Data Lost – The Mistake We Make When Assessing Our Productivity

It’s easy to be lopsided and inaccurate when we do a productivity assessment.

Last night, my friend said, “it was a ‘hilly day’. I spent 45 minutes thinking about what went wrong so that I wouldn’t repeat it.”

“The parts of the day that went well—why did they work?,” I asked.

“Oh, I never assess what went well. I just focus on what went wrong,” he replied.

Data. Twenty-two years after my first statistics class, data is still a worthy story-teller. Data helps us to predict successful habit changes. It  gives information about what makes us smile, what gives us breathing room, and what adds meaning to our day. Data helps us to navigate the intersections of productivity and relaxation, introspection and action, forward focus and staying in the moment.


Emotions Cause Us to Collapse the Variables in Productivity Assessment

It is easy to lose data in the emotion and pace of our days. People can chalk up time as “good days,” “bad days,” “productive days,” or “boring days.” The problem with this approach to productivity assessment is that it collapses data-rich experiences into an oversimplification that yields no opportunity for learning. Mining data allows us to assess patterns of both success and failure. The resulting insights allow us to create our stories instead of reacting to them.


Tactics for a More Accurate Assessment of Your Productivity

How does one extract the data for a more accurate productivity assessment? Here are some options:

At the end of a great day, take 5 minutes and assess what made it a great day. Find the precise variables you can replicate. If you say, ‘it was a great day because the meeting went well,” look at the factors that allowed the meeting to go well.

Notice the days where plans go awry, but you still feel okay or even good at the end of the day. What were the variables that caused you to feel peaceful or happy instead of frustrated?

When you feel like a failure, take a step back and look at the specific details of the situation. What were the antecedents to your behavior or lack thereof? What was in your control that you need to change? What was out-of-your control? How can you avoid repeating the experience?

    Don’t lose the data. It is the power that allows you to drive your future.