Productivity is overrated

Published on Oct 30, 2020

Wanna be more productive? I believe productivity is overrated and misunderstood for two reasons. 

Many seem to be obsessed with productivity. Look at all the books on productivity and all the task management systems, like Asana, Trello, Things to name a few. 

First, what I don't like about the common approach to productivity is that it seems to based on the belief that we humans are lazy. That's why we need to trick ourselves into being productive, with goals-setting, systems and tools. We quickly fall into the trap of feeling we should be able to do more.

However, we all know people who are always busy but never create anything great or achieve extraordinary results. 

Here comes reason no 2: Not all tasks are equally important. Not all to-dos lead to the same-sized impact. The Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto found out that most of the time 20% of our effort leads to 80% of our results. 20% of our clients lead to 80% of our revenue etc. 

I believe 1. we are not lazy and 2. some things matter more then others. 

When we do something that we enjoy, we forget time and happily put in the hours and work. My boyfriend for example can't seem to stop gaming or coding. My friend is obsessed with psychology books, courses and videos. Naval Ravikant just loves reading about sciences and analysing data. 

Naval says: 

“I’m always ‘working.’ It looks like work to them, but it feels like play to me.”

That's why focusing on what you do matters more than squeezing in and checking off more. Effectiveness is more important than efficiency. 

How do you know what's the right thing to do, the thing you enjoy? 

How do you know which actions have more impact than others?

The answer to both of these questions is: take time to reflect and gain clarity. 

Here comes another of Naval's wise quotes: 

"People spend too much time doing and not enough time thinking about what they should be doing." - Naval Ravikant

To sum up, here's my definition: 

Productivity is the result after you have invested time to reflect and gain clarity about what matters to you. After that, you simply do what you enjoy, get into flow and gain momentum.