Notes from a Floating Life Thoughts about productivity, digital living, and leading a simpler life

A Few More Thoughts About Productivity

While I take a lot of heat about how I define productivity, I refuse to back down. Why? It’s a definition that works for me.

So what’s the definition? Well, it’s hardly a definition in the most traditional sense of the word. I don’t look at what productivity is, but what (for me) productivity isn’t. It isn’t an obsession.

I’m not obsessed with shaving a second or two off every task.

I’m not obsessed with continually coming up with ways to do something faster.

I’m not obsessed with continually spending hours investigating tools —whether web-based, apps, desktop software, or anything else.

I’m not obsessed with cutting out all of the mundane tasks in my life.

And I’m definitely not obsessed with turning productivity into a race or keeping a scorecard.

I could do all that. In the end, I might find that I have a bit more time. But before I walk down that road, I always go back to three core questions:

  • Will I notice that extra time?
  • Will I do anything with that time?
  • Will the effort be worth the time (if any) that I gain?

In most cases the answer to those questions is no.

As Seth Godin asks in this blog post:

You’re saving a ton of time, freeing yourself up to … do what, precisely?

That sums it up for me.

What I am obsessed with is doing things. Not doing everything and anything, but doing what I need to do and what I want to do. All the tools and hacking and shortcuts in the world won’t help me with that.

The only way to get those things done is to do them. To press the Publish button. Then, I can rest and reflect without a huge backlog of work (much of it unimporant) weighing me down and stressing me out.

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