So last year in May I decided it's time to end my procrastination problem once and for all. I started writing and learning about productivity. I was watching videos, learning hacks. I was trying to be a guru, an octopus that gets eight things done simultaneously.
Before writing this article, I was putting down some ideas I could write about. While I was dumping titles, one of them was:
I paused for a second. I thought it's a silly question to ask. I kept starring at my screen, but I couldn't come up with a simple answer. I tried rephrasing the same question in different ways, but that didn't make it any easier:
I realized that I must take, not one step back, but ten, and figure out why the hell I want to be productive?
The internet wants you to believe that you are not doing enough with all that "extra time" you have. When I say "the internet" I mean people like me writing about how Elon Musk is running two billion-dollar companies at once, and how you should too implement his techniques.
There is nothing wrong about learning how productive people work and try to learn from them. The problem arises when we try to BE them. Some people have a robust nervous system, and they enjoy working 16 hours a day. Good for them. That's just not me. And probably, that's not you either. We are all different, and it's not one size fits all.
A multitude of research shows that happy people are more productive. But it seems like most of us get the direction wrong and believe that productivity leads to happiness and not vice-versa.
Of course, it goes both ways, and productivity can directly affect happiness and instigating it. Productivity helps you grow, lifts your mood and gives you purpose. But I would like to argue that if you are not somehow happy now, trying to be productive will not make you happier; you will just get busier.
Trying to be productive without knowing what makes you happy, and why you want to be productive in the first place will make you try to squeeze every second of your day to get things done. Trying to be productive at all time is toxic. It makes you constantly feel stressful and under-accomplished.
In an economic context, productivity is merely producing more in less time. But what about us, individuals, how should we define productivity in our daily life? Well, maybe each one of us should find their definition of productivity. As we said before, we are all different.
Think of it this way: At the end of your day, when you are in bed and before you fall asleep, and when you start thinking about your day, How do you decide if your day was productive or not?
Is it about how many hours you spent sitting on your desk working? How many deals you closed or emails you replied to? Does it have anything to do with how you feel? Are you satisfied, are you happy with how you spent your day?
I like to think about productivity as the balance between being present and enjoying the moment, vs investing and doing something for my future self. I consider waking up and having my coffee cup by the window while looking outside and doing nothing, a productive act, it's time I enjoy. As much productive as opening my laptop to write this article or edit my next youtube video.
Life is about experiencing pleasure in all forms. Some people find that pleasure in working 14h a day or waking up at 4 a.m. I myself, find lots of pleasure in writing, relaxing, travelling and creating videos. And these things are what I decided to be productive at, the things that make me happy and bring me joy. What does that to you?