Doing Productive vs. Being Productive

Last week James Shelley wrote an insighful piece about how productivity is the ultimate distraction. I couldn't agree more. The reason I started the Eventualism website was because I found myself doing productive instead of being productive. When I had an epiphany regarding my incessant need to dive into productivity porn, I decided to turn preaching about productivity on its ear...and Eventualism was born.1 Much like Stephen Colbert does on his show (only with not nearly as much talent at my disposal), I decided that by creating a persona that offered a methodology that gave one permission to be "eventually productive", I was showing the ridiculousness of having any methodology that teaches that very thing. The same can be said for productivity -- to a point. With all of the systems, programs and methodologies that are out there that can enhance one's personal productivity, the problem lies in choosing one and sticking with it. That's the hardest part. It's easy to be transient in personal productivity matters because it's human nature to want to learn, explore and achieve mastery. But there's a tipping point. This is where willpower comes in...not just to focus on doing things but to stick with one system that allows you to do those things in a timely fashion.

Patrick Rhone mentioned on Episode 11 of the Enough podcast2 that he has a friend that goes to the same restaurant on the same day and orders the same thing every time he does. While that may be boring to some, it has familiarity going for it. The friend will know if his meal is "off" since he orders the same thing. He'll be familiar with the staff because he goes to the same place. He can plan around his trip to the restaurant on the day he regularly goes there. All because of familiarity.

You can do the same with a productivity tool. Find one you like, adapt it as you need and then use it.3 Use it all the time. Very few people can shift back and forth between tools, and they definitely can't if they don't have at least one that they trust and are disciplined with.

The key to being productive over doing productive is informed self-elimination of choice. So pick something to use and stick with it. That's the first thing you'll do -- and then you'll be able to do a whole lot more a lot better.

1 Merlin Mann did this in his own way while working on 43Folders, he flipped a switch and is even more highly-regarded because of it. Much respect. 2 This episode was entitled Final Choices, Sensible Defaults. 3 I have talked about this before. Not here, but here.