“How productive was your day, today?” I asked a member.
“Very!” he said.
“Great! What made it so productive?”
“I spent the day with my Executive Team. It felt good to resolve some important business issues with my key leadership.”
What a unique view of productivity!. Why don’t I hear this more often? “How do other CEO’s define productivity?” I wondered. What causes their common frustration with not getting their “real” work done?
Broadly speaking, CEO’s accomplish their goals in two ways: completing tasks themselves and working with, and through, others. Completion of our tasks is easy to measure: either something was done or not. Checking items off the “to do” list is obvious evidence, and it satisfies our need for immediate gratification.
Measuring work done through others is more challenging. Consider these essential disciplines that require the majority of a CEO’s time:
The one thing these tasks all have in common is that they involve directly dealing with others. Even though most would agree that these are an essential part of a CEO’s job description, many often feel most unproductive when they’re doing them. Why is that? Maybe it’s because their short-term measurement of productivity doesn’t include these disciplines.
Randomly, I asked my members what appeared on their to do lists. Most answered that less important, small things dominated theirs. Their vital duties, many of which do not have a clear end point, were not even included on any list by which they judged their own daily productivity. Even though most of my CEO members are consistently performing the essential duties required by their positions, they still
feel unproductive. When I suggested that they include items relating to the vital “people” activities in their evaluation of productivity, the light bulb of recognition lit up over each of their heads. Most were already being very productive- the problem was only their own limited internal definition of it!
How do you measure your own productivity? I challenge you to find inconsistencies between your task tracking and what is actually most important. Update your daily or weekly to-do list (see the end of this article for ideas). Acknowledge the value and importance of face time with your employees, and stop feeling bad about the 1,000 less-important tasks that you didn’t complete today.
Consider replacing lower priority items with these recurring items on your to-do list:
Please share what you have added to your to do list because of this blog.