27.04.2020

Is Measuring Productivity Pointless?

By Marina Jankovic
Marina Jankovic

These days we hear a lot about motivation, productivity, anxiety. We receive so many top tips and best practices to follow. Could all these friendly suggestions, to make the most of a global pandemic ’free time’, potentially negatively affect both motivation and productivity, or even make us more anxious about not achieving enough?

In my first week of quarantine I read somewhere that William Shakespeare worked on ‘King Lear’ during quarantine. Although I had no intention to compete in this space (at least not consciously) this and many other suggestions to use my time wisely, gave me additional motivation to jump on my delayed to-do list, start each day with creating new tasks, aiming to execute as many as possible. But then... the more friendly reminders I kept receiving to create my routine and track progress, the less inspired I felt to achieve more.

What does ‘more’ mean? As a coach I would love to ask my clients this question. Now trying to answer it myself... How to know if I am being productive enough?

Let’s start with the obvious.

Some people may increasingly feel anxious about what the future holds, while others may not be anxious at all – and both reactions are normal. Some people may increase their productivity while others may not be motivated at all as they are finding their own ways to cope with the unknown – and both reactions are normal.

Well, again, how can we measure our productivity? We have to find a framework or some measure of success, right?

I am sure you don’t need any extra advice, so I will use remaining space to share my simple ‘routine’ to find my own measure of success, in the absence of the ‘right’ way or best practice to follow.

Answer: What helps me feel good in my life? And how can I orient myself towards that path? Are my decisions aligned with it? How to keep my daily actions consistent?

Celebrate simple achievements, as well as goals I decide to ignore. Why celebrate those I ditched? As I am making more time for finding what might be more meaningful and give me a sense of purpose in the long run.

Remember the basics. Productivity does not necessarily mean sweating harder of making ‘bigger sacrifices’. Separate the merely busy from the genuinely productive. Maybe simply having that feeling of making progress in chosen area is enough.

Finally, it's time for less advice giving and more coaching, in all areas of our life and different roles we play - as a leader, a parent, a friend...

Acknowledge the whole person, along with their conglomerate feelings. With personal life and work life overlapping, now is the time to demonstrate empathy, listen deeply, connect without jumping immediately to productivity measures. That's why I love coaching!

What has already inevitably changed is the way we communicate, work together, and accomplish our goals.

There is no way back, only forward. Our different insights are already posing powerful questions and raising our level of awareness. This sounds productive enough to me.