10 Essential Elements of Human Performance and Productivity

High performance and productivity have more elements and characteristics than you can shake a stick at.  The literature in the field is full of tips for improving your performance and productivity.

But you don’t want to spend months or years trying to figure out what works best for you.  So, from time to time those of us who spend a great deal of attention on these issues come up with handy little lists of essentials to help you focus on the more meaningful and helpful areas to work on.

Here’s one of my latest ones.  I’ll be taking each of the elements and expanding them in later posts.

But, don’t just wait for me! You can use the list to go out and research what others have already said.  And if you do wait for me, I’ll be including my favorite links in those future posts on the elements.


The List: 10 Essential Elements of Performance and Productivity


1. Energy — You have to have the physical and psychological stamina and drive to start, follow through and finish up.  We all have be taught to think about time management for getting things done, but the real work is in energy management.  You can plan and strategize and schedule all you want,  but if you don’t have the energy at the time you schedule the action or the stamina to go through all the steps to finish, the time doesn’t matter at all.


Motivation + Inspiration

2. Motivation/Inspiration — You have to have a personal and convincing “why” for doing it.  What’s in it for you?  What do you get for doing it that is so worth the time, effort and energy you put into it.  What makes it better than any other choices of what to do.  What is its value?

But more than that, you have to be inspired to do it.  To feel a connection and engagement with it that sustains your follow-through.  It doesn’t matter whether you have a sense of duty or rightness, a deep interest in the process, a feeling of fun and freedom.  It could even be an urgent need for the money you get for doing it. You just have to feel enough of that intangible “something” that gets you to start, continue and finish.  That “something” that inspires action is different for each person.




3. Skills — You have to have specific abilities for the various things you do.  And you have to have enough aptitude to learn those skills.  Most skills can be developed through training and experience.  A big piece of the human performance and productivity puzzle is determining the particular skills you need, the level of your ability in your skill, and the amount of practice of the skill you need to use it well and efficiently.

It may be office skills like computer use or labor skills like laying tile.  Whatever the skill, you will also need to maintain it and — maybe — update it regularly.


General Know-How

4. General Know-How — Not only do you need to have specific skills for any work or creation, you also have to know how to get things done in general.  You have to know how to get yourself and others started.  You have to know how to judge work quality.  You have to understand how to pace yourself when you work.  You have to know how much time it takes to do each function associated with your work.  You have to know how to work as part of a team.


Social Skills

5. Social Skills — You don’t work or create in a vacuum.  You have to understand others and be able to work for them and with them.  For example, you need to obtain supplies and get them delivered on time, which requires you to be friendly enough to get others to do that for you.  You may not need to have a Facebook following, but you need to get along with others to get things done.  Even if you’re the “boss.”

And let’s not forget that no matter what group you’re with, you need to find a way to “fit in.”  Temporary workers and contract workers, for example, usually are treated as outsiders.  If you have good social skills, you often can discover ways to be accepted and treated more warmly whether or not it is on a merely temporary basis.  In fact, those who know how to fit in are more likely to be offered more permanent jobs or be asked back repeatedly when an organization has a need.  That’s also true of consultants who are in demand.  If you fit in well in any group, it counts for more than your specific skills alone.

Good social skills make people want to work with you and help you.  Lack of social skills isolates you from support.



6. Support — Yep.  This is also why you need social skills.  You need other people to advise you, help you, encourage you, cheer for you when you succeed.  Everyone’s success is a team effort.  Realize that you need support from others and they need support from you.  This holds true whether it’s in your job description or not.  It holds true even if you are a solo micro-entrepreneur working from your home.



7. Health — You know that energy factor I put at the top of the list?  You need good health and good mental health to feed the energy.  You might become what many think of as successful without good health, but how good and satisfying can that be?  Also, no matter what you achieve, it won’t be nearly as good as if you achieved it in the way most healthy for you.

Focus + Engagement

8. Focus/Engagement — You have to pay attention to what you’re doing until it’s finished.  It may have some automatic processes to go through, but you have to stay aware of  the stages of progress and step in on time when it’s your turn to do something.  You may have to wait while others work on their jobs in the project.  But it is your job to make sure you’re notified and ready when you need to step in to work.  To keep up that focus or attention, you have to find some engagement in the project. (See the section on motivation, above.)


Self-Confidence/ Self-Esteem

9. Self-Confidence/Self-Esteem — You have to have enough belief in your own power to do things. You have to believe you’re worthy of success.  You have to believe that what you do is worth doing well. That’s the essence of self-confidence and self-esteem.  If you don’t have them, you don’t get things done.  These issues are not mere pop psych issues for happiness and “the good life;” they are “musts” for high performing producers.



10. Resources — You have to have the tools, technology, materials, workers, etc. that you use to make, manage, store and deliver your work.  You may have to have or obtain the training, certification or license that qualifies you for your work.

If you don’t have the qualities you need in the elements listed above, you need to develop them. No worry, though — most people, most of the time don’t have all that they need when they start.

All of the above elements apply whether you are a freelance artist or writer working on your own projects, an entrepreneur with a virtual employee or two, a middle-manager in a large tech firm, a teacher of third grade students, CEO of a bank or any other occupation you can imagine.  They apply if you are a student.  They apply if you are a stay-at-home mom or dad.  They apply if you volunteer for public service or charity.

Anything you work at, whether for money, certification, helping others, personal creativity or whatever else, is some kind of performance or productive effort.  All of the above elements affect the quality of that performance or the level of productivity.

That’s the purpose of this website.  Here I create or collect resources from around the Web, in print or in physical form.  I might review them, curate them, provide links to them, publish them, make videos about them, make training about them, or otherwise tell you how to find them and/or use them.