Let’s talk about productivity. This is a subject that everyone needs to know a lot more about.
In simple terms, productivity is the ability to get more done in less time. There are only a couple ways for that to happen. But, before we actually get into the details, I want to share with you my productivity philosophy, the reason I’m talking to you about this and the reason why I’m qualified to talk about this.
People who know me know that I have very few people working for my company. In fact, I’ve never had more than nine, but most of the time it’s been around between five and six people that actually work for me at any moment in time. Yet, we accomplish the same amount of work and make the same amount of progress as companies that have 15, 20, and some of them, even up to 80 people.
So, how can a group of five people get as much done as up to 80 people in other companies?
I work under a different supposition than other company owners. I believe that the average person can do a lot more than they think they’re capable of. They accomplish more, not by working themselves into the ground, but by simply working smarter. Other business owners believe the only way to accomplish more is by working harder.
Let’s say you want to push down a brick wall. Chances are, no matter how strong a person is, they are not going to push down a solid brick wall. You might be able to get a lot of people to push it down but that is not cost effective.
You have to try something smarter…get one person with a bulldozer and they will make short work of the wall. In other words, use the correct tools to work smarter not harder. They have a name for this…
Leverage multiplies your effort, your work and enables you to do more in less time. In fact, it’s been said, if you have a big enough lever, you could move the world. While we know that’s not true, with the right leverage, the right tools we can make unbelievable changes to our business.
There is a misconception out there where many people associate “doing more” with “working more.” This is just not true. Sure, you can get more done by working more hours and working harder during those hours, but that’s not the smart way to do it.
To become more productive, you need leverage.
I want to talk about a strategy that includes tools to get things done, efficient organization to avoid duplication of effort and outsourcing etc. Using my strategies, I believe you will be able to get more accomplished by working less. And, best of all, it won’t cost you a boatload of money.
There are only a few ways that you can accomplish more by doing less. First let’s look at what’s limiting you from getting more accomplished.
- Lack of knowledge—to be more specific, lack of specialized knowledge
- Lack of time (not enough hours in the day)
- Our belief system
- Our tools
Let’s look at each of these, one by one, and see how these limitations can be overcome.
Lack of Knowledge
There are only two ways to overcome this limitation:
- Take the time to learn how to do it yourself.
- Find someone who already knows how to do
Lack of Time
Not enough hours in the day? This is just an excuse. If this were true, hiring another person would enable you to double the work, right? Hire ten more people and you should get ten times the work accomplished, right?
NO! What you are not taking into account here is how much of your abilities are being used.
If you’re only using 10% of your abilities and you hire 10 people who work just like you, you’re only getting accomplished what one person, working at 100% of their capabilities could accomplish. There is MORE than just a lack of hours holding us back.
If we believe hiring one person will duplicate our efforts or by hiring ten people, we will get ten times the work accomplished, we are fooling ourselves. Your belief is limiting the amount of work while increasing our costs.
If you believe you will get more accomplished by working more hours and then start putting in 20-hour days you may get more accomplished the first few days, but you will burn yourself out. You will actually become less productive.
As you go through this process you will find that your beliefs can be both a help and a hindrance. Many people believe it takes weeks to build a good website. In actuality, it should only take two or three days, but for those who believe it takes weeks, it will take weeks. For those who believe it will only take days, it will only take days. Your beliefs become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Years ago, before Roger Bannister ran the first sub four-minute mile no one thought it could be done. Doctors of the day proclaimed that if you ran a mile in less than four minutes your heart would burst. Many people tried but their beliefs held them back. They just didn’t put enough effort into it because they always worried that the doctors might be correct.
Roger Bannister overcame this belief in 1954 and not only did his heart not burst during the race, but he lived until March of 2018.
It’s amazing that he was able to change his belief and push himself to actually run a sub four-minute mile. But what’s even more amazing is that within the next six months 17 other people ran a sub-four minute mile.
After years of attempting it but believing it couldn’t be done, people’s belief system had now changed, and they were able to do it. They saw that Roger’s heart had not burst so they knew it was safe to do it—they now believed it could be done, and they did it.
