These days when the speed of life and business just keep quickening, it can seem like we are never being productive enough. There is always more to stay on top of; more to do, yet less time to do it; and often with less money and other resources at our disposal.

designing-on-a-tablet-1361061-mIronically, all this focus on productivity can end up slowing you down. Which productivity tools, techniques, and tips should you follow and how do you successfully implement them?

Though circumstances can vary from one business to another, there are nevertheless commonalities. Here are five productivity keys that can be applied to any kind of business as well as to your personal life outside of it. They are the “tricks of the trade” for productivity superstars, such as Tim Ferris and Josh Kauffman, and though they may seem simple, they can dramatically change the way you and your business functions.

1. Clearly map out your goals. It’s not enough to have some rough idea of where you are heading: I want to increase sales, improve customer service, etc. What exactly do you want to accomplish and more importantly why? Create a list of very specific goals, and list them in order of priority.

2. Break your goals down. Once you are clear about your main goals, you now need to break them down into workable chunks. Many people make the mistake of trying to bite off more than they can chew and eventually end up dropping the ball. Don’t let this happen to your business. You want to create small focus areas and then go through them one-by-one until you’ve mastered it.

3. Get the necessary resources. Make sure all the resources are in place to accomplish your goals. This includes things like equipment, materials, supplies, and even qualified workers, and it means you’re going to have to do some projections to help you anticipate what you will need to get the job done along the way.

4. Make your goals a priority. This may sound simple, but often this step is overlooked, and it can be a major pitfall. It’s not just that you need clear goals and the resources to fulfill them, but you actually have to actively commit those resources. This means setting aside the necessary time, attention, and money and doing so consistently.

5. Testing and feedback. Improving your business’ performance is not a static process. If you really want results then, you need to get feedback along the way. This will help you to stay on course and further pursue the activities and strategies that are working.

In short, if you are looking for some real increases in productivity, then make sure you are implementing the previous five steps. They may appear to be simple, but many businesses skip them, and it’s why increases in productivity can seem elusive.