Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, which means, at no additional cost to you, I’ll earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
Have you ever felt like you were busy all day but accomplished absolutely nothing? Have you ever ended a day realizing you only crossed one thing off your to-do list but felt wildly accomplished? If you’re focussed on becoming “more productive” it’s important to understand how to measure your productivity. Otherwise, how will you know if you’re making any progress?! The problem is that productivity can be difficult to measure – it’s not so simple as how many tasks you cross off your list each day (wouldn’t that be nice though?).
On a global scale, we measure productivity by GDP (a country’s total output). As a business owner, it can be tempting to fall in line – the more we make the more productive we are right? Yes and no. The United States may be #1 in GDP, but we’re #15 in happiness. If you’re hyper-focussed on improving the wrong metrics, it’s easy to lose sight of what really matters. You could become super efficient and maybe even wildly “successful” without actually moving the needles that matter in your life and business.
In this episode, I’m sharing a more well-rounded definition for what it really means to be productive as a modern woman in business as well as a simple formula for you to test out to measure your daily productivity. Press play to tune into the full episode, and change your definition of a “productive day” today!
Key Takeaways from this Episode
- Questions to ask yourself to evaluate your productivity.
- 3 dimensions of productivity. (The last one may surprise you.)
- The key component you need to accurately measure your productivity by month, quarter, and year.
- My productivity audit process to do at the end of each day.
Links and Resources Mentioned in This Episode
- The United States Ranked Number 1 in GPD in 2023
- The United States Ranked 15th in Happiness in 2023
- Episode 07: My First 10K Month and What I Learned
Click here to read the full episode transcript!
Jade Boyd: What results are you producing? Are you producing joy and fulfillment? Or are you producing stress, anxiety, and sleepless nights?
Today we’re talking about a topic that I actually talk about. Most times I interview on other people’s podcasts, but I don’t think I’ve ever talked about it this in depth on my own podcast. So I was thinking it’s probably about time that I talk about how to actually measure your productivity on my own podcast, and this podcast really is all about redefining what it means to be productive as a woman in business and in life, and I think that there are certain things that we all think of when it comes to productivity and measuring whether we were productive or not, but I like thinking of productivity with a more holistic definition and a more holistic measurement because it’s not very simple. It’s a multifaceted thing and so measuring it can be really complicated, but in this episode, I’m gonna talk a little bit about the different dimensions and productivity and give you some ideas for how you can determine the best way to measure your productivity in your own life.
One thing that I heard recently in a book that I was listening to is that GDP doesn’t measure well being, it measures output. And I think that that is exactly what we’re talking about here. So GDP, Gross Domestic Product, is a common measurement used to measure the productivity of countries. It’s basically… the entire output generated within the borders of a specific country, but that doesn’t necessarily correlate with the overall well being of that country. For example, in 2023, the United States is rated number one in GDP, but number 15 in happiness, and I’ll link the research that shows those stats in the show notes, but you can be producing a lot.
You can be extremely efficient and you can even be, by certain numbers, successful and not actually producing results that really matter or really contributing to where you want to go to your goals, and I do think that when we’re talking about being productive, so much of it is subjective and based on the results that you’re actually getting.
And so on other podcasts that I’ve been on, I’ve described it like this, because I think it helps to just give two examples and compare side by side, A and B, what does it actually look like to be productive? And so I’m going to use the example of two entrepreneurs, Anna or A and Betsy B, just because those are the first names that I could think of that started with A and B, but three questions.
So the first question is if Anna is completing 10 tasks an hour and Betsy is completing 15 tasks an hour, All things considered equal. Who is more productive? And the answer would definitely be Betsy. She’s getting more work done in the same amount of time. She’s really efficient. And there’s definitely that facet of productivity that is efficiency. If you can get through the same amount of tasks in less time, then you’re able to be more productive. It is measured on the output per time.
