by • August 5, 2011 • UncategorizedComments Off42

I’ve been wrongly measuring my productivity

Despite knowing how important pursuing the correct KPIs [1] is to a business, I completely failed to apply the same lessons to myself and saw a big drop in my general usefulness as a result.

I started a new project recently on a familiar stack. I knew the steps involved and began turning my to-dos into to-dones. I was juggling freelance and some personal stuff, so my top priority was being efficient with my limited hobby project time.

Time was the contraint, so tasks completed per pomodoro [2] was the KPI.

I later downshifted my freelancing, removing the time constraint. My circumstances had changed and the efficiency metric was outdated.

Last week I caught myself stalling for hours. I was waiting to feel maximally focused before starting any work, as if trying to make the most of only one or two available project hours.

I’ve since changed my self-evaluation to be based on how much more fun the project is to play with at the end of each day. If I get there by putting in 8 half-assed hours, that’s okay. Progress-per-day is a better fit for my current goals and contraints than tasks-per-hour and I’ve been seeing good results.

From watching my own businesses (and life), the constraints and circumstances change far more frequently than I recognise and adjust for. And I’m noticeably less effective when it happens.

[1] KPIs are key performance indicators, which are the 3-5 Most Important Numbers about your business. Choosing (and maintaining) the right KPIs is a big part of a founding CEO’s job and choosing the wrong ones can completely de-rail a company’s focus (like focusing on visitors when revenue or retention or sales pipeline is more relevant).

[2] Pomodoro is a productivity system where you maintain total focus for 25 minutes (don’t answer the phone, no twitter alerts, no chat messages, no bathroom or coffee breaks) followed by 5 minutes away from the computer and then repeat. Every 4 blocks you take a longer 20-ish minute break to check email, get food, etc. It’s named after those little tomato kitchen timers.

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