Small talk about productivity…


Do you really think that efficiency can be measured with monitors-which-you-have-on-your-work-desk?

No, it cannot be measured in such way.


Do you want work only 4 days in a week? And how do you spent time in a normal week? Be honest with yourself - are you really one of these people which have 90 - 95% productivity in a week and you always do what you plan to do?

If not, let’s do some math.

Let’s assume that you have pretty good efficiency around 80% in normal week. It means that (in terms of Polish work law) you worked “properly” 32 hours per week, 8 hours you have spent on something else (let’s call it a procrastination, BTW. in terms of Polish law it is a whole working day spent on non-working activities).

Now let’s think about 4 day work week - you have got 32 hours per week - in order to achieve the same productivity in terms of hours, you need to increase your efficiency from 80% to 100%. And probably you know Pareto rule which states that 80% of “something” (work done, complexity etc.) is located in 20% of domain of “something” (hours per week, time spent of some task etc.). If you look at the 15 - 20% which you does not have at the moment, you can spent pretty significant amount of time in order to achieve that.

But what if you stay with the 80% efficiency - you have got 26 hours (rounded with a handicap for you :wink:) - 6 hours less than in 5 a day work week. Think about - in order to do actual work (and you already cut procrastination by reducing work week by one day) you need to cut time spent on less important tasks in your work day (for someone it will be a meeting, email communication, chatting for someone else reading an article, research etc.) - and you need to find 6 hours of such time. Are you ready for that?

You can do it better! How about increasing productivity for normal work week and going up to the 90 - 95%. Move forward, triage things, use DDDD rule (Do, Delegate, Defer, Delete) etc. There are many amazing things and talks about increasing productivity, some of them you can find in the references.

If you achieve such level of efficiency, then you need to plan activities for each day - like 3 - 4 main activities which I need to do. If you do them, rest of time you can spent in a different way - e.g. procrastination, do some research, learning etc. You can do stuff unrelated with work only if you finish your daily work activity.

One more thing - if you can’t specify your limited daily goals list you are simply doing too much - please look at DDDD in advance, because in future you can be highly frustrated (let’s call it a burnout) about amount of work which you have to do and amount of responsibilities which are assigned to you.


Are you using your resources in 100% and you are requesting more only if you feel constrained? If you have doubt about that, please read next paragraphs.

I have seen people which have three monitors - one for IDE / editor, one for browser, test runner, documentation and one for … IRC, twitter, Skype, email client etc.

Why the heck people spent ⅓ of their resources on these “chatter-boxes”, instant interruptions and transforming asynchronous communication channels into synchronous ones?

Many people ask me why I’m using just one screen in my daily work (and I’m a programmer so in many people mindset I need to have at least two if not three monitors). I have got laptop and unattached second screen. And I’m using such opportunity only if I need to.

Start with just one screen, use virtual desktops, throw away interruptions while you working, be effective on just one screen. If I feel constrained with space of my 4 virtual desktops at one physical screen I’m immediately attaching second screen and rearrange my workspace, on the occasion I’m cleaning up my stuff unrelated with the problem on which I’m working right now.

Asynchronism in the communication channels should be our advantage. Please refer to the Scott’s talk and schedule time for emails / communication stuff. Respond only if you need and what is even more important be as much asynchronous with it as you can (in other words - defer it).


Whole topic came to my mind after some “unwise” statements that some people made in company which I’m working right now. What frustrates me the most is that these people are not spent their time effectively and they claim that 4 day work week will be even more efficient (of course it will, it will be productive in the lack of productivity :grin:).

Please, be honest with yourselves and with your employers - We need to use our resources honestly, then effectively and only if we will be very productive we can move to the next step which is an optimization of these parameters.


  1. Scott Hanselman - It’s not what you read, it’s what you ignore