Productivity: What and Why

Lately, my thoughts keep swirling around how to make more effective use of my time, what my goals are, how best to achieve them. I find that’s it’s a lot easier to “think” about these things in a stress-inducing way rather than developing a plan of action.

Very conveniently, I recently watched a talk centered around the principle, ‘make the best use of your time.’ (Ephesians 5:16) The talk was based on a 1980s issue of Awake! magazine. There were a few key points I especially appreciated.

1. Why Productivity is important

Each day, we have a limited amount of time to accomplish a veritable heap of tasks. No one can provide us with more time; we can only allot the time so as to make the best use of it. Productivity is the key to making the best use of our time.

Productivity is quality work done is the shortest amount of time because you:

  1. know your tools,
  2. schedule tasks,
  3. minimize interruptions, and
  4. ask for help.

I’ll dig into this definition more in an upcoming post.

2. Hard work does not equal productivity.

Working hard does not mean the end product is valuable. If you and another person are given the same task, but she accomplishes it in 1 hour while you labor on it for 8 hours, who was more productive?

3. Productivity can only be measured against a clear set of values and goals.

Working in a hospice, I recently learned some of people’s most common dying wishes (these came from a Guardian article I can’t currently locate):

  1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
  2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
  3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings
  4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
  5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

While imminent death may crystallize a person’s values and goals for them, we live a much more productive and happy life when we set clear goals and values early. Knowing where we want to end up (our goals and values) is the key to setting daily priorities (what steps to take—and not take—to move forward).

What I’m beginning to realize is that I need to set clear goals rather than just thinking to myself, “Oh, that sounds like a good goal.” And I need to start implementing some of these ways to save, or make the most of, my time. I’ll cover some of these methods soon.