HR Insights, Talent Management

The 1% Solution to Making 2014 Your Most Productive Year Yet

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I’m not a big believer in New Year’s resolutions.

Frustrated by bad habits like procrastination, disorganization, or a lack of exercise, many of us vow to change. We make a New Year’s resolution such as, “This year, I’ll walk on my treadmill three times a week!”

By March, the treadmill is gathering dust down in the basement. Defeated, we give up further attempts to change.

Why does this happen? I believe it’s because we don’t make reasonable resolutions to begin with and thus fail to keep the ones we make. So people either stop setting goals (never a good choice), or they make resolutions that are ridiculously easy to keep.

Dozens of tiny things you can do

The solution? Stop focusing on massive gains. Instead, make it your goal in 2014 to improve 1 percent each day. If you can improve 1 percent each day, you’ll double in ability roughly every 70 days!

Let’s do the math: if you start out with $100 at the beginning of the year and you were able to increase what you have by 1 percent every single day, at the end of the year, you would have $3,778.34, which is $100 * (1 + 1 percent) to the power of 365.

That is 37.78 times what you had at the beginning of the year, not 365 percent (3.65x) better.

Hitting that 1 percent goal every single day will have a dramatic effect on your performance! I’ve discovered that incremental improvement is very easy to do if you focus on it. There are always dozens of tiny little things you could do, which you might not even think about:

  • Shorten a typical 45-minute meeting to 30.
  • Call someone instead of calling a meeting.
  • Look at an existing process and try to make it shorter.
  • Do something more important before you do something more pleasurable.
  • Integrate a new piece of technology.
  • Learn how to use Tasks in Outlook.
  • Create notebooks in OneNote.
  • Memorize a keyboard shortcut.
  • Drive a different way to work.
  • Don’t read email first.
  • Read an article on a subject that intrigues you.
  • Watch a TED video and tell a friend about it.

It all adds up

Everything adds up! In 2014, I’d challenge you to wake up every day and ask yourself, “What is the 1 percent improvement I can make to improve myself personally and professionally? Or what would make my team better? Or what would make my organization better?”

Get rid of time drains: status reports no one reads, inefficient paperwork, and time-tracking techniques that never see the light of day. Things like this point to an underlying problem, so be the one who steps up to say, “Let’s improve this!

Is there a recurring meeting at work that makes everyone groan and hasn’t been worth the hour it eats up for as long as you can remember? Maybe it’s time to reconsider how that time is spent. Or maybe it’s simply time to get rid of the meeting altogether and give everyone involved a little extra time in their day.

Imagine yourself making 1 percent changes every day! Imagine being 37 times better by the end of the year! Imagine if every employee at your company were doing the same.

Imagine how much better you, your team, your company, and the world would be next year.

This was originally published on Laura Stack’s The Productivity Pro blog.

Laura Stack is one of America's premier experts on productivity, and her company, The Productivity Pro, Inc., provides workshops around the globe on productivity, potential, and performance. She’s the author of six books, most recently, “Execution IS the Strategy: How Leaders Achieve Maximum Results in Minimum Time.” Contact her at laura@theproductivitypro.com, or you can connect with her on LinkedIn.
  • http://www.good.co/blog Lisa – Good.Co

    “Do something more important before you do something more pleasurable” is a constant goal of mine. Often, it includes completing one task entirely – and cleaning up after – before doing something new. I picked up the habit by stopping myself before I walk away from a mess, and reminding myself that by spending another minute or two now, I can save a Saturday afternoon that would otherwise be spent tidying the whole house. And that ‘extra’ time can be put towards the 10 000 hours it takes to become excellent at something. The only quandary remaining is choosing what to become excellent at!
    Sometimes all it takes to be better is a little trick like that – acquiring a conscious reminder that fools you just long enough to get the better thing done instead of putting it off.
    Thanks so much for the motivating article! Lisa Chatroop, Good.Co

    • Laura Stack

      I’m going to read your comment to my two teenage boys, who don’t quite get why it takes so long to clean their rooms on the weekend—it takes just as long to drop clothes in the hamper as on the floor!