Go to work with pleasure and maintain good relationships

On Tuesday, 20. 6., Venture Factory carried out a workshop entitled “Productivity and time management”. Blaž Kos shared his experiences and thoughts with startuppers and others who were eager to learn. They discussed the key principles for increasing productivity and how to manage your personal and working time.
Two things are crucial in life as well as in the business world – work and relationships. At work, we need to do something that makes us happy, but we have to be focused on actually creating value to bring something to the community and get paid for doing it. On the other hand, there are relationships, because it is impossible to be productive without good relationships. The latter are also the best basis for good productivity: they enable us to take bigger risks, because we have people who stand by our side. If relationships are bad, we’re in a bad mood and consequently also less productive.  
We can make every job interesting enough for us to come to work with pleasure every day and be happy, which consequently also means we are more productive. With relationships, we try to find the best possible community, people with whom we can work as constructively as possible. For high productivity, both components need to work suitably. Most organizations fail when internal frictions begin. When there is no internal harmony anymore, productivity falls, the results drop, and things just don’t work anymore.

Time, skills and priorities

What even is productivity? Productivity has three elements. The first element is how much time we dedicate to something. We all have 24 hours at our disposal and during this time, we decide how much time we dedicate to something. The other thing that strongly affects our productivity are skills. With new skills, we significantly increase our productivity. There are unlimited possibilities for increasing skills. The last element are priorities. When setting priorities, we need to ask ourselves the question: What can only I do and nobody else? We need to decide what we do in a day. We have two possibilities, either we do high-value or we do low-value activities. Which activities are crucial for the success of your business or the company in which you are employed? The only activities that bring serious value added in entrepreneurship are innovating and marketing. You need to create product or service value. When do we create value? When somebody pays the bills.

10 main things that systematically deter you from work with high value added

“Time wasters are all activities you do during the day that lead to no real progress.”
The main part of time management is to change your perspective from having a reactive relationship with your environment to having a proactive relationship. If we are reactive, we react to stimuli from the environment – we don’t have control over the situation. With a proactive relationship, we choose and dictate the communication ourselves. We ask ourselves how we will organize our day. 
1. Email 
Why do we like being on email so much? It gives us a false feeling of productivity, we feel like we did something. 
2. Direct messaging
Messages from different applications are some of the biggest distractors for attention and productivity at the workplace. Blaž’s advice is to delete applications that you’re not using. And for those that you are using – turn off the notifications and answer when you have the time. 
3. Meetings
Decrease the number of meetings. Try to determine who you should have a meeting with. It makes sense to organize a meeting when we try to build a relationship with someone. Try to suggest an alternative to a meeting, talk over the phone or a different communication channel. But if there is a meeting after all, you need to structure it beforehand and then follow that plan. 50 % of meetings are completely unnecessary.
4. Social networks 
Use social networks for the right things, be on the right side of the screen. Keep close friends for whom you really want to know what is happening to them. You also need to decrease the number of social networks. Use social networks for the right things, namely promoting products and services.
5. Daily news
Articles on news portals have become low-quality, unverified. News will get to you, one way or another. Don’t lose time reading bad articles and negative news. Read quality books instead. 
6. Smartphones and tablets
All distractions are in one place. It’s great if you can go from a smartphone back to older devices. If that’s not possible, try to decrease the number of applications on your smart device and turn off all notifications. Try to transform your smartphone into a device for learning. 
7. Conferences
Conferences and educational seminars are useful in a couple of cases. The first is when you need the motivation to go, gather knowledge and have fun. The other thing is if you try to sell something to someone. If you go conferences with reasons that aren’t sound, then that is a waste of time.
8. Logistics
Decrease travel time to a minimum. Organize meetings in similar places simultaneously so that you don’t waste time driving unnecessarily. While you are traveling, listen to audio books or podcasts. Try to avoid rush hour traffic. 
9. In-between time and motion 
Reduce waiting times for different things. Have a fast computer so that you don’t wait for it to start up. Don’t lose time waiting for people and don’t press the snooze button when your morning alarm goes off.
10. TV, movies, games and web browsing 
We all need some entertainment, but not all the time. Television is nothing other than an advertising channel. When you watch television, you don’t live your life, you’re wasting it. People on the other side of the screen are living their dream life. The same goes for other entertainment channels.

Eliminate distractions and organize your tasks

It’s important for you to get into the flow and work for 2 hours without distractions, doing your most important tasks in this time. After this flow, take a 20- to 30-minute break. Eat something, stretch or go for a walk. If you start with one flow and then come to 2 or even 3 in a day, you’ve made an incredible step forward for your productivity.
Identify your biggest distractions. Don’t count on self-discipline. Make a system that will help you eliminate all distractions. Place a “Do not disturb” sign on your door, turn off your phone, block all “fun” websites, and close your email. 
Negative people are a very unpleasant distraction in your life. Such people can ruin the entire team and leech energy from you.
Good communication is also important. If communication in an organization is bad, this leads to bad productivity. That is why good, strong management staff is needed. It is necessary to decrease politics and increase performance. Transparent communication is important and only with that can we have satisfied employees.
Divide tasks into important and urgent. Successful people focus on important tasks. You should spend about 80 % of your time on important tasks. Additionally, you should organize a list of your tasks.
For the end, participants received some more practical advice for achieving better productivity.  This was followed by questions from participants, which Blaž Kos gladly answered. 

Who is Blaž Kos?

In the past 12 years, Blaž Kos has been actively participating in the development of the startup ecosystem, venture capital, and competitive business environment in Slovenia and Southeast Europe. He helped establish university incubators and technology parks, managed a network of business angels and a venture capital fund, and designed the first public-private business accelerator.
Besides this, Blaž Kos also advises companies and organizations on increasing innovativeness, productivity and use of modern technologies. He is also writing the AgileLeanLife blog on psychology, agile management and lean entrepreneurship. His blog was chosen as one of 50 best blogs in the category of personal and business growth in the world. More at
Author: Nataša Rus, 29.6.2017
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