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When two forces unite, their efficiency double. Isaac Newton

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Improve your personal productivity

Improve your personal productivity

Paradoxically, the productivity of business organizations has decreased over the past few years. Thus, our tendency to confuse being busy with being productive leads us to waste 25 to 40% of our working time. How can we gain back these lost hours?


Tools geared at improving our effectiveness at work are multiplying and are now part of our daily lives. Yet, according to a study by the consultancy firm CEB, we are observing significant losses of productivity in different domains. On average, 25 to 40% of a working day is wasted in interruptions, useless meetings or difficulties to concentrate. A study by McKinsey conducted in 2012 shows that knowledge workers spend approximately 30% of their time managing emails. However useful part of these interactions might be, they constitute a really high cost in cognitive energy and in time unavailable to attend to high added value activities. The natural reaction to attempt working more in order to compensate leads to an underproductive restlessness and to exhaustion phenomena.

Actually, the usual practices to increase productivity, often inherited from production manufacturing and scientific work organization, are finding their limits. In the field of intellectual professions, organizing better or going faster is not always sufficient to accomplish more in less time. In reality, this quantitative search leads us to exhaustion: the quality of our thinking decreases, which drags down our productivity much more than would be the case for manual production tasks. Thus, rather than trying to compress time, we would gain by better managing two key factors of productivity: our energy and our cognitive abilities. The point is not to work more, but to work differently, by focusing our energy on the activities that have the greatest impact.

This recommendation may appear as simple common sense. Yet, in reality, our subconscious operation mode leads us to postpone substantive work, to try and do several things at once, or to start working on the tasks that are easy to tick-off in our to-do list. This is how the week comes to an end and we have not found a minute to work on the file we had identified as the key priority of the week… Fortunately, a better understanding of these phenomena can enable us to gain back margins of effectiveness.

In this synopsis:
- Fighting procrastination
- Four counter-intuitive ideas to reinforce your productivity
- Excelling in substantive work

Synopsis n.266b


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