But then we look at question two. If Anna after completing those 10 tasks makes $5,000 based on the tasks that she completed and Betsy, even though she was more efficient completed 15 tasks, she only makes $1,000 based on the tasks that she completed. So who’s more productive? And you would say, Anna, she got less tasks done, but she made more money. That is the ultimate definition of productivity. We all want to work less and make more, right? And so it’s not necessarily just how efficient you are, it’s the results that you’re getting and if you’re doing the right things. I’ve said it a million times, but productivity is not getting as much done as quickly as possible or as much done in a day as you possibly can, it’s getting the things done that actually matter and are driving real results. And whatever results you were looking for, that’s based on your goals it’s subjective and so results that matter to one person might not be productive or matter at all for another person, but the second dimension is what results are you getting?
What are you actually producing? That’s another facet of productivity.
And the third question. So if Anna is completing 10 tasks an hour, making $5,000 an hour and absolutely hates her business, her personal health is falling apart, she’s stressed to the max, and Betsy, on the other hand, is completing 15 tasks an hour, making $1,000 an hour, but she absolutely loves what she’s doing. She wakes up every day excited and energized and fulfilled, goes to bed happy, her personal health is the best it’s ever been, her relationships are thriving. On that dimension, who would you say is more productive? And I think there just has to be that third dimension of not just how much are you getting done or what results are you getting, but what is your overall quality of life? Are the things that really matter or your priorities and the things that you would say matter most to you, are they actually getting priority? Are they actually thriving? Because we can measure results in our business numerically all day, every day, but there’s that certain qualitative aspect in our business and in our life.
I’ve talked a lot on this podcast about how in brand photography, I was becoming successful like I was increasing my revenue and hitting all the goals I wanted to and the episode if you want to go back to that tells that full story is "My First 10k Month and What I Learned". I’ll make sure that’s linked in the show notes, but Overall, I was not happy.
I was not excited about the work that I was doing, I wasn’t feeling lit up by my work. I loved my clients, and a lot of my clients actually became coaching clients. And I’ve just noticed recently, I’ve done a lot of strategy sessions in this last month. So for people who aren’t ready for the full coaching program, I offer one on one strategy sessions where it’s a four hour session. We do a complete business assessment, and the strategy work that really lays the foundation for a productive quarter, and we get into planning out the next three months and goal setting, financial productions, project management. And so it really is an intense strategy session. And I’ve just been comparing that in my mind to how I used to feel prepping for brand photography sessions and how I wouldn’t be able to go to sleep the night before. I would wake up just like anxious and angry and easily snap at Caleb and just not be in a good place. Whereas with strategy sessions, I feel like it comes so naturally to me that I don’t get nervous about it anymore. And of course, the more I do, the more comfortable with it, but I think I thought that about brand photography like just because I’m new at doing this, and the more I do, the easier it’s going to get. And eventually this is going to come second nature. And that just never happened to me, no matter how many sessions I did, but with coaching, it’s happened really, really quickly. And so there is also that dimension in your business qualitatively. Are you producing the results that you want to? And that’s a hard question to answer. We can easily deceive ourselves, but be honest with yourself. Not just what are the numbers saying in your business, but qualitatively, what results are you producing? Are you producing joy and fulfillment? Or are you producing stress, anxiety, and sleepless nights?
So just to recap those three dimensions of how I like to measure productivity.
The first one is based on efficiency. It’s a quantitative measure. How many tasks are you actually completing in a certain amount of time?
The second one is also quantitative. What results are you producing? So in your business, what are the metrics saying? Based on how you’re measuring success in your business, financial, marketing, or otherwise, what results are you producing based on the tasks that you are getting done?
And then the third one is qualitatively, how does your business feel to you? Are you living and enjoying your life as a business owner the way that you want to and producing those types of results that you want to produce?
Or are you producing results that Are making your life a little bit miserable and making you stressed and anxious or worried or whatever that might be, but qualitatively, that’s the third measure. What results are you producing subjectively?
