I’ve been thinking a lot recently about this idea: what does it mean to be productive?
And I mean literally. What exactly, in terms of work, separates the productive from the unproductive.
For example, let’s take work.
What’s a productive day at work look like? Is it getting 4 tasks done? 5? Big tasks? A few little a few large? Is it simply working towards a goal, or making progress? Related, is having too many goals unproductive because it makes it harder to get to that total progress via tasks? What if I complete 10 tasks, but have 11 goals? Was that productive enough?
Spoiler, I don’t really have any answers here.
I know I see these people, read these blog posts and listen to these podcasts. And I hear these people discuss their productivity, but often, they frankly don’t seem like they’re getting that much done?
To be fair, that’s on me. I’m sure they are. I just have warped expectations.
I run hard. But again, that doesn’t mean I’m “productive.”
I set a lot of concurrent goals, and in doing so, perhaps I stretch myself to thin. Perhaps it makes it harder for me to reach and progress in any one thing. And perhaps that can make even someone like me who is doing a lot feel unproductive.
Hell, we should even entertain the idea that it makes me/them unproductive.
I’m reminded of an old Casey Neistat video where he talks about wanting to get from here to there, and the only thing between is a bunch of work.
But I’m left wondering, what is that work? How do we know what and which work to do?
Many of us are either unsure about the type of work that will get us to a place we want to be, and more of us are overwhelmed because there are so many types of work we want to pursue.
I certainly fall into that latter camp. (probably both, really).
And honestly, I don’t think there are any good answers to solving that dilemma. No matter how much you meditate and think, the future will always be blurry.
The real is that we all have a fixed time in this world, and then a menu of things we can get after.
And no matter what life hackers tell you, most good things take time.
I suppose, at the end of the day, this is a prioritization question. Not just on prioritizing tasks, but prioritizing mental health, downtime, and all those other intangibles that don’t fall into to-do lists: playing with your kids, sitting quietly and drinking coffee.
If you were, or are, looking for posts that tell you 5 tips on how to be more productive, you’re in the wrong place.