The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of Personal Productivity

I was reminded last week of a conversation I had with a mentee of mine from a few years ago.

My mentee was try to work out how to improve their personal productivity and after reading a number of books on the subject was feeling confused.

I gave them a simple challenge to try and it worked remarkably well.

Here it is, so that you can try it out for yourself.

I asked them to take a few minutes at the end of the working day and identify one item from their working day that would fit into the following three categories:

  • Good (something that worked really well / got great results).
  • Bad (something that had gone wrong).
  • Ugly (something that had thrown them off course and they weren't sure if it was a good thing or a bad thing!).
When they finished identifying one item for each category they would then plan an action to change their approach for the next working day:
  • How could they do the good thing more often?
  • How could they avoid the bad thing more often?
  • How could they convert their ugly item either into a good or bad thing?
From doing this a mini action plan, to be undertaken the following day, was created.

After a few days of doing this my mentee started to spot some patterns and they were able to make some more fundamental shifts to how they organised their days / tasks.

That's the point of doing this exercise for a little while, not to find the specific items to do more of / avoid, but to find the patterns and generic items that you need to manage. Standing back from your lists of good / bad / ugly is how you spot these patterns and one method that I have found to be useful when helping others to find a new level of personal productivity.

If you are looking to boost your own personal productivity (and let's not forget effectiveness!) then the above exercise may well be of use to you.



About the author
Giles Johnston is a Chartered Engineer who specialises in helping businesses to grow and improve through better business processes.
Giles is also the author of Business Process Re-Engineering and creator of the 'Making It Happen' continuous improvement toolkit.