Does keeping score matter for your productivity?

Today I have six tasks to accomplish aligned to my most important goals.

Now, that’s not all I will do today, but those are the six most important tasks I will do today. These tasks represent deep work. Things only I can do to create value for my organization. They are also tasks that are strategic in nature and are designed to have a bigger payoff in the future rather than today.

Scoring helps me be accountable to myself and motivates me to focus on the right stuff.

There is a reason we keep score in sports.

Scoring matters and a sports analogy is useful when considering productivity.

Whether it’s the local newspaper (they still exist), SportsCenter, an app, or a website, each will tell you the results of any competitions that were recently played. Teams compete and the score signals who the winners and losers are. If you’ve ever competed in a pick-up game of any sport where the score wasn’t kept, then you’ve experienced a terribly boring game with very little effort.

Humans naturally love to tick off items on their to-do list. That is a form of scoring. Today when I finish my work, I will have completed “x” out of six items. I don’t sweat the small stuff. A poor performance one day doesn’t matter if I score greater than 80% task completion for the month and quarter. Years of keeping score on my productivity have taught me that.

Scoring matters, but keep it simple. Only score tasks aligned to your most important work versus everything that needs to get done.

Teams compete in public.

Consider putting your productivity score in public.

I regularly blog and write about my “dashboard” results. That’s because I serve a community of leaders focused on growth. I have to lead by example and part of that includes writing about what I’m going to do and then reflecting on whether I accomplished my goals or not. Here is an example post I published at the end of Q4 2020. I hope by showing my process and results in public, I will inspire those leaders interested in my work to do the same.

Keeping score and sharing my results publicly is very motivating.

Winners drink champagne.

I was spoiled growing up and watching Jordan and the Bulls dominate the 90s NBA.

Watching The Last Dance on Netflix brought back many positive memories of my childhood. The Bulls were one of the best basketball dynasties to ever play the game. And when they won another championship, I knew that I would see the team celebrating — cigar in mouth and champagne being sprayed across the locker room. This didn’t come naturally, but now I plan how I want to celebrate a strong quarterly performance. Maybe it is enjoying a bottle of Champagne from Reims with my wife. Maybe it’s buying a book or some new art supplies. It can be a grand or small celebration. What matters is that I celebrate in some fashion.

Leaders are so used to sprinting at their goals that once they achieve an established goal, it’s off to the next sprint, the next goal.

Either as an individual or within a team, it’s important to slow down … stop even … and make sure you enjoy a bottle of champagne. Otherwise, what’s the point of keeping score and achieving great results in the first place?

Host of the Better Leaders Better Schools podcast with over one million downloads 🚀