Upstream Productivity - or the day you stopped caring about productivity advice

I write to get ideas out of my system.

I’m always chewing on multiple questions simultaneously until I get a vague feeling that some ideas are starting to fall into place.

Then I start writing to see if that’s actually the case.

Often I can neither articulate the question nor the answer when I start writing.

But surprisingly often once I start writing the answer and question start to make sense.

One thing I have been chewing on for a while is productivity.

It’s a huge topic with thousands of books written about it.

And like many people I do feel a pull to read as much as possible on the topic.

But slowly I’ve started to feel like I’m finally able to strip away the lies and get to the bottom of it.

One observation is that most people who write about productivity have no serious context of use.

They get nothing meaningful done besides dreaming up systems for getting stuff done.

A second observation is that the people who do get meaningful stuff done never use similar productivity systems, if they use anything that deserves this label at all.

Taken together this makes it crystal clear that better productivity systems are not the answer I’m looking for.

Productivity is just yet another instance where people overcomplicate to profit.

Motivation hacks, building a second brain,… everyone is happily eating it up.

It’s a convenient way to procastinate.

This is no different than people obessing over their workout routines and what the latest fitness guru is preaching instead of just lifting the damn weights.

When it comes to productivity the answer is actually a lot simpler.

Productivity is largely upstream of your biological health and your sense of purpose.

This becomes obvious if we use inversion.

When you feel like shit, maybe because you drank too much last night, maybe because you just ate a lot of junk, maybe because you haven’t moved your body in a while, maybe because you’re not getting enough sunlight exposure or lacking fresh air, maybe because you’re not breathing correctly, maybe because you’re not going on enough walks, it’s impossible to get anything done.

Biological health is upstream of mental health and mental health is upstream of productivity.

Similarly, when you do not truly care about the things you’re trying to get done, it always feels like a huge uphill battle.

But when you truly care about the work you do and your body feels amazing, productivity becomes effortless.

Importantly productivity is not about getting more done but producing more stuff that actually matters to you and others.

This is why taking care of your biological health, your energy levels, and working on things that truly excite you are the key factors.

Anything you put out into the world contains traces of your energy when you created it. All work is a form of energy transfer.

People can sense whether you’re just just dicking around or genuinly care about what you do.

So in summary, productivity is first and foremost a matter of taking care of your body and finding a mission you can fully get behind.

How to do that?

These are the next right questions to chew on.

Written on April 29, 2024

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