Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Organized vs Productive - A Personal Balance

Once a quarter our company does a half day or full day training session.

Sometimes it's job related and the sessions revolve around research techniques, topics that relate to our industry or general buzz word kinda things that we need to deal with....professional development, feedback training, social media monitoring, millennials, BIG DATA!!!  Stuff like that.

But every once in a while they toss something at us that is more personal in nature.  Or stuff that's more geared towards that wonderful work/life balance thingy that people keep mentioning.  This year the company is taking this "Whole Person Develompent" approach.  They want to hold seminars and training sessions on topic that will help people not just in their professional life but in their personal lives as well. The goal is to have activities based on Physical Health, Mental Health, Social Health, Spiritual Health and Emotional Health.

The other day was the first of many of these "Whole Person Development" sessions. It was on Productivity.

Personally, I consider myself a productive person.  And part of that productivity goes hand in hand with my organizational skills. Ok, so I have a teeny bit of OCD.  But that's actually helped me professionally.  I live by my to-do lists, my color coding system for paper files and guess what? My electronic files and email is just as tidy.  Do you know what that means?  It means I work more efficiently.  I don't waste time hunting for things I need to do my job and it means on any given day I know exactly what I need to do.  And I LOVE crossing things off that list.

But it made me think.  Productivity and Organization don't necessarily go hand in hand.  I mean you could
spend HOURS organizing your email and electronic files and at the end of the day, all you've accomplished is that you've organized your files.  One of the people in this training session said that he likes to have his Inbox down to 20 emails or less by the end of the day.  Great goal.  But he said that he finds he spends more time focusing on getting it down to that arbitrary number than doing things that are truly productive.  So for him, his self imposed system is a distraction.

And this made me think again about having OCD.  And that fine line between your OCD being just part of your life and OCD ruling your life.  And yeah, it's a very fine line.  I've never been the type of person that has to wash their hands 4 times or flick a light switch off and on 6 times before leaving a room or extreme OCD quirks like that.  I'm the color coding, alphabetizing, likes things to be straight kinda OCD person.  You know the kind who will dump an entire sock drawer out because things are looking a tad messy.  Is that entirely productive?  Not at all.  And guess what?  Technology is one of the biggest detractions from productivity.  Say it ain't so Pinterest?!?! And apparently multitasking doesn't actually work because you're not putting 100% of your effort and focus into any one task.  But I'm getting off track.

It all goes back to the idea that the two ideas are connected.  Can you truly be productive if you're not organized?  And on the flip side, can overly detailed organizational systems detract from your productivity?



If I got anything out of the seminar it was the Pareto Principle aka. The 80/20

Think about it.  It how often to we spend large amounts of time on things on minor tasks?  And the 80/20 rule applies elsewhere.  We wear 20% of our clothes 80% of the time.  In business, 80% of sales come from 20% of your clients.  And in general, you get 80% of your joy out of 20% of your daily interactions.  


  1. I'm terrible about getting stuck on small tasks that take up a lot of time. My brain likes to take the little details/tasks and do them as perfectly as possible. It's a huge time waste, but it takes a lot of energy on my part to step back and look at the big picture.

    1. I hear ya. When I'm stressed it's totally easier to focus on the itty bitty detail stuff than deal with a bigger issue.

  2. I definitely fall into the trap of spending more time organizing things instead of actually accomplishing things. That may be more a sign of my intense procrastination abilities rather than my desire to live a well-ordered life.

    I often fall into this trap when I'm going to have people over. I'll go "oh dear, there is clutter in my house! I should declutter" and then I start to declutter. But then I realize I haven't swept or mopped in a while so I'll do that. And I'll dust. And I'll clean the bathroom. And I'll do laundry. And I'll reorganize my closets and dresser drawers. And I'll decide that the fridge and oven really need to be cleaned.

    Then, by the time my company arrives I'm exhausted.

    I'm working really hard to stop doing those things though!

    1. You're right, organization can easily be a tool of procrastination.