Productivity is a hot topic. It’s only logical we would want to maximise it, as the information growth and the pace of change is accelerating. There’s increasingly more things to do and learn, while it seems there’s less and less time to do it. I believe it’s most important to separate what’s important, and every now and then to have a day off. Instead of doing more, doing less. And the right things.
getting meaningful stuff done
Tracking, routines, focus, constraints. There’s more than enough approaches and methods on how to achieve maximal productivity. It has become somewhat of an industry. And I’m not saying it’s a bad thing. I’d rather minimise repetitive and boring work, or avoid waste in general.
But there comes a point when squeezing all that time out of a day turns this habit detrimental.
The worst possible scenario is that one keeps going from one achievement to another, without pausing to reflect. A life can be wasted maximising the output on redundant or unenjoyable things. Those things can produce prestige or elevate one’s social status, but they’re not guaranteed to increase anyone’s wellbeing.
Meditative practises, as in stopping for a second, can help categorise all those “productive” undertakings. Finding the most impactful and meaningful things is much better than merely being busy with “stuff”. Being busy with just some activity will hinder your progress with that one important thing you keep postponing.
A couple of my favourite things are routines and prioritisation that produce momentum. Making your bed first things in the morning gives you a sense of achievement. I don’t necessarily make my bed, but the point is that any ritual or routine will help with forwards motion, pushing away any feeling of indolence. Declare the one most important thing to do today, and do it first. That sets a basis for a day not wasted.
saying no, doing less
Obviously, it’s good to just relax sometimes. The weekend might not be best spent on a side project. Or learning a new language, an instrument, or a sport. Relaxation might not be best achieved by going on a vacation, but staying put and doing nothing.
“I did absolutely nothing, and it was everything that I thought it could be.” - Peter Gibbons in Office Space
Hell yeah or no. Fuck yes or no. The power of no. This principle appears in diverse ways on works by various authors and thinkers. There’s a time when one should be willing to try out different stuff, participate, and socialise. Eventually, personal utilisation reaches a peak, and adding more hinders everything.
A jack of all trades has his shit half-done. Adding positive constraints applies to life as well as to art or innovations.