we are going through a wave of productivity evangelists. everyone wants to be productive but is it actually helping?
there are countless books, todo lists, Notion databases, the endless lists methods people advise.
but have we gotten to the point where it isn’t actually helpful anymore? have we gone too far from what we have set out to solve - which is.
how do I just get more stuff done with my time?
i’m not a productivity expert. but I do care about getting stuff done.
ff it’s managing my own time or the people I hire. I am always looking for better ways to get stuff done - but that doesn’t have to mean being ‘productive’
here are some thoughts on productivity vs get stuff done. this is for me, for people I hire and anyone else who is a bit fed up with being productive but never actually getting things done.
lists without action is a waste of time
Have you ever spent more time on creating your to do list than actually doing the things on the todo list?
I’ve been there. Sometimes just spending time planning out all the wonderful things you want to do makes you feel as if you are doing the thing.
But truth is, that we aren’t actually moving forward. It feels good because we feel we are taking action but if we asked ourselves truthfully, we would probably realise that it's just procrastination in disguise of productivity.
That’s not to say making plans and strategies is useless. But if they aren’t leading us to taking positive steps forward they are a most likely a waste of time.
You could have the most wonderful todo list or strategy. It’s organised into folders, colour coordinated, tagged and filed with your favourite pen.
But if you haven’t done anything that’s on your list you have wasted your precious time.
Even a simple I want to do X today. And then you spend just 5 min on that thing would have been more beneficial.
Action is greater than just an intention
Intentions without actions is just fancy procrastination.
In my life, I’d rather have fun and game for 2 hours on my Steam Deck than lie to myself and fancy procrastinate (spend time being productive but not really doing the thing)
some ideas to help overcome the lure of fancy procrastination.
- keep it simple - how to eat an elephant? start with 1 bite.
- take action - want to write a book write 1 sentence
- celebrate your actions - stop beating yourself up. it's better to have 1 bite of an elephant and 1 sentence that a beautiful productive planned system.
- don’t celebrate ‘productive planning’ celebrate the things you actually did that moves the needle forward. you’ll learn move, get more done & more importantly feel better about yourself with your actions vs just intentions
Example: going for a 30min walk will do you more benefit to your body than spending 4 hours watching videos about diets, nutrition & workout plans.
focused time is better than amount of time spent
Do you measure your success with how much time you spent on a thing vs what you have actually got done?
this is the biggest lesson I’ve learned from hiring people over the years but also from working for myself for the past 7+ years.
If you run a business you don’t care how much time you or someone has spent on a task you care about the end result.
This idea itself is super powerful and it is how you can drastically increase the amount you can charge for your work.
you'll understand why in the following example
story of writing articles for work: time spent vs result-based
Your boss needs to a certain outcome. Let’s say to write an article for the company website.
He asks 2 people to do this task.
Person A - focused on the time spent:
- Monday: watches YouTube videos on writing and takes notes,
- Tuesday reads a bunch of posts on social media on writing to see what is working,
- Wednesday finds a blog that walks through how to write an article,
- Thursday starts writing a draft,
- Friday finalises the 1st draft for review from the boss.
time = 1 week
result = 1 article + time spent learning
Person B - focused time on outcome:
- Monday generates a list of blog ideas with ChatGPT and prioritises which ones they think are best with notes about each
- Tuesday takes 3 of the top ideas and uses ChatGPT to generate outlines based off the notes and ideas then refines the outines
- Wednesday sends boss 3 options of article outlines asking for any thoughts or feedback continues to build out the 3 articles
- Thursdays adds in the feedback received
- Friday finishes the editing of the 3 articles ready for review
time = 1 week
result = 3 articles, feedback already, 20 alternative article ideas ready
if you were the boss. which person would you be more happy with? if your goal is just to have a quality article to put on your website.
it's a hypothetical 3x increase in outputs or I would say just being able to get more stuff done.
for me i care more about outputs. now with this idea you can charge per output vs how much time is spent on something. this is a win win for employees & employers.
the goal of the employee is to produce a high-quality output (doesn't matter how long it takes) your incentive is for it to take less time.
the goal of the employer is to get high-quality outputs for a price they are happy with.
but this feels like a completely different topic which we can go over in future.
results are more important that time spent
As illustrated in the previous 2 points. If it’s your boss or if it’s yourself results matter more than time spent.
You would be better off doing focused deep work for 35min - undistracted, not notifications, no breaks, headphones on focus.
Rather than sitting down for a 3-hour work session while you passively watch something on Netflix.
The 1st approach is focused on just getting stuff done
The 2nd approach is that you value your time spent “working” rather than how much you can actually get done
The goal should be to get in and out again.
it shouldn't be about how to spend the most amount of time behind the computer.
it should be about 'how do I get the most done within a time limit that feels good.'
So that you have enough time to spend time with family, and friends, socialising, have fun, exercise etc
A challenge for you today if you choose to accept it.
Is just write down 1 thing you’ve been putting off.
Take 30 seconds to write it down - pen on a scrap bit of paper
Then set a timer for 5min on your phone and do that thing.
When the timer stops you stop.
If you just do this action with a focused intention i promise you’ll feel better than watching another video or scrolling through another social media post.
But before you start that give this post some loving.
It helps support these types of content so that you’ll get more of them in your feed and also it helps get this message across to more people
i hope there was an idea in there that you found useful or a thought you'd like to explore a bit more on
but as always, thank you for reading if you’ve got this far.
i’ll chat to you next week