I recently attended a meeting with other car dealers and one of the common topics of conversation was employee productivity. We discussed it from several angles and tried to quantify how much more value there is in a productive employee versus one that is not. When you look at the numbers, it is amazing the difference.
Am I Productive?
As I thought about this idea, I wondered how productive I am on a consistent basis. I thought about the various distractions I have during a normal day and how those distractions often destroy my efforts to be productive! Have you ever experienced these distractions?
The more I thought about it, the more I felt guilty! The thought that struck me the most was the following question:
Would I be more productive if I knew I was being videotaped for all other employees to watch?
As I thought about this question, I realized that I would probably be embarrassed if everyone at our company knew how many times I allowed myself to be distracted in a given day. If they knew how often I was not very productive, they would probably hang me!
What about you? Would you be more productive if you were being watched? Can you think of areas where you allow distractions to keep you from being productive? Have you thought about this before?
How To Be More Productive
Immediately, my mind began working on this new problem. How can I begin eliminating the distractions that I encounter every day? How can I ensure more work is done per hour while I am at work? What precautions should I take to avoid distractions in the first place? How productive could I be if I faced 75% fewer distractions?
Maybe your mind does not work like this, but mine went into overdrive! Keep in mind that all I am describing happened in seconds in my head. I went from zero to sixty miles an hour in a few seconds!
My next step was to start listing my distractions. As I did this in my head, I came to a startling realization…
These distractions had names.
When I say they had names, I do not mean names like “coffee break” or “Facebook” or anything like that. I mean they had actual names like “John” and “Barbara” and “Charlie” (actual names changed to protect the innocent!).
I realized that the majority of my “distractions” – the causes of those times when I was less productive – were actually people. These people, in most cases, are people I am impacting for eternity in one way or another. These people, if I am truly honest and focused on what’s most important, are not distractions at all!
At this point I stopped. I quickly went from sixty miles an hour back down to zero. I just sat there, thinking. I imagine you might be doing the very same right now.
I will tell you right now that I do not have the answer to this problem. I cannot give you a simple, fact-based prescription to the problem of balancing relationships on the job with the off-setting reduction in productive time. If you know it and can present it concisely, please feel free to do so in the comment section below. We would all appreciate it!
What I can tell you is that the issue of begin productive is not as simple as it looked at the beginning of this post. Clearly, there is more to this than can be quantified with a ratio or metric from a financial statement.
Start At The Beginning
In an effort to sort through this, let’s review what we do know.
First, this world is temporary. That means that everything in this world is also temporary – including our jobs and businesses.
Second, people (our souls, not our physical bodies) are eternal. Even after this world is gone, we will continue to exist. Where, and with Whom, we exist depends upon where we place our trust during this life.
When we truly understand these two issues, it becomes more clear whether it is more important to be productive on our jobs or to impact others for eternity. There really is no arguing as to whether it is more important to produce an extra two widgets per hour or to point someone toward the God who loves them. Do we agree on that?
There’s More To It…
If it were only that simple then we would not even need to discuss this.
It is not that simple. Just consider the following Scripture:
Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do, whether they are slave or free.
Working For Christ
In this passage, we are told to work as if we are working for Christ Himself. We are not necessarily excused from allowing distractions to keep us from being productive for our supervisors or the company owners – even if the distraction is an eternal one!
No, we cannot simply blow off our work because we see our “distractions” as eternal souls and want to point them to God. At the same time, we cannot ruthlessly eliminate all of our “distractions” for the purpose of being productive in a temporary pursuit. This has to be a Both/And effort rather than an Either/Or one.
We do not have to choose EITHER having an eternal impact on those around us OR being productive for our employers. While it will take creativity to make it work, it can happen that BOTH are achieved.
We need to do the best we can to BOTH eliminate all non-eternal distractions to increase our productivity AND respond to those around us in a way that points them to God. Take some time today and brainstorm this. Think about ways to increase your productive time AND to increase your influence on those around you.
I look forward to hearing about the results!
Are you as productive as you should be?
Do you have similar “distractions”?
What ideas have you come up with to balance productivity and eternal influence?