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How Productive Are You?

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According to the U.S. Government, productivity is the measure of economic efficiency where economic “inputs” are turned into economic “outputs.” That’s not insight gleaned from my MBA program, I’ve long since forgotten every last bit of economics that I was taught. Or to describe my personal situation more precisely, despite considerable economic input, my personal economic output has trailed off to bubcus.
 
That productivity formula came from your very own U.S. Department of Labor, specifically the Department of Labor Statistics. I encourage you to visit their web site, where even the statistics even have statistics. It’s like Disneyland for the slide rule and plastic pen case set.
 
But I’m starting to think that I may be the only one who lacks interest on this topic. Just visit Google and you’ll learn that productivity is popular. No, make that POPULAR. It’s got over 133,000,000 links. Just to put that in perspective, Britney Spears is at 82,700,000 and Death is at 387,000,000. So productivity clearly a topic that we just can’t get enough of.
 
According to our government, productivity is both important to our national well-being and on the rise. It’s important because productivity is like the coins you find when you clean your sofa, it’s wealth that doesn’t take labor or capital to create. Think of it as “found” wealth.
 
And by almost all measures, we’re finding a lot of productivity increases of late. There are many possible reasons—technological efficiencies, the longer hours that we’re all working to cover for our dearly departed former coworkers or the proverbial cliché, we are finally working smarter. Whatever the reason, we appear to be a virtual productivity machine.
 
What is behind my sudden fascination with productivity? Gallup did a survey where they asked how much time do you waste at work and how much time do the people you work with waste at work?
 
I thought this study provided a much more realistic take on our productivity—in other words, that we aren’t that productive after all. According to Gallup each of us personally admits to wasting just under an hour a day. But when asked about our coworkers, the number rises to an hour and a half.
 
I can sense that you’re getting annoyed being called a slacker, because you never waste time at work. Get used to being in the minority if you feel this way. Because only a quarter of those surveyed report that they never waste time at work and slightly less than 20% of us feel that way about our coworkers.

Which leads me to my favorite part of the study. This is so good, that I’m going to quote Gallup directly. “There are no significant differences between men and women, younger and older workers, higher income and lower income workers, employees in private companies and government workers, those who work less than 40 hours per week and those who work more hours, and employees who are ‘completely’ satisfied with their jobs and those who are less satisfied or dissatisfied.”

In other words, productivity is on the rise and we all seem to fritter it away at a consistent pace. I hope you felt that this blog was a productive use of your time.

About the Author: Bob Rosner is a best-selling author, award-winning journalist and popular speaker. For free job and work advice, check out the award-winning workplace911.com. If you have a question for Bob, contact him via [email protected] .


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