It's not enough to just get lots of stuff done. We want to make lives that matter--we want our productivity to be meaningful. In this milestone episode, we discuss what meaningful productivity means and how we can order our lives so as to maximize our positive impact on the world.
What does meaningful productivity mean?
It’s the difference between being busy and being productive. But there is more to it than that. Truly meaningful productivity is about producing worthwhile results, results that are in line with your values and represent who you want to be in the world.
It's also about more than just efficiency, such as using the best tools and best practices. Meaningful productivity is also about the outcome. While doing research for this episode, I came across an article by Shawn Blanc where he states:
“Productivity hacks, daily routines, automation tools, and the like are all great, but they are a means for optimizing how you’re already spending your time. They’re just faster horses. And what good is a faster horse if you’re on the wrong road, headed to the wrong place? We need clarity about who we are, what our values are, our vision for life, what’s important, and what we can do every day to stay steady in our aim of doing our best creative work.”
No matter how much stuff we get done, we’re not truly productive in any meaningful way if what we’re doing and producing doesn’t line up with our values. The key to making a life that matters, a meaningfully productive life, is knowing where we want to go and taking consistent actions targeted to getting us there.
How do we make a life that matters?
It starts with awareness. We have to know what we want. That comes from time spent thinking deeply and honestly about some fundamental questions:
* What kind of life do I want to live?
* What kind of person do I want to be?
We need to be conscious of whether the things we are doing are in line with who we want to be. An important thing to remember is that our life does not have to look like everyone else's.
Following awareness is intentionality. However we choose to spend our time, we need to choose on purpose and make the most of that time and spend it doing things that matter the most to us. The first step is to acknowledge that the choice is ours. If you don't like where your life is headed right now, you can always make another choice. It may not be easy, but it really is that simple. We need to recognize the difference between urgency and importance and be willing to ignore the urgent in favor of the important.
Making a life that matters requires us to sort through the voices in our head and evaluate their truth (or lack thereof).
For example, "I don’t have time" is a phrase we often tell ourselves, but it’s seldom true. There is always time for what really matters. Maybe not as much time as we’d like to have, but even if we can find only 10 minutes a day, progress can still be made.
Another voice tells us "I can’t," meaning "I'm not capable. That's a mindset issue. Often it’s a symptom of Impostor Syndrome (which I discuss in TPW063 and TPW293). We can learn to counter these questions by asking “what skill do I need to learn in order to accomplish this? Where can I go to get the help I need?”
Another voice in our heads tells us "I'm not sure what matters." Usually even when we tell ourselves that, we actually do know, but might have a hard time admitting it to ourselves or others or saying it out loud.