The Steve Jobs Trick for Improving Productivity
Author: Thomas Koulopoulos Source: Inc.
So, if we are going to talk about productivity we need to get one thing straight from the outset; busy does not equate to productive.
Try this experiment; go around for a day and ask colleagues, “So, what did you do today?” Most of the answers will be along the lines of, “A lot, it was a busy day; non-stop action, meetings, phone calls, the usual!”
That kind of question and answer tells me nothing about what was actually achieved. If anything it proves the point that being busy is often such a distraction that it obscures what we actually may have achieved.
But there is one question that will instantly give you a sense for how productive anyone is and set the bar for increasing productivity, “What did you achieve today!”
Think about this for a minute. What did you achieve yesterday, the day before? Not so easy is it? We like to think of achievement as something we do over long periods of time, monthly, quarterly, yearly, but not daily. Yet, if you set the expectation that each day should include a defined achievement, let’s call it an “achievement goal,” then you are creating a nearly instant metric for how productive each day will be and you are taking direct personal responsibility for that goal’s achievement.
“That love affair with focus drove Apple’s success, it minimized distraction, and it articulated in clear terms what the metric of success would be.”
Taking a Bite of the Apple
Steve Jobs used to do this at Apple on a larger scale at the company’s yearly strategy meetings. As recounted by his biographer, Walter Isaacson, Jobs would start by soliciting dozens of yearly objectives from his staff and then successively pare them down until he had only three left. These three became the compass setting for what the company needed to achieve in the following year. That love affair with focus drove Apple’s success, it minimized distraction, and it articulated in clear terms what the metric of success would be. Everything else either supported those goals or was secondary.
In addition, Apple had a policy of assigning what was called, in Apple-speak, a DRI, the directly Responsible Individual. A DRI, as described by
One Day at a Time
The purpose of having a daily achievement goal is to use these same strategies of intense focus and clear responsibility to drive your actions on a daily basis.
Are there days you might not accomplish your achievement goal? Of course, otherwise you’re not setting the bar high enough. However, to maximize your chances of success set your achievement goal at the end of each day for the following day. The reasons are simple; you’ll be able to sleep better at night once you have determined what you need to accomplish the next day, sleeping on one critical objective will tune your mind into the many nuances of how you can achieve it, and most importantly, you can start the next day off with a clear objective–no need to waste time each morning trying to shuffle all of the inevitable email priorities that have accumulated overnight.
“The purpose of having a daily achievement goal is to use these same strategies of intense focus and clear responsibility to drive your actions on a daily basis.”