The seemingly productive practice that actually kills productivity

Building products and being a parent are both tough jobs that require immense amounts of influencing skill. Each week I share what I learn to help leaders at work and at home go from unsure to unstoppable through influence.

What I’ve been learning

100% Utilization is a sure way to tank productivity. Even computers slow down at 100% utilization. It’s far worse for people as we approach 100%.

We had our annual team offsite this week and planned it with a fairly open schedule. It’s typical to fill every minute with activities that seem critical. But those proposing the agenda polled to identify the most important topics to cover and left the schedule pretty unstructured. We were clear about our purpose and took the needed time to fulfill that purpose. It went so well. I’m sure if we had tried to pack more in, it would not have had the same results.

To maximize real productivity (productivity of outcomes, not just outputs) I’ve found you should be around 50%-70% utilization of your time. That gives enough time to go deep into work, enough time to figure out what the right thing to do is, and enough slack to have a resilient work pattern.

Most product teams I see struggling have a utilization issue among others. Give yourself some slack.

What I published

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