Activity vs Results

I’ve seen a lot of information lately on the idea of what constitutes productivity.  Is it getting things done or is it getting results?  I love this debate because it really is relevant to today’s world. 

So often we get caught up in the idea of checking things off the list and we focus on that list.  But do we look at what are the results of the actions we take?  Many of the time management systems out there tell us to prioritize our activities, identify what is important and make sure we look to the important things first.  This may still be a focus on the things we do.  Many jobs are geared towards getting things done and people are rewarded for getting things done.  I know I’ve been proud that people see me as someone who “gets things done” and yet at times it feels very hollow.   I’ve gotten true satisfaction from the results I’ve achieved more than the things I’ve done.  This distinction is important for productivity.

The idea of lean processes is to get rid of waste and focus on the things that create value.  This really is a results based thought process.  By zeroing in on the things that create value in a business process the company can eliminate waste, save money and be more profitable because their efforts are centered on the things that matter and will provide the best results.  Going through a process mapping exercise can be enlightening to the people involved.  They have been focused on all the things that they do get complete the process and often they have never stopped to think about which of those things really have no impact on the results.  They just do the steps to get it all done.

What if we looked at our daily to-do list from that same perspective?  What results do we need to achieve and what steps do we take to get there?  Are there things on our list that can be skipped without jeopardizing our results?  How much more time would we have in the day to really accomplish the results we want if we work only on the things that impact the results? 

Now I know there are many things that we do because they are required by others, so we can’t just stop doing those.  However, do you know why that report is needed or why something is required?  If not, ask about it.  It maybe something that has always been done so it must continue, but if no one uses the information to get the results they need, where is the value in it? 

The key to making this work is to know needed results of what you are doing.  Understand the why of the activity that is on your to-do list.  This accomplishes two things for you.  First you will know how important the task is for you and / or the organization.  Secondly it will tell you what you need to do to successfully complete the task.  This allows you to do the things that will make your efforts valuable without wasting time and energy doing something that has no impact or no value to the end product.

For you is productivity about results or completing tasks?

photo from iStockPhoto.com

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3 Comments

Filed under Time Management

3 responses to “Activity vs Results

  1. Hi Carol, good post and so true. I have found that over that past few years with the updated technology we have in our office that we have had to rethink many things, like keeping billing information and notes in a filing system when we can just scan them and shred. Keeping catalogs and looking things up when we can google when needed. We do need to think through the processes continually to get rid of redundant tasks. Thank you for your post.

    • Tina,

      You are so right. As technology advances the rules of the past have to be re-evaluated for relevance. I am currently dealing with changing the way information is made available to employees and finding huge resistance. The creator of the current format is fighting the new model because what he created 4+ years ago is becoming obsolete. Unfortunately that format is too time consuming to maintain so things must change.

      Keep looking at what you and your team is doing and you will continue to achieve fantastic results.

      Carol

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