver IL'ite

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    Thanks for sharing your secret for productivity. lots to learn from you sir...
     
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  3. hrastro

    hrastro Finest Post Winner

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    Dear Viswaji,
    I was fascinated to learn that you've been working from home for the past 20 years.
    I worked in the corporate in India and abroad, but in the past 15 years, I have been at home too - picking up projects/activities that I want to, whenever I wanted.

    A combination of passion, expertise and serendipity gives you a bit of success and when you find success in something, your confidence along with passion and expertise increases - that gives you the cycle of achievements that most people call success.

    My productivity tips (especially for women) are:
    1) Chunking of time - I finish all my cooking and house chores early morning, and start my projects by 9 am ... Till my son was in school 9 am-3 pm was my "work" time... When he grew older, I also started teaching from 6-9 pm. I used to even pack lunch boxes for myself along with my family's although I was eating at home. Even today, the food is prepared and kept on table before 9 am. I sit down to work at 9 am.
    2) I use google calendar - even if I have to call my mom I write it in.
    3) If I need to think - ideas/creativity, I get up and walk about physically or fold clothes or wash vessels - I get wonderful ideas to implement...
    4) I am punctual to a fault and love students who are on time. Thankfully almost all my students join my classes 5 minutes early.
    5) I always update the day's work in an excel or clockify - so I know exactly how much got accomplished.
    6) When my son was younger, I used to feel sleepy in the afternoons - never hesitate to take a nap if required - you will be much more productive after the nap... Nowadays I dont feel sleepy - and naps are not required...
    7) I ensure people who call me know the times I am free - and they call only during those hours
    8) I do respond in whatsapp groups - I belong to many student groups, parent groups and mentor groups - so I give info especially if someone is asking about some college or exam or studies I always try and respond - but if it is a long answer I save the answer so that I can copy-paste if someone else asks something similar
    9) I have my chrome, bookmarks, computer, notes apps etc in updated and organized state - I can go anywhere to anywhere with just a couple of clicks !
    10) My desk is also always organized - anything is at arms reach including waterbottles and vitamins and my music player and all chargers. Every time I get up I fill my bottles as I get thirsty during teaching/mentoring meetings.

    I do a lot more to get organized and stay organized - but the post will be too long...
    Hope this was helpful.... I enjoyed thinking about productivity today.
    Thanx for the opportunity Viswaji
    Keep smiling
    HRastro
     
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  4. nuss

    nuss Platinum IL'ite

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    Dear @Viswamitra thank you for starting this thread and sharing your productive habits. I really liked reading both your and @hrastro tips. From your descriptions, it is clear that self-motivation, interest in our work (love what you do), and discipline are key to work-life balance and enjoying every day while being productive.

    I personally like being in my office for getting most work done and then easier tasks I keep to do at home. But yes, the pandemic showed us the importance of being flexible. I had to set up a home office to differentiate my home/work life which is important to me. But, now we are back and I am very grateful to be in my office. Things that I do are very similar to what you and @hrastro mentioned.

    1. I wake up at 5:30 and start my day with light exercise/walk/run or meditation/ gratitude journal. After getting ready, I snuggle with the kids before I get them ready for school. This is our morning snuggle time which helps me start my day with positivity.

    2. I work from 8-4 M-W and 8-6 Th-F. These are my usual work hours. I also work 1-2 h after the kids go to bed. 4-6 PM on Thu-Fri is also my hours for non-work-related things such as coffee with friends or shopping or a haircut, etc. something that I enjoy but won't like to take my work time off for.

    3. I set up my quarterly, monthly, and weekly goals. I maintain my lab website and post monthly updates which helps me see accomplishments over time and gaps that we still need to fill. Having things crossed out and posted as a group goal accomplished keeps everyone motivated.

    4. I make my weekly to-do lists for major tasks I want to accomplish in a week and I try to stick to the list. Sometimes things move on to the next week because a lot of my end of work depends on work done by the lab members, in that case, I move things up from the next week that can be done in the meantime.

    5. Since most of my work is scientific writing, I need breaks to clear my mind. When I feel like I can't think well, I go out for a short walk, make a cup of coffee, go and talk to my students/colleagues for 5-10 minutes, or write my blog/IL posts. This is my way to get over writer's block. I only allow myself 15-20 minutes before getting back to my tasks though.

    6. I like to work on a few projects simultaneously. If I am not making progress on one, I move on to the next so that I can still get things done and then get back to the first one when I have better ideas. This is also inevitable since I have to supervise all of my students/staff and help them reach their goals as well.

    7. Emails and meetings are such a time sucker but also inevitable. I try to limit unnecessary meetings. If something can be done on a quick phone call or email, I prefer that. If I can, I try to have meetings later in the day so I can focus my energy on important work in the morning. I reply to most of my emails either at night after kids go to bed or first thing in the morning. Some emails only need confirmation, those I take care of right away to save my time later.

    8. I use the Apple calendar because I get notifications on my watch. If it's not on the calendar, it doesn't get done. Like @hrastro everything goes on my calendar including any calls. My work desktop has a shared drive that I can access from anywhere which gives me the flexibility to work from anywhere.

