If you look up the definition of productivity, you’ll likely see a lot around getting more done in less time. Productivity is commonly seen through the lens of time and how efficiently time is used. How can we redefine that? Let’s take a very strong empirical example that we’re all living through right now.
Today, a majority of the workforce is working from home. Often, I hear people say that they’re more productive at home and are able to get more done because they don’t have to step out anywhere and therefore can achieve more. According to many of them, they end up working more at home, compared to the office because there may not be a clear boundary between work and other aspects of life. However, although they’re working a lot, seem to be more busy, and getting more things done, it doesn’t necessarily equate with being productive.
Despite people feeling busier working from home, there haven't been any big jumps in organizational measures of productivity in the past two years.
What then, is productivity? There’s a more holistic definition to be explored here. Productivity is about having an impact in your role, and also in your life. It’s about being able to achieve your goals, while actively screening out the noise of ‘busy-ness’ from your days. It’s about carving time out for yourself, while making sure that you're still delivering what you need to, creating an exceptional impact without being stretched and exhausted. So, I would encourage everyone to create a personalized definition of productivity for yourself.
With that definition in mind, I’d turn our attention to this idea of an ‘infinity loop’. In my 15 years of experience being a coach, psychologist, and a people development specialist, I’ve found that mindsets and tools move in this ‘infinity loop’, regardless of what we want to achieve in life. Speaking of mindsets, our redefinition of productivity above is an example of having an effective mindset in place. Once we have that in place, we have to get our tools in place as well.
In terms of a tool for productivity, I use active screening throughout the week. For example, on Sundays, I sit down in front of my laptop and review the engagements and meetings that I will have during the week. I also think about what I want to achieve this week that's going to impact my role. And as soon as I have that clear, I actively decline meetings that are not helping me meet that goal. So, conversations during the week have to fall under the criteria for productivity that I’ve set for myself.
Usually, conversations fall under 3 buckets:
For instance, this could be in the form of only creating meetings that focus on building stronger networks and relationships with stakeholders, taking a step back as a manager and cultivating more ownership within your team, or stepping away from meetings that don't require you to be there as much as possible. Most importantly, it needs to align with the outcome you’re trying to achieve at the end of the year.
Regardless of the activity, the call to action here is to think about the required mindset and the corresponding tool. If you set your mindset right and put intent behind your action, you can use the simplest of tools and they will work to your favor.
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Global Head of Organization Development