What Does Being Productive Really Mean?

Published by Gavin Donnelly on

We talk a lot about being productive, but what does that really mean? Being productive can mean different things, depending on the context and your personal views. It can mean being productive in the workplace, being productive in your personal life, or being productive in a creative hobby. Let’s take a look at some of the definitions of productivity and some of the different ways of being productive in your life.

Definitions of Productivity

In the classic business sense, productivity is an economic measurement of the process of creating goods and services. Productivity is the amount of output created by an individual, team, or organization related to the amount of input that went into it. The basic formula used to measure productivity is the output divided by the input.

For example, if a team creates 10 units of a product in 5 hours, then you would divide 10 by 5 to get the productivity. In this case, the productivity of the team would be calculated as 2 units per hour. To calculate productivity this way, you don’t always have to use units and hours. You just need to define a metric for output and input to use in the formula.

Different Types of Productivity

  • Labor Productivity: the ratio of output per person.
  • Capital Productivity: the ratio of output of goods or services to the input of physical capital.
  • Material Productivity: the ratio of physical output to the input of materials, or natural resources.
  • Total Factor Productivity: captures everything not included in labor, capital, or material productivity ratio formulas.

Now that we’ve looked at the business definition of productivity, what about being productive as a more abstract concept? In a bigger sense, productivity is simply getting some kind of task done efficiently to achieve some kind of rewarding end result. Being productive can apply to all aspects of your life; not just in the workplace. This could mean doing physical activity to improve your health and physique, learning new things to increase your knowledge and skills, or streamlining aspects of your personal life to create more time for other things.

Examples of Being Productive Outside of Work

  • Meal planning and grocery shopping for the week.
  • Sticking to a regular exercise routine.
  • Signing up for some kind of activity or class.
  • Reading articles or books that are meaningful to you.
  • Learning a new language.
  • Analyzing your personal budget.
  • Paying all your bills or setting them on autopay.
  • Planning some travels.

When we look at the above examples, with the productivity definition of output compared to input in mind, we see that they are all non-work activities that require some kind of physical, mental, or time input and lead to rewarding outcomes. All of these inputs will directly or indirectly end up being investments in yourself that lead to better health, more knowledge, or give you time back in the long run.

Being productive outside of the workplace also leads to increased productivity in the workplace. For instance, when you get regular exercise and have more time to rest because you have streamlined things in your personal life, you will feel better in the morning and be more energized throughout the workday. This leads to getting more done and more efficient time management.

Being Productive Summed Up

The ultimate goal of productivity, and productivity advice for that matter, is to reduce time spent on wasteful activities in order to free up time for rewarding activities. This can be applied in the workplace at an individual, team, or organizational level to increase the business’ productivity and more efficiently produce goods and services. In your personal life, you can free up time that you spend on wasteful activities, or activities that could be automated, in order to have more time to spend on personal improvement or hobbies you enjoy.

Tips for Being Productive

  • Be strategic with your tasks: analyze any problems with your productivity and come up with solutions.
  • Don’t multitask: focus on a single task at a time, and complete it before you move onto the next task
  • Be intentional: don’t overwhelm yourself with tasks; create a to-do list and prioritize your daily tasks.
  • Form new habits: examine your habits, both in and out of the workplace, and find ways to improve them.
Categories: Productivity


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