What Is Productivity Anyway?



by Casey Moore, CPO®, PCOC, ACC

NAPO is now the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals. But what does “productivity” really mean? There are many answers to this question. To me, productivity means producing the results you want—whether that’s an orderly garage or achieving your goals at work. When I sign my book, Stop Organizing, Start Producing, I write “Start producing more of what you want in life.” To me, that is the ultimate in productivity.

Personally, I’m striving to produce peace, both within myself and with others. Sometimes I fail dismally. Sometimes I succeed. My mission is to resonate peace, so when I reflect on a day spent being serene and working in harmony with others, I feel highly productive. Not surprisingly, that peace of mind and action make me more effective with my clients, producing another kind of positive results.

Productivity has become a buzz word in the media and it typically refers to the workplace. But to me, it’s more global. Years ago, I created a model of it called the Productivity Chain that has proven useful. It encompasses the twelve distinct sets of knowledge, skills and abilities that affect how productive a person can be at a given moment. These connected and interrelated links in the Chain are:
• Boundary-setting (setting limits with myself and others, e.g., “I’m going to do X now instead of checking Facebook”)
• Communication/Relationships
• Decision-making (e.g., “Here’s how I’ll handle this email.”)
• Delegation (e.g., assigning chores to children)
• Drive (including motivation, effort and attitude)
• Goal-setting/Prioritization
• Health (including physical, mental, emotional and spiritual aspects)
• Organization of Objects/Data (i.e., having things in order)
• Planning (including scheduling, time management)
• Reinvention (change management, resilience)
• Resources (both internal [e.g., talent] and external [e.g., fast computer or shelving])
• Task/Project Management

The Productivity Chain is a metaphor that illustrates how much productivity encompasses and how each factor influences the others. You’re only as productive as your weakest link allows. You don’t need all links to be strong; you just need them to be durable enough so they don’t inhibit your strengths. This model explains a lot, including the perplexing client you’ve probably had. She actually has strong organizational skills. She can sort, categorize, toss, etc. But her house remains chaotic because she can’t enlist family members’ support in the cause (Communication/Relationships and Delegation).

This interconnection of links applies at the office. My clients call me from their desks during work hours. Often, their companies pay me to coach and train them and we measure success with numbers. Yet frequently we’re talking about how they can get more sleep, for example. Why? When the Health link is weak, it affects Decision-making, which affects Boundary-setting (saying no takes energy, which sleep-deprived people lack). Many residential POs have similar conversations with their clients. Maintaining organizational systems—even finding the Drive to want to maintain it—is difficult for tired people. The examples could go on and on.

The great news is that each link’s specific knowledge, skills and abilities are learn-able and can be strengthened. We and our clients can learn how to delegate more effectively. We can practice making better decisions to prioritize our time. And we can get more sleep!

Any time we’re helping clients manage their time, find their motivation, access their resources, etc., we are helping them be more productive. It’s not about cramming work into every second of life. To me, productivity is not about doing more, more, more. Sometimes it’s about doing less while being more. It just depends on the life you want to produce.

Casey Moore, CPO®, PCOC, ACC, helps busy professionals regain control of their work and lives. Through her book, The Productivity Chain (the updated version of Stop Organizing, Start Producing), workshops, seminars and one-to-one coaching, she empowers CEOs, executives, small business owners and others to more effectively apply their time, tasks, talents and teams to achieve greater productivity and richer quality of life. Casey is currently serving on NAPO’s Board. Her creed: Spend your time on what matters.™


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