Friday, 17 February 2017

Laws of Productivity

On Sunday I had the privilege of speaking to the youths of my Church on the Laws of Productivity. Below is an unabridged and updated version of my message.

Text: John 15:1-2, Luke 13:6-9
Productivity by definition means a measure of the efficiency of a person, machine, factory system etc. in converting inputs into useful outputs.
It also means the quality, state or fact of being able to generate, create, enhance or bring forth goods and services.
It can also be defined as the rate at which goods are produced or work is completed.
In a nutshell, productivity in my own definition is being able to harness and effectively utilize available resources to achieve a desired end. It the ability to convert inputs (resources: time, money, talent, people) into meaningful outputs (goals or objectives )
It has one thing to write down our goals and plans for the year which I believe a lot of us have done. It is quite another to translate the goals and plans into reality. Productivity is all about translating your plans into tangible and meaningful results.

To be productive, there are laws you must master and respect or else, you will be a great waster.   
1) LAW OF INERTIA: Overcome Inertia or what they call breaking the seal of hesitation is the first law of productivity. According to Newton’s first law of Motion also known as the law of inertia, whatever is at rest remains at rest and whatever is in motion continues in motion unless some (external) force is applied. There seems to be this feeling of hesitation whenever you want to chat a new cause or blaze a trail. The moment you give in to this feeling, procrastination sets in. The moment you continue to procrastinate, your goals (and plans) are at rest and will remain at rest until you break the seal of hesitation. Most times we get lost in planning indefinitely.
Learn to take the first step doing whatever task is at hand. Often time, first steps are ice breakers. Highly productive individuals know this secret. They know how to challenge themselves into taking action.
What’s holding you back from taking the first step in pursuit of your goal? Ask yourself that question and if you are sincere, you will find the answer. For some, it is fear and for others, it is insecurity while for others, it is just laziness!

 2) LAW OF CONSISTENCY: There is power in consistency. Most times the last straw that broke the Carmel’s back is not always the most powerful of straws. Rather it leveraged on the impacts of the previous straws that have been consistently lashed on the Carmel. So also the action that produced the desired result is not always the most powerful. First actions are not always the best, you have to understand that. But like they say, “practice makes perfect”.

      The  last straw that breakes the Carmel’s back is not always the most powerful of straws. Rather it leverages on the impacts of the previous straws
Consistency over time reduces wastages and builds confidence as you tend to learn from previous (failed) actions, and re-strategizing for better outcome. Remember the story of Edison and how he invented the incandescent bulb? That’s the power of consistency.
Work on your project a little bit each day not matter how small. The important thing is not how much you do, but how often you do it. If I ask you to study for 6 hours at a stretch, most of you won’t be able if studying for long hasn’t been your lifestyle. But when you form a habit of reading, say, 1 hour every day, it won’t be much of a difficulty to increase to 2 hours and over time, to 6 hours. Develop a routine around your goal. Something you do every day in respect of your goal. That’s one way to build and sustain momentum. To achieve your goals, you need energy and momentum and consistency helps you build momentum. 

3) PARKINSON'S LAW: Parkinson’s Law states that work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion. If you are given a task to be completed in the 3 months, I bet you, few days to the completion deadline you will still be on the task, although same task could be completed in 3 weeks. This is common with students. 

                Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.

You have to master this law or else, you will spend years to achieve what could have been achieved in months thereby, wasting resources. How do you master this law? For each task, you have to set much tighter deadline. Be strict with your time and realistic with your deadlines. Being strict with your time makes you focus on what’s more important.
Important facts to note: 

  •  Do what is important, not what is urgent. As a rule, always remember that “what is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important.”
Urgent tasks are tasks that require immediate attention while important tasks are those that contribute to your long-term goals, vision, values and mission. Sometimes important tasks are also urgent, but typically they are not. Most times when an important task becomes urgent, it is due to procrastination or negligence.
              Don’t confuse being busy with being productive. There is massive difference between

There is no idle man on the face of the earth; they could be lazy men but none is idle 
Eisenhower Decision Matrix, developed by Stephen Covey, will help you make a decision between what’s important and not important and between what’s urgent and not urgent.

