This week I was involved in the Deloitte Datathon and was chuffed to have been part of the winning team 2 years in a row. My team was voted Audience winner and I have put it down to our ability to take learning from highly productive countries and translate them into a plausible solution. The theme this year was productivity, a topic very close to the MoneyMatiX agenda of helping employers drive up the productivity of their employees through the provision of financial wellbeing tools. We were given approximately 50 datasets and 2 days to solve the UK’s productivity crisis. As we sifted through the data I could not help thinking about what productivity means on an individual level.

One definition of productivity is value divided by time. So productivity can be influenced by either increasing the value or decreasing the time and cost that goes into something as such maximising efficiency. Saying this, how do we apply & measure productivity in our daily lives?

In my quest to unpack this I found an awesome definition in the book Smarter, Faster Better by Charles Duhigg which defines productivity as “making certain choices in certain ways” that moves us from being “merely busy” to “genuinely productive” And so delving into my life I want to share an illustration of productivity which focuses on promoting resourcefulness and collaboration in myself and others. This example saved me and my peers’ thousands of pounds and ticked all the productivity boxes.

SUMMER 2018: 

For me, productivity is the ability to achieve my goals while having time to spend on the things that matter. So, I have 2 primary school children and during the summer holidays, we usually travel abroad for a big chunk of the break. Summer of 2018 was the 1st year we stayed home (Scotland) for the whole season due to various reasons including the fact that I had recently become a full-time entrepreneur which raised a new set of challenges I hadn’t experienced before: 

1.) I became a parent when I was still formally employed and my holidays had always been paid which allowed us to travel abroad and not have to think about work whilst on holiday. In 2018 my business journey was just beginning and I couldn’t afford either the time or the finance to travel and herein arose the next challenge. 

2.) Staying at home to look after the kids myself was not going to be productive at all. I was either going to be guilty of sticking them in front of a T.V for 8 weeks or wouldn’t get much work done if I engaged with them effectively. 

3.) The alternative of sending them to a holiday club for the break was going to set me back thousands of pounds which I didn’t have and which if I had would’ve preferred to spend the staggering amount going abroad. 

I needed PLAN C which required me to be resourceful. I reached out to fellow moms because I figured they were bound to be pondering the same challenge. Four of us came together and formed what we called 

CHILD CARE MADNESS” Absolute madness on the face of it with each household looking after 8 children aged between 5 and 11 on a given day.  One of the moms is a spreadsheet genius so she set up a rota allocating 1 day a week for each of us to take all 8 kids. This gave all of us 3 child free days per week allowing us to work and go about business as usual. Between myself and my business partner, we extended the arrangement to include a sleepover on our allocated days. We would leave the kids overnight giving the other party a whole day & night of freedom. Dare I add we extended this offer to the other 2 moms who were not brave enough for the sleepover piece. For this, I blame my business partner who has the most kids out of us and we are considering levying an excess child duty for this privileged position she holds … 

Seriously, though being able to pull our resources together helped us maximise productivity. We saved thousands of pounds and created time to do the things we needed to do. Incidentally, the kids were self-reliant, as being within the same age group meant they set their own schedule and played together mostly outdoors usually coming in for meals. We developed a strong sense of community and the kids exchanged skills and a lot of fun memories. 

From a productivity standpoint, we saved an awful load of cash, maximised the use of our resources and we all thoroughly enjoyed the madness. 

Food For Thought: How can you be more productive?

What are your goals for increasing productivity? 

Why have you set those goals in the first place? 

Tip: Always remember your WHY as this will help keep you focused on your productivity journey.


I would love to hear about your views on productivity and what tips and hacks you may have tried to achieve productivity. 

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This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Being productive with children is really challenging but it does get easier as they get older.

  2. Indeed, I have found that when you have kids you must be creative and innovative with time and resources.

  3. Figure out a system just to survive it all(survival mode) and be able to be productive.

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