Productivity. Don’t you love days when you get a lot done? I certainly do. But lately, I have been taking time to reflect on what I have completed to decide if my accomplishments were worthwhile. Have you examined the gap between productivity and effectiveness?
A few Sundays ago after my wife and daughter left Point Loma I sat down to draft a couple of blog posts. The previous 72 hours had been very busy and it wasn’t until I had frittered away a couple of hours that I realized no matter how much I produced that afternoon little of it was going to be useful. As much as I am intentional about being prolific, I need to be equally intentional about my work being valuable.
Based on research and personal experience, here are some conclusions I have drawn about productivity versus effectiveness:
- Productivity wanes. Even if you take breaks for meals and exercise, after 10 to 12 hours of work in a day, especially if it requires a lot of concentration, much of what gets produced is not very valuable.
- There’s a weekly limit. After about 50 or 60 hours of work in a week, the same thing happens. While occasionally you may need to put in a 15 or 18-hour day, working 80 to 100 hours a week probably means your life is out of balance and effectiveness slumped halfway or two-thirds of the way through your week.
- Clarity of purpose. Does the elation of task completion quickly melt away? Do you resent the numerous hours you spend at work? It may be time to re-examine your life purpose. Do you really know what your life is about? If I asked you why you are on this planet do you have the clarity to immediately reply?
- Conflicting goals. Minimally once a week you need to make sure that the work you are doing is moving you in the direction you have planned for yourself and your family. Productivity is not only measured in tasks completed or income. It is just that these are easily quantified. Are your goals in sync with your purpose? Is having a solid marriage one of your goals? How is spending 80 hours per week at the office helping you achieve this?
Productivity at the expense of effectiveness is a particularly attractive trap if you are paid by the hour. When I was a real estate appraiser I remember getting together with a friend who was as overworked as me. We made an agreement to raise our hourly fees by one-third. Interestingly my income increased even though I worked less. What’s more, the quality of my work and my job satisfaction improved.
One of the wonderful challenges of being an entrepreneur is the opportunity to set your own terms of employment. Understanding the difference between being productive and effective will help you make sure that you are living the life you have designed for yourself.
Question – What signs do you look for to make sure your productivity is effective?
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