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I’ve learned to take a minimalist approach to productivity. I’ve rejected the idea of being productive for the sake of being productive, and being busy for the sake of being busy.
You don’t need a proverbial belt full of productivity tools. It’s only going to burden you by weighing you down. You don’t need to be connected at all times. You don’t need to be busy at all times to feel relevant.
You only need a few things: purpose, vision, and the resolve to execute.
However, we struggle to challenge the status quo of business and productivity, because we enjoy the masochism of being busy and productive.
People want to be more productive. They want to get more done. They want to increase output, margin, and revenue. Everyone wants to do more and everyone is busy.
On the flip-side, this “more productivity” attitude has made this magnificent country into what it is now. It’s created organizations such as Tesla, NASA, and Google. It has emerged impressive entrepreneurs such as Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller, and Richard Branson. As a whole, society will continue to strive to accomplish amazing things. I’m not against this—I too want to accomplish great things.
But I’m still stuck on this question. . . Why does everyone want to be so productive?
Is it for love? Are you truly engulfed in your work because you are fulfilling your purpose? Your life’s mission? Or are you working towards accomplishing someone else’s dream?
Or is it out of fear? Fear that you will lose your job. Fear of not getting promoted. Fear of rejection and failure.
I traveled around Southeast Asia for six months by myself. The complexity of first world society was an afterthought. I didn’t miss it. I was the opposite of productive from the typical point of view. But I was satisfying my life’s purpose and vision. My purpose and vision was (and still is) to be curious about the world and be actively engaged in it. To accomplish this, I travel.
Nonetheless, I take part in the daily grind, but armed with a minimal amount of productivity tools, making me dangerous.
I accomplish more by doing less. I tell people “no” all the time. Saying “no” is an artful skill you should learn to cultivate. There’s a certain level of selfishness in this but at the same time, it’s important you don’t tarnish relationships with people. Deliver it in a way that allows people to understand your logic, and offer an alternative to maintain and cultivate the relationship.
I am obsessed with living my purpose and vision. If a task or activity is assigned or asked of me that is not aligned with my purpose and vision then I’m not interested.
As a result, I get shit done.
At the same time, I urge you to take the time to be unproductive. Do nothing, right now! Because right now is the only moment you have. Play hooky for a day. Turn off your phone and take a two-hour walk. Get in your car and drive for a few hours with the music blaring. Have a movie marathon for the day. Or, my favorite, just sit there, stare out the window and be present. Watch the birds fly by, look at the clouds, stare at the horizon, acknowledge that you’re not doing anything and be ok with it. I assure you that when you go back to reality you’ll see that everything is just the way you left it. In fact, reality moved on in your absence. It will always move on without you.
• You don’t need a plethora of tools, tips, apps and hacks to be productive. You need need clarity on your vision and purpose. Write it down and keep it in front of you. Keep it in mind. If whatever you are working on is not satisfying your purpose and vision then you need to move on.
• Remember to stop and smell the roses. You're going to be old faster than you know it. Living in the present will help slow down your life and allow you to appreciate the small things in life.
• Do what's important to YOU. Don’t waste your precious time working to help someone else live their dream.
• Build a tactful habit of saying “no.” Do more by doing less.
Del Singh is dedicated to help unleash your inner badass. He is the founder of a men’s lifestyle and personal growth blog, The Epoch Man.
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