Apr 10, 2024

Is Productivity a Skill? What Years of Experience Say

Discover how seasoned pros redefine productivity

The reason I founded Beebolt was to help companies improve productivity and efficiency.  Productivity is the key to achieving business goals in an efficient and effective manner. It is paramount. 

However, of course I understand that the modern world can prove challenging. Take a look at the survey by Gallup that shows only 23% of employees claim to be engaged in their work. And lack of engagement is directly linked to reduced productivity. 

For office-based workers, Dropbox and Economist Impact found that 42% of employees typically don’t spend more than an hour on productive work without interruption. When you consider that it can take up to 23 minutes to refocus after a distraction, it is easy to see the potential negative effects. 

The figures for remote working also show roadblocks, with communication issues and a reduction in learning, mentoring and feedback cited among other reasons by Stanford University for a drop in productivity of between 10 and 20%.

That is why I’m asking the question – is productivity a skill? And, if it is, how do we reevaluate our relationship with it in the fast-paced and often overwhelming modern world to drive greater performance? This is what I will explore in this article, along with some methods that industry leaders use to “create” more productive hours by optimizing their workflows. 

Let’s unpack productivity: What is it?

The traditional view of productivity is that it is doing more in less time. And, yes, that is one element of what productivity is. A content writer writes 1,000 words in six hours on one day and the next day they write 1,000 words in four hours. They are more productive, of course.

But that doesn’t tell the full story. Simply doing things quicker is a result of productivity but the act of productivity is the “how”, not the “what”.

Busy time is not productive time. It is not about ticking off the final item on your to-do list. It is, instead, a process that includes:

  1. Understanding your goals

  2. Prioritizing your tasks to achieve those goals

  3. Taking those tasks that do not move you forward from your workflow

  4. Allocating resources effectively

  5. Employing strategies to complete tasks more efficiently

Create an optimal environment to help you summon the correct energy to achieve your aims with focus and purpose. Productivity is a skill, and like any skill, you can develop it and refine it through practice and feedback. 

Productivity is not one but many skills

Okay, it is not a skill. It is a combination of many skills. Here are some of the solutions that successful leaders implement to stimulate productivity at work: 

Focus on solving problems

Completing a task, any work task, is ultimately about solving a problem. When you look at your to-do list, all it really shows you is a series of situations you need to rectify. 

It is easy to get bogged down in the detail of each individual task and to try and over-engineer it to completion. Part of better productivity is to stop overthinking and find the shortest route from where you are to the point where you deliver what is needed. 

Think of Occam’s razor. The simplest answer is the right answer. Analyze your tasks and reduce them to their most basic elements. This will guide you to the most intuitive solution. 

Decisions, decisions, decisions

Working life is full of decisions that you need to make. These can distract from your work, pull focus and dent productivity if you spend too much time deliberating over them. The answer is to find a mechanism to implement better and more efficient decision-making into your productivity flow. 

Many decisions are relatively small and the best course of action is to train yourself to take them quickly. This doesn’t mean being rash and dismissive of them. It means understanding your business, its mission, your products or services and your clients as deeply as possible. When you are fully invested, you can make the right small decisions more swiftly, freeing yourself up for your work. 

For big decisions, Daniel H Pink suggests most people think more deeply and analytically between 9am and 12pm, with a peak around 11am. His research finds that this is the best time to make those more consequential decisions more effectively. If you stay up later than most, or get up earlier, this window shifts accordingly, so work on finding your sweet spot for decision-making. 

Is it truly important?

Anyone with a grasp on their productivity asks themselves this question – “is it truly important?” Run each task through a filter. Truly important tasks:

  • will have a significant impact

  • will move you toward your goals

  • are more important than other tasks

  • block other important tasks

  • need to be completed right now. 

By mastering prioritization through methods such as Eat the Frog or the Eisenhower Matrix, you create an order of attack that provides the biggest positive impact for the business while moving you faster to what you want to acheive. You also begin to understand a lot of work you previously believed to be important is not. This is a powerful discovery in terms of honing your productivity skills because it helps you filter these tasks out earlier in future, streamlining the process.  

Can someone else do it?

Delegation is a key aspect of productivity. Trying to do everything by yourself is not a productive attitude and, even if you eventually complete every single task, you open yourself up to burnout or overwhelm. 

Delegating the tasks that you have sidelined during your prioritization is the first step, but you can also take this further. Be realistic; can someone else in the team carry out a major task more quickly or to a better standard than you? If so, delegate. 

And delegation doesn’t have to be to another human. We live in an age of advanced artificial intelligence (AI), which can break the back of so many tasks that previously took up hours’ of employees’ time. 

For example, you can use AI for anything from writing proposals to data analysis to engaging stakeholders up and down your supply chain. All important tasks, but all possible to complete with a lighter touch from you than you might have expected. AI is an enabler, not a replacer.

Good communicators are more productive

Good communication in the workplace leads to increased productivity, according to 72% of business leaders. When you communicate your goals, it brings accountability and allows for better and more effective collaboration within teams. 

Where there is poor communication, stakeholders can fall out of sync and misunderstandings can occur. This can lead to work having to be revised unnecessarily, denting productivity. 

Communication leads to better collaboration and reduces silos. This powers the sharing of important information and better understanding of progress and goals within the organization. So, don’t forget to hone your soft skills, especially in the area of communication. 

Your environment also has an effect

Here are some of the ways in which environmental factors affect productivity: 

  • Digital environment - Distractions from mobile devices and floods of notifications arriving all the time can deflect workers’ focus from the tasks at hand.

  • Workplace culture - Working constantly doesn’t necessarily mean being more productive. Experts suggest a balance of 70% work and 30% rest is a beneficial balance for productivity. A culture that doesn’t allow for downtime can actually negatively impact productivity.

  • Stress - There is a lot of pressure in this always-on world, as well as concerns over the economy and job security, leading to overwhelm and anxiety. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) found that 56% of employees believed stress affected their productivity at work. 


Is productivity a skill? Well, it is a series of skills as well as an attitude that relishes the opportunity to tweak processes and procedures. Adopting a growth mindset helps you to view challenges as opportunities to develop your productivity journey. 

Continuous improvement is key to learning and mastering skills that will make you more productive. Keep an open mind and don’t be afraid to take on the new challenges that the world will throw your way. Analyze, prioritize, delegate, and communicate to succeed. 

At Beebolt, we have developed a platform that utilizes these key lessons to improve the efficiency and productivity of your supply chain. From direct communication with suppliers to our AI Supply Chain Assistant that automates some of your time-consuming manual tasks, productivity is at the heart of all we do. Get started for free today.

The Side-Kick You Never Knew You Needed...

Become the Supply Chain Super Hero.

Building the Global Operating System for International Trade.

© 2024 Beebolt

The Side-Kick You Never Knew You Needed...

Become the Supply Chain Super Hero.

Building the Global Operating System for International Trade.

© 2024 Beebolt