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Favorite productivity tip

This blog is a revised and updated version of a previously published blog.


Productivity, oh what a powerful word! It's the ultimate measure of success, isn't it? Did you conquer all your goals today? How accomplished did you feel? It's fascinating how just one five-syllable word can hold so much weight and influence our emotions.

So, let's dive into the world of productivity. According to The Oxford English Dictionary, productivity is all about producing a high quantity of goods. But hold on, isn't quality equally important? Shouldn't we focus on balancing productivity with ensuring the finest quality? As leaders, how can we effectively measure our own productivity?

I must confess, measuring productivity has been a lifelong challenge for me. Some days, I find myself running around so much that it feels like I haven't achieved anything substantial. And on other days, I'm constantly interrupted by urgent matters, leaving me feeling like a professional firefighter rather than a productive leader.


Here's an enlightening insight from the Harvard Business Review (January, 1988): productivity should encompass more than just the work produced. It's crucial to consider how the work is done, the overall cost, and the investment made in the company. For manufacturing businesses, productivity can be measured by the number of items manufactured compared to those that pass inspection. As managers, we can showcase our productivity by investing hours in product improvement and employee development, truly giving back to the company.


But what about us, the leaders? How can we measure our level of success? Running nonprofits can certainly keep us busy, I know that feeling all too well. Sprinting from one meeting to another, attending countless events, only to return to our organization feeling drained and empty. Sometimes it feels like we're busier being seen or tackling urgent matters than focusing on program planning and grant writing. It's a struggle to find the right balance that allows us to work effectively and not miss out on crucial meetings. So here's the key: taking ownership of our schedule.


I've developed a simple yet effective time management system that empowers me to measure my productivity and own my time. Firstly, I maintain a running to-do list that encompasses all my tasks, from organizational responsibilities to personal goals. Regularly, I rewrite the list, prioritizing tasks and noting due dates. Every Friday afternoon, I sit down with my trusty paper planner (yes, I'm proudly old-school!) and plan out the following week. I start by blocking off time for meetings, including the post-meeting and travel time. Then, I check for any looming due dates and make note of them. Finally, I look at each day and evaluate the remaining time for actual work. I assign tasks from my to-do list based on what I believe I can accomplish in a day. It's important to schedule with some flexibility, allowing for unexpected meetings or projects. Personal meetings, goals, and due dates are included as well. Once I'm satisfied with the balance of my days, I highlight each block with a different color to make reading my calendar a breeze. This method allows me to focus on one task at a time, meet all deadlines and meetings, and truly measure my productivity.


When it comes to assessing your level of productivity, keep in mind that leadership carries a subjective nature and often lacks concrete endpoints. Managing time not only helps you achieve more but also reduces stress and ensures you have ample time for your valued employees. Let me share a trick that has been a game-changer for me: never address an issue or put out a fire until it enters your zone of time and territory. This mindset enables you to handle issues when you are emotionally and intellectually ready, rather than being subject to someone else's timeline. Trust me, this has saved me from countless embarrassments!

Remember, as leaders, we set the tone for the office. We have the power to create a relaxed and supportive environment rather than a stressful one. Mid-level and entry-level managers play a crucial role in fostering these positive atmospheres as well. While productivity is undeniably important for any business, quality always surpasses quantity. Find the method that best allows you to measure your productivity and work towards helping your management team adopt it too. When everyone is on the same page, it creates a sense of relaxation, focus, and overall control of productivity.


Embrace the journey of productivity, my friend. Unleash your potential, strike a balance, and let your leadership shine brightly. Success is within your grasp!



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