How to measure your path of productivity
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How to measure your path of productivity

How to measure your path of productivity

It’s not about how much you do, but it’s about doing the right thing at the right time

One piece of advice I repeat time and again when people ask me about productivity and the time management journey, is that the path is not linear, we all have times in life where we fall back into bad habits, we procrastinate and are not very productive.

This happens to me quite often, and I have to remind myself not to be distracted, focus on what I value most, and reset my journey towards what my true purpose in life is.

Be mindful 
One way to gain momentum towards what you should be doing is to pay attention to what is necessary. It is not about how much you do, but it is about doing the right things, the necessary things.

For individuals who want to be successful at work, but also have a purposeful life away from the office, here lies the dilemma of attainment. For if we do not  prioritise our lives someone else will and life will play out in the following way:

Stage 1: We begin by working hard to accomplish what we set out to do and are clear about our purpose and priorities and it is this clarity that leads to our attainment.

Stage 2: We become known as a ‘fixer’ someone who has a reputation for getting things done and so, we are offered further openings and opportunities.

Stage 3: However, these additional openings and opportunities create strains on our time and energy and our efforts become dispersed as we get stretched.

Stage 4: We are seriously distracted from what should have been the most important priority. As a result, we undercut the clarity, which resulted in our attainment in the first place, and this leads to us burning out and crashing.

Greg McKeown, author of Essentialism, says that: “Success can distract us from focusing on the essential things that produce success in the first place.” The implication of McKeown’s advice is that we learn to say no more often, but that is not a bad thing, because it means we can focus on the priorities that fulfil our purpose. As a result, we should be asking ourselves what challenge do I want to work on and what do I want to spend my time on?

Saying no when it matters
I’ve had moments in my career where I said no to bosses, because it was taking me away from the central purpose of my role, and so the success of the organisation. I remember one boss who had a ‘special project’ which he wanted me to take a look at when I had a moment. I really did not have a moment, unless I was prepared to give up many hours of my weekend for the next two months.

I qualified the ‘opportunity’ out. My boss was not impressed and found a peer of mine who did take on the ‘challenge’, with the result that my peer burned himself out, resenting the manager for giving them the special project. He went on to find an opportunity outside the organisation. We all know the tremendous cost involved in recruitment and retention, so to bleed talent out in this way is a terrible waste.

As the late management thinker Peter Drucker said: “In a few hundred years, when the history of our time will be written from a long-term perspective, it is likely that the most important event historians will see is not technology, not the Internet, not e-commerce. It is an unprecedented change in the human condition. For the first time – literally – substantial and rapidly growing numbers of people have choices. For the first time, they will have to manage themselves. And society is totally unprepared for it.”

Drucker is right, the majority of people have not asked themselves what their purpose in life is, what do they want to spend their limited time on, and what should they avoid. Ultimately, the hopeful message is that we can all prepare by asking ourselves what is necessary and then choosing to ignore everything else.

Rehan Khan is a principal consultant for BT and a novelist

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