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Boost Your Productivity at Work
By  Arnold Cesar A. Abaya|Jun 14, 2017|

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I was watching a dragon boat team at work and admiring how the paddlers moved in unison to a rhythm or cadence. The synchronization of the team was a key component of finishing the line as efficiently and fast as possible.


There are a lot of work goes into improving an organization’s productivity but like a dragon boat, an organization can’t reach new level of productivity if individuals are not moving at the same cadence with the rest of the team. 


Missed deadlines, missed targets, cramming to complete a project. Does this happen normally? Why does this happen?


We all get distracted at our workplace a lot of time and it always seem to take too long to complete of what is supposed to be a simple task. These distractions can be at times when we look at our phone every time it beeps, or our email that seems as if we are paid every time we open an email, or social media as if we are driven by impulse the need to “like” each of our friends’ post.


Or is it tasks for the day just keep coming and coming with no end…. It’s like running in sprint with no finish line in sight.


Two things come into my mind that are quick and easy hacks to boost productivity that can help us prioritize to get the right things done and make us focus to get those right things done fast. 


Prioritization

The Pareto Principle also known as 80/20 rule (also a.k.a. “the law of the vital few”) states that roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. It was named after an Italian economist, Vilfredo Pareto in 1890s when he showed that 80% of Italy’s land was owned by 20% of the population. It roughly follows that 80% of our business’s profit comes from 20% of our customer or 80% of our workload comes from 20% of our task. So focus on those “big-ticket” items first before the smaller tasks or better yet, delegate those “80% trivial many” to the rest of your team or outsource it. 


Focus

The second is Pomodoro. I learned this from a colleague while working with a client. Developed by an Italian name Francesco Cirillo a century after Pareto was developed. Pomodoro is an Italian word translated in English means tomato. This technique was named after the tomato-shaped timer Cirillo used while studying in the university. 


The main premise of the technique is to work in blocks of time, typically 25 minutes followed by a 5-minute break. Each Pomodoro time requires you to focus on one task and every break requires you to step away from your work and rest. Rest can be socialize, coffee, or take a 5 minute walk. 


This cycle of work-rest let’s you focus and also gives you time to re-energize your brain power. And each cycle, you start with a new task (or complete the previous task).


Typically, you repeat this cycle 4 times. What happens at the end of the 4th cycle? Instead of a 5 minute break give yourself a longer break, 20 minutes is recommended.

There are many great apps available out there to guide you apply this technique. 


This technique get you focused by managing distractions and eliminating burnout


These 2 techniques from two Italians help you do more with less time and eventually lead to a better work/life balance and probably end up with less sick days too.

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