We talk a lot about productivity. It’s something that I care passionately about, and we believe it’s key to finding success without compromising your wellbeing. We’ve already shared many tips on how to boost your productivity, from reducing distractions, to focusing more on your output, to using timeboxing to give structure to your day.
I would never consider the fabled ‘inbox zero’ to be an indicator of productivity. Similarly, putting in a 14 hour day doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve got much done.
But how do you know if these techniques are working? How can you tell if you’re being productive or just a busy fool? Of course, productivity looks slightly different for everyone; some people simply have a greater capacity to concentrate for long periods of time, and every job has different requirements.
However, there are a few universal things that point to productivity, which I’ve assembled into a handy checklist below:
Do you finish a task before moving on to the next? Multitasking is rarely a productive way of working, and is often an indicator that you are hooked on being busy rather than actually being efficient.
Are you focusing on what you’re doing? This means not flicking between tabs (unless it’s pertinent to the task at hand), not daydreaming and not turning to your colleague every 2 minutes for a chat. Focus is a hard discipline to master, particularly in a world that is so often set up to distract us, but it’s a key indicator of productivity.
Do you feel calm and satisfied at the end of the day? If you’ve been productive, no matter how busy, you should feel pretty good at the end of the day, even if you’re tired. If you feel frazzled and fragmented, chances are you got sucked into being reactive and let your inbox become the dictator of your day, dragging you from one task to the next. Similarly, if you’ve spent a lot of time procrastinating you’ll likely feel guilty and a little restless
Do you know what your output should be? I often find it surprising how many people don’t really know what the measures of success in their role are. So many of us get sucked into believing that answering emails quickly is the pinnacle of productivity. For most of us, it’s not. Take a moment to work out what you’re actually accountable for and then, each day, if you’ve taken actions towards that goal/output etc., you’ve been productive.
There are a few things that you may be surprised aren’t on here. For instance, I would never consider the fabled ‘inbox zero’ to be an indicator of productivity. Similarly, putting in a 14 hour day doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve got much done. Setting your own productivity goals can be a good way to start working towards higher levels of efficiency and focus.
Hand in hand with knowing whether you’re productive, is, of course, knowing whether you’re healthy, so if you haven’t read it already, take a look at Sarah’s post from last week.
If this is something you’d like help with, our individual coaching could help. Book a free initial consultation by emailing me at email@example.com or pick up the phone and say hi on 07832 692 412.