Stop Being Productive [and do this instead]


Productivity has become a business buzzword, and why wouldn’t it? Who hasn’t dreamed of doing more in less time? Being in two places at once? Killing two birds with one stone?

Okay, that last one may sound good metaphorically but in real life, let’s not, okay?

The fast pace of our world has more people than ever multitasking at work (89% of people get on their smartphones at the office) -- and even while watching tv (42% browse the Internet at the same time). But only 2% of those people can actually do it well. So everyone else is trying to do more and seeing fewer results.

It’s deeper than that, however. We’ve come to believe that the more we DO, the more we DESERVE. And that frame of mind is actually killing our businesses.


Instead of focusing on productivity, I like to focus on efficiency. You might be rolling your eyes a little because on the surface they seem like the same thing, but there’s a crucial difference between the two.

Productivity is about doing more. Efficiency is about doing less.

You, me, and Beyonce are all working with the same 24 hours in a day. We have to make the most of those hours to hit our goals. So on the surface productivity seems like the winner.

But there’s a fundamental problem with that plan. When you’re focusing purely on productivity, you will still hit a limit to what you can accomplish in those 24 hours. Because you only have those 24 hours … and then it’s over and a new 24 hours starts.

When you focus on efficiency, you might actually find that many of the things you were doing could be completely eliminated. Anything that doesn’t work or contribute to the success of your business can be cut out altogether, which frees up precious time that can be used on the business vision.


Recently I went with my friends to an escape room experience. You and your small team are given 60 minutes in a room to solve a series of riddles to find the way out of the room.

My friends and I had a good plan when we got into the room. We would split up to find clues and solve riddles then come together in what we hoped was a successful attempt to escape. But what ended up happening was that several of us worked for way too long on riddles, tasks, or corners of the room that didn’t actually get us out of there. We created waste in the process and while we ultimately escaped, we missed our chance at beating the record (a major driver for our competitive-natured group).

In the same way, when your business has waste, it’s depleting your time, money, and all the other resources you have. Efficiency is all about finding opportunities to reduce waste in your business around areas like ...

  • Time

  • Energy

  • Money

  • Morale

  • Skill

  • Labor

  • Information

  • Materials

Less waste allows you to grow and improve faster -- creating more positive impact on your bottom line and in the world.

Facebook is a prime example. They need to learn and grow fast to keep up with the market and stay ahead of their competitors.

Imagine if in this massive company every decision had to run through Mark Zuckerberg for approval. Nothing would get done, and Facebook would be at a standstill and lose its place in the competitive market.

To keep that from happening, Facebook has given its developers permission to change or add whatever features they want, but it does come with rules. Instead of allowing them free reign -- which could also lead to confusion and inefficiency -- the developers do small split tests to see what the reaction to the changes are.

This approach gives them a data-driven way to have autonomy and make changes to the platform without the huge risk. The developers feel like they’re making an impact on the company, and the normal corporate red tape is removed -- saving time, skill, labor, and morale.

It’s a win for everyone involved, and it all started with efficiency in mind.


Efficiency is more than a concept. It’s a habit that you can build into every routine that you and your employees create. I’ve put together a few simple ways you can work on increasing your efficiency.

1. Create a culture of efficiency.
When you intentionally make efficiency a value of your company, you’re giving your employees a chance to work toward something bigger than themselves while also serving them well.

2. Know your business’s top goals.
When you have clear goals you know the mark you’re trying to hit and can create projects and tasks that accomplish that and leave everything else behind.

3. Solve your business bottleneck.
Focusing on one priority problem at a time will allow you to solve it faster and give your a filter for decision-making and daily actions company-wide.

4. Question every process regularly.
Whether you know it or not, you have processes in place. Always be asking if there is a way to make it better, use fewer steps, or eliminate it if it’s not adding value.

5. Focus on continuous improvement.
Familiarity and ego keep us from growing, changing, and improving. Don’t settle for “this is how it’s always been done,” and instead, always ask yourself and your team how you can be making it even better.

6. Give team members autonomy.
Efficiency means you need to move from operator to owner. Allow your team the freedom to make decisions, changes, and improvements without needing approvals.

7. Join the Clockwork Core program.
We’ve designed our Clockwork Core program to help you create a culture of efficiency for your business. In just five weeks together, we’ll help you find your leaks, create a plan to plug them, and scale your business more effectively.