How to measure the efficiency and productivity of your schedule? How to measure the efficiency and productivity of your schedule?
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How to measure the efficiency and productivity of your schedule?

Written by :
Aashish Dhawan

When we have mastered the art of time management and have acquired the habit of creating and maintaining a schedule, effectively utilising the time we have while wasting nothing, we have reached a stage where we should start reviewing our calendar and start discovering answers to the following questions:

  1. How can we be sure that our efforts are generating the best possible results for us? Do we feel busy, but then nothing meaningful gets accomplished in the day?
  2. How do we know if we are working on our peak performance or not?
  3. Are we making an effort to improve our schedule, tune it according to our unique personalities, and get more done?
  4. Is there a way to measure our productivity or efficiency?

How often do we take a break, reflect, and analyse our calendar to discover the answers to these questions? If we could somehow quantify our productivity into some mathematical number and measure everything against it, we could easily track where we stand and if we are making progress as days or months pass, or even better, we could even plot a graph of our productivity over time. But can we really do this? Is it possible to quantify our productivity in the form of a mathematical number? We’ll explore this in the next chapter.

In the previous chapter we introduced the MARIGOLD framework for task categorization and prioritisation, which divides our daily tasks into maintenance, amusement, risk analysis and mitigation, investment, growth, obsolescence, and delegation tasks. We also established the priority of these categories and which activity deserves more of our time. If we were to start following this and give more focus to priority items first, our schedule would tune itself for the maximum possible result it could produce. This is the first step towards greater efficiency.

Doing Periodic Reviews of Our Calendar

One of the reasons we measure something is that we want to improve it over time. It is not just a one-time activity but has to be done periodically so that we can make sense of the data and take action to improve it. Therefore, we need to get into the habit of doing periodic reviews of our schedule. We can do it at an interval that suits us best. It can be done daily, weekly, or monthly—whatever makes us comfortable. In these periodic reviews, we need to check where our time is going. Are we wasting time on low-ROI activities, or are we spending too much time on maintenance tasks and so on?

Let’s assume that for us, doing a weekly review of our calendar works best instead of doing it daily or monthly. So once a week, we can reflect on our calendar and see how we did over the last week. We can use the following template to measure our outcome: It contains a set of questions that we must ask ourselves.

  1. Was I focused on high-outcome tasks, or was I wasting too much time on maintenance activities, busy managing various crises?
  2. Am I stuck on tasks that are going to be obsolete soon instead of trying to delegate them?
  3. Am I wasting too much time on amusement activities like social media, Netflix, and online surfing?
  4. How can I reduce meetings that are not too meaningful?
  5. Was I able to accomplish my three top priorities for every day or for the last week?
  6. What are the things that are not working in my schedule, and what changes can I make next week to produce better results?
  7. Am I stuck on tasks that do not enhance my personal skills in the long term?
  8. What health, financial, personal, or professional risks are lingering just around the corner that can become a crisis at any time? And what am I doing to mitigate those risks?
  9. Am I proactively working on high-leverage tasks that, if done, will remove a dozen other tasks from my to-do list?
  10. As the time progresses weekly, Is my calendar getting filled with more and more items, or is my backlog getting shorter with the passage of time?

Once you start to get into the habit of doing periodic reviews of your schedule, you will be able to easily identify high- and low-outcome tasks in your calendar, what mistakes can be avoided, and how performance can be improved. The next step is to quantify your outcome with a mathematical number by building a scorecard.

Building a Performance Scorecard:

It is advised to rate our performance by quantifying it into a number or scorecard because, without it, our analysis would be too subjective and unable to give us a clear understanding of whether we are improving over time or not. It is a mental trick that makes it easy on the brain to compare two things. Our goal should be to improve our performance scorecard as we do a periodical review of our schedule and analyse productivity.

We can design this the way we like; we can rate our performance as a number score out of ten, or we can give ourselves grades like A+, A, B+, B, etc. Additionally, we give higher ranking or marks to higher ROI activities, and vice versa. This can be tracked over a period of time to analyse the trend and see if we are getting better or not.

The Power Score:

If you are looking for a simple template to measure performance you can do it with the help of the POWER score. Which is described as

Efficiency = Priorities + Obsolete + Who + Expansion + Risk and Resilience

  1. Priorities: Remember in the last chapters we said that we need to decide three top priorities of the day or week and work on those first before we start anything else?
  2. Obsolete: Obsolete tasks are those tasks that we will not be doing in the future if we were to grow into a bigger role. In other words, these are the tasks we need to delegate today if we want to achieve our future state.
  3. Who: “Who” is the biggest form of leverage. “Who” is that person? If they get hired, they will remove a lot of tasks from your plate and free up your time. Most of our problems are “who” problems, not “how” problems because if you really start to look deeper into the problem and try to find out what can give you the biggest leverage; most of the time the answer is that you need to hire somebody or you need to outsource it to some contractor or consultant. Finding the right person should be our top priority, and without it, you cannot delegate your work to someone.
  4. Expansion: Expansion generally corresponds to your efforts towards growth and investment activities.
  5. Risks and Resilience: This corresponds to your efforts towards identifying risks that are lurking in the core and could become crises anytime if you do not take action to mitigate them or build resilience in the system to absorb those risks.

Calculating the power score

When doing your periodic review, you can score yourself out of 10 for each one of these parameters and ask yourself questions like

  1. Priorities: Did I spend enough time on the right set of priorities? Are my priorities clear and relevant? How would I rate myself out of 10 for my efforts on my top three priorities?
  2. Obsolete: Am I stuck on doing obsolete tasks that should have been delegated by now? How would I rate myself out of 10 for my efforts in identifying the obsolete tasks I am doing and for my efforts to delegate them to someone?
  3. Who: Am I delegating to the right people? Am I spending time hiring the right person or outsourcing to build leverage? Am I training my people enough so that they can take on my workload in the future? How would I rate myself on this out of 10?
  4. Expansion: Am I working on the steps needed to expand or scale my current position? Did I spend enough time on growth or investment activities? Am I spending enough time to improve my processes and build new systems to increase the outcome for myself or my team? How would I rate myself on this?
  5. Risks and Resilience: Am I spending time mitigating risks? Am I actively working on things that could become crises in the future? How would I rate myself on this?

This means your maximum score is 50 and your minimum is 0. This POWER score will help you give marks to your performance and will make it easy to understand if you are getting better. If you multiply your score by 2, you will get your score in percentage, which is far better than marks out of 50. For example, if you rate yourself as 8+3+6+6+5, your score will be 28/50, or 56%.

This gives you a concrete mathematical number to measure your efficiency. You can keep tracking this and make efforts to improve your scorecard over time. You can also plot this on a graph, which will tell you whether you are improving or not.

When people first start measuring their POWER score, they realise that they are not spending much time on their top priorities, nor are they able to spend time on building leverage. Most of their time is spent either doing maintenance tasks or fighting one crisis after another, and if they get any time on a good day, at best they are able to knock out some growth- or investment-related tasks, which is good, but they are still not the highest-outcome tasks. In the beginning, a low POWER score is OK, but over time it should improve.

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