Four questions that will save you time

Increase your personal productivity and get more done in the time you have

Productivity event sketch note by Ad Esse Consulting

You lead a busy life, and you don’t have time to be working every minute of every day. It’s important to have time for yourself and for the people who matter most to you. Save yourself precious time and increase your productivity by looking at our four questions below.

Q1: Does this task further your purpose?

Stop for a minute to think about why you’re working on a task and consider whether it matters. Think about your own purpose and what you’re here to achieve. Does it help your customers? Would anyone notice or miss it if this task disappeared? It you’re struggling to answer this, flip the question and consider whether spending more time on this task would be a good thing.

A: NO – Scrap this task

A: YES – Move onto the next question

Q2: Are you the best person for the task?

Think about where your task came from and why it was given to you. If you’re struggling to get past the first stage of the task, maybe you don’t have the best skillset for the job. Perhaps someone else could complete the task more quickly and to a higher standard. See if you can find someone to help.

A: NO – Delegate this task

A: YES – Move onto the next question

Q3: How do I stay focused on this task?

Now you’ve managed your workload effectively, let’s make the process of completing your tasks more efficient. One method you can use to stay focused on your task is the Pomodoro technique.

How to use the Pomodoro technique:

  1. Decide on the task
  2. Set a timer for 25 mins
  3. Work on the task
  4. Take a 5 mins break
  5. Repeat steps 1-4 four times, then take a longer 15-30 mins break.
Pomodoro technique by Ad Esse Consulting

Adapt the timings to suit you and don’t take a break if you’re in a state of flow. There are lots of variations of this method, but manageable timed sessions followed by regular breaks will help you to get the task done.

Q4: How can you streamline your task to work more efficiently?

By removing waste in your working day, you can free up time for the tasks that matter. The seven wastes is a tool for identifying different types of waste activity, once you have spotted a waste your task is to eliminate it or reduce the time you spend on the waste, freeing up time for the value-adding part of your day.

An illustration of what are the seven wastes

A list of the seven wastes:

  1. Overproduction – Producing too much or too fast
  2. Waiting – Idle time
  3. Excess processing – Completing excess steps that don’t add any value
  4. Transportation – Moving things around for processing
  5. Inventory – Work in progress that’s not actively being worked on
  6. Motion – Time spent physically moving to perform roles
  7. Defects – Any time spent producing rejected work and subsequent corrections

Identify and reduce these seven wastes in your tasks. See our guide for the seven wastes to learn more about this Lean tool.

Next steps

Now you have the answers to the questions that will save you time. What are you going to start / stop doing, and what will you do more / less of in your workload?

Download our productivi-tree (productivity decision tree), stick it up on your wall, and refer back to these four questions when you need to get more done with less time.

Productivi-tree diagram by Ad Esse Consulting

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