Business Productivity: 15 Terms Everyone Should Know

business productivity terms to know

All definitions in quotes are from Wikipedia.

Productivity

Let’s start with the basic definition of productivity.

“Productivity is the ratio of output to inputs in production; it is an average measure of the efficiency of production. Efficiency of production means production’s capability to create incomes which is measured by the formula real output value minus real input value.”

In short, when you are productive you create more than you consume.

Efficiency

“Efficiency generally describes the extent to which time, effort or cost is well used for the intended task or purpose. It is often used with the specific purpose of relaying the capability of a specific application of effort to produce a specific outcome effectively with a minimum amount or quantity of waste, expense, or unnecessary effort.”

When you are efficient, not only are you productive but you are also considering the resources you are consuming to create your output.

Effectiveness

“Effectiveness is the capability of producing a desired result. When something is deemed effective, it means it has an intended or expected outcome, or produces a deep, vivid impression.”

You are effective when you succeed at getting to the end of your checklist within the time limit you had set for it.

Time management

“Time management is the act or process of planning and exercising conscious control over the amount of time spent on specific activities, especially to increase effectiveness, efficiency or productivity.”

As the definition says, time management is closely linked to effectiveness, efficiency and productivity.

Pareto analysis and the 80/20 rule

“Pareto analysis is a formal technique useful where many possible courses of action are competing for attention. In essence, the problem-solver estimates the benefit delivered by each action, then selects a number of the most effective actions that deliver a total benefit reasonably close to the maximal possible one.”

With the Pareto analysis, you make that your plan of action you act on is the best possible option.

“The Pareto principle (also known as the 80–20 rule, the law of the vital few, and the principle of factor scarcity) states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.”

For example, 20% of your clients bring 80% of your business income.

Eisenhower Method

“Using the Eisenhower Decision Principle, all tasks are evaluated using the criteria important/unimportant and urgent/not urgent, and then placed in according quadrants in an Eisenhower Matrix. Tasks are then handled thusly: those in…

Important/Urgent quadrants are done immediately and personally (e.g., crises, deadlines, problems)

Important/Not Urgent quadrants get an end date and are done personally (e.g.,. relationships, planning, recreation)

Unimportant/Urgent quadrants are delegated (e.g., interruptions, meetings, activities)

Unimportant/Not Urgent quadrants are dropped (e.g., time wasters, pleasant activities, trivia)

This method is said to have been used by U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower, and is outlined in a quote attributed to him: What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important.”

I’m not sure if I agree with President Eisenhower that pleasant activities fall in the unimportant/not urgent quadrant but overall, this is a good method to classify your tasks.

POSEC Method

“POSEC is an acronym for Prioritize by Organizing, Streamlining, Economizing and Contributing. The method dictates a template which emphasizes an average individual’s immediate sense of emotional and monetary security. It suggests that by attending to one’s personal responsibilities first, an individual is better positioned to shoulder collective responsibilities.

Inherent in the acronym is a hierarchy of self-realization, which mirrors Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs:

Prioritize – Your time and define your life by goals.

Organize – Things you have to accomplish regularly to be successful (Family and Finances).

Streamline – Things you may not like to do, but must do (Work and Chores).

Economize – Things you should do or may even like to do, but they’re not pressingly urgent (Pastimes and Socializing).

Contribute – By paying attention to the few remaining things that make a difference (Social Obligations).”

I love the POSEC method for its ties to psychology.

Checklist

“A checklist is a type of informational job aid used to reduce failure by compensating for potential limits of human memory and attention. It helps to ensure consistency and completeness in carrying out a task. A basic example is the “to do list.” A more advanced checklist would be a schedule, which lays out tasks to be done according to time of day or other factors.”

If you already love checklists or if you need to be convinced of the importance of checklists, I strongly suggest that you read “The Checklist Manifesto” by Atul Gawande. This book explains the implantation and importance of checklists in certain fields such as surgery or aviation. It is also a great reflection on the mass of information we need to deal with nowadays and the importance for the experts to get some help in the form of checklists.

Procrastination

“Procrastination is the practice of carrying out less urgent tasks in preference to more urgent ones, or doing more pleasurable things in place of less pleasurable ones, and thus putting off impending tasks to a later time, sometimes to the “last minute” before the deadline.”

I must confess that I used to be a master at procrastination, especially when I was still in school. With time, I guess I got tired of the stress of working at the last minute. Are you a procrastinator?

Perfectionism

“Perfectionism, in psychology, is a personality trait characterized by a person’s striving for flawlessness and setting excessively high performance standards, accompanied by overly critical self-evaluations and concerns regarding others’ evaluations.”

Perfectionists and procrastinators go hand in hand. Perfectionists need to follow the 80/20 rule and learn to manage their time.

Getting Things Done

“Getting Things Done is a time-management method, described in a book of the same title by productivity consultant David Allen. It is often referred to as GTD.

The GTD method rests on the idea of moving planned tasks and projects out of the mind by recording them externally and then breaking them into actionable work items. This allows one to focus attention on taking action on tasks, instead of on recalling them.”

I like that GTD puts the focus on action.

Workflow

“A workflow consists of an orchestrated and repeatable pattern of business activity enabled by the systematic organization of resources into processes that transform materials, provide services, or process information. It can be depicted as a sequence of operations, declared as work of a person or group, an organization of staff, or one or more simple or complex mechanisms.”

When it comes to database applications, workflow is very important in terms of designing your application in the most effective way possible.

Pomodoro

“The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s. The technique uses a timer to break down work into intervals traditionally 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks. These intervals are known as “pomodori”, the plural of the Italian word pomodoro for “tomato”. The method is based on the idea that frequent breaks can improve mental agility.”

I never formally tried the pomodoro method but I agree that setting yourself some goals to achieve in a short period of time boosts your productivity.

Life Hacking

“Life hacking refers to any trick, shortcut, skill, or novelty method that increases productivity and efficiency, in all walks of life. In other words, anything that solves an everyday problem in an inspired, ingenious manner.

Coined in the 1980s in hacker culture, the term became popularized in the blogosphere and is primarily used by computer experts who suffer from information overload or those with a playful curiosity in the ways they can accelerate their workflow in ways other than programming.

“Life” refers to an individual’s productivity, personal organization, work processes, or any area the hacker ethic can be applied to solve a problem. The terms hack, hacking, and hacker have a long history of ambiguity in the computing and geek communities, particularly within the free and open source software crowds.”

Many silly looking life hacks are boosting my productivity. Making my lunch and planning my next day’s outfit the night before are examples of my life hacks.

Punctuality

“Punctuality is the characteristic of being able to complete a required task or fulfill an obligation before or at a previously designated time.”

I saved an important one for the end. Do you agree that “Early is on time, on time is late, and late is unacceptable!”? I literally live by this rule. There is nothing worst for me then being late or waiting for someone who is. How about you?

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Marie-Josee Porlier

Sales Director at Kohezion
Marie-Josée Porlier is the Sales Director and main blogger @ Kohezion. Ask her your questions about the cloud computing industry, online database software, database applications, legacy systems, business solutions and business productivity. She can be reached at mjporlier(at)kohezion(dot)com.
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