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  • Writer's pictureTony Richards

The Productivity Myth

Are you being productive consciously and on purpose?

This is a question that many people struggle with. Why do they struggle so much? Because many people associate productivity with being busy. Having a lot of activity and being busy does not necessarily equal productivity. What about working hard? Yes, it’s good to work hard, but working hard does not necessary mean you are being productive.

Warren Buffett is worth over 50 billion dollars. Do you think Warren worked 50 billion times harder than the rest of us?

No, he didn’t. No doubt about it, Warren worked hard and was diligent to learn about the stock market and business, but there’s no way he worked 50 billion times harder than you or me, and yet, he produced more than 50 billion in produced output in dollars.

Do you think the CEO worked harder than every person in the company they now lead?

No, they didn’t. There’s no way the current CEO worked harder than everybody else in the company, yet their produced output equals the highest position in the company.

When you consciously grow yourself, you align yourself with certain core principles which serve as leverage and growth accelerators. The key words here are leverage and accelerate. They have discovered and learned that it’s not necessarily how hard you work or how busy you are, it’s way more about doing the right things in a very focused and productive way.

When you buy a product in a store, you don’t buy that product based on how hard someone worked to produce it. When it’s time for promotions and raises, the hardest working person does not always get the promotion or raise. However, the most productive person often does. The trap we fall into is that we trick ourselves into thinking because we have a lot of activity or we are very busy, we are being productive. It’s actually not about how many things we check off our to-do list, it’s more about how much value we create from those to-do things.

It’s not about how many things we check off our to-do list, it’s about how much value we create from those to-do things.

Often, we don’t change our to-do’s. Why not? Because we have slipped into a comfort zone and we like our to-do list. It’s stable and steady. We have been doing the same to-do list every week for years and we are comfortable doing those same things. After all, we are very busy, and someone has to do these things. Meantime, someone who may be younger and has been with the organization a much shorter time than you all of a sudden pass you up on the ladder to the top. What causes this?

It’s simple. They are probably producing more than we are even though we are busier than they are. You need to analyze your behaviors and tasks and look for the activities that have the greatest multiplier effect for you and the company. My guess is there are things you have always done that you continue to do that you should have stopped doing or delegated long ago. The essence of this strategy is to find the activities that have the highest leverage for you and your career. What is strategic for you might be strategic for another person. You probably have different professional development goals and aspirations than the other person. This is why you can’t afford to copy someone else’s growth plan and in addition to that, it’s very intellectually lazy.

You need to figure out your own growth path to success. You will take more ownership over something you create rather than trying to copy someone else. Also, that other person may have a great plan for themselves that actually has very little productivity. It just produces busy work with no real leverage for creating value and results that are valued.

Action Plan:

  1. Take a look at all your activities for a month.

  2. Rate them all on a scale of 1 to 5 on how much leverage they provide you on production of results you need to either gain a promotion or gain a raise.

  3. All the activities below a 3 need to be delegated to someone else or thrown away completely.

  4. Now you have room to create some new activities and actions that should be designed to create the results you need to either gain a promotion or a raise.

  5. Remember, it’s not about working harder, it’s about being focused and diligent in working smarter

For more professional development insights, sign up for the Monday Morning Coaching Memo.

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