How many productive hours a day do you work?

So what is productive time? Before I answer the question, how about an exercise.

Get a timer (can be on your watch or your computer or a kitchen timer) and set it for 60 minutes and then just work on a priority task during those 60 minutes – nothing else.

Let me tell you, at first it isn’t easy – you get thirsty and want to get some water, you have the urge to check your emails, you have to go to the toilet, the phone rings, someone comes up and asks you a question – all these little interruptions.

And that my friend is what productive time is all about, focus on the productive tasks.

How many productive hours a day do you work?
What percentage of your time is productive?

Productive time is time spent getting results and outcomes, not just doing stuff.

Non-productive time

  • Answering phone calls
  • Talking to your friends
  • Checking and reading emails
  • Surfing the Internet
  • Organising your desk
  • Reporting on why your projects are late

Productive time

  • Building strengths, knowledge and skills
  • Developing project plans
  • Doing and completing priority tasks
  • Focus on one task at a time

Super productive time

  • Developing your career strategy
  • Developing systems and processes  for repeated tasks
  • Delegating and outsourcing low priority work

So what percentage of the time are you productive?

Here are some examples of non-productive time; talking to friends, surfing the Internet, checking and reading email, answering your phone, organising your desk, and cleaning your office.
Of course, I’m not suggesting that you shouldn’t spend any time on these activities. These activities are maintenance. This is what you have to do.

But productive time doesn’t appear like magic, you have to be focused and disciplined.

There are two things that can dramatically improve your productivity: systems and projects.

If it’s an activity that’s ongoing or something that is done more than once you can benefit from developing a systemised way of doing it. A good process for specifying the work is critical to improving your productivity, to be able to delegate or outsource effectively.

If it’s goal-directed, has a beginning and an end, and is unique it should be managed as a project. Project management is a very important skill for career success.

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