A better way to measure your productivity

Yesterday we talked about a bunch of ways to measure how productive you are. What’s the best way?

My favorite measure of productivity is whether you achieve your goals.

In particular, it’s whether you achieve SMART goals.

SMART goals are partly objective and partly subjective. They’re objective because they’re measurable, but they’re subjective because you have to come up with goals that add something to your life.

If you achieve your goals, you’re productive, in the sense of putting in effort on the right things. If you don’t achieve your goals, you probably aren’t putting in effort on the right things.

This is not a perfect measure. You might hit a goal through sheer luck, or miss it as a result of something that’s outside of your control. But you can minimize that problem by setting goals that are related to your effort instead.

For example, one of my goals is to write to you every day for 365 days in a row. (So far, so good. 💪🏻) Each day that I write and publish, I am meeting my goal. I won’t “complete” or “achieve” the goal until some time in April 2019, but in the meantime I am productive every day that I write and publish.

Using the achievement of your goals to measure your productivity can also help you avoid feeling bad about taking breaks.

Let’s say you’ve worked lots of hours for two weeks. Now you’re really frazzled. What’s the most productive thing to do tomorrow: work lots more hours or have some downtime?

In this scenario you’re better off taking a break. But if you were measuring your productivity by “hours worked”, taking a break would count as not being productive.

(My favorite way to take a break is to spend a day at a wellness resort. It’s a great way to get away from your work and from your devices. Ever tried it?)

By contrast, if you measure your productivity by achieving your goals, taking a break is a productive thing to do, because it will refresh you and increase the odds that you’ll achieve your goal eventually.

How productive do you feel? Does that feeling change when you judge yourself by your achievement of your goals instead?


— Peter

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