Just as important as belief are the tools you use. Many of these are very common tools, for example, paper, post-it notes etc. Tools don’t always need to fancy, technical or state of the art. All that’s important is that you know how to use them and that you use them.
Every neighborhood has a guy like we had growing up— he had every tool you can imagine. They were the most expensive and the best quality. The only problem was that they were in mint condition, not a scratch on them.
He seldom used more than one or two of them. The same goes for your business tools they are there to be used. You don’t need fancy or expensive
ones, but you need to use the ones you have to make your work more effective.
Tools help keep us organized and accomplish our work. Tools help us track progress. This last one is crucial. We must accurately track progress. Why?
If we can’t measure it, we have no idea how we’re doing. You MUST track what you’re doing in order to see if you’re making progress or going in the wrong direction.
Here’s an example:
I practice Taekwondo. I actively compete in international Taekwondo tournaments. I study, and I watch the national teams compete. These people are literally half my age, but I like watching what they’re doing so I can learn from them.
Some countries are very methodical in the training of their athletes. One country in particular is Great Britain. They have strength and conditioning coaches that come in and work with the athletes.
Every so often they run them through a physical test to see exactly where they are in their training. Some of the tests might be simple such as how high they can jump, how fast they can run, or how much they can lift and things of that nature.
They measure this and keep track of it. They have a chart, for each athlete with all this plotted on it. The reason they have a chart is to give them a visual indication as to how the athlete is progressing. They need to know where they are and what progress they are making in achieving their goals.
This is just as important to you and your business. If you’re trying to improve something, you have to be able to measure it. If you’re trying to complete something, you have to be able to measure it. You can’t just say, “well I have this task and it’s going to be done in this time frame.”
It’s great that you’ve identified your task. It’s great that you have a time frame, but if I were to ask you where you are in the process you could just say, “we’re on track.” But that wouldn’t mean anything to me.
If you’ve tracked and measured your progress you can say, “I’m 60% or 80% completed.” Now, that means something to me. That gives me an indication as to how far along the project is and where you are in the project.
We need to track our progress in order to see what still needs to be done. We need to break the project up into smaller steps in order to accurately measure progress.
In other words, regardless of the process we’re trying to complete or the project we’re trying to finish, we need to take our end goal and break the steps leading to it down into micro steps or micro goals. That way we can measure exactly where we are in the process.
Put all these minor goals in writing. So, the first tool you need is a tool to put these micro goals into writing. It doesn’t have to be something complex or even electronic. It could be something as simple as a piece of paper such as post-it notes, index cards etc. Remember complexity is not the answer.
You’re not trying to impress anyone. You just need to track and measure progress in the easiest method that works for you. I’ve tried many of the tracking and measuring tools that are available on my computer but I find that most of them are too time consuming, too complex and too hard to learn.
Another reason I like offline tools for this is because they are tactile:
- I can see them.
- I can touch them.
- I can throw them away when I’m finished with them.
This is related to lack of time. Let me give you an example.
The other day I was going through some videos and realized that some of the older videos were not up to the quality standards of my more recent videos. My initial thought was, “Oh man, I don’t want to go through all these old videos and edit them.” Then I realized, the videos were complete and accurate. All they needed was to be color graded so they looked better.
Why should I waste my time doing that? I can outsource that. I can show them an example and explain what I need done and let someone else do it.
Outsourcing is getting others to do the things we don’t want to do or don’t know how to do. It’s not just hiring people to get more things done. It’s hiring people to get things done that you can’t do or don’t want to do. In other words, getting stuff done more efficiently than you could do it yourself.
Many people have a big misconception regarding outsourcing.
Let’s say I have an Internet Marketing business, and I have a bunch of tasks that need to be completed. What most people who outsource try to do is find a person they can outsource to who will, fix their WordPress website, SEO optimize their pages, do their graphics, take care of their social media posting, fix all technical issues as they come up, take care of customer service, etc.
They want to outsource to one super person who can do all this. There is no such person! You may find one person who can do multiple things, but you will not find one person who can do everything and do it well. That one “super person” concept for outsourcing is the limiting factor behind most people’s concept of outsourcing.
