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April 29, 2019

Be more useful, not more productive

I think we should waste more time.

We are bombarded with productivity hacks, articles on getting more done, podcasts about fitting more in, optimal work times, reducing distractions, flow etc. People worry that they have no more time to use more efficiently. We’ve gone overboard.

Let me be clear: when it comes to productivity, I am, with all due modesty, a machine. I do stuff until it’s done, and when I’m doing it, that’s all I’m doing. I am focused and fast. In part, that’s my training since the days of completing a doctoral thesis, but in larger part, it’s because I’ve cleared a lot of my time to enable me to work on my area of highest value. I have simplified my role enormously.

We teach productivity – how to be efficient with your time, good work habits but we teach it with a twist. Our Active Management Programme (AMP) isn’t about getting things done, it’s “Get The Big Stuff Done”. There’s a world of difference between ticking items off a to-do list and making a valuable contribution.

And I fall into the trap myself. I look at a busy week and feel frustrated that I’m not going to get much development done. I’m not going to have time to make progress on my list of things I’ve got to write.

But I’m wrong.

My week has a number of things that are important, but not productive – board meetings where I confront realities of others’ businesses, lunch with my business partner Ryan, a day with a valued client running their AMP Co-lab and then their Advisory Board, team meetings where we make plans and check on progress. These are important ways for me to connect with my world.

Yes, my development days are sacrosanct, but if I just focus on production I will disappear up my own fundamental.

And what’s not in the diary but is even more sacrosanct is downtime – meditation in the afternoon, walking the dog, doing our body/mind/heart/soul check-in with my wife Franceska over our morning cup of tea, a glass of wine with her at the end of the day, playing guitar – every single day. There is no agenda in these activities. There is no “output”, no widget produced, no box ticked. Just energy, creativity, love. The useful stuff.

We would love to hear about your approach to less doing, more being. What are the best hours of your day? Please comment and share.

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