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In introduction to HCI class.
Understanding Personal Productivity

How Knowledge Workers Define, Evaluate, and Reflect on Their Productivity

Young-Ho Kim, Eun Kyoung Choe, Bongshin Lee, and Jinwook Seo / 2019



Productivity tracking tools often determine productivity based on the time interacting with work-related applications.
To deconstruct productivity's diverse and nebulous nature, we investigate how knowledge workers conceptualize personal productivity and delimit productive tasks in both work and non-work contexts.
We report a 2-week diary study followed by a semi-structured interview with 24 knowledge workers.
Participants captured productive activities and provided the rationale for why the activities were assessed to be productive.
They reported a wide range of productive activities beyond typical desk-bound work—ranging from having a personal conversation with dad to getting a haircut.
We found six themes that characterize the productivity assessment—work product, time management, worker's state, attitude toward work, impact & benefit, and compound task—and identified how participants interleaved multiple facets when assessing their productivity.
We discuss how these findings could inform the design of a comprehensive productivity tracking system that covers a wide range of productive activities.