In 2024, we’re leaving behind the notion that productivity is just a buzzword that holds no weight. Productivity has wide-ranging implications, both within and outside your professional life. If you’re looking to start the New Year on the right track but catch yourself struggling to manage your time and be “more productive,” we’ve got you covered.
Sharing his insights and unique experiences through his productivity journey is leading revenue intelligence platform Gong.io’s Chief Evangelist Udi Ledergor. We’ll explore productivity models, effective time management, and a few tips that you’ve absolutely got to try this New Year.
Time is both a precious commodity and a perpetual challenge, which is why productivity is so valuable to employers. It’s a lot more than just checking off tasks on a list; it’s a structured approach to accomplishing goals efficiently. Sometimes, it doesn’t even have to be about achieving your goals—it could just be about not wasting time, especially when you’re on the clock.
But it’s perfectly fair to be confused about where exactly you’re going wrong with things. For starters, everyone uses their time differently—and most of us don’t have the same 24 hours. Each job role requires different responsibilities to be carried out over varying periods. It’s no surprise that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to being “more productive.”
Luckily though, there are dozens of tried-and-tested productivity systems online that you can try out, such as the Pomodoro Technique and the Eisenhower Matrix, each catering to unique needs and preferences.
In addition to that, in the work environment of today, you’ll come across countless tools to aid you in your journey. This includes productivity apps, project management platforms, and collaborative tools, all of which have become integral to effective time management and streamlined workflows.
The Four Burners Theory
As we mentioned before, no model or system is perfect for everyone, but if you’d like to try a new system out, for Udi Ledergor, the Four Burners Theory is the way to go!
“I think it’s a helpful framework for thinking about what you’re prioritising in life right now. The four-burner stove model says, to think about your life as a four-burner stove,” he explained. And how does it work?
Well, in this model, each burner represents a crucial aspect—personal health, relationships, social life, and career. Recognising the inherent challenge of keeping all burners on high simultaneously, Udi emphasises the need for intentional choices.
“I remember when I graduated, I wanted to do everything … I couldn’t do anything right, and that was a huge realisation for me—that I have to decide what I’m going to prioritise,” Udi added.
Udi Ledergor sheds light on the challenges of prioritising strategically: “I’ve been in that position, like many people, of saying yes to things because I wanted to please someone but they were not high on my priorities. Every single day, I get requests to pick my brain on something and I have to sort through them.”
Individuals can select which burners to elevate based on their current circumstances, whether focusing on career growth or personal well-being.
By making conscious decisions at various intervals—yearly, weekly, or daily—you can alleviate the guilt associated with juggling conflicting responsibilities. “Strategic prioritisation” is the key, aligned with your immediate and long-term goals.
In the workplace
The concept of productivity has evolved beyond mere output; it now encompasses a holistic approach to accomplishing tasks in diverse work environments. Against this backdrop, what does it mean to be truly productive in the workplace?
The traditional notion of output per unit of time isn’t out, it now intertwines with effective time management, strategic prioritisation (as we mentioned earlier), and maintaining a balance that ensures both professional success and personal well-being.
But we know how things get in the workplace. How do you prioritise your tasks in a way that matters? Let’s look at meetings as an example.
Udi provides an interesting approach his team follows at Gong: “We did this exercise at work when our calendars overflowed—cancel all the recurring meetings and then start rescheduling only the ones that you really need. Many times, we leave these recurring meetings on the calendar and they’re just there because of the power of inertia, but they made sense two years ago when you started that recurring meeting, but do you really still need to meet that? Do you really still need to meet that person every single week?”
The ultimate productivity tip
We are the most connected generation yet, and with numerous digital distractions knocking down our digital doors, multitasking has become a norm. Personally, I need to scroll through YouTube shorts while I eat during my break, or else I feel like I’m missing out when the truth is, I’m being distracted by one or the other and giving neither activity my full attention or appreciation.
Udi challenges this widespread practice of multitasking, “Since COVID, we all learned how to multitask and pretend like we’re concentrating on a Zoom meeting while actually doing our emails or Instagram or something else,” he joked, “But when you actually have something important to get done, I would warn you against multitasking. I would say close every window on your screen and only work. If you’re looking to write something, do not have any email alerts, Slack alerts, WhatsApp alerts or text alerts popping up because that’s going to distract you. It’s going take you three times as long as it should take you.”
A little trick that helped Udi many years ago was that he turned off almost all the notifications on his phone. “I don’t get a notification on my phone when a new email comes in. I definitely don’t get any notifications from any social media because it’s never, ever, ever urgent or important. Why would I want it to distract me from the moment that I’m having right now, whether it’s work or dinner or something like that?”
Here, it’s important to note that work-life balance is not an abstract concept but a tangible aspect of our daily lives. Work often does consume the lives of those who allow it to, as dramatic as that may sound. Achieving a solid equilibrium between professional commitments and personal life is a deep concern for many people.
Achieving excellence at work is commendable, but so is nurturing meaningful connections outside the office. Productivity often takes centre stage in discussions about professional success but Udi brings up a poignant reminder about the importance of balance in your personal life as well. “Being a great parent is not always doing everything that your kids and partner want. It’s also about setting boundaries.”
Elaborating further, he added, “In our household, we all have dinner together at 7 p.m. and there are no screens, no exceptions at the table. No phones, no iPads, no laptops, no screens at dinner. Some days, this is the only time I get to spend with my family. I don’t want anyone looking down at the screen, including myself.”
Turning off notifications and creating focused, distraction-free work environments emerge as practical strategies for reclaiming your attention and time.
Udi’s advice echoes loud and clear, “Just shut off all these unnecessary notifications … they were only created by default because the creators of those applications want you to spend more time in them.”
In summary, learning to prioritise strategically is a game-changing piece of advice that acts as a compass when you’re trying to improve your productivity. Udi’s key principle boils down to choosing your battles wisely – say ‘no’ to anything that doesn’t align with your priorities. It’s not about doing everything, but about efficiently tackling what truly matters. Be selective; not every opportunity deserves a ‘yes.’
Avoid multitasking when you can as it is a common productivity pitfall. Focus, instead, on one task at a time to truly excel in it.
And all those incessant notifications that disrupt your process throughout the day? Udi’s remedy is simple but profound: “Everything can wait.” Reclaim control over your attention by silencing the unnecessary noise.
Remember, it’s not about doing more; it’s about doing what truly counts. Strategically decline what doesn’t align with your goals, strike a harmonious chord between work and life, and pave your unique career path. Take a cue from Udi, apply these insights in 2024, and transform your personal and professional life with newfound purpose and efficiency.
(If you’re looking for more unconventional productivity tips, we recommend these helpful hacks!)