How Can I Tell If I Am Productive?

Busy Work, Or Busy At Work?
Busy Work, Or Busy At Work?

Activity does not always equal productivity. Often, it is just an example of being busy that people confuse with being productive.

The only way to be productive is to prove productivity. Proving productivity always starts with writing down your desired end goals before you get to work.

A simple ‘to-do’ list of 8–12 items you want to accomplish in a set time frame is all you need to get started. The items can be high-level descriptions unless you have a complicated task that requires work in exact steps over time, then you have to list each major step or its milestone deliverable as an individual item on the list.

The best time to create your list is well before you plan to get started working. Immediately after you review your work from the previous day is an excellent way to setup the next day’s activities, and allows you to walk away from your work and leave it be until you return the next day.

Through the day refer to the list to see if the work you are actually doing reflects the work you should be doing per planning to stay productive. If it turns out you are not working off items on your list, determine if the work you are doing should take priority of the work on your list, and make notes accordingly.

At the end of the designated period (usually the work day), evaluate the items on your list. Review what tasks you were able to complete and how long it took. Review what tasks you began but did not complete, and make note of why it is unfinished, and what needs are waiting for completion. Review what tasks you did not plan for but became priority work that kept you from completing items on your list.

With this knowledge, you can determine real productivity in your workloads.


J Cleveland Payne is a writer that wishes he was more famous. You can help him reach his desired level of fame by reading his writing on Medium, at the Your Better You Project, or right here on his personal blog at jclevelandpayne.net. Like everyone else on the internet, you can find him on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

This article was inspired by the question, ‘How can I become productive,’ posted on Quora.

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