Redefining Productivity

David Allen wrote two popular books on productivity called Getting Things DONE and Making It All Work. Franklin Covey has seminars on how to organize your tasks and your life into manageable blocks of time. Action Method, Wunderlist, Google, Microsoft, Apple all have digital tools that help you to manage what needs to get done. Just this morning I got an email from LinkedIn offering a premium service to help me with being more productive. On top of all those competing corporate messages, all of my friends and family have their theories on how we can all be more productive and successful with our time.

But what if we are looking at productivity in the wrong way?

What if productivity is less to do with how many things we get done, but more about the quality of what is done?

I am notorious, in my own mind, for creating large task lists that are impossible to complete. So, this week I am only putting five items on my to-do list. I may do more in a given day, but this is a good start for me. With those five items, I ask myself the questions:

  • Do I feel more productive when I am able to cross everything off my list (in the case of the five item list)?
  • Or do I feel more productive when I only cross off half of a very large list?

I am learning that productivity is very specific for each individual. What works for one person, does not work for another.

I use to not be okay with that. After all, if I want to make more money, shouldn’t I be more productive? Shouldn’t I be like other people that are seemingly more productive? Not necessarily.

Making more money and being more productive could also be about quality, depth, and purpose. When I am attempting to do too many things in a single day, my focus shifts from quality to quantity, depth to surface, purpose to selling out.

Ultimately, productivity is about knowing where you are going, having a clear idea of where you are at, and what you need to do to get there.

May you redefine and rediscover what productivity is for you.

2 replies on “Redefining Productivity”

I find that my most common false productivity trap is that I’ll have a list with 10 items where 9 of them are quick/easy/cruft (stuff that should be done but not of the highest importance) and the other item is the big hard thing that (when completed) would really move things forward.  I’ll zip through the nine items and feel accomplished when all I’ve done is avoid the one thing I should’ve focused on…

I can definitely relate to the fast/false productivity trap. Today, I tried something else: I took a 3×5 card and on the front wrote the 5 Major things that I need to do today. On the back, I wrote the minor things to do, like balancing checkbook, going to the bank, posting my blog post, the little things that I need to do that aren’t directly related to business productivity. For me, limiting myself to a 3×5 card helps tremendously, I definitely feel more productive. More than a feeling? I hope so.

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