Everyone is talking about productivity apps these days. To be productive sounds great, and to have an app that does it for you, a dream come true.
But many people confuse being productive with being busy.
I wrote a Productivity Guide about this called BUSY VS PRODUCTIVE: THERE IS A DIFFERENCE & HOW TO MAKE THE SHIFT where I explain in detail, why many people think they’re productive, but they’re really just busy and don’t actually get anything done.
After reading this article:
- You will understand why no productivity app in the world can help you or your team to get things done
- You will learn the differences between efficiency, effectiveness, and productivity, and how they affect each other
- You will begin to understand the basics when it comes to properly using apps to boost overall productivity
This might just sound theoretical, but I assure you, after reading my explanation you will stop blaming the tool and actually start getting things done.
Don’t want to read? Here is my video about this article.
Effectiveness, efficiency, and productivity
If you’re truly productive, it means you get a lot of things done. If a company is productive, it means they produce a lot. However, there are many who believe they are productive, in general, but what they’re really productive at is producing more work, not getting things done. Sound familiar?
This brings me to another premium blog post in the membership section of the website called EFFECTIVENESS AND EFFICIENCY – THE SECRET INGREDIENTS OF PRODUCTIVITY.
The key message in this article is that you need to understand the differences between effectiveness, efficiency, and productivity, in order to start being successful using productivity apps in your job.
Let me quickly explain what the meaning of these terms are before we dive into examples of how I use productivity apps to actually get things done.
What is effectiveness?
Effectiveness is comparing what you can get done with what you actually got done.
What is efficiency?
Efficiency is doing more with less, or said another way, it’s a measure of how well you perform a task with the least waste of resources. These resources can include time, energy, money, materials, and effort.
What is productivity?
Productivity depends on the effectiveness and efficiency of your production process or your personal workflow to get things done.
Now that you’re completely confused you might be asking yourself, “What the heck does this have to do with me getting things done?” It’s always best to explain with an example, so here it is.
The story of Sally and Mike
For this hypothetical example, I’ll describe a work situation between team leader, “Mike”, and team member, “Sally”. See if you can find any similarities to your own situation.
Let’s say Sally just received a new task from her team lead, Mike. Of course, she can’t say no, so she adds this new task to the already endless list in her personal task manager.
When Mike asks Sally, “When will you have this task finished?”, she answers, “By the end of this week.”
But the real truth is, she has no idea if this is even possible. She has a huge list of tasks to complete, with no real organization or coordination as to how she’ll prioritize and complete them.
One week later, Mike asks Sally about this task again. Sally answers, “I was so busy doing other work that I wasn’t able to get this task done.” Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time Sally has said this, and it probably won’t be the last.
Sally is blaming the team leader for not being able to manage his team properly. Mike is blaming Sally for not being able to organize herself to get things done. Both are right.
This is a perfect example of having a productivity tool that isn’t helping to get things done.
For Sally, adding the task to her to-do list actually made things worse. She was obviously feeling overwhelmed already.
The first thing both Sally and Mike should keep in mind to solve the situation is:
A task list is always infinite and a calendar is finite. There is only a limited amount of time per day that you can use to actually work on your tasks. (This means always block out your calendar with the tasks you have to do.)
Getting back to our example this would mean, the next time Mike asks Sally to add another task to her list of work, she can open up her calendar and show him what else is on her list in the next few days.
This gives Mike proof that Sally is organized, and it helps Mike to better manage Sally’s work because now that he sees what Sally actually is doing, he can decide to re-prioritize her tasks. This way, Mike can help Sally free up time to focus on a new task which might have a higher priority.
The best part is that everybody is aware, and agrees, that Sally couldn’t work on certain tasks that were on the to-do list.
However, if Sally is tracking her tasks in a task manager, then adding tasks to & updating on the calendar is always time-consuming, and therefore decreases efficiency. Especially if the timeline or prioritization of tasks changes a lot.
Why I use
This is why I like to use
Whenever I add tasks and a due date in
In addition, the meetings that I’m invited to will become a task in
If you are a team leader, and there is no task management tool available in your company, you should consider implementing one for your team. However, in my personal opinion,
Instead, I would recommend using something like Asana. Asana gives you the opportunity to get an overview of your team’s workload and define and track milestones to work together on tasks in a very efficient manner.
If you are the owner of a company, I recommend defining a tool that everyone has to use. This will result in more efficient use of the tool, and better company-wide collaboration and communication on projects.
However, just saying, “We will use Asana from now on” won’t do any good for your employee’s and company’s productivity. You will need to define company conventions on how to use whatever tool you choose to implement.
Conventions such as:
- Who can create tasks
- How to name tasks
- How and when to give status updates
- And what does prioritization actually mean in your company
Many like to apply priorities 1, 2, 3, & 4, but when people apply this method, most times all the tasks end up in priority 1. This is because the impact of those tasks on actual business success is not defined and should be linked to the prioritization.
Define priorities for your company, such as:
- A priority 1 task needs to get done in order for a company to run on a daily basis
- A priority 4 is a project optimizing the daily business
Then your teams will know which task goes in which category, making it easy to see which needs to be done first.
I hope this story gives you a better understanding of how to use productivity tools in general.
If you want to learn more about the features and technology of certain tools like
I will also be offering a new online course that will explain, in detail, how you can use
If you’re interested in properly implementing conventions and new productivity tools, I invite you to join the #PaperlessMovement inner circle membership where you will get access to our members-only forum and the option to reach out to me personally in order to get help with your implementation project.
Understanding the true meaning of productivity, and implementing the right tools, and using them in the right way, can have a huge impact on the productivity of you and your teams.
Take the time to learn and internalize the meaning of effectiveness, efficiency, and productivity, then share that knowledge with your team members, and you will see a real difference in what you get done.