The Matrix consists of a square divided into four quadrants (boxes)
Quadrant 1 (Q1): Are important and urgent tasks
These are tasks that require immediate attention and also contributes to our long-term goals and vision.
Q1 tasks typically consist of emergencies, crisis, problems, or deadlines
Examples include:
·         Message regarding job interviews, examination or tests that require immediate action.
·         Business deadline
·         Term paper deadline
·         Medical emergency/Health crisis (e.g. heart attack or stroke)
·         Car break down
·         Domestic chores
I mentioned earlier that most times important tasks become urgent due to     procrastination or negligence. With proper planning and organization, Q1 tasks can be well managed and even eliminated entirely. Regular medical check-up will keep health emergencies/crisis at bay. Also regular car maintenance will ensure your car never disappoints at critical times. You can finish your term paper well in time instead of procrastinating until the last minute thereby, making it become urgent.

Quadrant 2 (Q2): Are important and not urgent tasks
These are tasks that don’t have pressing deadlines but are very important in achieving your goals or fulfilling your purpose. These tasks move you in the direction of your goals. These are task that require planning and organizations.
Examples include:
·         Planning for further study to advance your career
·         Long-term planning to own a house
·         Writing a book
·         Reading life enriching books
·         Planning for regular medical check-ups
·         Spending time with family
·         Car and home maintenance
To be productive and accomplished in life, it is advisable to spend more time and resources on Q2 activities   

Quadrant 3 (Q3): Are urgent and not important tasks.
This category of tasks is often tasks undertaken for others or things done in honour of others. Such tasks could be interruptions, meetings or activities. For example, a colleague interrupted your schedule to request your assistance; you bumped into an old friend and decided to hang out; a friend visited unannounced and you decided to host him; you attended a function on invitation. All these are urgent activities that are not necessarily important. It beats my imagination how most people spend (waste) more time on such activities. Like the Bible described, they are busy helping others keep their vineyard while theirs remain un-kept. They take pleasure hoping from one informal meeting or function to another. If you want to be busy and yet unproductive, then spend more time on Q3 activities
Quadrant 4 (Q4): Are not important and not urgent tasks. These are time wasters, trivial  and past time activities like facebooking, chatting, gaming, watching movies etc. All work and no play, they say, makes Jack a dull boy. So plan your past time activities so that you don’t spend excessive time on them.

  • Do what you need to do before you do what you want to do. This requires a great deal of self-discipline. Doing what you need to do means doing it even if you or tired or don’t feel like it.
  • Remove distractions. Show me a man who knows where he’s going but never gets there, and I will show you a man given to much distraction. A man who lacks focus.

      4) LAW OF LEVERAGE: Team work or networking with people of like passion pays. To leverage is to use something valuable to achieve a desire result. It means to take advantage of something to achieve a desired result. You can leverage on other people’s knowledge, experience, connections, exposure etc. Get mentors or coaches that you will guide you. Read books by those ahead of you in life. Attend seminars and workshops. Get in touch with those who know better even if it means paying for it. For your information, no man is self-made. But above all, leverage on God’s grace.

     There are opportunities you will never have, platforms you will never access except by the recommendation of a mentor 
5) LAW OF REST: Yes! Rest is one of the laws of productivity. Even machines after certain cycles of operation are shut down for routine maintenance to ensure continued productivity. Good rested on the seventh day after creation. Jesus asked the disciples to come to a desert place to rest after they returned from evangelism. If God rested, you better believe in rest. However, no man is eligible for rest who hasn’t accomplished any task. 
                    No man is eligible for rest who hasn't accomplished any task.

Receive grace for productivity in Jesus name. Amen!

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