what you measure, improvesI have heard this saying for years in some form or another – “What you measure, improves.”  I think one of my favorites takes it a bit further:

When performance is measured, performance improves. When performance is measured and reported back, the rate of improvement accelerates.” – Thomas S. Monson

I have always believed this although will admit I have not always done it.  What I set out to measure in my blog posts this year (2014) was how many books I read during the year.  I set a goal of 52 books (1 per week over the year) and did a blog post recapping each.  The result?

Long time readers will know that although 1/4 of the year still remains, I have already shattered my goal of 52 books… okay, maybe not shattered, but 56 with three months remaining is pretty good – I think.  From my very first one of the year to my latest, I have written and reviewed a boatload of books.  And you know what?  That doesn’t even count the ones I didn’t finish because they sucked or just didn’t feel were worthy of taking the time to write a review.

Because I measured my book reading, I was compelled to keep it up even when I really didn’t feel like reading.  Because I posted the results publicly, I felt compelled to continue.  I have found this to be true in anything I measure.

When I am trying to lose weight, I can measure exercise or track the foods I am eating – both bring about positive results.  Even if it is something nebulous like “be more productive,” noting how you spend your time will help you to notice times when you aren’t being very efficient.  There is a reason why you are given tests in school… because it works!

Will I keep tracking my books read through the end of the year?  Yes. I just have a real problem with starting something and stopping near the finish line.  Will I track my books read next year?  I doubt it.  Will my reading drop off next year?  Probably.

What do you want to improve?  How do you use measurement to get better?

by Chris Doelle