And again, I just want to emphasize this one more time before we close, productivity is very much based on your goals and that is why I believe that goal setting is so, so important. Not only all of the research that shows how it does increase your productivity, because when you set goals and specific benchmarks, you are more likely to show up and take the actions that get you to those benchmarks, there’s that benefit of setting goals, but also it gives you a way to measure and actually define for yourself what success looks like and give yourself a direction to head so that you do know what’s productive and not productive, especially on those days where you’re feeling not energized or frustrated by how much you’re getting done or frustrated by the progress that you’re not making or frustrated by all of those like qualitative subjective things that you’re feeling and experiencing as a result of your business, having a solid definition of what it looks like to be productive and knowing that you’re headed in the right direction and seeing the progress and measuring that progress over time is so beneficial, not only for your business and how much you get done in your productivity, but just for your overall wellbeing.
And that’s why I say over and over again that productivity starts with clarity on knowing what you want, what your definition of success is, and what your goals are, because your entire measurement of what is or what is not productive on a day to day basis is going to be measured based on what your goals are.
And for those of you who are like, that’s great, I totally agree, but give me a to do. Give me some homework. How do I actually tangibly measure this? Here is one example on how you could start to measure this if you really want to focus on these three dimensions and do a little productivity audit at the end of every day. Here’s what I would suggest for these three dimensions of productivity.
For the first dimension, how efficient you are, how many tasks are getting done, you could just write down everything that you got done that day. Some people call this a done list instead of a to do list. So after you finish something, write it down on a piece of paper and at the end of the day, you’ll have a list of all of the things that you did that day. Tally all of those things up. That’s your first number.
The second dimension is the results that you produce, which is hard because oftentimes what we do on a day to day basis, we don’t see those results for weeks or months later. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re not contributing to your results, so this might be a little bit harder, but go back through that list of everything that you did that day and highlight the tasks that are directly contributing to your goals and to the results that you want to see. And as long as you’re consistent with how many and what types of these tasks you are highlighting, it’ll be a good measure over time of how productive you are on a day to day basis. But I think that we can easily assume that everything we’re doing is important and contributing to our success, but focus on those 20% of your tasks that really are directly contributing to your bottom line that are directly contributing to moving your business forward that are immediately contributing to you making progress on your goals. Try to be a little bit selective with which tasks you’re actually highlighting as part of the second measure. And then we would just tally up all the tasks that you highlighted and that’s your 2nd measure.
And then the 3rd, I would just rate subjectively what was your overall productivity for the day and you can tally this however you want. If you want to just go by feel like, how did it feel today? Or what was my overall well being today? Just subjectively qualitatively rate on a scale of 1 to 10. How productive was I today? Did I use my time and my energy and my resources today in the way that is most productive or did I have a lot of room to grow, or could I have grown a little bit?
So, again, there’s a lot of subjectivity there, but as long as you’re consistent on how you’re rating your days over time, it’ll give you a consistent view of how productive you are day to day.
And after you have those three numbers, I would just add them up and give yourself a total score for that day. And over time, you can see if that’s higher or lower based on certain seasons or certain weeks or certain days of the week and measure your productivity over time. In a way that is not just how many tasks did I get done, but also takes a little bit into account the other dimensions of productivity that really do matter over time.
So I hope this episode kind of opened your eyes to a new way to look at measuring your productivity and assessing whether on a day to day basis, you’re actually being productive and doing the things that you should be doing or that you want to be doing.
And I hope that you take what you learned today, do a little experimenting, measure your productivity. Figure out how to increase it over time and focus on getting 1% better this week. Thanks so much for listening today.
Subscribe to the Business Minimalist™ Podcast
If you enjoyed this episode, you won’t want to miss what’s coming next! Make sure you hit the subscribe button to tune into future episodes.
If you love the Business Minimalist™ Podcast, I’d be so grateful if you’d rate and review it on iTunes! Simply scroll down, tap to give it a five star rating, then tap “Write a Review.” Your rating and review will help more small business owners discover helpful episodes each week!