September 23, 2022
5 Tips to Improve Productivity
Everyone wants to improve productivity, either at home, at work, or at play. Success is not necessarily a matter of working harder, or longer, but smarter. Managing and tracking progression takes diligence, determination, and effort.
In other posts, I've mentioned that I've practiced martial arts for over thirty years. Productivity has always been a constant challenge, both as a student and as an instructor. To have a better understanding of the following five tips, I'll relate them to martial arts and the workplace.
1. Plan, strategize, schedule, and train – Four in one? And isn't planning and strategy the same?
I combined these because of their connection and logical progression from one to the next.
As a martial arts instructor, I worked with my co-instructor on plans for a cycle of classes after each rank advancement testing. We'd type up class planners/curricula for each day, including goals for those classes or the week.
Strategy sessions would see decisions made on how the classes were taught and what exercises and materials we'd need.
Scheduling required a look at a calendar to work around holidays and other 'special' days. What day did we want the next testing and what contingency plans were needed if delays were encountered?
Training included, of course, the actual instructing, but attending seminars and workouts to better not only ourselves but to learn better methods of teaching, thereby improving productivity.
In the workplace, these four aspects are no less important and the first things to be established whether for long- or short-term goals. You need a plan of action, the strategy or method of executing the plan, a schedule of deadlines for the goals, and obtaining the necessary training to learn the job or develop new skills.
I'll bring in the idea of a computerized maintenance management system early in this discussion because, throughout these productivity improvements, this type of system will be a running theme.
One of the best aspects of a CMMS is scheduling work orders and preventive maintenance, thereby helping to plan the day. Strategies are the extras added to work orders such as checklists, safety procedures, and a bill of materials.
2. Use a system – My martial arts organization improves each 'system' of instruction year after year. The goal is to have the schools and clubs focused in the same direction following a certain curriculum. The current system can be adapted for the circumstances in each school, but the same path is followed.
Marketing uses a 'system' as does sales and production. Maintenance departments in many companies find the spreadsheet system doesn't work as well any longer. That's why a CMMS is so beneficial. It helps organize all areas of maintenance from assets to inventory to work orders to purchasing.
Asset management can be tracked for depreciation, costs, and PMs.
Inventory management is under better control with stockroom layout, costs, PM usage, and quantity tracking.
3. Solve problems before they occur – This is part of planning. If I had a student who couldn't perform some of the exercises or techniques, adjustments or modifications were necessary. If a student had an issue with shyness, we had to approach him or her in a different manner to instill a sense of comfort and confidence. Knowing these issues beforehand helped our productivity. So did having that day's class materials ready and seeing the club had been cleaned and organized.
Asset management and preventive maintenance go together, solving or delaying serious issues with equipment and other holdings. A CMMS helps create and schedule PM cycles and monitor machine readings. Supervisors have a better assessment of the situation and make wiser decisions about future work. Using a CMMS gets one away from reactive maintenance. Repairing after things break down risks employee safety and higher costs for rushed delivery of parts.
4. Have the necessary supplies – Part of the above point, but it is a separate one unto itself. As an instructor, I was responsible for purchasing and stocking everything from uniforms to belts to patches, to sparring gear. Having the items ready before class saved having to switch to another plan and ruining productivity.
Inventory management is a big factor in improving work productivity. A CMMS tracks usage, spare parts, minimum quantity thresholds, and an array of reports. It can be a tool to institute an issue/return policy.
Reducing the time workers use gathering what is needed for the jobs raises productivity. In the long run, it saves money.
5. Monitor and adjust – Sometimes, the best plans just don't work. My fault for not communicating well enough or the students were unable to understand or not able to produce. At those times, I switched to another exercise or activity to refresh bodies and minds, my own mind scrambling to ad lib another tactic. Being able to switch strategies helped productivity because I didn't go backward. Instead, going sideways for a while gave me a better way to go forward.
Sometimes, after each class or week of classes, and especially near the time of the next cycle of classes, I'd discuss successes and failures with my co-instructor. We'd analyze strategy and make suggestions for improvements for the coming weeks. This was necessary because it kept us from repeating mistakes and becoming stagnant.
Each work project should have a review. What went wrong, what went right? How to capitalize on the latter.
A CMMS is a great tool for this because it can generate numerous reports to help with productivity, such as reports for attainment, costs, on-time compliance, and Key Productivity Indicators (KPI) reports. Supervisors should also review suggestions and comments on work orders.
The above five tips to improve productivity can be adjusted for home as well as work. I'm not saying a CMMS is necessary for home projects but if you are in the maintenance department, this system would be one of the best pieces of software to use.
Plan, strategize, then call Mapcon Technologies to discuss a powerful and easy-to-use CMMS. We've been improving productivity for over forty years.