What does it really mean to be productive and what is the difference between being busy and actually producing desired results?
Lisa Skeete Tatum is the founder and CEO of LandIt, a personalized career pathing platform designed to increase the success and engagement of women and diverse groups in the workplace. Lisa works with major companies and smaller firms to offer them solutions that allow them to attract, develop and retain their high-potential diverse talent. Prior to that, she was an investor at Cardinal partners, an early stage healthcare venture capital firm, and she's had roles at Proctor and Gamble, GE Capital, as well as her own consulting practice. In this Masterclass Moment, she shares her tips on how to successfully get the right stuff done.
Your 'To Do' list doesn't reveal much about you. But your 'Done' List will tell it all.
How many of you find yourself exhausted at the end of the day but when you look back are not really sure exactly what you accomplished? My goal is to give you some proven tips on how to move yourself forward while actually taking things off of your to do list. You'll learn the amount of time you actually spend being productive versus the amount of time you spend thinking you're doing things that are productive, that actually are not.
Let's start by defining exactly what productivity is. If you look it up in the dictionary, there's a very dry definition around the measure of the efficiency of a person or a system- converting inputs to useful outputs. My personal favorite is that it's to keep the main thing, the main thing. Being busy is working harder and trying to be good at everything, as opposed to being productive which is working smarter. You're extremely laser focused and you're great at a few important things. Not great at a few things, but the most important things.
If it's not important and not urgent, you shouldn't be doing it at all. Even if it gives you satisfaction to check it off, it is wasted time because it's not aligned with your goals.
Let's talk about the three theories of productivity, things that you may think are driving you or helping you that are actually working against you.
Drive. In this environment where there are no boundaries between our work life and our personal life, we're on 24/7. The problem with that is we're seeing an increase in anxiety and sleep issues and an impact on relationships. It's proven that after 50 hours, your productivity start to wane. If you're in that 65 plus hours zone, you will actually see a decline in performance. More hours doesn't necessarily translate into greater performance or greater output.
The notion of excellence versus perfection. When you think about excellence, this is your true north, right? It is taking risks, being open to new things, being more creative. But lack of productivity is actually built into perfectionism because you won't let things go if they are not perfect because you are afraid of judgment. As a result, you will be more frustrated, you'll be more angry, you will be less open to taking the risk and taking the action that's needed. As Brene Brown says, "When perfectionism is driving us, shame is riding shotgun in the seat next to us. And fear is that annoying backseat driver." So a lot of us like to say yes, "I'm a perfectionist," but know that it's actually working against you. Quite frankly, it's not achievable. It is an unattainable goal. Even though it seems logical, it actually is a path to shame and a very quick path to judgment and the ultimate loss of productivity. And as Warren Buffett says, "You can't let other people set your agenda in life."
Information. We have so many things going on at the same time, no wonder we’re not productive. We're spending on average 23 hours a week in meetings, yet 71% of us say we're unproductive. In fact, those meetings are keeping us from getting the right things done. The information overload and then just this lack of boundaries can work against us.
A Better Path Forward.
You always want to start with your goal. Not only do you have to have a goal, you have to create a system for having it because if you have a goal but it's not tethered to something, it won’t get done. Ultimately your aim is to automate decision making and the first tactic is to kill your To Do List and keep track of your accomplishments. What matters most is not your work in process but what you're actually delivering. Your To Do list doesn't reveal much about you. But your Done List will tell it all.
It is all about the priorities. You should spend a disproportionate amount of your time just thinking about priorities. Is this important now? Once you have everything laid out, prioritize and categorize. If it's not urgent and important, then it's not on your To Do list. Over time, it will make its way to your To Do list. If it's not important and not urgent, you actually shouldn't be doing it at all. Even if it gives you satisfaction to check it off, it is wasted time because it's not aligned with your goals. You want a Success List as opposed to a To Do List. Most people believe in the 80/20 rule. So you want to think about the