Measure designed by Ryan Beck from the Noun Project

Measure designed by Ryan Beck from the Noun Project

If you want to get more done in your day, venture capitalist Sam Altman says it’s all about figuring out your main priorities. After all, what you measure by is what you execute on:

Value gets captured by execution. . . I used to make a list of everything I got done at the end of the day. It was remarkable how I could feel like I had a really busy day and realize that night I got nothing done. . .

You build what you measure—if you measure your productivity by the number of meetings you have in a day, you will have a lot of meetings.  If you measure yourself by revenue growth or number of investments closed or something like that, you will probably have fewer meetings.

If you believe that going to space is the most important project for humanity, then work on it.  If you can’t figure out how to raise hundreds of millions of dollars, go work for SpaceX (joining a great company is a much better plan than starting a mediocre one).  If enterprise software is what you really love, then work on that.

And if, at the end of the day, you find that your list isn’t as long or doesn’t contain what you thought it would, Altman reminds us that it’s easy to change course tomorrow: all you have to do is re-direct your aim.


  • Olivia

    Interesting topic, as someone who feels they have to ‘achieve’ something everyday this is an all-too-familiar situation. It also made me question; is something productive because you have achieved it? Or can you count progress towards a larger goal as productivity?

    Equally, can you count failures as a measure of productivity if you can learn from them?

    • Paris Renee

      I couldn’t agree more! I think this is such an interesting approach to the traditional ‘to-do list’ and probably a much more effective option for measuring productivity! – Paris

  • John Corey

    Funny conversations have been taking place among friends who now have Fitbits. We are measuring out steps so we now focus on walking more.

    I wonder what will happens when the group of us all have Apple Watches hooked up to the Health kit. I know that I feel better about long training rides on the bicycle when I have some sense of what is going on. Feeling tired on a climb and then noticing that the heart rate is high so feeling tired is ‘expected’ rather than a bad sign

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