How do you know when you are effective?
Metrics (what a researcher client of mine calls indicators) for quantifying personal productivity improvements is a topic I started tracking when I get into the field. Having some kind of measure is important if you want to determine whether your presumably improved changes have actually helped.
He puts some good thought into the topic, providing a background on metrics (Drucker: If you can't measure it, you can't manage it.) and some thoughts on how that fits into the realm of personal productivity. And I particularly like the list of challenges to productivity and performance from Do You Know The Real Productivity Problem?
- Unnecessary Interruptions and Distractions
- Poor Planning and Scheduling
- Unclear Priorities
- Excessive Paperwork and E-Document
- Ineffective Meetings
- Ineffective Delegation
But what about those measures? Well the problem is that either you get very complex and specific to the job with the not-entirely-useful metrics like number of articles written or lines of code written. Or you step back and look at the evidence of effective and productive work. Combining my thoughts with those from Matt's article you have things like:
- Time spent on activities directly related to your objectives and those of the company.
- Previously-read mail in the inbox (awaiting some action). Ideally, kept to a minimum
- Amount of incoming / outgoing email. There is no specific number here, but I think the flow of email indicates something. Too much flow and you are spending all your time reading and responding - there is probably a better way to spend your time.
- Similarly, outside of email, there is time spent looking for things: files, information, people. Can you organize your own information in ways that make sense for you? Can you work with the company to provide better access to information that is otherwise hard to get?
- Time spent on interruptions: colleagues, phone calls, IM's, etc. This should also be kept to a reasonable minimum. Learn how to tune out that co-worker who always talks over the cubes.
What about you? What measures make sense for you?
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