Recently, I posted the following series of questions on my Facebook business page: How do you define being “productive”? Do you think of it as literally producing more? Or is it about helping you feel more in control or “balanced”? Do you tie it into impacting your bottom line and making more money? Or is that less important to you than its affect on your peace of mind?
What was fascinating to me was not only the answers themselves, but the way the answers diverged so much. It appears that productivity is a very personal matter. When it comes to productivity, it’s different strokes for different folks. From my years of experience researching, writing about, and working with clients to improve productivity, I have noticed that there are many approaches to productivity. And the answers that I received to my questions above confirmed this.
In order to be more productive, some people need to literally do more. Others need to do less. Then there is doing the right things at the right time in the most effective way possible. Using the qualifier “right” (as defined by you), helps to really home in on what makes the most impact to help one be productive, as opposed to just being busy. So there are many layers and levels to productivity.
Some people do, in fact, think of being productive as producing more, or getting more done. And that’s not a big surprise as to be productive literally means to produce. Therefore, many of us tend to translate being productive to mean that we need to keep doing and going and producing, and all at the same time. However, this can cause a ton of stress in our lives and make the quality of what we are producing decrease. I am just as guilty of that as others. So it takes a brave person to realize that you can have it all, but just not at the same time! This is a perfect example of why multi-tasking is not always the best course of action.
In fact, many people are busy for no reason, or for the wrong reason. They think it makes them more productive. Or they feel more productive because of all of the activity, but yet they aren’t truly more productive. Busy does not equal productive at all. That is one of the biggest fallacies of our society these days.
What about using productivity to feel (and be) more at peace, happy, and successful? For many people, this is a better measurement of productivity. My personal definition of productivity falls more into this category. To me, being productive is accomplishing what I set out to do. That makes me feel personally productive as I have identified particular items as important and prioritized them, so they are the ones I should be focusing on. But it is less about having more, or even doing more, but feeling balanced, in control, and at peace. In fact, I have realized over the years that I am a productive as a means to living a successful and passionate life. If I were just productive for the sake of productivity, I would not be as happy or feel as balanced.
Why are differences in the definition of productivity important to recognize? For one, productivity consultants need to keep this in mind and can’t try to give a “one size fits all” solution to clients. From my perspective, most productivity consultants are quite aware of this, but it still bears mentioning. And all of us need to give this some thought and determine what our personal definition of productivity is. That is the best way to measure whether we feel (and are) productive. We first have to know what being productive truly means to us.
So I encourage you to determine what YOUR personal definition of productivity is. Don’t worry so much about what everyone else is doing or thinking. Yes, it is great to read, research, model and learn all about productivity (trust me, I am obsessed with it!) But it is also important to march to the beat of your own drum, and measure your success in the area of productivity against your own personal standard.