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June 7, 2023

Breaking Down Productivity

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I was on a mentorship call with Jason Feifer, editor in chief of Entrepreneur Magazine, and he provided a really insightful perspective. He challenged the normal definition of productivity, breaking down the assumptions of it so that it can be observed plainly for what it is. 

Personally I’ve always defined ‘productivity’ as “doing the things you want to be doing”. I believe that we’ve slowly been seduced into thinking that you need to be creating or building or making progress to be productive, and with Jason’s insight I was finally able to arrive at why that’s genuinely not true.

Hang with me as I dissect this.

The word productivity is just the combination of two words - Productive activity. It’s to be active in productive ways. A simplified way of restating ‘being active’ is just to call it ‘doing’. So we’ll leave that one there.

Now let’s dive deeper into the meaning of ‘productive’. ‘Productive’ is simply having the high ability to produce. This is where interpretation comes in. To produce what? Society and culture have taught us that we must always be thinking about producing results, revenue, and efficiencies. But can’t we also choose to produce joy, presence, mindfulness, and connection?

Ultimately, you get to decide for yourself what you want to produce. It’s your life, your time, and your attention. To think that the only ingredients to a full, worthwhile, meaningful life is knocking off all the things on your to-do list is extremely short-sighted...

A fulfilling life is finding the harmonious balance of everything that’s important to you and unique to what you want. Excelling at work, yes, but also taking care of yourself, growing strong relationships with people you care about, collecting unforgettable experiences, and living with integrity..

That’s why productivity is actually just “doing the things you want to be doing”, because in that broader definition you get to fill in the gaps of what you uniquely want to produce.

Just to recap how we got there: Productivity = Productive activity = Doing things that produce the results you want = Doing the things you want to be doing. 

At the end of the day, the result we’re all looking for is to live a harmonious high-quality life. Anything we do that contributes to that goal then becomes productive.

What’s amazing is when you live by this truer definition of productivity that is intentional and represents the balance that is authentic to what you want, you’ll ignite flow in your life and multiply your experience with less effort. 

Hopefully now you see how productivity has been misunderstood, and you have a new, more empowering way to relate with it that makes you feel less guilty when you do what you want to do within the big picture of your life.

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