In episode 32 of ‘My Pocket Psych’ we discussed the importance of purpose and meaning when it comes to productivity. In our model of the ‘Pillars of Productivity’, Purpose represents the ‘why’ of our work.
Starting with a question? Right now, you might be thinking “Wait a minute – isn’t productivity all about finding faster and more efficient ways to get through my to-do list? I want to get more stuff done, not think about the meaning of life!”
I suggest that it’s useful to start with thinking about purpose, as this includes things like your values, why you’re doing the job you’re doing, and what it is you’re looking to achieve by being more productive. Making changes to how and when you work will come with some frustration and discomfort (you’re stepping out of your comfort zone, after all), so it’s helpful to have a core rationale for this.
Looking at productivity through the lens of purpose leads to ask certain important questions:
- Why do I want to be more productive?
- What would ‘more productive’ look like in my job?
- How will I feel when I’m more productive?
- What benefits will I enjoy?
- How will being more productive enable me to experience meaning in my life?
Chasing productivity or meaning?
This last question is incredibly important, as we can so easily fall into what Russ Harris calls the ‘Happiness Trap’. If our goal in life is to feel happiness, then quite frankly we’re on a hiding to nothing. Happiness – like all psychological states – is temporary and passing. Pursuing it as a permanent state doesn’t make sense and can leave us unfulfilled. And exhausted!
I suggest the same applies to productivity. Being productive and emphasising efficiency for its own sake is like getting stuck on a hamster’s exercise wheel. Lots of movement, not a lot of fulfilment.
If you want to get more productive to free up time, what will you do with this time? More work, or something important to you in your private life? If you want to develop your productivity skills to get clarity on your priorities, how will you approach your highest priorities and ensure unimportant things don’t hold you back? How does being productive align with your values, the standards of behaviour to which you aspire?
To put it another way, how does your existing approach to productivity hamper your ability to live the life you want?
This is a lot deeper than making the best to-do list of your life! Developing your productivity skills will take some work, but this will all be a lot easier of you have clarity on why you want to do this and how it fits in with the rest of your life.
Where to start?
Have a listen to Episode 32 and think about what you want to get from increased productivity – and what you’re prepared to experience on that journey. Is it productivity for its own sake or to reach a meaningful goal? Over the next few episodes, we’re going to discuss the various principles of productivity and we hope that you’ll listen along and see how you can implement them.
Delegates on our ‘Pillars of Productivity‘ workshop learn how to implement productivity principles like this in their own roles and unique contexts. If you’re interested in help you and your colleagues implement the principles, get in touch to find out how we can help.