Effectiveness trumps Productivity
When I first started out studying self-help methods I spent about a year using The Pomodoro Technique. The goal of The Pomodoro Technique is to sharpen your focus in order to become more productive. But the goal is also its weakness which took me way too long to realize. I learned to focus and handle interruptions in a positive manner and as my focus increased I became more productive. The only problem was that you can be very good at focusing and very productive without adding value at all. If you don’t spend your time on the right things at the right time the effect of what you are doing will be negligible. Reflecting upon a longer period of time made me realize that I produced more than before, thanks to my increased focus, but for what? I didn’t feel much more motivated and happier than before so how could that be?
Instead of focusing on productivity I began to focus on being effective. How can I with minimal effort add as much value for myself and my surroundings as possible? This requires a much broader view of what you are doing because it is about taking the right descicions at the right time and ensuring that what you are doing right now is the most important thing in the world. This requires clarity of your whole life and all activities you have going on both at work as well as in your private life.
Clarity trumps Effectiveness
Clarity should give you a calming feeling of being on top of things and being in control of your own your life and decisions. Clarity is the ability to predict your own future because you’ve realized that what the future brings depends on the actions from the past. Most of us knows about the first day at work after a vacation where you have to spent most of the day handling your inbox. Why do you think that is? People are not writing to you without a reason. It is usually a reaction to some kind of initiative you’ve started yourself.
I use to say that clarity is a snapshot of all activities you want to do within the next two weeks combined with your predictions of inevitable activities that automatically will come to you and as mentioned early the best indicator of the future is a clear picture of the recent past. If you are able to establish a snapshot like this and make it easy to comprehend you are in possession of the context needed to be in control and take good decisions. Without enough context your decisions will be based on false assumptions and you’ll start to do not important activities and initiate more than your capacity allows.
Trying to be effective without having clarity is a waste of time. In Lean Manufacturing we talk about decision filters that should guide us at a high level ensuring we are focusing on the most valuable improvements:
- Value trumps flow
- Ffow trumps waste elimination
If I should sum up what I’ve been talking about it can be narrowed down to my personal lean decision filters that guides my life at a high level:
- Effectiveness trumps Productivity
- Clarity trumps Effectiveness