Am I Productive?

ProductivityQuick question – Would you like your team to be more productive? Ok – really two questions…. Would you like to be more productive?

Whenever I ask either of these two questions I get the same answer – “yes”. Truthfully there is a variation – some answers are “YES” (enthusiastically excited) and the others are “sure-yes, of course” (yes, and I don’t see how it is possible, sigh…).

Let’s back up for a minute – what exactly does being more productive mean?

Originally, productivity was a way to measure efficiency. How many trucks can Ford produce daily in a specific plant? How many soybeans will be harvested per acre? For many of us, this definition isn’t helpful. When we express a desire to be more productive what are we really talking about?

“Productivity put simply, is the name we give our attempts to figure out the best uses of our energy, intellect, and time as we try to seize the most meaningful rewards with the least wasted effort.” This is the definition of author, Charles Duhigg in his book, Smarter Faster Better.

Using this definition, we first need to know our “most meaningful rewards”!

When we decide to expand our definition beyond “get through the day” and intentionally create a vision for our life and business we have the basis to be wildly productive.

Knowing what we want helps us to distinguish “busy” from “productive”. Busy is easy –  productive requires our attention and intention. 

This all sounds good and yet what does it really mean in my life and the lives of my clients. The theory is nice and this makes sense intellectually yet none of that will change my life or my productivity.

I was curious.

What can we do to consider our productivity from this perspective?

This is what I did to gain insight…

I focused on last week (it was an average week) and answered the following questions (written answers).

  • What long-term goal(s) was my focus? A long-term goal is one with an achievement date of more than a year. I am a proponent of 10-year goals. Check out these blog posts for more information (Why You Need a 10-Year Goal and Create A 10-Year Goal)
  • What did I do last week (be specific) related to my focus goal?
  • How many of my activities were good uses of my energy, time, and talent AND moved me toward my long-term goal(s)?

When I did this exercise, it was clear that I was spending too much time on things that I could complete and check off my list! Much of what I did was not the best use of my energy, time, and talent when viewed from the perspective of getting to my long-term goal(s) with the “least wasted effort”. It was a busy week. It was not a productive week.

1 step to increase productivity

I made a list of the actions that met the criteria of being good uses of my energy, time, and talent for the goals that are my focus. I am choosing what I do from this list of high-impact activities. Defining what productivity looks like is helping me guard against confusing busy with productivity.

Are you busy or productive?

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