Woman mapping out workflow process on the board

How to be Productive with Unproductive Software

Productivity is like gravity. What do we mean by that? You and your competitors all operate in the same marketplace. You all have access to the same pools of customers, partners, and talent. The more productive you are, the more you will attract partners, talent, and customers.

The inverse is also true. The less productive you are, not only are you not attracting customers, partners, and talent, but you are allowing them to be attracted by your competitors.

People want to be associated with people who get stuff done and they want to be serviced by people they can rely upon. If you truly believe in the value of your product and services, don’t let productivity be the reason that your customers end up with an inferior solution.

If you are suffering from a lack of productivity but don’t feel you can make the business justification – inclusive of cost and root cause analysis – to purchase new software, here are 5 elements of productivity you can influence now.


Focus on the OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) you wish to achieve. The goal of OKRs is to define how to achieve objectives through measurable actions so you can easily track activity against your top priority metrics. Set achievable goals and strive to hit them. If you don’t, determine why and how to fix the issue moving forward. Don’t waste time by being reactive and putting out fires; find the root cause of the fire and stop the issue from recurring.


Implement a daily planning routine. From a cognitive science perspective, the most effective to-do list is to create a list of your top three priority objectives, as well as a “junk drawer” to-do list that includes everything else on your mind. (See our blog “7 Easy Ways to Increase Efficiency in the Workplace” for more.)

When reviewing your recurring tasks, put them into these buckets: eliminate, automate, delegate, procrastinate (on purpose), concentrate. By following Rory Vaden’s Focus Funnel you can determine which of your tasks need urgent attention and which have made their way into your day but are no longer worth your time.

The same way mapping out your week on a Monday morning is important, it’s also vital to block time out on Friday afternoon to reflect on the week and look at your processes. Did everything go smoothly? If it did not, use this time to work on it to make next week’s tasks easier to complete.

It’s hard to work on and in your processes at the same time, so set time aside to solely work on your processes. Allow yourself to quiet your mind and fix your system instead of simply operating within it and accepting the waste and preventable issues caused by its inefficiencies.


Visualize your process. It doesn’t have to be intricate, a simple flowchart will do.

When something exists solely in the abstract of your mind it seems significantly more complicated than it actually is. After all, 65% of people consider themselves visual learners, so visualizing your processes can greatly increase your ability to spot inefficiencies, focus on top priorities, and rally your team around what is critical to focus on that week.

Time Management

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American works 8.8 hours every day. Don’t be fooled, though. You may think you or your employees have at least 8 hours of work time to fill every day, but a 2018 study of 2,000 full-time office workers revealed most employees are only productive for around three hours of the day.

Thus, time blocks are critical to ensure you and your employees are making the most out of every workday. Kevin Kruse, time management expert, shares in his book “15 Secrets Successful People Know About Time Management,” that the most successful people organize their day in time blocks instead of to-do lists. So take your top three objective from above and turn them into time blocks.

It’s a simple concept: list your tasks to complete in a certain time frame by blocking out your day in increments that make the most sense for you (i.e.: 10 min., 30 min., 60 min., 90 min. etc.). Estimate the amount of time each task is going to take to complete, and add buffer times to allow for adjustments or unexpected issues. This method will hold you more accountable and “game-ify” your to-do list by setting a timed deadline.


Last but certainly not least is health. You and your team will perform better and be more productive if everyone is getting rest, eating well, and exercising on a regular basis. You must remind yourself that your business is comprised of people, and when these most basic needs are strained or not met, issues will arise.

Focus on the fundamentals: (i) diet, (ii) sleep, (iii) movement, (iv) water.

Hopefully these five categories of productivity have helped shed light on ways you and your team can map out your processes in a more efficient manner in order to be more productive. However, when it really boils down to it, if your software is getting in your way or not helping you achieve your goals, change your software. It’s as simple as that. It doesn’t matter how good your people are, if your software is holding your employees back, your business will suffer.

Recommended reading: “5 Fireable Offenses of Your Software”