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Productivity without purpose?

May 23, 2011

I like to talk about how productive I like to be. If you’re one of the people who has talked to me about tasks(or iPhone apps) then you know what I mean. But if we’ve never had such a conversation it’s because my greatest friend to talk with about this is Philip Alexander. I think you probably have a friend like him.

Our conversation goes something like this:

I ask: “Philip have you heard about the new app on the iPhone that will increase your output with tasks you’re doing while saving you time?”

Philip replies: “Yeah bro I already downloaded it and am seeing a 15% return on the investment due to time-savings alone” (Philip likes to talk in numbers and smart-figures while I use estimations and generalities).

I have an astounding 31 apps on my phone and computer that are in some way or another related to boosting my productivity. To add onto that, I have read close to a dozen books relating to productivity.

Recently though, I came to the realization that I am spending a lot more time learning and studying about productivity or systems and processes than I actually am spending being productive. I wanted to have my system perfect so that when I really begin to do something awesome, I am ready to do it well.

For clarity, productivity is important. I needed to learn how to gather together a lot of unrelated, “stuff,” and make something actually happen without losing control or burning out.  And I largely got that from reading David Allen’s, “Getting Things Done.” (Which I highly suggest for anyone having this problem).

But now I find myself constantly reading more and more about productivity. Like David Allen’s new book, “Making it All Work.” (Which is really just an exact copy of the first book, with a new section that acknowledges that computers exist. Probably worth skipping). Along the same lines is my obsession with the blog lifehacker.com which is basically a bunch of people like me who are obsessed with little DIY projects to make their lives more productive (I am especially intrigued by the articles about polyphasic sleep cycles).

In short; I decided a short while ago to stop just reading books and blogs about being productive, and just start doing something productive. Because when you are constantly trying to build a system to become more productive, you’re actually doing a whole lot of nothing. It’s not advancing your dream at all to keep trying to build a perfect system if you’re not even putting anything into the system. 

So, long live productivity and books pertaining to the subject. Nerds like me need them. But heres a new era of actually doing something. The world needs more of that.

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