Improve the Use of Tools and Systems Towards Productivity
Edited by Christine dela Cruz, Lynn
Have you ever been stress-free at work? Do you always find yourself rushing to finish your work? Even worse, do you find yourself in this situation even when you have all resources required in order to be more productive? If so, then it's about time to reconsider how you currently use these tools and systems and aim for improvement in these areas. You may not be using them effectively, and that's why you have issues in productivity.
Tools at Work Towards Productivity
- 1Materials. This refers to essential items at work utilized throughout the process of delivering the final output, such as basic office supplies and raw materials used in production. These are ideally allocated in proper proportion to the work that must be done.Advertisement
- 2Machines or equipment. This works hand-in-hand in the utilization of materials. More often than not, machines are utilized to speed up the process, or make it more efficient. For example, using a calculator is much more efficient than doing the calculations by hand.Advertisement
- 3Manpower. This not only refers to people you personally employ or who are directly under your supervision, but also to people who work alongside with you, such as your peers. The key here is the collaborative effort of different people working simultaneously or consecutively through the process.
- 4Money. This refers not only to money per se, but also, in more general terms, to any form of investment put forth to produce output or results.
- 5Methodology. This refers to proven ways by which the job must be executed.
System Towards Productivity
Work becomes more productive if it is governed by these basic system elements:
- 1Goal. There is a clear vision as to what you'd really like to achieve from your efforts. In other words, you become more productive when you know exactly where you are heading. You don't start on any work with the feeling of being at a loss.Advertisement
- 2Plan. As soon as you've identified your goal, you can then devise a much more detailed action plan, on which you will base your step-by-step activities. This action plan should provide you with objective metrics which you can use to compare against your actual performance.
- 3Follow-up. This is the stage at work in which you will compare your actual performance against the details of your plan. For example, if your goal is to finish writing up a 100-page book in 10 days, that's at least 10 pages that you will need to finish in a day. Your daily action plan should include exactly what you plan to do in order to reach this 10 page per day goal. Each time you do a follow-up, you must check whether this 10 page per day target has been achieved.
- 4Problem solving. If there is any variance, the next step is to do problem solving to address the issues that might be causing it. Follow-ups are best done in shorter intervals, because you are able to identify immediately if there is a variance. Equally important to seeing variances in shorter intervals is proactively acting upon them through problem solving and initiative.
Symptoms of Ineffective Use of Tools and Systems at Work
- 1Consistent rush towards deadlines. You always find yourself getting stressed about deadlines that you always have difficulty meeting. You feel that time allotted is never enough. Deadlines are missed, and if not, they are requested to be pushed further.
How to Improve the Use of Tools and Systems Towards Productivity
- 1Change your mindset. First of all, the most important thing to do when improving the use of tools and systems towards productivity is changing how you look at things. For example, whenever you're struggling with deadlines, instead of blaming others, consider looking at yourself first. Instead of thinking that the tools available are not enough or appropriate, analyze whether, in fact, you are using them accordingly. Instead of complaining that the system is not helpful, assess whether you fully understand the existing system, and ensure that you are 100 percent in compliance with it. Each time you are having issues at work and you feel you are not productive, deal with areas within yourself first. More often than not, if not always, there are areas there that you can work on to achieve improvement.
- 2Be open to change. As soon as you've realized that there are indeed areas within your control that you can personally act upon to improve, be open to the fact that you need to exert effort in order to change. Think about this as something that will be beneficial to you individually in the long run. Change may not be easy, and it is most often very uncomfortable at the beginning, but then you just need to employ a higher level of discipline in order to be able to sustain it.
- 3Do an analysis of all the materials, machines, manpower, money, and methodology that you use. List them all and identify their intended purposes, and why they are available. If there are things which are not very clear to you, you may want to counter-check with your co-workers or direct superior.
- 4Compare the purpose of those tools available to you and the way you can take advantage of them. Compare whether they are aligned. Often, when you perform this practice, you will notice that you are not maximizing all of them effectively.
- 5Identify the current system at work and check your understanding with your boss and peers. You'll be surprised that maybe there are certain elements of the system that you actually do not understand the same way as the others.
- 6If you see that you have been using the system properly, check in terms of consistency. Systems are supposed to be used in a standard way, independent of the situation. Since it's a fundamental principle of work, you should be able to adapt it to any type of circumstance at work. If you can't, and if you see yourself constantly making adjustments or considering each and every situation as an exception, then this is one of the reasons why you are not being productive. You are constantly tweaking systems which are already tried and tested. Not only does this tweaking alone consume time, but it also opens you up to a bigger possibility of making mistakes or having unpredictable results.
- 7Devise a concrete and detailed action plan as to how you will address the variances between the intended purpose of the tools and systems at work and the way you actually use them. Identify exactly what the variances are and for each, there has to be concrete things that you would be doing on a constant basis to correct it.
- 8Track your improvements after you've made adjustments in your behavior by first looking into historical performance. It would be good to have the exact figures as to how you would usually have performed in the past. For example, if you are a bank teller, it may have usually taken you 30 minutes in the past to finish a simple bank account opening transaction. Observe how you currently fare after you've made changes in how you utilize tools and systems. Give yourself up to 12 weeks to continue observing your improved performance. This is usually a good period of time for a person to be able to assimilate adjustments being made in behavior.
- 9Communicate with people you work with actively. Communication is a very important factor in the improvement of the use of tools and systems towards productivity. Productivity, in most cases, is the product of collaborative efforts. Even if your work is to be done independently, it remains to be, in some respects, influenced by another person. Therefore, maintain clear communication with everyone who affects the work that needs to be done.