Home Pastors Articles for Pastors 3 False Productivity Goals That Trap Too Many Leaders

3 False Productivity Goals That Trap Too Many Leaders

Think about it. If you had 16 tasks that take you an hour and, through efficiency, you cut each down to 30 minutes each, you already have a relatively full work day (eight hours). Your capacity to take on more is very limited.

I’m all for efficiency when it matters, but to go one step further, some activities are by nature not inherently efficient.

People aren’t efficient (bet you’ve noticed that). Neither is sermon preparation or writing. Neither is brainstorming or long-term planning. Parenting isn’t efficient. Neither is marriage or friendship.

Sometimes you need the gifts of space and time. You need uninterrupted, unhurried time to explore whatever you need to explore, relationally or otherwise.

In all matters where you can be efficient, do it. An accounting system that cuts the time in half is probably worth whatever it costs. Ditto with email, routine meetings and so much of what occupies daily life.

But as efficient as you may become, you only have so many hours in a day. And part of what you do will never be fully efficient.

So along the way, I stopped just thinking in terms of efficiency and started thinking in terms of effectiveness.

Stop asking yourself how to be more efficient. Start asking yourself how to be more effective.

Becoming more effective might mean you cut 17 efficient things out of your life. Sure, you may be efficient at a lot of things, but being efficient at things that don’t matter isn’t a win. It’s a loss.

Becoming more effective might mean you cut out six meetings so you can have a full day to ponder and think about the future, or to work on your message, or to handle those difficult personnel problems that never go away.

It might mean you hire someone to do your finance or find a volunteer to do expenses so you can focus on the highest value activities that move your mission forward.

Don’t ask yourself how you can be more efficient. Ask yourself how you can be more effective.

2. Accomplishment, Not Activity

Most of us have had the terrible feeling of having hustled hard for eight to 12 hours all day, but at the end of it we’re not exactly sure what we did.

Sure, we played Wac-A-Mole with our inbox (for every one we answered, two more showed up), we got pulled into meetings, had lots of conversations, answered texts and barely had time to breathe.

But looking back on it, we’re not really sure what we accomplished.

Too much work today is defined by activity. Not nearly enough is defined by accomplishment.

Activity may give you a paycheck (it’s amazing to me how many companies and even churches still pay people for showing up).

But accomplishment is the only thing that both gives you a sense of purpose and meaning in life and move the overall mission forward.

It’s what will allow you to rest at the end of the day knowing you’ve made some kind of a difference and contribution.

If you want to feel a great sense of purpose, write down what you want to accomplish every day. Don’t just write down tasks, set goals related to the mission.

Then calendar your day to them.

That’s exactly what the High Impact Leader free calendar download and training will help you do.

Great leaders focus on accomplishment, not activity.

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Speaker and podcaster Carey Nieuwhof is a former lawyer and founding pastor of Connexus Church, one of the largest and most influential churches in Canada. With over 6 million downloads, The Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast features today's top leaders and cultural influencers. His most recent book is “Didn’t See It Coming: Overcoming the 7 Greatest Challenges That No One Expects and Everyone Experiences.” Carey and his wife, Toni, reside near Barrie, Ontario and have two children.