CRANK IT UP! How Do You Measure Your Productivity for Business & Personal Lives?

Do more with less. Get ahead. Make time. Can you really crank it up? As lifehackers, we’re always trying, but how do you know if you’re doing the right things? How do you accurately measure your productivity? We’re here to share some ideas on what you should track and how you can measure your productivity to get better results.


In business, we’re (usually) trying to make a profit. Profit comes from keeping your expenses lower than your revenue, so productivity boosts help improve the company’s bottom line.

Sales ($) / Labor Costs ($)

In a service business, you could measure your total sales against your labor costs (Cost of Good Sold, essentially). Even if it’s not a perfect measurement, it’s something to use as a weekly, monthly or annual yardstick. The ‘grain’ of your timeline depends on the scale of your business; if you’re a small company, it will probably require using a longer timeline.

Sales ($) / Pay ($)

You may look at your sales over what you pay your employees. Your payroll, which can be a major lineitem in many businesses, can help you determine whether you’re over- or under-staffed.

Number of Customers Served/Staff

In a volume business, perhaps you want to maximize “throughput” by seeing more customers. This benchmark might lead to investments in areas where you streamline processes.

Total Value of Sales ($ Billed) / Labor Costs ($) + Investment ($)

When you factor in any investment in your business, you can also determine resulting productivity increases. That new training program, upgraded computers, better infrastructure – each of these can improve productivity so your business gains.


As individuals, often our productivity gains mean better career opportunities or a happier personal life. More time to do more stuff? Or more time for yourself and your family…

Units of Output per Labor Hour

As software developers, we have seen measurements over the years ranging from “lines of code written” to “scrum tasks completed”. In our business, it’s not really widgets, so we have to benchmark differently than a manufacturer. Ours is more…creative…unpredictable…fragile… That said, we measure our productivity by releases and projects completed within periods of time. Doctors might count patients seen per hour, real estate agents housed sold compared with time spent and .

Dollar Output per Labor Hour

How much do you earn hourly? Doctors might count revenue per patient or per hour in the office, real estate agents calculate sales per hour and lawyers determine average earned for billable hours.


Metrics are essentially useless unless you review and use them to improve productivity. That is, measuring is critical, but taking action is equally important. One way to drive benefit is by gamifying productivity. Yes, you CAN squeeze more juice from the orange if you test ideas. To start, how do you measure your business’ productivity and your personal productivity.

Chances are you have an accounting/billing system for your business, so study the reports that help measure your business. Pull data into a spreadsheet if you need to and work out formulas that suit your company productivity.

For personal productivity, you may want to try a system like Desktime, which helps track where you’re spending all your time. You can mark apps and websites you’re using that are counterproductive (e.g., too much time on Facebook or ESPN), which

And we’ve written about Pomodoro Technique a number of times – we love BeFocused to get more focused time on particular tasks. Both tools are a good way to crank it up by knowing what you’re doing.

Once you have a baseline measurement, you can gamify it – find ways to get better results than the baseline. Try incentives, both for your business and yourself. “If we add 10% more productivity this week, we’ll all get to leave early on the following Monday” (even though that may sound counterproductive, it’s actually a test of the incentive and the time off!).  “If I get 14 pomodoros today, I’m going to the driving range after work” (for your own enjoyment). Play with both the incentives & rewards and the techniques. We read many blogs and books about productivity, with hundreds of ideas to try (including many we share here). Gamification does a funny Jedi mind trick to us – we strive for doing better and when we see it, we get a rush…

CRANK IT UP! How Do You Measure Your Productivity for Business & Personal Lives?

You have many choices on how you measure productivity – and each business and person are different. If you want to crank it up, start with choosing a measurement, then measure, then experiment with techniques. Make it fun with gamification and see how far you can go.

Have other ideas? We’d love to hear ’em. Hit us with your comments.


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