What Is Productivity Really?Dec 07, 2021
Everyone wants to be more productive. When we break down what this is, the definition is simple—productivity is the ability to get things done. But not just anything. True productivity is being effective at what matters.
Being a productive person isn’t about being busy. It’s about doing what you love (your life’s work) and finding ways to do it better as you prioritize yourself and other things that matter to you. Or, it’s about doing your day-to-day work not just on time, but in a way that when you’re done, you actually feel good about it and you feel energized.
Here are a few tips for understanding what productivity really is and how you can improve it in your daily life.
Don’t Confuse Productivity with Time Management
Time management is understanding and breaking down your time. It’s realizing, for example, that you have an eight-hour workday, so the only time you can go to the gym would be before or after. Then, it’s doing tasks to help prioritize your time (like making a lunch the night before) so that getting to the gym in the morning is quicker and easier.
Productivity, on the other hand, is recognizing what you care about, and the steps to do or focus on that thing. You can ask yourself the following questions:
What are my priorities?
Who do I connect with when I need support or guidance?
What do I read or watch (that inspires me or that is useful)
Am I inspired? Do I feel good?
You can also take a deeper look at your activities. Does what you do support your growth and give you energy? Are you developing yourself? Depending on your answers to those questions, you may need to shift your days in order to prioritize, and thus be more productive about what you actually care about or want to do.
Stop Overscheduling Yourself
Being productive is not the same as being busy. When you are occupied all the time, no new ideas can enter and creativity cannot flow. You must create ‘white space’ in your day so that opportunities can find you.
Ironically, to be more productive you must have free time. This comes down to scheduling and figuring out when and where you can add white space.
Own Your Mornings
Again, being productive is not about doing things quickly. It’s about doing what’s important and what matters (to you). This looks different for every person, but one way that sets you up for a productive day is to own your morning routine. Your morning is so important because it’s the way you set up your day. Some suggestions to include in your morning routine:
- activities that are inspiring (reading a book, listening to music, journaling, being with your loved ones or mindfully with yourself)
- an activity that gives you peace (mediation, yoga, mindful eating)
- an activity that focuses on moving your body (stretching, working out)
- then in the last part of your routine, think through your plans for the day, so that throughout the day you will be more intentional rather than distractive and reactive.
Here’s the honest truth: watching hours of content doesn’t add value to our lives. So, instead of scrolling through social media, watching television, or flipping through magazines, get going!
Wasting time on distractions is stealing you from your true life. Instead of watching sports, do sports. Instead of watching other people’s lives, live life. Of course, it’s nice to be entertained from time to time (and good shows or movies can be a form of art), but media can have the same effect as junk food. It’s addictive and can be unhealthy for the mind if you consume it every day, and multiple times a day (or constantly - when you check your social media a dozen times per day).
Acknowledge & Honor the Struggle
Finally, understand that becoming more productive can (and often is) a huge shift in your life. This won’t be easy, either, especially if you’re someone who has confused being ‘busy’ with being productive.
Remember that it’s okay to be a ‘hot mess.’ When you struggle and make mistakes is when you actually get great results. And then you learn, dust yourself off, and keep going.
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