What does productivity mean to me?

I’ve been fascinated by productivity culture since I was a teenager. As confident as only a teenager can be I moved through life like I was in Silicon Valley, getting ready for meetings with hot shot clients and fine-tuning my folder sorting skills.
Somewhere in my twenties I had my computer and phone set up like I was a real go-getter. I had all the productivity apps. But I never had much to do. Not in that way. I went to school, but not to get ready for the tech-business, I was into the softer science. Then I went to work, but not exactly in the high pressure environment I had imagined.

Now when I’m older productivity has turned into not doing more but doing better. Not being busy but being focused. I have twins that are almost two years old now, so one could say I’m in that high pressure environment I thought I was preparing for. But I don’t have that much stuff that needs to get done. At home we wake up and the day just starts. You feed the kids, you clean a bit, you play a bit and life goes on. The days I have work I go there and work just works. I don’t have many things to keep track of, no circling backs or power points to present or quarterlies to meet.

But to circle back (see what I did there) I have two small people living under my roof, watching, observing, learning. They watch my every move. The older they get the more often a thought pops into my head. “what do they see when they look at me? What am I doing, in their eyes?”

And I also wonder about what kind of life I want them to have. What do I want them to feel is important? How do I wish they would want to spend their days? Being productive is not just about Getting Things Done. Its about being a doer and not a wait-and-seer. I want my kids to do. Whether that’s programming, setting up plays, drawing pictures or, gasps, do sports, I want them to feel like they are striving, getting better and feeling accomplished.

So to set an example I started doing. Instead of letting ideas come and go I started writing things down. I started reading again after finally letting go of this idea of reading as some sacred thing. Most often I read when I can, on my phone, at my computer, a few minutes here and there. I highlighted and wrote about my own thoughts about what I was reading. And I started thinking again. The ideas I barely payed a second thought to got to stay around. I wrote them down. Some other day I fleshed them out. I started connecting them and making new notes from the connections I made.

I started thinking about what Tiago Forte says in How to build a second brain

“Emptying ourselves of our jumble of thoughts requires courage, because without our thoughts as distractions, we are left to sit with uncomfortable questions about our future and our purpose.”

How do I want to live my life? I want to make something. Or rather I want to be doing. So productivity for me is about taking those moments where you feel like doing nothing and instead choose to do something. I’m not saying run yourself ragged by using every second of downtime to produce. I’m saying be present. Whether it’s writing, playing, resting, working. Be present. Let your mind take up the space it deserve. You don’t need to be in academia or be an entrepreneur or be a big thinker. Be a doer. Your mind deserves it.

For more about what I’m doing you can check out my YouTube channel.

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