Productivity Insanity? Create your personal KPIs.

2013-10-26 16.03.50

“What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals” Henry David Thoreau


The day I was told that my team had to measure “happiness” and that I should set a target for “the number of opinions” a lawyer should issue per hour, I freaked out.  I was heading a team of very senior, mature lawyers that knew what they were doing.  Asking them to spend time measuring their feelings and meeting KPIs for creative work that requires complex analysis was absurd.

We all know that objectives have to be concrete and measurable, that efficiency is a good friend of to-do lists, that commitment and follow up are indispensable to achieve one’s goals.  I have negotiated hundreds of IT agreements where KPIs are indispensable and serve their purpose.  But trying to apply Key Performance Indicators to everything is insane.  People forget the key word in KPIs:  “Key” means that they have to be representative, selective.  When applied excessively to your personal life they can be extremely counterproductive, killing all opportunity for creativity and engagement.

As a manager, I believed in measuring only the measurable and inspiring people to drive improvements by themselves.  We are all managers of our own lives.  What kind of personal goals do you set for yourself?  How do you measure your achievements?

I have decided to live by my own KPIs.  I have banned hollow Key Performance Indicators from my life.  Centering all your energy in Productivity and Performance is Passionless –and dangerous-, it distracts you from the really important “P”:  your Purpose.

Try these KPIs:

Keep your Personal Inspiration alive:  the more motivated you are, the easier it is to enjoy what you are doing and in turn this will inspire those around you.

Keep Picking Intelligently: does a task fit in with your goal in life or at least you are learning from it? Then engage with passion and try your best.  Does it take you away from what you want and it doesn’t bring anything positive to you or those who need your energy? Toss it!

Know and Practice using your Imagination: allow yourself to be inventive and you will find that you are meeting more targets and finding new ways of being productive – without the pressure of having to measure every single step.

I know, sometimes you are not the one setting those KPIs.  Well, try this one:  Kindly use your Personal Influence.  There are always ways to move people in other directions.  If that doesn’t work and you are forced to follow certain targets – know how to place them – they are just someone’s KPIs, not the whole purpose of your life.

And finally, appreciate that not everything is about being industrious.  Do more of what you love.  Do it keenly.  I always wear a little gold medal that says: “more than yesterday, less than tomorrow”.  It is a love promise.  I don’t want to forget what it means.  I don’t want it to mean “more stress, more anxiety, more fear that I will not meet my KPIs”.  It means “more energy, more passion, more love and more compassion, more meaning, more fun”.  This also means more work and more commitment, but on the right KPIs.