This blog is about two things: (1) how to best manage our lives and work and (2) how to best think about the way that the businesses and non-profits that we work for should be run. I guess we can call these two things “personal productivity” and “organizational productivity.”
Originally I wanted to start this blog 4 years ago and focus on personal productivity. I had read David Allen’s Getting Things Done and put together a planning system to help me keep on top of my goals, projects, and next actions, and wanted to blog about that. I also found that the concepts for organizing time and tasks easily expanded into best practices for managing space, such as your desk or garage or kitchen. I thought that it would be pretty fun and helpful to blog on how to manage your time, projects, and space—basically, your life. But of course…I never had the time.
Now it’s 4 years later and I’ve been doing a lot of reading on and gaining experience about managing organizations. I read about 50-100 books a year, and for the last couple of years business and management (“organizational productivity”) have been my major focus. I think Peter Drucker is right that the greatest challenge of this century is to make knowledge work productive. Most of us are knowledge workers these days, yet most organizations are not managing knowledge workers effectively. They are using practices from the industrial economy to manage the knowledge economy. The result is incredible loss of potential (the authors of Mobilizing Minds estimate this in the hundreds of billions of dollars) and, worse, the quiet desperation of our workforce. A massive number of people feel that their work lacks significance, and slog through their day just to make a living. But there is a better way.
Broadening the Concept of Productivity
So the question I asked myself was: Should I blog on how to manage our lives better or what it would look like for the organizations we work for to be managed more effectively? And, of course, my answer was: “both.”
For these are really two sides of the same coin. Those who lead organizations cannot be effective if they do not know how to manage themselves and all the input that we all face every day. Likewise, if we are effective in managing ourselves, that is not the whole picture. The point of personal productivity is to be a useful person—and this implies that we all have an interest in understanding what makes organizations effective and how we can bring the businesses and non-profits that we work for farther along that path.
So the meaning of productivity is much more broad than just making ourselves more effective. It includes what we do with that–how we can make our organizations and society more effective.
This is Exciting
I think this is exciting. We have a chance to not only become more effective in our own lives, but to help our organizations and, ultimately, society become more effective and useful. I asked my wife if she would rather read a blog about personal productivity or doing things better in business and management. She is a nurse who currently stays home with our kids, so she doesn’t deal with the whole organizational management side of things. Yet she said, “Both. It’s all relevant to me when you talk about it, because I see how the organizational side of things affects me and the people who work in organizations.” I hope that you all have the same experience reading this blog, whether you lead an organization, work in middle management, are just starting out, or are even a stay-at-home mom.