“If you cannot measure it, you cannot improve it.”
– Lord Kelvin
More than ever, we’re expected to be personal productivity ninjas. Do more in less time. Or else. The reality is that we cannot do more with less – we can only do less with less. As a result, we have to do the right things and do them well. Here at CaptureApps, we’ve espoused deep work before because we firmly believe that multitasking is a false economy. So how do you know what works? How do you truly identify and use the right personal productivity practices? You need to start tracking your time with more granularity and with more attention to results. In other words, add personal productivity metrics to your routine, then regularly review them to see the impact.
Personal Productivity Metrics
When you decide to optimize your productivity, you’ll want to set up some measurements that matter. For attorneys and consultants, their obvious metric is billable hours. For others, it may take the shape of something different.
We’ll assume you have a clear set of objectives and tasks (if not, consider reading Getting Things Done as a starting point on your journey).
The initial building block for productivity is completing tasks. Smart tasks are finite – you can clearly define the starting and ending point on a specific item. “Read chapter one of my new book” is better than “Read a book” or “Read more”. You may also create tasks that are time-based, like “Read for an hour today”. Your productivity will be impacted by setting the objective and then finishing it.
Hopefully your individual tasks add up to a bigger project, like reading the entire book, filing your taxes on time or building the new company website. As a matter of fact, many of your tasks should have been reverse-engineered from a project. Remember to make each task of your project specific. Start with small steps, then build momentum to bigger ones.
As mentioned in our first example, attorneys and consultants have an easier time knowing if they’re productive with hourly billing, which ultimately converts to revenue. You may also be tasked with growing your overall company revenue, which creates a different set of productivity metrics. Are you working on the right tasks to reach your revenue objectives? Or are you busy with administrivia?
Many consultants prioritize their tasks like this:
- Billable Work
The goal of this hierarchy is to drive money and revenue first (for example, billing generates the next revenue and proposals can generate more money in the future).
Getting Started with Productivity Metrics
The first step in managing your productivity metrics is to get a handle on where you are now. Track your time however you can: keep timecards on paper or use a time-tracking app. Once you can measure what you’re doing, you’ll be able to decide on productivity metrics that matter for you. Consider using time management systems like Pomodoros to help you focus on the important tasks that really boost your productivity.
Tuning Your Productivity Metrics
One thing that can be a wake-up call is a productivity metrics audit using a tool like Desktime. Desktime is a silent watchdog that keeps track of what you do on your computer or mobile device, helping you find productivity leaks. Spending too much time on Facebook or Twitter? Living in your email? You’ll know soon enough if you track your time spent.
Productivity Metrics FTW
You cannot do more with less, but you can do more of the right things. Productivity metrics help you measure your effectiveness on a daily basis, which ultimately helps you refine your day to get more impressive results. Start small, build momentum, learn, and then tune with your productivity metrics. Go!