I often read - and write - about productivity, but what am I actually thinking of when the word "productivity" comes up? How should I measure how productive I'm being?
My current method is really simple: I count my hours billed. As long as I'm doing enough work, I class my day as productive.
There are a whole bunch of problems with this approach:
- It prioritizes work over everything else.
- Some days are filled with fixing bugs across a number of different projects. This adds up to more billed time, so I earn more than if I'd concentrated on a single project.
- It doesn't take organizational work into account.
- It feels like I'm trying to extract as much money out of myself as possible. If I have the choice between working through the evening or relaxing, I'll often pick work because it's the "productive" thing to do.
So it's not ideal. What else could I use?
- Count the number of TODO items checked completed
- This one sounds good, but it has issues. It's easy to prioritize small, less-important tasks to bump up the numbers.
- This comes from extreme programming and involves counting how many story points have been completed during a sprint. This would probably involve me summing the estimated time of tasks completed during a week, and then graphing them as the year goes on.
- Some kind of points system
- I did this before using The Printable CEO. It helped at the time, but it still has the habit of skewing things depending on how points are assigned. I also spent a little too much time on tweaking how everything was set up.
- Some kind of calculated score
- This would be something that takes priority, size, and earliness (or lateness) of completion into account. I have a feeling I'd end up spending too much time tweaking the calculation.
Out of all of these I prefer the velocity calculation. But it's still missing a key part: what about my goals?
What I really want to be checking is "am I doing enough to move me closer to each goal". I don't have to work on every goal every day, but I also don't want long periods where I'm ignoring them.
I think I'll end up going with a mix of velocity, regular check-ins, and some magic ingredient that I haven't quite figured out yet. None of them have the external reward that comes from completing billed work, so maybe I need to start with some kind of reward system.