We often talk about making our businesses more productive. It is common in the media to hear things like “we need to be more productive” to offset things like rising prices on supplies. But, what is productivity?

For the most part, we think of productivity in general terms as “doing more” or “making more” for little or no increase in base costs. That is, everyone just needs to work smarter, harder and faster – do whatever it takes to get more done.

Two common mistakes in becoming more productive are:


The idea of doing more than one thing at a time is a common way for people to help in the belief that they are achieving more. This is seldom the case. If you are doing more than one thing at a time, then it is likely you will be sacrificing quality. You may “tick off” more tasks from the To Do list, but you will be way less effective in each of the respective outcomes. Manufacturing/Trade businesses that adopt this tactic often struggle with missed deadlines due to rework or, suffer a lower Gross Profit. If you are a service provider, then you are likely to provide average customer service at best.

Work longer.

What I tend to see is the reality that the more things owners try and do, the more time they take to complete them. So, on the one hand you feel more has been accomplished, but the downside is you are spending way too much time working “In the Business”. More time at work is not better productivity. The more tired you are the more unproductive you become. This may be in physical output or the quality of decisions you are making. If you are spending more than 35 hours a week “in the business” working on day-to-day tasks, then you are ineffective in your role!!

Better culture leads to better productivity.

The key is surrounding yourself with the right people to achieve the important tasks in a timely manner and to the highest standard. The “right people” does not necessarily mean more people.  Once you have the right people around you completing the important tasks, you will be well on the way to a more productive workplace.

If the business only has a few staff – surely multitasking is a must??

Not necessarily. What becomes critical is recognising what is the most important thing that must be done and getting that done efficiently. What creeps in is procrastination and distraction. Sometimes productivity is actually deciding what not to do!!