    9. I also divide the labor. Some tasks can be easily done by my students/staff and I don't need to do everything myself. I can save my time by assigning those tasks to someone else and spend more time on important goals that help all of us succeed as a group.

    9. I call my family in India on weekends and they only call me only if there is something urgent.

    10. I love my work. I don't have to follow any set schedule but I like discipline and order in my life. I am also punctual to the point that I can't tolerate late comers even on Zoom meetings. I feel it is disrespectful to others because we have our plans after the meetings.

    I try to not let work creep into the weekend. Unless unavoidable or a big deadline, weekends are for family!
     
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2021
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  5. hrastro

    hrastro Finest Post Winner

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    Some more especially for moms of school going kids:

    (My son has recently joined college this year and will be moving out after vaccinations open up for < 18)

    Productivity thoughts till (10) were in the prev post...

    11) At the beginning of any academic year, go through their diaries and notice all long holidays, school festivals, exams/tests and long weekends - My son and I used to cover 2 states every year and visited important places in India during any holidays. This also helps with any extras I wanted to teach him - exam times are for marks, but holidays and non-exam times are for life skills.

    12) Plan and factor in time to teach life skills to your kids when you and they both have extra time - anything from keyboard typing to cooking to driving is a life skill... Planning in advance help you create a learning path and complete a skill and build their confidence.

    13) I used to keep an alarm for 3:40 pm - just a reminder to check if food or hot water is ready for kids when they reach home at 4:00 pm

    14) If he wanted anything special - he had to inform me a week in advance - e.g. "Mom I want to eat cheesy pasta sometime next week whenever you can make it" - it takes off the pressure of being a supermom at the beck and call of the kids! And teaches the kids to wait for gratification (A skill that is required in this age of Google and Swiggy)

    15) Online payments, paytm, gpay etc are a big boon for keeping track of school and tuition payments - on the first of every month - set up reminders for any regular payments to be made.

    16) Don't hesitate to multi-task - I use timers on my stoves (induction) to switch off automatically, Kettle and oven have timers, I run the washing machine while working, dry the clothes while serving food to kids, meet other parents when driving kids to classes, talk on phone while cutting vegetables or travelling etc...

    17) Don't hesitate to involve kids when doing house work - When I change my bedsheets, I used to keep a fresh set of bedsheets on my sons desk, he would come home and change it himself. When younger, I would help only with the tougher parts, over time he learnt to do on his own.

    18) Keep track of whatever lessons they are doing in class, download fun worksheets relevant to their chapters - so that they can study with the worksheets alongside while you are working.

    19) Identify your time-wasters - I learnt early in life that I get upset with negative news articles - I stopped reading news more than 15 years back - Of course, I keep track of general world happenings, science, finance etc - but I have some specific authors or websites that I visit when I want that info ! I have not had a TV or gone to movies in the past 20+ years - but I do enjoy music, dramas and some specific movies and I do watch a few online - again what I want & when I want!

    20) Last but most important for moms - Planning Food, Quick Recipes and Make ahead recipes - linking my old posts
    --- How do YOU keep your kitchen always ready ?
    --- Morning multitasking - whole day's cooking
    --- What can You Make in 10 Minutes from Your Kitchen Right Now for Kids?

    As women, we are emotional beings, we want acknowledgement, we want to be cared, we want our families to be thoughtful and kind to us, we expect the world to be fair to us - these emotions are the biggest time wasters - forgive, forget, cut out toxicity and toxic people, be independent, pursue your own happiness and dont care about negative people - that is the biggest productivity gyan !

     
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2021
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  6. Viswamitra

    Viswamitra IL Hall of Fame

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    Thank you for your positive response. When I thought my thread would remain orphan, you gave life to this thread.
     
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  7. Viswamitra

    Viswamitra IL Hall of Fame

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    These are golden words to be etched on everyone's mind.

    Most importantly, when we see how well we do somethings when compared to last year and how quickly we are able to execute give enormous amount of self-satisfaction. Productivity is a combination of our passion, deep consciousness of every process in what we do, state of mind before, during and after the work, commitment, earnestness, etc. All phases of work such as planning and preparation, execution, and delivery are equally important. There may be many challenges such as distractions, conflicting ideas, criticism from others, time management, etc. but how we manage them defines not only our deliverables but also who we are.

    Thank you for sharing your insight. Your students are blessed.
     
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  8. Viswamitra

    Viswamitra IL Hall of Fame

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    Our habits determine how we do things. You have an immaculate discipline about how you do things. The standard we set to ourselves should be consistantly applied across work and personal life. Discipline is a key word in self-satisfaction. The deligation is one thing I didn't do well in my early career and learned it the hard way. I am known as sole player in the corporate world and my CEO used to make fun of me that he is a warrior without a battalion. Work/life balance is hard to learn but one who masters it actually end up more productive in life.
     
  9. Viswamitra

    Viswamitra IL Hall of Fame

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    Thank you for adding more points here especially for moms. It is an incredible insight into how you think about day-to-day life. You have clearly revealed planning and prepartion plays a major role in execution. In an 80/20 world, 80% of what we do is repeatitive and can be put on auto pilot if we master the technique of doing it. Other 20% brings a fresh air to our mind as we learn from them. Life is about discipline we practice ourselves.
     
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