What is productivity and why does it matter?

This year on the blog I am going to be writing a series of posts on productivity. Productivity has always been a key issue in business and economics and over the last few years, it has increasingly crept into our personal life vocabulary.

In my post The key to productivity at home, I highlight that there are three key elements to productivity:

  • Time
  • Energy
  • Attention

There are many definitions of productivity available, but I define productivity as follows:

Definition of productivity

Productivity = using your time + energy + attention effectively to achieve your goal

I deliberately used effectively instead of efficiently in my definition. We can be efficient in our days, working on tasks in a very organised manner, but if those tasks are of low value or come at the expense of more important tasks, then we are not being productive.

If you are spending your time on the wrong activities, no matter how well you manage your time, you will not achieve the productivity you are after. And this is where your goal comes in. You need to know where it is exactly you want to be spending your time, energy and attention.

If you are yet to set a goal for 2017, I strongly encourage you to do so. It is a critical step in maximising your productivity. This post will give you a step by step guide on how to set a single goal – Setting one personal goal

Why does productivity matter?

For some people productivity will not matter. They will be incredibly happy with how things are going in their life and feel they are spending their time, energy and attention exactly where they want to.

For most of us though, productivity will matter. Productivity matters because otherwise we may not:

  • spend our time with people we want to
  • use our energy on tasks that makes us happier
  • dedicate our attention to the bigger issues that are important to us

Understanding our overall productivity and how on a daily basis we manage our time, energy and attention can help us make the changes we need to bring happiness and satisfaction to our life.

By defining productivity in terms of your personal goal, you can use your goal to be a decision making filter. I will use my goal as an example of how this works. My goal for this year is to invest in relationships with family, friends and community to bring joy and connection.

Please note that a goal is a very personal thing. Yours will be different to mine and therefore the answers to some of these questions will be different. There are no right or wrong answers; there will just be different answers depending on what is most important to you.

Using my goal as a decision making filter should I:

  • spend time ironing clothes every week – no, my time is better spend playing with the kids
  • dedicate my energy on so much exercise that I am too tired to see friends – no, I need to be able to fit in dinners with friends in the evenings
  • take time out every day to meditate – yes, meditation allows me greater focus and calm

2016 Planning With Kids Survey results

What is the biggest thing impacting on your productivity at home 640


In the annual PWK Survey for 2016, I asked a number of questions on productivity to see if it was important to you – and you said yes! I have a keen interest in productivity and I wanted to find out what the key issues were for readers so I could tailor my posts to be as useful as possible. Over a series of posts on the blog this year, I will tackle some of the key issues that came up in the survey.

In the survey I asked the following question “What is the biggest thing impacting on your productivity at home?”. The breakdown of issues that are impacting reader’s productivity were quite broad and I will start with the biggest ones listed below in my series:

  • Social media – 6%
  • Other activities on your smart phone – 1.9%
  • Procrastination – 19%
  • Knowing where to start — 14%
  • Interruptions from kids – 20%
  • Not having the right tools on hand – 1.2%
  • Not being able to find things – 0.7%
  • Tiredness – 20.7%
  • Boredom – 3.6%
  • Other – 13.1%

If you have any other particular topics you would like covered in the productivity series, please let me know by leaving a comment below.

How important is productivity to you?