How to Calculate Your Productivity (+ My Top 3 Hacks)

Dan Silvestre
20 min readJul 13, 2018

How do we calculate productivity in the Knowledge Economy? Let’s deconstruct how to create a productivity calculator and measure output.

Taylor’s theory of productivity was outstanding when he shared it with the world in 1911. It has been in use for more than 100 years.

But it can’t be applied in every single activity now. What worked for the “industrial economy” doesn’t work for the Knowledge Economy anymore. The productivity calculator has changed.

First, let’s throw out of the window the old definition of productivity. And then let’s build on it and understand why it matters.

How to Calculate Productivity?

Let’s consider for a moment the old formula of the productivity calculator:

Productivity = Output / Input

In the classical model, improving productivity meant increasing the output while keeping the input at the same level. A person who wraps 20 cups per day is more productive than another one who can only complete 10. Logical, isn’t it?

But how about software engineers?

Productivity can’t be measured by the quantity of code produced when programming. We have known since the 1980s that this is a lousy way to measure productivity. The most important work in software development involves thinking and learning — not typing.

So how do you calculate the productivity of programmers?

Here’s Job van der Voort take, from the article “Commits Do Not Equal Productivity“:

“The best way to get an idea of someone’s progress is to look at both their communication and activity. An effective engineer will either be making commits to further their progress or communicate in some way about their work. It’s only when you look at both these factors that you can say something about their productivity.”

Other examples?

If you ask a project manager about his/her tasks, you will get a long list of functions. These may include…

Dan Silvestre

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