Your personal productivity varies from day to day, and even hour to hour. It might depend on how many emails you received in a day, how you slept the night before, how many meetings you might have, whether it’s donut day in the office, or you have a lot or a little on your to-do list. And you may not even recognize how any of this impacts your performance at the office.
Technology comes to the rescue with new tools known as personal analytics. Now it’s easy to measure your productivity and link it back to a variety of factors. Then, with the knowledge gleaned from the analytics, you can find new ways to work more efficiently at the office. Thereupon, you can focus on what matters most at home later on in the day.
How personal analytics apps work
All personal productivity apps work a little differently, but typically they run in the background on your desktop computer, laptop or tablet device, constantly scanning your email and calendar activities. Quietly, the app knows when you attend meetings and with whom, how quickly you respond to emails and how long it takes anyone you’re collaborating with or need information from to respond to your messages.
The app then uses all of that data to deliver a personal analysis of your productivity. Most apps like this also give you insights into how you can improve your productivity – so you can get more done during the day, and really relax after your work day is complete.
Who sees the data?
An individual’s data from a personal analytics app is almost always visible to the data collectors. Don’t despair. Data collection isn’t used to spy on employees – only to help understand how a person can use their time more wisely.
It’s important to note that personal data analytics apps can make your employees uncomfortable at first. So, if you’re instituting their use, as a team leader, manager, or business owner, it’s critical that you explain to your staff that their personal data is for their eyes only.
However, if the app your company uses aggregate users’ data so that managers can see information on their teams as a whole (not on the individual level), it will be important to address that, as well.
How you can use the data
As a user, you can allow your personal analysis to guide your everyday behaviors – and use the app’s tips to help you make minor adjustments to what you do. You can also begin to understand how a stressful morning might cause you to become preoccupied and thus less productive. Or how an extra cup of coffee or five minutes of fresh air and sunshine can give you the boost you need to get more done in the afternoon.
You can even go so far as to keep a mood, food, and movement journal next to your desk, and track how your productivity correlates to how you care for yourself while you’re at work. It can be a fascinating study that can help you get to know yourself better – and change habits that might be holding you back.
As the field of personal data analytics continues to grow, it’s increasingly likely that each of us will encounter it at some point. And while it may seem uncomfortable to use at first, it’s essential to know that the apps don’t spy on you and tell your boss how much time you’ve spent on personal matters or surfing the web.
Instead, they tell you how you’ve spent your day, and offer information on how you can be more productive. At the end of the day, they’re just another tool – much like your word processing program or spreadsheet tool. Look at it as a valuable mechanism that can help you learn how to get more done at the office so that you can enjoy your life outside of work even more.