I think that it is important to properly define the terms that we use when talking about productivity. Since these words are somewhat subjective it matters more that you have a specific definition that you can refer to periodically than to agree with everybody else on the specific terms and definitions.
I use the words Goals, Results and Activities.
A quick definition might be that a Goal is a long-range target. A result helps you, your company or your team succeed. Activities are the smallest unit of work that helps accomplish a result or goal.
You can think of an activity as a single step in a journey. It always takes work to make a step, but the step does not always get you closer to your goal. Of course the lesson is to check your compass and map periodically to make sure you’re always going in the right direction.
Goals are long ranging strategic targets. They can be self created or defined by your manager or company. An example of a strategic company or team goal might be “Be profitable in Q3” or “Ship Version 3.5 of our Product.” We define goals so that each individual to look up from their daily tasks and see how it fits in with the goal. This helps people know when they’re on track and helps them feel like their making a difference and not just a “cog in a wheel.”
Personal Goals are a very important piece of my happiness. When I can accomplish a personal goal or can see myself making progress on a personal goal it gives me great satisfaction. Personal goals don’t have to be anything more than something you’d like to do. I can give examples of personal goals, but it is important for you to find your own passion. For me it is to Run a Marathon, Compete in an Olympic distance Triathlon and help my non-profit, Technically Learning, meet our donation goal this year.
Results are all about impact. The best results have the highest impact. Impact can be defined by how much closer completing that result will get you to the goal. I’d like to dedicate an entire blog entry to getting results, but for now let’s move on to tasks.
We define our tasks by splitting up larger blocks of work. We can then prioritize those tasks by what will give us the best results and the greatest impact. It is important to reflect daily on your task list to make sure the tasks you are completing still align with getting the best results and align with the overall goal. Don’t get so focused on the individual tasks that you lose site of the goal. Tasks are meaningless if they don’t get the results.
Have you ever known anybody that seems to be constantly busy or overwhelmed but never seems to accomplish anything? They may be simply choosing the wrong tasks and by the time they’ve completed their task list, the goal has changed and their work is lost.
Remember: high activity does not necessarily imply high impact.
Posted By: Joe Basirico