Fiona Newton – What is productivity in the workplace, and how do we manage it.

Interview with
Fiona Newton
Fiona Newton – What is productivity in the workplace, and how do we manage it.

Like a grizzly toddler, is your inbox the first thing that demands your attention first thing each morning? Add to that distraction some lengthy phone calls, a few annoying pop-up ads, a little bit of Facebook time, co-worker interruptions, and a long commute … it’s not surprising to learn that only 25% of us are working at our full potential and that we suffer an interruption every 7-8 minutes.

What does this do to our productivity - and what actually is productivity?

Productivity in the workplace goes a lot deeper than just getting things done. Although it’s a simple enough equation - which Wikipedia describes as output per unit of input over a specific period of time - as a business owner, how do you quantify (or even qualify) your version of productivity?

Determining or measuring the value of output produced as a result of input, AKA productivity, is a specialty for our guest today, Fiona Newton. She knows exactly what productivity means and her role as trainer for offers coaching on how to identify and pursue activities that will get the most favourable (and profitable) outcomes for your business.

“To maximise productivity, we need unified processes that allow us to all sing from the same hymn book.”

 Fiona Newton,

Spitting out a ton of email replies might make you feel good about clearing your inbox, but we know there’ll be a whole heap more to deal with tomorrow. In the meantime, you’ve spent a large portion of your valuable energy on a relatively unproductive task that hasn’t contributed its fair share towards your bottom line.

Productivity is arguably the most integral part of business performance. It’s more than cramming as much into your day as possible and it’s also more than ticking off dozens of tasks from your seemingly endless checklist.

Changing tack to focus uninterrupted on one or two high-priority high-value tasks which will afford you the best results for your input is a skill that can be learnt. It’s also a discipline that will help you balance menial task delivery with big picture creativity.

Think about your interpretation of what productivity means to your business.

Fiona understands that gauging productivity is challenging, but question your chosen daily activities and ask yourself:

  • How much value does this task offer my business/ my employer?
  • What KPI’s am I trying to achieve?
  • Do I have clearly defined objectives?
  • Am I making money?
  • Am I building good client relationships?
  • Am I positioning myself where I can make the most impact?
  • Am I improving my bottom line?

If your answers are starting to feel a little jumbled, you’re not alone. Conventional office spaces are busy arenas chock-full of interruptions, distractions, and muddled communication. Are we better off toiling in a quiet space with regular reconvening for collaborative and team-building purposes? Working from home has its advantages but on a large scale is a relatively new endeavour. Identifying and measuring efficient productivity here has taken a U-turn and entails a whole new approach from all parties, with long term repercussions (both socially and economically) still relatively untested.

Even so, Fiona thinks that home-based enterprise is the way forward, and will deliver the broader, more diverse, inclusive, gender-equity working forum that’s failed till now. Incorporating a balance of Cloud (shared) technology and face to face collaboration plus the bonus of flexibility according to lifestyle and you potentially create a far greater opportunity for productivity working from home than in a traditional office space. 

What’s definitely required are managers who are secure enough to modify their leadership styles from ‘micromanaged-parenting’ to ‘empowering trust-based’.

What’s also required to increase productivity in any workplace anywhere is a PLAN.

If you were asked how many minutes you spend planning your day and in reply, you joined your finger and thumb together in the shape of a big fat zero, then that’s something that should probably change.

True productivity stems from becoming accountable for tasks needing completion. As Fiona has said, the trick is sorting out which of those tasks is a priority i.e. which is going to give most value to your business. Switch 20 low-value tasks for 2 high-value and suddenly productivity jumps the hump to take star position in your latest bell curve.

“Don’t get confused by measuring all activity as high-value productivity.”

Fiona Newton,

Taking time to detail a daily plan of action takes the pressure off a) your memory and b) your mental health. Clearing the eternal loop of ‘to do’ thoughts circulating in your mind by writing stuff down is a fantastic management tool which provides the space for:

  • prioritising high-value task delivery
  • shifting low-energy tasks to a low-energy time of day
  • creative thinking
  • strategic thinking
  • problem-solving
  • resource assessment
  • looking back and reprioritising
  • looking forward and reprioritising
  • big picture work.   

Getting stuff done and dusted is a catchphrase but knowing what activity is going to result in the most positive payoff for your business (or employer) is key. Setting your day up knowing what you want to have achieved by the end of it is a bit like wearing a Fitbit - keeps you on your toes, focused, and accountable - and you’ll see real-time results, right then and there.

“When things are practically put in front of you and made easy to follow then anyone can be productive.”

Fiona Newton,

Touch base with Fiona by checking our her website:

You can download some free  and even assess your own productivity strategy on the spot.

By the way, if you need more help in moving your business from ordinary to extraordinary visit me, Craig Oliver at

Or follow fellow business owners on their journeys by checking out our O2E Business Academy on Facebook.

And read the show notes from our other amazingly informative, inspirational and gritty podcasts at

So many insights, tips, and ideas to be had! Just look back, listen, and learn.


Go on, smash through the glass ceiling, and move your business from Ordinary to Extraordinary.


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