Many people want to increase their productivity, but do not know where to get started. Let’s start with the basics. Productivity is defined as: the rate at which goods or services having exchange value are produced.
So, the simplest way to increase your productivity is to increase your rate of production. What is your rate of production? Value produced/time. Here is a purely monetary example to illustrate: Angela and Blake both have strong work ethics. Both make $500 in one day. Angela works for ten hours. Angela’s rate of production is $500/10, or $50 per hour. Blake works for four hours and makes $500. Blake’s rate of production is $500/4, or $125 per hour. Who has the higher rate of production per hour of work? Blake, of course. But this is only a purely monetary example.
In the real world, value cannot be measured in purely monetary terms. Value determined on the individual level takes personal situations into account.
For example, Carl is a bodybuilder. It is very important to Carl that he eat specially prepared, home-cooked meals. So, Carl invests time into meal planning, grocery shopping, and cooking every day. It is a productive use of his time.
On the other hand, Daniel is a corporate attorney. Daniel practices law for twelve to fourteen hours per day. Taking the time to plan meals, grocery shop, and cook would diminish his time and energy for practicing law. So, Daniel has his meals delivered to his office.
Though Daniel does not choose to allocate time to cooking his own meals, time spent with his family is extremely valuable to him. Daniel makes sure to spend at least half an hour reading to his children every night. This produces immense value for him, so he makes it a top priority.
In the real world, value produced includes intangibles. Take this into consideration when considering which of your activities produce the most value for you.
Simply list your activities on a typical day, categorize them based on how much value they produce for you, and then prioritize them accordingly. In case you prefer a more systematic approach, time coach Elizabeth Grace Saunders classifies activities into three categories: A) investment, B) neutral, or C) optimize. Investment activities are the best opportunities for productivity. The more time and effort that you put into investment activities, the more value you produce. For example, for Carl, the bodybuilder, having a strong body is important to his career. So, exercising is an investment activity for Carl, and he reserves considerable energy and focus for his workouts every day. Neutral activities do not necessarily produce more value if you put more time and effort into them. Activities like this need to be completed sufficiently, but not perfectly. For people who are not bodybuilders, a neutral activity would be their workout routines, because several additional hours of exercising will not add a significant amount of value to their lives. And optimize activities? Just get them done and don’t worry about putting a lot of effort into them. For Daniel, the corporate attorney, optimize activities would be arranging for his meals. Once you have categorized your activities, increasing your productivity is a matter of increasing the amount of time and effort that you spend on your investment activities and decreasing the amount of time and effort that you put into optimize activities.
By analyzing the rate of production of your activities, you take control over your use of time and your productivity. So, allocate your time conscientiously. Execute your tasks according to your prioritizations, and watch your productivity increase.
by Christine Arce-Yee