Criteria for Productivity

You have probably heard the expression “Work smarter, not harder.” In an earlier post, I pointed out how this statement can be bad advice. If you are like most people, you need to do both hard work and smart work to be productive. This is because productive work is work that meets three criteria:

  • Quantity
  • Quality
  • Efficiency


Not all tasks are born equal. A few are important, most are trivial. Productive people are those who have identified what their important tasks are. They focus on those tasks and complete as many of them as they can each day. They work hard on A-tasks because they know those tasks produce the most results.

Man at wor
Does what you are working on meet the criteria?


It is not enough to do a large amount of work if the work is of poor quality. A report written in record time is useless if it is found to be full of errors. Productive work must meet acceptable standards of quality. Otherwise, the outcome could be just as bad as work not having been carried out in the first place.


Productive work must be completed by an agreed upon deadline. A journalist who submits an excellent, well-researched article two weeks after the deadline set by their Editor cannot be said to be efficient.

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