This is the third post in a series on productivity1. The articles are based on content from a workshop I led at The Makers Summit.
When discussing any subject it’s extremely helpful to define the terms being used so that everyone is reading from the same page—the term ‘productivity’ in and of itself likely means different things to different people.
Talking about “productivity hacking” (or anything else) without a clear definition of what the term actually means is a recipe for constantly trying to describe what we want, as opposed to digesting and applying what we learn (much like diving into productivity tactics without thinking about how we really want to use our time2).
So, what is productivity hacking?
The easy answer is: getting more done. That definition makes sense because most of us tend to think about productivity in terms of raw quantity. If you ask people to describe the most productive people they know, oftentimes the answer is something along the lines of, “they just get so much done” or “they just handle so many things.” As such, the question we try to figure out is how we add more to our plates.
Beyond being an emotionally exhausting exercise, contextualizing productivity in terms of quantity—how much more we can fit in—is dangerous because we blind ourselves from analyzing the way we are already working, which is often our primary problem to begin with. If there are problems with the way we work currently, trying to add more isn’t going to help, we’re only going to get more frustrated.
Also, as we’ll discuss in future posts (and as most of us have experienced), simply adding more quantity to our plates is almost always unsustainable. It works for some time, but in the end something gives and that usually means behavior that’s unhealthy over time.
A working definition
In this series, our working definition of productivity hacking will be:
Getting more value out of the work you’re already doing (and accomplishing more overall as a result).
If we can master the work we already have in front of us, maximizing our time, efficiency and quality, we will automatically create more space to get more stuff done. It’s a funny reversal: the very thing that we’re so easily blinded from is our path to actually getting more done.
With that in mind, in the next few posts we’ll begin to dissect the core components of productivity to ensure we’re building a proper perspective of how we work best in general.
1. You can read the story behind this blog series and find links to all of the resources here.2. I discussed thinking through how we use our time in the previous post in this series. You can read it here.