While it may be easy to get caught up in the Productivity Trap from time to time, productivity can and should be a good thing.
Productivity with a Purpose is about freeing up time from the unnecessary, as well as the necessary but not fulfilling, in order to focus on higher priority or more fulfilling work. The end goal is simply about doing more of the things we love, or enjoy, and less of the things we don’t.
Two things I personally enjoy are spending quality time with the most important people in my life and helping others excel in areas of my strengths. So if the end result of my effort to be more productive is not allowing me to do more of these things, I probably need to make some changes.
When I do feel myself slipping, these 3 things can help.
If you’re on a road trip with no destination in mind, you will arrive somewhere, but it may not be the place you’re looking for. Clarifying your priorities allows you to begin with a destination in mind.
When identifying your priorities, it can be helpful to visualize your personal and professional roles in life, like husband, colleague, mom, manager, etc.*
Be sure not to forget self which might cover areas like health, professional development and rest/relaxation. I believe we’re most effective in serving others when we’re at our personal best. Don’t neglect yourself.
*Michael Hyatt has a really good article and ebook about this process that he calls creating your personal Life Plan.
Once you’re priorities are clearly established, you now have a better picture of what your desired destination looks like. Establishing small goals to get you there is next.
Your goals should align and support each of the priorities that you’ve established as most important. A combination of short-term, mid-term and long-term goals can be a powerful way to stay focused on your final destination while getting a sense of progress and accomplishment with completing smaller tasks.
Monitoring your goals by reviewing them periodically is the only to see if you’re on track. If you’re goals are clear and you’ve defined what success looks like, it will be much easier to course correct when necessary.
This is the time to check to see if your efforts to be more productive are paying off and not simply making you more efficient at tasks that are ultimately meaningless to your highest priorities.
Clarify your highest priorities, set clear goals to get you closer to each of them and monitor those goals to make sure your productivity efforts are not in vain.
After all, you may be a master black belt Six Sigma all star, living in a platinum-level LEED certified home with a GTD system that would make David Allen himself envious.
But if these things aren’t moving your closer to the things you love, you may have productivity, but you don’t have Productivity with a Purpose.