measure productivity

How the Heck Do You Measure Productivity?

You analyze your sleep, track your steps, monitor your mood and log your exercise, but why aren’t you measuring your productivity at work? As everything gets smart, everyone’s getting smarter about collecting and using data, but measuring productivity still seems to be an elusive, hard-to-quantify task.

The Complexity of Measuring Productivity

Traditionally to measure productivity, you simply need to track time during your workday. Tally the hours you spend on work (vs. breaks), and divide that by the total hours in your workday. The result is your productivity output, the percentage of your day dedicated to work.

Using this as a point of reference, you can increase your productivity and review your progress by setting goals and measuring your days over time for comparison.

Sounds simple, right? Well, if you work on easily quantifiable tasks or are directly tied to revenue, then yes, but for most knowledge workers, it’s a little more complicated. For example:

  • How do you decide what counts as work? You probably wouldn’t categorize breaks as work, even if you’re casually collaborating on a coffee break or brainstorming with a co-worker over lunch. Team building, meetings, creativity and other productive activities happen in non-conventional ways but are just as productive as nose-to-the-grindstone work.
  • How do you measure the productivity of working smarter, not harder? A scorecard of meetings, email correspondence and busywork creates an illusion of productivity when really you can get more done by doing less. And how do you incorporate innovation into measurements? Your workday may not be as robust with traditional work but rather with mind-wandering free time to innovate and discover new ways to work faster or eliminate redundancies.
  • How do you measure work increasingly completed during personal time? In today’s work-life integrated world, you must take into account the work you complete outside of regular office hours, too.

Alternative Ways to Size Up Your Day

So how do you reconcile these challenges to measure productivity? Here are a few solutions to devise your own system of measurements:

  • Create your own key performance indicators. What counts as work or productivity for one person may not apply to you. Come up with your own measurements for work specific to your role and work goals. It may be a range of goals, it may involve a group, but most importantly, it must be clear and achievable.
  • Measure outputs and outcomes. Take into account not only how much work you do but also how much that work directly impacts your business. Did you save your team time or your department money?
  • Try other measurements. Instead of tracking time, tally the quantity of tasks completed and rate them according to how much effort and time each requires, recommends Exist, a company that turns connected data into integrated insights. They even suggest experimenting with alternative methods like monitoring changes in file size of a document or project folder.

What’s in It for You

Despite challenges, measuring productivity is a worthwhile process that benefits your career. Managers don’t always know what you’re doing, and by taking the initiative to track yourself, you create tangible proof of your efforts.

For teleworkers in particular, measuring productivity provides a real way to show your manager what you’re doing and how you’re spending your time. You’ll no longer be the invisible worker.

You also gain the ability to see what’s holding you back and eliminate distractions. Are you spending too much time sifting through emails or getting started on new assignments? By identifying your time suckers, you gain control and have the power to change them.

And improving your productivity helps you maintain work-life balance, increase engagement, test new organization systems and improve your job satisfaction. With this useful information, you allocate time and focus your energy on what matters and what you enjoy doing most.

How do you measure your productivity at work? Share your ideas with PGi on Twitter now.

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About Ashley S.

Ashley Speagle is a Florida-born, Georgia-raised communications specialist, couch movie critic, dream interpreter, acrophobic adventure seeker, outdoors enthusiast, and easy-going introvert.

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