Have you ever been at the end of a working day only to realize that you had accomplished very little? I have. Needless to say, it wasn’t a pleasant experience. I can even look back at entire months where I accomplished just a little. Realizing this, I knew I had to take action to increase my productivity.
As Peter Drucker said, “What gets measured, gets managed.” So, if I want to increase my productivity, I need to find a way to measure it.
I ended up with a simple method that has worked well for me. I have been using it for over six months now, and I can say that this method has helped me become more productive.
To be clear, this method won’t fit all types of work. It’s geared toward creative work where you need to focus your mind to get something done. Some examples of who this method can help are writers, software developers, and graphic designers. This method might not fit other types of work, such as selling or organizing.
The method is this:
Use a timer to measure the amount of productive time you have each day.
Simple, isn’t it? Activate the timer when you do productive work, and stop it otherwise. By using this method, you know that the amount of time recorded in the timer is the amount of time you spent doing real work.
In my case, I then group my days into months. This way I can see whether my productivity has increased or decreased compared to the previous month. In February, for instance, I had less productive time per day compared to January. This alerted me to get my productivity level back up this month.
Here are several things you need to do if you want to apply this method:
1. Decide on what you consider as productive activities.
First of all, you need to decide what activities you will count as productive. These are the activities where you will activate the timer when doing them.
In my case, I include only activities that produce output. Some examples are writing blog posts, developing apps, and improving my website design. I don’t include activities such as reading and email processing because they don’t produce output.
This definition works well for me because I want to maximize my output. By measuring the time spent on these things, I’m on the right track to increase my output.
2. Choose a timer to use.
After deciding on the activities you count as productive, you need to choose the timer you are going to use. In my case, I use Chronos. I like it because it shows the timer at the top of my screen. It also allows me to group my days into months so that I can see the monthly total.
There are many other options though. Just find the one that works for you.
3. Be disciplined in using the timer.
After choosing the timer, the hard part is being disciplined in using it. Start the timer when you do a productive activity, and stop it whenever you get interrupted. Be honest with yourself to stop it whenever you do something that you don’t count as productive.
4. Review your results.
The last step is to review your results. Look at your average productive time per day this month. Then compare it with previous months. This will help you see how your current level of productivity is. If you aren’t satisfied with your results, take action to reduce the time you spend on non-productive activities.
This method has worked well for me, and I hope it can also work for you.
Do you have other ideas on measuring productivity? Click here to leave a comment.