As long as I remember myself, I’d always wanted to do things in the best possible way in order to have the time to do what was “really” important to me. Important for me is to have time for developing myself, to find time for casual writing, reading, painting, exercising, spend time with my wife and my family, learn more about the topics I’m focusing on, develop more quality relationships, etc.
That’s why, I was always alert to the things (approaches, tools, tricks, hacks, templates, etc.) that could reduce me the time I was spending on the things I HAD to do and maximize my time for what’s important to me!
I have piloted, tested, evaluate, filtered and employ many of the approaches and tools could guarantee to provide the required results I was seeking after, in order to reach in my version of “getting things done“!
My Journey To Productivity
As I told you, I started my journey in trying to find out the best ways to do what I need to do and focus on what’s it is important to me. I have many interests and on top of that a work, a family, a lot of friends and associates, all of which play a major part in my personal development and in my life.
In the middle of all these activities, tasks and relationships I had to find time for the things really interested me. So it became very important to me to find ways on how to do the things better and in less effort.
Better for me it means to provide value to myself, and to the people, I associate with. Less effort is to find the way to maximize the result of my actions in a compact and concise way, based on solid scientific principles and my way of doing things.
And that’s how I got “stuck” in productivity. One of the things I learned early was that the productivity relates to intention and how you process the things to do. Furthermore, it depends on certain concepts, knowledge, skills, approaches as well as to the right tools for your work and life.
One of the greatest experts I found on this journey was Michael Hyatt. I “bumped into” Michael’s then blog (if I recall correctly it was called “Working Smart“) searching in Google how to implement the GTD methodology in MS Outlook (it was my corporate days and MS Outlook was a significant part of the business). Michael at the time had developed a set of Outlook macros for helping and moving forward the GTD process (yes it before his Mac days) and give away free for anyone interested.
Well, guess what, I was interested! And from that day on I start following his work. Michael helps me to understand more things about productivity from many books and, most importantly, how to implement them in real-time situations to fit your needs.
Michael provides valuable resources, can help you realize your potential and how to use them to your advantage!
Productivity: What A Strange Notion?
Productivity as a principle relates to being effective in processing and completing the things you have to do and to be efficient doing it!
There are many definitions of productivity. Here is a “mechanical” one that can point you in a certain direction:
Productivity is an average measure of the efficiency of production. It can be expressed as the ratio of output to inputs used in the production process, i.e. output per unit of input. (Wikipedia: Productivity)
This is A definition, but under no circumstances, that definition encompasses the whole concept of productivity. Because, at the end of the day, productivity relates to how YOU do something and what results you have.
The problem with definitions, though, is that the most of them do not apply to you! Are general principles, cannot relate to what YOU are doing, and in no way can point you in a direction how to better the way to do things! Isn’t, right?
The Myths Of Productivity
What you should know, though, from the start is that many things about productivity are myths. You need knowledge and experience to discern myths to the fact when productivity is an issue!
Persistent myths like:
- You can be productive if you do this or that. Wrong! There’s nothing in the world to make you productive if you do not follow a tested scheme of reference and if you are not vigilant for not falling to procrastination, lurking all your efforts!
- Using this concept or tool you become super productive. Wrong! Productivity is a life attitude. There are no shortcuts! It needs time, work and energy to be achieved and can be ruined easily in the blink of an eye.
- You can be productive at work or at home. Wrong! There’s no productivity à la carte or a little bit of productivity! Productivity is an integrated attitude towards the things you do and does not relate just to your work or your family. It related to the whole of your life.
These myth fuel concepts and habits that can destroy any attempt for a better, well-balanced, organized and efficient life.
Effectiveness & Efficiency
So productivity is not something general or something concerns the other people. Either It is something specific that applies to you (your way of thinking, your habits, etc.) and you can use it effectively or you have no use for it! At all!
Perhaps a better definition might be effectiveness! Effectiveness relates to a result. Not just any result but the specific result you want to achieve. And along this term comes the similar term of efficiency.
Efficiency and effectiveness are similar but not identical terms. If you take the time to reflect on these terms you will see, that:
Effective (adj.) – Adequate to accomplish a purpose; producing the intended or expected result.
Efficient (adj.) – Performing or functioning in the best possible manner with the least waste of time and effort.
The difference between effectiveness and efficiency can be summed up shortly, sweetly and succinctly – Being effective is about doing the right things, while being efficient is about doing things right.
Productivity & Organization
A concept, very similar to productivity, is the organization. The organization may refer to the personal tidiness and declutter in order to do your activities more efficiently or to the organizational structure[!!!] of a larger entity (company, organization, etc.)
In that term an organizational structure:
defines how activities such as task allocation, coordination and supervision are directed toward the achievement of organizational aims. It can also be considered as the viewing glass or perspective through which individuals see their organization and its environment. (Wikipedia: Organizational structure)
Productivity relates to both concepts of organization. Relates both to personal and to the organizational level.
At the “organization level”:
Organization productivity is determined by a broad range of factors, some can be evaluated quantitatively, while others require a qualitative, analytical approach. When assessing productivity, it is important to fully understand each of the key drivers that impact productivity. In addition to evaluating each driver individually, it is necessary to determine how well these drivers work together and function as a whole. Changes to one driver might (and probably will) have an effect on others. (Dechert-Hampe Consulting: Organization Productivity)
At a personal level, organization plays a major part in productivity, but as the productivity itself usually is, organization, as well, is a mental state and needs a lot of work to manage the clutter tends to gather around you!
Organization as such is a constant process and limited to the “operational” side of productivity. You talk to a client, you keep notes on the specific place you usually note things down, you find his/her information in that/this folder, etc.
Without the proper organization, you never would have the chance to achieve productivity in your life and work.
The Mind Model For A Productive Day
As you can see, productivity can be a very complex issue or a simple one. Can become very complex if you involved too much with the subject and not apply anything to your life in order to see what’s work and what isn’t!
On the other hand, productivity can be a very simple issue when for instance:
- You have set up your goals
- You focus on what’s important for yourself, your family and your business
- You have the right mental state (intention to achieve productivity), attitude and use the correct for your strategy
- You have the right motivation and incentives in order to accomplish what you need to do
- You have defined, document and implement the required processes for achieving what you have to do
- You have set up the correct to your systems & tools
- You evaluate all the time your approach and fine-tuning it to the constantly changing requirements of your life and business