Hey, it’s Dr. Liu here with Better LIFE Research TIPS. The top two reasons for low productivity are procrastination and waste of work. In the previous video, I talked about how to stop procrastination. In this video, I will show you how to be more productive by minimizing waste of work and the time needed for rework. My tip No. 1 is, always keep the deliverables in mind while working. When we talk about the deliverables, there are two key points. The first is the output itself. For every task, the most important thing is always the final output. The value of our work is usually evaluated based on the final output, but not our efforts during the process. When our final output is not good, even we really worked very hard, in other people’s eyes, we didn’t work effectively. They may not even agree we work hard enough. So it is very important to always have a clear picture about the final output in order to keep our work in the right track. What the final output should look like? What are the most important elements of the final output? The answer should determine where we should put most of our efforts. In order to work effectively, whenever we invest a significant amount of time into the work, we should always ask, how the current effort can contribute to the final output? For academic work, the most common output is our writing. It is usually a good idea to start writing as early as possible, even before we start our data collection. Writing put our ideas in mind into paper. It will force us to make it clear. Writing an outline of the final output provides the best guidance for our work. Whenever we make progress that can contribute to the final output, we should write it down. Not only it can provide us a sense of accomplishment, but also it will provide a clear picture about what else is needed for the final output. If we wait until we have collected all the data, completed all the analysis, and then we start to write, we may often find we have to recall and repeat a lot of work we have done long time ago. Even worse, we may find many of our work that we have put a lot of efforts are actually not needed in our final output. Writing also makes communication easier when we are not working alone. So, don’t wait until the last minute to start writing! It will save us a lot of time. The second key point about the deliverable is the client. The final output usually will be delivered to a certain client and be evaluated by this client. In many case, we work both for ourselves and for the client. In order to work effectively, we not only should have a clear picture on our own requirements on the final output, we also need to have an accurate understanding on the requirements of the client. Comparing with our own requirements, the requirements of the client could be very different and more important. What are the information that are most valuable to the client, and what should be included in the final output? If we can always work towards the real requirements of the client, we can further reduce the potential waste of our work, and minimize the need for rework. However, this is not easy. Actually, it is quite common that the real requirements of the client could be very different from our initial understanding due to the common noise in communication. Therefore, we have the tip No. 2. The tip No. 2 is, get feedback frequently from the clients by using minimum deliverables. The minimum deliverable is a small piece of output that are small enough that does not require a lot of efforts and time, but it is good enough to demonstrate the quality of the final output, showing what the final output may look like, and thus it can be used to ask for a feedback. At the beginning of our work, it is often impossible to be 100% sure about what the clients really want in the final output. Sometimes, even the clients themselves are not sure about what they want until they see a piece of the final output. Occasionally, the clients may even change their ideas or plans. Therefore, getting frequent feedbacks from the clients is very important to avoid waste. The clients may be our customers, supervisors, collaborators, or whoever is responsible to evaluate our work. When we accept a new task, it would be better to promise a earlier date to submit a minimum deliverable, rather than to promise just one date for submission of the final output. If we work long time and finally come out with something that are totally different from the expectation of the clients, we may need to start all over again, and it would be a big waste of time. In order to minimize waste of work, we need to get feedbacks as quick as possible, and as frequent as possible. An effective person should be able to break down any complex work and generate a reasonable minimum deliverable within one week or even one day. The first minimum deliverable we generate is often an outline of the final output. We want to make sure we are in the same picture with our clients about what the final output should look like. At the early stage, we should be extremely careful about any negative feedback we get, because they could significantly affect the direction of our work. So, here comes our tip No. 3. The tip No. 3 is, keep updating our minimum deliverables based on the feedbacks we received in a timely manner. After we receive any negative feedbacks, we should address them ASAP no matter we agree with them or not. For the feedbacks we do not agree, we should discuss frankly with our clients to identify an acceptable solution. Never neglect the feedbacks we don’t like and pretend they do not exist. Any problem identified in the early stage could grow and become a larger problem later if they are not addressed in a timely manner. When we update our minimum deliverables based on the feedbacks on a weekly base, if we make mistakes, the worst case is wasting one week’s work. By updating frequently, we minimize our risks of making big mistakes. Usually, the more important the work is, the more frequent update we may need. And usually at the early stage of the work, we may need more frequent update. The habit of generating minimum deliverables and keep updating them in a steady pace are extremely important in a multitasking and teamwork environment. When we have multiple tasks on hand, we first work on one task. After we generate a minimum deliverable for this task, we send it out for feedbacks from our collaborators, or other team members. Ask them how long it will take for them to provide their feedbacks. Then while they are working on their feedbacks, we can use this time to generate a minimum deliverable for another task. We keep generating minimum deliverables for multiple tasks alternatively. In this way, at any given time, we just focus on one task. But overall, we are handling multiple tasks at the same period. Keep updating our minimum deliverables in a steady pace makes us a predictable and reliable team worker. And by requesting feedbacks in a steady pace, we are actually also managing the time of other team members. The overall productivity of the whole team will be improved. Thanks for watching, I am Dr. Liu with research tips for the underdogs. If you like this video, pleas subscribe for new videos coming every week. Establishing micro-habits is the key to manage our behaviors, and generating minimum deliverables is the key to improve our productivity. Until next time, let’s keep that in mind for a more productive life.