Achieve Your Goals By Measuring Productivity

“Measurement is the first step that leads to control and eventually to improvement. If you can’t measure something, you can’t understand it. If you can’t understand it, you can’t control it. If you can’t control it, you can’t improve it.” ~ H. James Harrington

Understand how to measure your personal productivity and unlock huge potential. Wake up earlier, go for a run, and notice that you feel better all day and when your day finishes, you feel like you were super productive. But how do you really know? How do you move from “feeling” more productive to “knowing” that you are more productive? When you use metrics to keep track of your productivity, your eyes open to new ways of improving your workflow, your organization, and your life. To create a system of measuring your personal productivity, you must first understand exactly what you are measuring.

Personal productivity combines two very different, but both equally important, principles: (1) Productivity Personality and (2) Productivity Velocity. Measure each one separately and focus efforts on shifting both in an independent fashion.

Measure your Productivity Personality

Humans behave and react very differently from one another in very similar settings. It is called personality. Our personality guides how we react in home and professional environments, which shapes our unique style of productivity. The first step in measuring your personal productivity is to pinpoint what type of productivity personality you fall into. David Allen’s Getting Things Done system uses a quadrant system and personality test to estimate what type of productivity style you have. You can download the linked pdf to learn more about his system. Understanding where you fall on this productivity quadrant helps you to pick techniques and systems that support the strengths of your style and mitigate its weaknesses. Find out what type of productivity style you fall into by taking this test and use the methods and techniques that support your productivity personality. David Allen’s system uses Perspective and Control as the core variables for determining which quadrant you land in.

The below productivity techniques will help you boost your level of Control:

-       Time Blocking

-       Pomodoro Technique

-       Prioritized Task Lists

-       Calendar Software

-       Task Management Software

And here are some techniques to help boost your level of Perspective:

-       Using SMART Goals

-       Write Down your Goals

-       Assign Tasks to your Goals

-       Question your Priorities

Measure your Productivity Velocity

What is productivity velocity? At Zero To Complete, we love coining new terms. Productivity velocity is an offshoot of something called “ development velocity ,” a common term in software development. A team’s velocity tracks how much gets done every week (or two). The team learns what adjustments they need to make based on the trends they see in their development velocity. Your productivity velocity, similarly, tracks how effective you are each week so that you can learn what behaviors make you more productive. This, by far, is the most important way to measure your productivity so that you can make beneficial changes to your home and work environments. (If you are interested in learning more about productivity and velocity in software development then go here to learn about Agile and Scrum.)

Now that you know what productivity velocity is, start measuring it. Measure your productivity velocity by assigning point values to tasks. In Agile development, these are called story points, but here at Zero To Complete, we call them Task Points. Here is how they work:

  1. Pick an easy task that you may regularly complete and assign it a Task Point of 1.
  2. Use that easy task as your baseline for assigning Task Points to all your other tasks.
  3. If a task is twice as difficult as your baseline, then assign it a Task Point value of 2.
  4. Similarly, if you have a medium sized task, then assign it a Task Point value of 3.

We have found that the most effective way of assigning Task Points is based on a Fibonacci sequence. Fibonacci sequence ? Sounds complicated. Do not worry, it is a pretty simple concept. Add the previous two numbers in the sequence and voilà – you know the next number. We cap our Fibonacci sequence at “8” so that it forces us to keep tasks relatively small. Meaning, all Task Points will be a value of “1, 2, 3, 5, or 8.” If you have a task that feels larger than an “8,” then you need to break that down into two or three smaller tasks.

As you assign these Task Point values to your tasks and your time blocks, you’ll begin to notice that you average around the same number of Task Points each week. The more you work with Task Points, the better you will get at estimating. Begin implementing new productivity techniques to test whether or not your total Task Points increases or decreases each week. You have finally captured the ability to accurately measure your productivity velocity and make meaningful impacts on your efficiency.

To learn more about measuring your productivity, check out some of the below resources from fellow productivity experts:

  1. From Francisco Saez
  2. From Matthew Cornell
  3. From
  4. From Scott Ambler
  5. From James Shore

Ethan Lieber

Ethan Lieber is a founder at ZeroToComplete where he focuses on leadership and entrepreneurial productivity.

1 Comment

George Huang

about 1 week ago

What an informative post. Since I'm familiar with the concept of story points the transition to Task Points should not be too hard. I have no choice but to try it now huh?


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