This week we start a new series on something I consider one of the most important topics in life—Productivity.

If that sounds a little extreme, let me explain…

When I say productivity, I don’t mean doing more stuff at a high rate of speed.

You might be a straight up ninja at alphabetizing your sock drawer, but from the vantage point of your deathbed, did that really add value to your life?

My definition of productivity is this—spending the hours of your life to maximize impact in the things that matter most—at work AND at home. 

What could be more important than that?

168 is a very important number to me. That is the amount of hours every human has in 1 week.

In our culture, whether at work or in our personal lives, we are facing more choices than ever before with how we can spend our time.

Our lives are made up of minutes, hours, days, and weeks—and the choices we make about how we spend those hours will accumulate over time. The seemingly insignificant daily decisions add up to be the sum total of our lives—our legacy.

We will never be able to create more time. We can only spend it more wisely.

I find it interesting that in the world of Ecology, the term productivity literally means fruitfulness, richness, or fertility. It literally means—producing a harvest.

Don’t you want your work and your personal life to produce a great harvest?

Tim Ferriss, author of the international best-seller The 4-Hour Workweek said something profound that I have never forgotten. “I don’t differentiate between personal and professional productivity.”

Here is what I took him to mean—when we become more focused on the wildly important things in our personal lives, we take that mindset and those habits into the workplace, and vice versa. The way we operate in one environment influences the other.

A few years ago I became obsessed with studying productivity. I read every article and book I could find and even took several expensive time-management courses. In this series, I will share what I have learned and include research and neuroscience from Stanford, Harvard, MIT, Princeton, and elite productivity gurus.

Why else should you care about productivity?

  • Productivity is a fundamental leadership skill. Can you imagine a highly influential leader who worked only on low-value tasks? Even if they worked with incredible speed, they will not have the impact of a leader who selects just a few wildly important things to focus on.
  • When you produce quadruple the results as that of your coworker because you work smarter and faster, you make yourself much more valuable as an employee. So studying and applying productivity could translate into a promotion or more pay for you.
  • If you are an entrepreneur or work on commission, focusing on the most important things and doing them efficiently will generate more income.
  • When you invest your precious remaining hours outside work on things and people that matter most, it will bring a tremendous sense of peace, fulfillment, and purpose to your life. Happiness research ranks relational investments as one of the most valuable ways you can increase your overall life satisfaction.

If you follow the steps in this series, you are nearly guaranteed to become 2 or even 10 times more productive than you are now.

But I will warn you, many of the concepts are simple but not easy to do consistently.

Are you ready to dive in?!

I will leave you to soak on one of the best productivity quotes I have ever heard—

“You cannot underestimate the unimportance of practically everything.”

-John Maxwell

Your homework—turn information into action:

  1. What is the lowest value activity you currently have every week in your personal and your work life?
  2. If you were 3 times as productive as you are now, how would you invest the time you gained back? This question might seem strange but answering this question is absolutely critical.

Suggested Resources

  1. Read the rest of this series!
  2. The 4-Hour Workweek—Tim Ferriss

Parker Houston

Dr. Parker Houston is a board-certified Organizational Psychologist and Leadership Performance Coach. His personal mission is to improve the way people live and work by helping them apply science-based strategies for personal, family, and workplace leadership—in that order. *Opinions expressed are the author's own.
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