My outsourcing strategy is a little different
I have a team concept for outsourcing. Let’s say you’re building a company and planning on utilizing outsourcing in the process, and let’s assume that you are a one person operation. What you need to do is look at what type of help you need in building your company. For example, you may need a website person, a copywriter, SEO expert, someone to do graphics etc.
You want a specialist for each task. You do not want a “Jack-of-all-trades” to try and do all of them. I don’t want one to hire someone who’s 10% good at SEO, 10% good at copywriting, 10% good at website design.
They may be a good person and giving 100% of themselves, but they only have 10% of the knowledge needed for each task. I’m shortchanging myself and setting myself up for failure if I do it this way.
I want a person who is 100% capable of, let’s say SEO, if I want my business to succeed. The same goes for all tasks in a business. In order to get 100% on each task I need to utilize team outsourcing.
Team Outsourcing gives you an entirely new way to look at outsourcing, and it overcomes the limiting factors associated with the traditional view of outsourcing. It utilizes a team structure that doesn’t cost a boatload of money.
Here’s an example of how I look at this. If you need something from the “docks” do you hire a person fulltime to get it for you? No!
Do I hire the person part time? Maybe? It all depends on what I need, from the docks, and how often I need it.
The same applies to outsourcing. You do NOT need to hire the person full time or even part time. You can hire on a per project basis. In other words only hire them to do the task they are needed for. Once the project is finished, you may or may not need them for another project.
Here’s another look at outsourcing. When you mention outsourcing, people think of going to a website and hiring someone who lives in another part of the world where wages are low, and that is a legitimate use of outsourcing, but there are other ways to outsource.
We can outsource by partnering with someone, or we can outsource by bartering for other people’s services by exchanging services. A creative person can find a lot of different ways to outsource without spending money.
As you can see, we can turn all these limiting factors: knowledge; time; beliefs; tools; outsourcing and turn them into positive productive factors.
You may be thinking, Armand, these are all well and good, but I just don’t have the money. I understand, money DOES limit your choices. The simple solution is to make more money, but I realize that usually is not possible at this point in the game. So, what do you? You become more creative.
One of the things I’m working on right now is changing the way we record videos. I’m working on building a studio to do the recordings. When I look at everything I want in this new studio, the cost comes up to about $15,000. That’s a lot of money.
I don’t want to spend that kind of money on a studio. And what makes it worse is I know I would need to spend $10,000-15,000 every six to seven years in order to keep up with technology.
I had to stop and rethink about what I wanted. What I wanted was a video wall with multiple monitors. So, I stopped and looked at what I was aiming to accomplish. What was it that I really wanted?
Once I determined my desired end result, I went online and started doing research. I was acquiring knowledge. After relooking at what I wanted to accomplish with the new studio and then gaining knowledge which got my creative juices flowing, I came up with a solution that would only cost me $1,500.
That’s one tenth of what I initially thought I would need to spend! Using my creativity enhanced with knowledge, I was able to come up with a solution that was affordable.
Lack of money is just an excuse which can be overcome by using knowledge, which will let you change your beliefs which enables you to think creatively and use that use creativity to overcome the money limitation.
So, if money is holding you back, use creativity to find a way around it.
I’ve had to use creativity to overcome my money obstacles many times. It’s a well-known fact that I started my first business with less than two dollars in my pocket. Not because I wanted to but because it’s all the money I had.
That company went on to make 1.8 million dollars in the next ten months. This was back in 1995. I didn’t even have a computer, I had to go to the library to use one. I needed a fax machine but didn’t have one so I went to a printing company and borrowed theirs. I became very creative at ways to overcome the money obstacle.
Here’s a fact that most people try to ignore which leads to disaster. It’s so important that you should print it out and put it on your desk where you can look at it every day.
What this means is the tools, resources, money, beliefs that you currently have right now are the starting point to wherever you want to go. It’s simple, yet so many people try to ignore it.
Can we make our conditions better? Yes, but you need to make creative use of what you already have. But first you have to make an honest, in depth inventory of what you have.
Chances are you’ll find that you already have a lot of things to work with. And then as the money starts to come in, you can upgrade to better tools and processes.