As I was making my rounds through my favorite entrepreneur and productivity blogs today, I found an article at Lifehack.org that really made me consider the definition of what productivity is. Rather, I should say that it encouraged me to define what productivity is not so that could better determine what exactly is meant by being productive. I couldn't help but feel that the premise of the article was wrong.
Photo credit here.
Productivity is not about Doing Stuff
Many of us confuse being busy with being productive. This could not be further from the truth. There are countless people out there that never stop doing things, they are called obsessive compulsive. Just because someone sterilizes their house the entire day, spends 30 minutes finding the best deals on spam, or consistently finds a way to fill up time does not mean that they are productive, it means that they can’t sit still.
Productivity is about doing the things that matter (or add value). If I spend my day at the office answering email, telephone calls, and putting out fires, but forget to finish an important project that was assigned to me – then I did nothing all day. Likewise, if I spent the week meticulously cleaning the house, yet neglect to stop and spend time with my family, then I failed to do anything of significant value.
Productivity is not about Having Less Free Time
Who is more productive - someone who spends all day working on repetitive tasks that don't add value to an organization's goals, or someone who spends 4 hours a day on something that makes a company bigger and more profitable? While most people agree that the person that accomplishes the latter is more productive, the majority continue to act like the former
Insignificant and repetitive tasks can often be automated or delegated in order to free up time to work on important things or to spend time doing the things that you enjoy. There is nothing wrong with having free time. In fact, it can often make you even more productive by allowing you to do things like pray, which leads to contemplation, which can lead to creative inspiration. Of course, if you feel as though you have too much free time you could always use it to earn money by doing side jobs, or spend the spend it with people that you care about.
Productivity is not about Filling the Void
Often, we do things because we become bored and don’t know what to do with ourselves. This is where Christians (and religious people in general) have an advantage over productive non-religious folk. We don’t like to be alone. It is hard to sit in silence and face the prospect of self-examination. Usually this is exactly what we need in order to determine whether or not we are moving in the right direction. Ultimately, if what we are doing isn’t bringing us closer to God - and making us better in all aspects of life – then we are not doing what we are supposed to be doing. Sometimes not doing anything at all helps us to truly be productive by allowing us to take a step back and turn around if we are headed in the wrong direction.