There is a strong belief in our society that we must work hard to achieve anything or be anybody. As it turns out, this actually causes a lot of damage and has a detrimental effect on productivity. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported that the productivity rate in our society is rising at the slowest rate that is ever has in history. Yet when we look around, folks appear to be working harder than ever.
Do we just like to claim we’re “working hard”?
In general, when people claim that they are “working hard,” they really mean that they are simply putting a lot of their time into their work. And what they are not saying is what they actually accomplished and what value it has provided. They never even think about that.
A lot of this is because so many of our economic indicators are time based. For years, our workers operated machines and performed various rote tasks, and those activities produced a fairly static hourly output. Occasionally, a thought leader would come up with a great new idea to increase the hourly output of an activity – which equated to more productivity.
When our society moved to a more knowledge based economy, with more people engaging in deep thinking and brainstorming and not performing mere rote tasks–yet we still hold on to a few elements from the industrial age.
Hard Work Can Actually be a Diversion
This new input of knowledge could have actually confused the expectations from our work. If we are not producing our gadgets, then what exactly are we doing? It seems that we have come to the point where our society may need to change how they define productivity. Most likely, the main reason workers still connect the value of work to time spent is because they have no other way to measure their production. Also, it is very easy to measuring time.
So how do we begin assigning value to our work? For most of us, there is not a clear numerical metric that measure productivity. To do this, managers need to understand how much value is added by each task and function that they are overseeing in their workforce. Furthermore, they must convey to each worker what is expected from them. And lastly, there needs to be something measurable so that an assessment can be made regarding the output of each worker.
In my experience, most managers have no clue how to measure that kind of productivity from their staff. And in fairness to them, this is not the way that productivity has been measured in our society. We still measure work by time – yet statistics and saying we are losing productivity.
Filling your Time with Grunt Work
Many of us like to busy ourselves with grunt work – in other words, work that keeps us busy and occupied, but requires very little thought to accomplish. Some grunt work is valuable, but no one wants to do it – like washing dishes, or washing the car. Yet a lot of grunt work is not really that valuable and we often spend hours of time on this kind of work – mostly, because it makes us “feel” productive. Grunt work is that easy little item on our “to do list” that we can cross off and proudly claim that we accomplished.
We need to change our perception of productivity. All of us need to understand that success does not always equate to hard work. Success is more about determination and focus. It is about learning what’s important in achieving your goals and what is not important. Productive time is doing tasks that get you closer to your goals.