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21 Examples of Productivity

 , November 02, 2022
Productivity is the amount of value you create in an hour of work. This is economic gravity that predicts the advancement of nations, firms and individuals. The following are examples of how productivity is achieved.
Working with extremely efficient tools, infrastructure, facilities, machines and vehicles. For example, a pilot flying 800 people at 776 mph produces more value in an hour than a person pulling one person in a rickshaw at 5 mph. Capital is by far the most important productivity factor.
Relational Capital
Knowing people and being able to influence them can make you extremely valuable. For example, an investment banker who is able to find investors to buy a corporate bond that will fund an acquisition. This may have significant value to the firm seeking the funds and might not take much time.
Knowledge Capital
Knowledge capital is the future value of what you know or the knowledge work you can perform. For example, if you are a structural engineer the value of your work output is likely to be higher than if you are a general laborer.
Economies of Scale
Doing many units of the same work at the same time. For example, a production line that produces 90,000 high value widgets an hour such that each worker on the line has significant productivity.
Value Add
Pursuing work where you can create much value based on your talents and resources. This often means saying no to meaningless work assignments and pushing for a valuable mission.
Creative Output
Creativity is the great variable that allows some individuals to be massively productive. For example, an artist that produces an artwork in a few days that will be eventually viewed as priceless.
The ability to take non-obvious leaps forward.
Automating human toil to free humans to work on higher value things. For example, creating a script that monitors a problem instead of doing it manually.
Interchangeable Parts
Designing things with standard parts that can be easily replaced. For example, an API that can run as thousands of instances in the cloud such that one failed instance doesn't bring down your entire service.
Process Efficiency
Implementing processes, improving them and reinventing them where you can.
Moving the Line
Producing work to high standards and continually increasing your work quality.
Fail Well
Aggressively experimenting in a way that is designed to fail quickly, cheaply and safely.
Failure Recognition
The process of recognizing failure, recovering from failure and learning from failure. This can be extremely difficult and can dramatically reduce productivity. For example, there is a period known as the trough of sorrow when it is difficult to tell if a plan or business is failing or will ultimately prevail.
An unusually talented individual may produce many times more value than average. Each person can work to master their profession and increase their capacities in ways that boost their productivity over time with effort.
Prework Routine
Getting sleep / being mentally prepared for work.
Cooperative Effort
People can do far more as cooperative groups than they can as individuals. This has elements of scale and creativity whereby large groups have far more potential than an individual working alone.
Specialization of Labor
One of the powers of cooperative work is that it allows individuals to specialize -- to learn how to do one thing better than others. This can make both the individual and the group massively more productive as skills can be learned at great depth.
Independent Work
Avoiding the temptation to socialize every little decision or work item that you can complete yourself.
Getting into a state where you are focused on work and productivity is easily flowing. Flow is easily disrupted such that this requires isolation from distractions.
Time Boxing
Setting a time limit for a task so that it doesn't become a time sink.
Elimination of Waste
Reducing wasted effort such as failed strategies and wasted labor, energy, materials and movement. For example, not spending half of each work day commuting.
Overview: Productivity Examples
DefinitionThe amount of value you create in an hour of work.
Related Concepts


This is the complete list of articles we have written about productivity.
Labor Intensive
More With Less
Productivity Mgmt
Respect For Time
Time Boxing
Time Sink
Work Tasks
More ...
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