Procurement Skills – 4 Keys to Increasing Your Personal Productivity

Your personal productivity is the key to demonstrating why your organisation should continue to invest in you. You can think of your personal productivity as the value you add divided by the time over which you add it. The more value you can create in a given time period, the greater your productivity. There are four essential keys that you can use to unlock further personal productivity in your procurement activity.

1. Reach. This is a measure of the number of people who receive the value you add; the greater the number of people who are impacted, the greater your productivity. You need to identify the recipients of the value you create and make sure that they understand who has generated it and also that they appreciate it. Show them how your value helps them to achieve their goals and objectives.

2. Recency. This refers to the time that has passed since you last created value. Value created last year has much less impact than value created yesterday and so shows less productivity. Ask yourself whether the value you create is quickly consumed and forgotten by the recipient or whether it is something they continue to use. For example, if the value you added was to give someone some procurement advice about a contract six months ago, in all probability they will have forgotten by now. If the value is quickly consumed you need to assess what further value you can add for this group of people.

3. Core. This is what is at the heart of the value you add. For example, the core of the value you add when managing suppliers could be to reduce risk to your organisation or it could be to deliver innovation from the supply market. This core is of much greater value than one which eases the administrative burden for others when raising a purchase order. Write a succinct statement of what the core of your value is for each group of people you impact and relate it to their goals and objectives or even your corporate objectives.

4. Quantity. The greater the number of times you have created value, the greater your personal productivity. For example, if you create just one sourcing strategy a year you will be less productive than if you create six of them.

Conceptually, your personal productivity is the result of multiplying together the outputs from these four keys and dividing by the time period it took to achieve them. Although there is no mathematical basis for this, it does give you a subjective feel for whether or not you are increasing your personal productivity and also a means of explaining to others why it has increased.

Focus on Your Personal Productivity Strength to Prosper Your Business

For small-business owners it is important to concentrate on personal strengths. Small business management, that is close to entrepreneurship, is about organizing economic activities and your personal economic background defines the success of these.

Production versus networking.
The term productivity is not only about producing something, which is the most common and well-known aspect; the producer who is autonomously involved in the development of a product. But productivity is also about networking and involving others. Take for instance the giant auctions on Internet. Their productivity is about matching demand and supply. is another example of the same category where the main productivity role is networking, getting people – demand and supply – together.

A next example of productivity is the supporting role. For example the web-serving-business that provides a host for your site. It is nearly invisible, but very nasty if it is not up-and-running.

A last example of productivity is the sales-role. Consultants like me have always problems with that. If it is not your strength you should connect to another parties (matching) your expertise with a demand in the market.

All four productive elements are needed to boost any business. But your strength is normally only one out of them. You are either starting a business with a sales background, a high developed intermediation skills, a development focus or with a supportive vision. You cannot excel in all four areas. However you do need all of them to prosper.

The first thing to know is what element is the one of your strength. The next thing is to determine how to fill the other gaps. If you excel in sales expertise, your main problem is defining a product that is wanted in the market. As you are aware of the volatility of consumer preferences the product demand could change over the period of time. Therefore you need to be flexible. If you are a producer of any kind, sales could be a nightmare. Trying to do it yourself will not be the best strategy. Rather attempt to cooperate with someone who does have this experience.
The networker (auctions, marketplaces, etc) needs volume. Internet is just one of the media that is offering just that. But still not everyone is a networker. If you are not in real life, your internet community will not prosper either.

If you are to start a business make sure you know where your strength is in personal productivity area. If your business is are already up-and-running but you can do with a boost, just check whether the productivity roles are balanced.

© 2005 Hans Bool / Astor White

Manage Your Personal Productivity

There is a huge advantage in improving your personal productivity. It doesn’t matter whether you are an employee or you own your own business. The benefits of improving your ability to produce more in the same amount of time are considerable.

The most efficient way to deal with a task is to dump it. Look at the task objectively and ask yourself the question, is it necessary. If it’s not get rid of it off your “to do” list.

