It was Saturday morning, and I was comfortably sleeping when my dad woke me up. He said, “I have a project today and need some extra hands.” The project that day was digging a small trench to bury the electrical wires underground that ran from our house to the garage. Dad always had some project he was working on, getting something accomplished. We didn’t have much money so every project was about saving money on something that needed to be done by doing it himself (sometimes with our extra hands) or adding something of value to the house. While he could sit still after a day at work, weekends were for productivity, not resting. I model what I saw in him, as I feel better when I’m busy, not sitting, and relaxing.

I’ve led teams for years and have witnessed staff members who were busy all the time and quite proud of the hours they spent. They would tell others about those hours worked; it was their “badge of honor”. Yet they were not always productive in those hours. The reality we must face is:

Busy ≠ Productive

Each of us has only 1440 minutes each day to do something. In my friend Anthony Meyers book, 1440: Minutes Matter When Living An Intentional Life, he reminds us,

“…we all have the same 1440. Minutes cannot be borrowed, bought, stolen nor stored. They are merely used or abused. The choice is ultimately and solely yours. The accurate measure of success is how those precious minutes are spent.”

Let that sink in for a minute. Every member of your team has the same number of minutes available to them. Assume they each work an eight-hour day, they all then have 480 minutes to use. How will they use them? How can you help them be more productive?

Leaders in many organizations are struggling with team members working remotely and not being able to see them. Leaders “believed” they knew their team members were productive when they could see them, yet team members have been fooling leaders, and maybe themselves, for years. If you ever saw the 1961 musical How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, you might remember the scene where young J. Pierrepont Finch comes in early and sets up his office to look like he worked all night. His goal was to convince the President he was a dedicated and hard-working person. When President, J.B. Biggley comes in, he believes the ruse and now thinks highly of him. How often have we (leaders) been misled by activity, or busyness, instead of productivity?

A major problem today is many leaders were never taught, nor did they ever learn on their own how to measure productivity, or what was accomplished. If you don’t know, it’s time to learn because remote work is here to stay. Ask your team for ideas on how best to measure their productivity, as well as what barriers they face to being more productive.

I believe bringing the team together, i.e., meeting in person, is important and needs to happen periodically. When you do, make certain the time together is productive and not just “face time” where everyone sees each other. Have a plan on what to accomplish when they are together.

Remember, productivity is good for everyone. The more productive your team members are, the more they will accomplish for the organization. It should also give them more time to spend on their life away from work.

…but it is better to have only a little, with peace of mind, than be busy all the time with both hands, trying to catch the wind. Ecclesiastes 4:6 (GNT)

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