The A-Z of Personal Productivity logo

M is for Measurable.
In the last letter, L, we looked at some of the things you might write on a list. With M, I want to take a couple of those list-able items and think about the best way to put them onto a list.

You Can't Manage What You Can't Measure

"You can't manage what you can't measure" seems to have seeped into almost every facet of our lives these days, with performance figures, targets, and league tables popping up everywhere. I'm not convinced that this is a universally good thing, but in the case of personal productivity, measurement is a very good starting point.

Of course, as with many commandments, once you know the rules then you can break them, but first you need to know the rules.

Productivity Is About Ambitions, Not Dreams. About Tasks, Not Intentions

A lot of the focus with personal productivity is on finishing more work, on completing more tasks - the day-to-day detail of crossing off more tasks. Naturally it has to, as that's the nitty-gritty of getting things done, but achieving more is only useful inasmuch as it takes you closer to realising your goals and ambitions. This is the "bigger picture" side of personal productivity. The stuff of "What do you want to do with your life?"

Measurability can help with both sides of personal productivity. Whether you're writing down one of your lifetime ambitions or just jotting down your list of tasks for the day, you should strive to make each one measurable.

A measurable task or goal is one where it's clear whether or not the task has been completed. So "make the house look nicer" isn't measurable, but "hang two new pictures in the hall" is. "Lose weight" is too vague, but your scales will tell you when "lose 10 pounds" has been completed. "Earn more" is a nice idea, but "increase salary to £40k" is something you can work towards.

Without measurement a task is just a notion and an ambition just a dream.