Here's the #1 Simplest Trick Ever to Become More Productive
measure your productivity to get more done

Here’s the Simplest Trick Ever to Become More Productive

“What gets measured gets improved.”

This is a quote from Robin Sharma. Or Peter Drucker. Who knows? The internet doesn’t.

Anyway, this quote lays out a simple truth we can use to easily boost our productivity. What we measure, we improve. I like to call it the what-gets-measured-gets-improved-effect. Best of all, this improvement happens automatically, solely because of the measuring process.

Oh, and this isn’t just some weird speculation or bold claim – it’s a scientific fact.


When researchers study the effects of a given intervention, simply asking participants to track a specific outcome makes them more likely to improve. For example, people who are assigned to wear a pedometer, walk at least one extra mile per day on average and improve their overall activity levels by 27%. 

Just imagine if you could increase your productivity levels by 27%. How much more could you get done? How much more would you accomplish? We will never know. But we surely know that measuring your productivity will help you improve it.

How to Measure Your Productivity

Measuring productivity happens in 2 ways:

1. Tracking your time: You simply measure exactly how you’re spending your time on any given day. If you watch TV for an hour, you track that. If you read for 30 minutes, you also track that. Frankly, you measure every single minute of your day (as far as that’s possible).

2. Assigning a value tag to all your daily activities. Ask yourself, on a scale from 1 to 10, how valuable are the different activities in your day? How valuable is watching TV? How valuable is reading? How valuable is exercising? For example:

  • Meditation: 10
  • Reading: 9
  • Facebook: 1
  • Watching TV: 1
  • Reading negative news: -1

So, you track all your daily activities and then assign a value to each activity. Then, to get your total productivity measure of the day, you multiply the value of each activity with the time spent on it.

Let’s look at a sample day with just 6 activities:

  • Meditate: 10 (value) x 20 minutes = 200
  • Commute to work: 3 (value) x 25 minutes = 75
  • Working on project X: 7 (value) x 80 minutes = 560
  • Working on project Y: 4 (value) x 140 minutes = 560
  • Watching TV: 0 (value) x 120 minutes = 0
  • Spending time with family: 10 x 100 minutes = 1000

Total productivity: 2395

Congrats! You’ve successfully measured your productivity and will now automatically improve it thanks to the what-gets-measured-gets-improved-effect.

You can take this to the next level by actively trying to beat your previous days. In the example from above, you could just switch out some TV time for family time, meditating, or working. This would increase your total productivity measure of the day.

How to Track Your Time

This sounds great and all, but how do you actually track your time? Here are 3 options:

  • Use plain old pen and paper. Simply keep it on your desk or carry it with you in your pocket or a bag. Then, every hour, write down what you’ve been doing.
  • Use an excel spreadsheet. This is plain old pen and paper – PC and smartphone version. This is practical because you probably carry your smartphone with you 24/7 anyway.
  • Use a time-tracking app such as Toggl. This is probably the best way because it’s been built specifically to track your time. Every time you start a new activity you simply hit a button and the app starts measuring.

Simple as that. Do this tracking for a week or two and you’ll see a dramatic improvement in your productivity.

Want more easy ways to improve your productivity?

Nils Salzgeber

Nils Salzgeber is the author of two books and co-founder of the popular NJlifehacks blog. He is passionate about anything that helps him become a more peaceful, productive, and loving version of himself. After quitting university twice, he has recently gone back to get a psychology degree. Nils lives in Thun, Switzerland.