When you think about the meaning of the word productivity, you discover how tricky the concept is. It is possible to feel productive without being productive. This of course depends on how you measure productivity.
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Productivity is generally measured by looking at the effort or input and compare it with the results or output you are getting. No useful results equals zero productivity. However, there are many instances where you may be duped into feeling that you are being productive only to realise that you have just embarked on a time wasting exercise. Here are some of those instances:
#1. Getting caught up in tasks that do not contribute to your goal
The biggest trap we fall into is to get caught up in the daily grind of answering emails, organising files (physical and electronic) and basically just trying to do something the whole day. In the busyness of the day or week, we have the tendency to loose sight of the bigger picture. The rest of the team don’t know why you are doing what you are doing, and you are just working to sustain things.
Is your work day filled with activities that contribute to your bigger goal or objectives?
#2. Endless meetings
One sure productivity killer is meetings that don’t lead to decisions and actions. How many hours do you consume debating, arguing and deliberating? Has the time you spent on discussions led to significant decisions and meaningful action? There are those of us who avoid meetings altogether. That’s not a good thing. You need to find the right balance and make every meeting a productive one.
#3. Task management and productivity apps
This is a big one for the techies. And I am one of them. There is a tendency to have all these apps without putting them to full use. Your desktop get clogged up. Too much of your time is spent inputing information into apps without creating useful output.
Writing and collecting information about the task to be done is a good start — but actually accomplishing your action steps is what leads to useful results. Set yourself a task of whittling down your productivity apps.
#4. Delaying decision
The way to overcome roadblocks is to make quick decisions. When you put off important decisions, you end up using more energy revisiting the task. You may not agree with this but for me a wrong decision is better than no decision. Any wrong decisions can be corrected as you move along.
#5. Saying yes to every invitation
Learning to say no with a smile is one of the best things you can do to free yourself from high busyness and low productivity. Are all your engagements aligned with your goals? You have to accept that you cannot be everybody’s best friend. The most productive thing you can do is to stay in control of your schedule and tactfully say, “I’m sorry, I don’t have time for that.”
Being productive doesn’t mean you have to be the most passionate or highly active person. All you need to do is to be smart enough to stay on track with your goals and let everybody else worry about theirs.