What Productivity is NOT

I come across articles and blog posts fairly frequently that speak of productivity and time management as if they mean the same thing.  What I find is that most of these articles are simply telling us how to get more done in a day.  How to force more annoying tasks into the limited time we have.

I don’t know about you, but I’m not real interested in scheduling every minute of my day with mundane and redundant tasks.

Yes, productivity can improve with things like better time management, applications for your phone that help you stay organized and on task, and other such things that make up the “what” and “how” of managing your daily life.  But let’s explore another aspect of this.  What if all those extra actions you are trying to organize and manage just went away?  What if instead of juggling dozens of tasks, and spending a good part of your day organizing and managing those activities, they just managed themselves?  That, my friends, is the true meaning of productivity.

Merriam-Webster defines Productivity as the rate at which goods are produced or work is completed.

If we are truly looking for ways to make our work days more productive, let’s stop doing things in stupid ways.  Over the last 20 years, all of my customer success stories were made possible by simple tasks that had been made to be ridiculously difficult and time consuming, and there was significant room for improvement.  True gains in productivity come not from organizing tasks, but from automating or eliminating those tasks.

It’s time to rock the boat and stop using the excuse of “Because that’s the way we’ve always done it” to justify an activity.  If you’re concerned about becoming expendable because you automate your day to day activities, don’t be.  If you can take the time you currently spend getting 80% of your work done, and in 20% of that time get 100% of your work done, you will NOT get fired if you work for someone who has even half a brain.  OK, yeah, we’ve all worked for people who have less than half a brain, but I’m counting on the odds you don’t.  The value that can be added through automation of busy work is a measurable benefit with a very real Return on Investment (ROI).

Take a look at the activities consuming inordinate amounts of time, and consider the “why” behind how you perform those activities.  It’s time to evaluate how we spend our days, and start exercising the true meaning of productivity.