The best way to eliminate procrastination is to deal with your most difficult tasks first thing in the morning. This means that you can move on easily to the more enjoyable tasks and your day will be productive.

Work out the times of the day when you are naturally most productive. Allocate your critical tasks for those times. The rest of the working day should be utilized for non-critical tasks. For example, at the end of the working day I am normally brain-dead, so mindless jobs such as photocopying, filing answering e-mails fill in that time.

Without clear goals it is very easy to fall victim to distractions. Make sure that your overriding goals are visible at your workstation or in your office. Remember to have a reality check every now and again during the day. Ask yourself if what you are doing is contributing to your overall goals.

As part of my personal productivity system, I have included 15 minutes a day for thinking. During this 15 minutes each day, I turn off my phones, make sure I’m not going to get any interruptions, put my hands behind my head and think. This thinking time is used for strategic planning and problem solving. It requires a certain amount of discipline to take time out to think because of the temptations of socializing, coffee and other distractions. Some of my best thinking has occurred during this 15 minute break when I have been really creative.

There has been ample research to show that if you change from one task to another, your productivity takes a huge hit. So whenever you start a task don’t stop. Keep on going until it is completed. If you stop and start something else your productivity will take a dive. If another job needs doing, make a note of it and deal with it when you’ve finished the job in hand.

There will be times when you need complete concentration to carry out a task. Once you’ve identified it, allocate a block of time, turn off your phones, ban all interruptions and get on with it.

Remember the old saying, there is only one way to eat an elephant and that is one slice at a time.  Break down your complex projects into smaller and more manageable tasks. With each of these tasks, identified the target you must reach before you can stop working. Use your target as a milestone so that you can reward yourself with a cup of tea or coffee or even a slice of pizza.

I’ve found that the best way to boost my productivity is to break my work down to 55 minute blocks. At the end of the block, I will get up, stretch, walk around and think for five minutes. This energizes me to return to my task.

With a little bit of thought and self-discipline it’s possible to improve your personal productivity. After all, anything that makes your job easier and less stressful is worth investing some time and effort.

An Example of a Personal Productivity System

I believe that everybody could benefit from a personal productivity system. There is nothing more rewarding at the end of the day than enjoying a sense of achievement. I’m going to share with you my personal productivity system so that you can adopt it and modify it to suit yourself.

So the first thing to do is to write down a list. No, not a “To Do” list. The list should be a “Not To Do” list. Make a list of the things that you shouldn’t do because they are barriers to your personal productivity. Here are five examples that are often on my list. I have included the explanations so you can see the reason for the items.

1. Don’t procrastinate.

Sometimes I’m guilty of putting things off rather than planning my day so I do the hardest thing first.

2. Don’t waste time on the web.

Whilst I’m looking for something on the web, I get distracted by other interesting pieces of information. When I look up words in the dictionary or the thesaurus, I am prone to looking at other words as well.

3. Don’t encourage interruptions.

Often I don’t close my office door, so people who are passing sometimes interrupt me to socialise. This wastes a lot of time.

4. Don’t lose your focus.

I have a sign in my office next to my monitor and it says, “If what you are doing is not moving you to your objective, don’t do it!” This helps me to consider what I’m doing on a regular basis to make sure that I am doing things which are going to make me progress. It is so easy to get sidetracked.

5. Don’t forget to plan tomorrow.

The last thing that I do at the end of my working day is to plan what I’m going to do the following day. This enables me to start my day quickly. I don’t have to think about planning. I can get straight into my work.

As part of my personal productivity system, I have included 20 minutes a day for thinking. During this 20 minutes each day, I turn off my phones, make sure I’m not going to get any interruptions, put my hands behind my head and think. This thinking time is used for strategy planning and problem solving.

It requires a certain amount of discipline to take time out to think because of the temptations of socialising, coffee and other distractions. Some of my best thinking has occurred during this 20 minute break when I have been really creative.

My final strategy is to take a break every 50 minutes. This time is flexible but generally speaking I make sure that I have a stretch, stand-up and move around for a few minutes after every block of 50 minutes. I organise my work in blocks of time during my daily planning at the end of each working day.