Productivity Myths & the Power of Bringing Your Whole Self to Work
There are multiple dimensions of productivity.
In this post, we will debunk a couple of productivity myths, talk about the three dimensions of human productivity, and helping employees bring their whole selves to work. We begin with the age-old myth (which is a lie more than a myth, but we try to keep things polite):
Time is money.
Time is money, goes the old cliche. But is it true? I mean, who hasn't spent an hour knocking out dozens of emails, checking numerous items off the task list, and felt they've accomplished nothing. Or the executive who spent an hour listening to their cohort vent only to walk away with the idea that saves the company thousands. And most can relate to spending an hour in nature and label the time spent doing nothing - priceless. The idea that time is money is a fallacy, not reality.
Similarly, we have falsely considered productivity, the more tasks you can get done, the more productive you are. Yet the contrast of an hour knocking out emails compared to an hour listening reveals the fallacy that productivity does not increase in correlation to the increase in tasks accomplished. While many gurus have addressed the dimensions of work and productivity, most overlook the humans involved.
Dimensions of a task
One well-known guru that addresses the dimensions of tasks and productivity was Stephen Covey. In Covey's book, 7 Habits of High Effective People, he introduced the time management matrix. The matrix is a very effective method for prioritizing tasks and ensuring you accomplish what's a priority.
The key is not to prioritize what's on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities. -Stephen Covey
Covey's model provides a tool to reference when making decisions about which projects to work on, which interruptions to allow or avoid, etc. In summary, there are 4-quadrants:
I Quadrant – important deadlines with high urgency
II Quadrant – long-term development and strategizing
III Quadrant – distractions with high urgency
IV Quadrant – activities with little to no value
*Read this article for a more extensive review of what each Quadrant entails and how the matrix works.
While it's an efficient process and one I recommend, especially in times of pressure, it's only one dimension. True, Covey focused on the task and its various aspects, and that's important. However, the truth is
Tasks don't complete themselves, Humans do. -Karen Zeigler
As a design thinking consultant, I understand that problems are most effectively and efficiently solved when we take a human-centered approach. Unquestionably, productivity is a problem that most leaders wish to address. Therefore, to be more productive, it's essential to look beyond the aspects of a task to the dimensions of the human. But first, the history of business and how it reflects our evolution in the three elements of being human and the specific needs associated.