A yellow canoe traversing a lagoon.

More Productivity Isn’t Going To Help You If You’re Lost

You’re just going in circles faster.

You want more. More money, more friends, more visible abs. And to get those things, you figure you just need more productivity. But that’s where you’re mistaken. You don’t need more productivity. You need more clarification. Because if you don’t know what you want (more on that below), no amount of productivity will get you there.

It’s like adding an engine to a canoe. You think that the engine is going to propel you further and faster than ever before.

And it will.

So you set sail with your weird-looking canoe and head out into the open water. Wow! You’re going fast. But… you’re not really sure where you’re headed. And… even if you did know where you were headed, you’re not entirely sure you know why you want to go there. All you know is that the engine salesperson was making a lot of sense when you bought from her.

Although… her pitch isn’t resonating as much now…



“How to become super productive” is not the right question

Productivity, efficiency, effectiveness.

Terms that get brought up constantly around the driven people you’re associated with. But, besides getting an email out faster, why do you actually need to be more productive? After all, the faster you send out one email, the sooner you will get a response. Thus, forcing you to respond to another email.

Or better yet, the faster you finish one work assignment, the faster your boss will happily delegate another to you.

Which is fine if your main objective is to do all your boss’ work. It wouldn’t be my objective, but you can do what you want.

The question is though – is that what you want?

*Note: Achieve your goals from now on with my goal success course.


These are tools, after all

Like scissors or a stopwatch, productivity is a tool that allows you to do something better. Scissors cut, stopwatches track time, and productivity helps you complete tasks faster and more accurately.

So to make more productivity your objective is like saying you want to learn to use scissors better.

That’s fine, but before you start looking up tutorials, you should probably know what you want to do with your scissors before you start searching. Otherwise, you’ll see nothing but paper snowflake how-to’s when what you really want to know is how to prune a plant.

There’s a big difference between the two.


More productivity isn’t going to help you if you don't know why you want to use scissors.


Don’t worry about work efficiency tips just yet either

Before you start concerning yourself with productivity, first ask yourself: what is it that I want from productivity?

At the start of this post, I mentioned money, friends, and abs.

Why do you want those things? Do you want to start a nonprofit or do you want to get a new wardrobe? Do you want more followers on Instagram or do you want deeper relationships? And do you want abs to increase your self-esteem or to help sell a weight loss program?

We all want things. But until you know why you want them, you shouldn’t concern yourself with productivity. It’ll just send you in circles.


What I want from more productivity

Personally, I see productivity as a means for creating more fulfillment in my life. Since fulfillment is at the root of all my goals, I treat productivity as a way to do more of the things that I love. For example, I’ll:

And because I’m productive, I’m able to do these many things well. If I wasn’t, I’d get hung up on writing and would run out of time to do anything else. But because I’m deliberate with my time, I don’t have that issue.

Instead, I can continue to spend time each day doing the things that fill me with meaning.


A toy family.


Do this before concerning yourself with how to be more productive in life

Regarding your own productivity, you need to know what you want before you set sail. It doesn’t need to be overly specific, and you can always change course along the way, but if you leave the dock without any idea of where you want to go and why you want to go there, you’ll spend many a moonlit night wandering the seas.

Lost, but moving quickly.

You don’t want that though; unless your desire is to aimlessly meander across the ocean. But… I doubt that’s what you’re after. So instead, recognize what you want, set goals for yourself, and then start utilizing productivity to help you create more time to do what fills you up.

I’ll see you at sea.

Oh and by the way, moving forward you may find these resources useful:

  • This post on ways to be productive
  • This post on how to set goals when you’ve “failed” in the past
  • And this page that dives into my goal success course


Tell me: What do you want from more productivity and why?

I know that’s a vulnerable question, but if you’re feeling courageous, let me know what you have to say! You can leave a comment below, tweet at me, or send me an email.

I always respond back.

Want to hear more from me?