When working with businesses looking to become more efficient and productive, one of the first things we need to do is define what those words mean for each unique organization.  A July 2013 article in Entrepreneur titled “The art of efficiency”, defines efficiency and productivity and offers a unique perspective on how you can have more of both in your workplace.

“Technology, meant to simplify our lives, saps our attention and steals our time,” boldly states Christopher Hann in the article.  Yet, we continue to accumulate more and more tech-savvy items (tablets, laptops, smart phones, apps, apps and more apps) to enable us to get more work done.  It’s this soul-sucking cycle of madness, this myth that makes us believe our devices help us multi-task our way to more accomplishments.  Studies show, however, that the truth is just the contrary.  In fact, it takes 25 to 40 percent longer to get a job done when you’re suffering from this “modern-day energy drain:multi-tasking.” (Hann)

What then, is efficiency, and how can it become a reality in your company? According to Hann, simply stated, “efficiency concerns the cost of input for the output produced–in other words, the best use of resources and the least waste of time and effort.”  In order to achieve this majestic state in the workplace, employees need to be more (you guessed it!) productive.

Productivity, not to be mistaken with its BFF, efficiency, is known as “the amount of work (products produced, customers served) an employee handles in a given time.” (Hann)  So, in order for the Golden Gates of Efficiency to unlock for your business, you first must present your employees with the Magic Key of Productivity. Finding that key might be easier (and less expensive) than you thought.

Andrew Deutscher, VP of The Energy Project, a consulting firm that services clients you may be familiar with (Facebook and Google), says productivity is physiological.  To maintain optimal levels of this workplace hormone, energy levels must rise and dip about every 90 minutes.  After 90 minutes of busting your butt, think renewal.  If the word renewal gives you lofty visions of sun salutations on a sandy beach with the meditative sound of waves crashing in the background, lower your expectations to something a little more reasonable: a healthy snack, a breath of fresh air, a 5 minute walk, a few deep breaths.  This 90 minute cycle might just be the missing link in discovering productivity in your staff.

The moral of the story… Productivity does not mean providing more expensive devices or expecting multi-tasking superpowers.  It may take different practices depending on your unique team, but one tried and true tactic is to ditch the brain-clutter triggered by multi-tasking and lack of renewal and “do one thing, uninterrupted, for a sustained period of time.”  That’s the art of efficiency.

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