Business Dictionary defines Productivity as:
“A measure of the efficiency of a person, machine, factory, system, etc., in converting inputs into useful outputs. Productivity is computed by dividing average output per period by the total costs incurred or resources (capital, energy, material, personnel) consumed in that period. Productivity is a critical determinant of cost efficiency.”
In a nutshell: Productivity is getting the results you want with less time and effort. When you’re trying to understand how to be productive, what you’re really seeking is a way to achieve your goals while having time to spend on what matters.
Time management is the ability to use one’s time effectively or productively, especially at work. Time management is the key to efficient working.
In our daily quest for continuous improvement and operational excellence, let us not forget the story about the rocks, pebbles and sand to make room for what’s important.
This story appears in many forms but its original source is unknown. So consider the story to be a metaphor instead of an actual person who said the following:
“There once was a philosophy professor who was giving a lecture. In front of him, he had a big glass jar, a pile of rocks, a bag of small pebbles, a tub of sand and a bottle of water.
He started off by filling up the jar with the big rocks and when they reached the rim of the jar he held it up to the students and asked them if the jar was full. They all agreed, there was no more room to put the rocks in, it was full.
“Is it full?” he asked.
He then picked up the bag of small pebbles and poured these in jar. He shook the jar so that the pebbles filled the space around the big rocks. “Is the jar full now?” he asked. The group of students all looked at each other and agreed that the jar was now completely full.
“Is it really full?” he asked.
The professor then picked up the tub of sand. He poured the sand in between the pebbles and the rocks and once again he held up the jar to his class and asked if it was full. Once again the students agreed that the jar was full.
“Are you sure it’s full?” he asked.
He finally picked up a bottle of water and tipped the water into the jar until it soaked up in all the remaining space in the sand. The students laughed.
The jar represents a block of time, such as a day, a week, a month, etc. If we fill our time with the smaller (pebbles and sand) stuff first, it is difficult to find time for the more significant (stone) tasks.
However, if we plan time for the significant items first, and fill in all the rest around them, it will all fit in, and you will achieve everything that you need to.
Make room for what’s important.
Take care of the rocks first – the things that really matter. If you deal with the big issues first by putting the rocks in the jar first, the small issues can still fall into place. However, the reverse is not true.
Identify the important things (i.e. set your priorities).
Set aside the time you need to work on them.
Then you can fill in the pebbles and sand, knowing it’s ok to procrastinate a little on these things because they are not so important.
Time management is one of the principles covered in ODI’s NQF4 Generic Management learnership. To view our learnerships, click here.