The Start of Your Productivity Journey — What You Must Know
You’ve decided that you want to be more productive and manage your time more effectively. Great. But where do your start?
Well, you need to know this. Productivity boils down to this: getting the right things done right, at the right time. Let’s unpack this.
Productivity is about getting things done, but not just “anything” done; it’s about getting the “right” things done. Thus, to be productive, you must put your efforts on the “right” activities.
All activities aren’t equal; they don’t yield the same return on your investment of time and energy.
The “right” activities primarily depend on your goals. The “right” activities are activities that help you move closer to your goals, in particular, your most important goal(s). Time spent working on activities related to your most important goal(s) is time well-invested.
Your goal gives meaning and direction to your activity. What is your goal? What do you want to accomplish? What is your desired result? Without the answer to these questions, you may be busy, but won’t be productive.
Also, the “right” activities should allow you to leverage your strengths. You waste time and energy working on activities that lock you in your areas of weakness. To be productive, most of your time should be spent in your strengths zone.
This begs the question: If you’re to focus on your areas of strengths, what must you do with the other necessary activities that are in your areas of weakness? You would be wise to delegate those activities to others who have strengths in those areas.
You set yourself up for failure when you spend your time working on activities that don’t allow you to leverage your strengths. This impacts your productivity.
Productivity isn’t only about “quantity”; it’s also about “quality”. In fact, it’s not only about the amount of work you get done; it’s also about the quality of your work. Productivity means getting the right things done “right”. You must get the work done, but you must get it done right. You can’t botch the work and think that you’re being productive just because you’re “producing” lots of it.
True productivity demands that you hold yourself to high standards of excellence and that you commit to producing quality work.
Productivity is about getting the right things done right, “at the right time”.
Your energy level varies during the course of a day. Thus, some activities should be performed when your energy level is high, while others can be performed when your energy is lower.
For example, if you need to perform creative work — say, you need to write an important report for work — the productive thing to do is to tackle this activity when you’re fresh and your energy level is high, not wait for your energy to be depleted to tackle it. Conversely, cleaning up your email inbox wouldn’t be a productive activity to perform when your energy level is high; you can leave this activity for later when you’ve given all your juice to more important activities.
“At the right time” also implies that you don’t miss your moment by indulging in procrastination: when it’s time to get the work done, you get it done. It’s unproductive to be playing games on your mobile device (i.e. procrastinating) when you should be working on your project proposal.
The starting point of your productivity journey is to understand the meaning of productivity and to start aligning your actions with that meaning, i.e. getting the right things done right, at the right time. As you begin your journey, set clear goals, leverage your strengths, hold yourself to high standards of excellence, and remember that timing is everything.