Is Productivity yesterday’s habit?

There is a lot of talk out there in the blogosphere that productivity is yesterday’s habit, it appears to be old hat, some believe it is stifling our creativity and spontaneity, others say it is making us busier rather than simplifying our lives.

Leo Babauta creator of one of the internet’s top productivity blogs wrote an article today called “Toss Productivity out“, Leo reckons that all the advice he has given people over the years about getting organized, setting goals etc wasn’t his best advice, he now thinks that being productive is stifling our productivity and creativity.

Extract from Leo’s PostFor at least a couple of years, Zen Habits was one of the top productivity blogs, dispensing productivity crack for a nominal fee (your reading time). I’d like to think I helped people move closer to their dreams, but today I have different advice: Toss productivity advice out the window.”

A similar post was written yesterday by Barrie Davenport of Live Bold and Bloom called 10 critical reasons why you should not be productive.

But I disagree, the advice they both give would be perfect and beautiful in a perfect world but the reality is very different for a number of reasons. Below I have taken extracts of what Leo has said and given my opinion to each point.

1. Get Organized

Leo says: that we shouldn’t waste our time organizing all the stuff that is there, “Instead, simplify. Simplifying means making important choices about what’s important, rather than ignoring that question and just trying to cram everything into your day (and space) in a logical way.”

Ciara says: This is very good advice and the first step to getting organized should be eliminating all the things that are unnecessary or time wasting but unfortunately for most of us there are still a multitude of tasks left over. If you are self-employed it is easier to focus on one or two tasks that most excite you, but if you work for an organisation your goals and tasks are not your own, so simplifying isn’t always practical or possible. Home life isn’t always easy to simplify either, there will always be the home accounts and the maintenance and if you have children they will all have activities that need to be organized. You may be lucky enough to have a nanny or housekeeper who can organized this element of your life, but if not these things need to be scheduled and organized, otherwise they can cause unnecessary stress.

2. Keep an Idea List.

Leo says: “Your best ideas are ones that you can’t put off until tomorrow. That’s how you know it’s a great idea. The ideas that go on the Idea List are not your best”

Ciara says:
Some ideas don’t always start off as your best ideas, they evolve and develop. Sometime we meet people on our path who inspire us to continue with an idea. An ideas list can help to spawn creativity.

3. Set a Lot of Goals.
Leo Says: “Only five years ago, I had a long list of goals for each year, and I was pretty decent at getting them done (better than 50% at least)”……..”Now I do No Goals, and it’s best of all. I let go of future-focused thinking, and focus on what inspires and excites me now”

Ciara says: I wholeheartedly agree with the idea of moving from future-focused thinking to living in the flow, focusing on the present moment, but not without having an idea where we are going.I also agree that we shouldn’t set too many goals. From Leo’s perspective he has achieved a lot in his life he has eliminated debt, become fit and healthy, and achieved great success with his blog and blogging bootcamp “A-list bloggers bootcamp” he has achieved great things and these things could not have been achieved without setting goals. It is easy to let go of a process when you have worked the system, but the system needs to be tried and tested before you can adapt it, change it or throw it out. Once you have achieved success it is a lot easier to live in the flow with enjoyment and happiness being your only purpose. Goal setting works and is necessary for some people to move forward with their lives.

4. Track Everything.

Leo says:If you want to change it, you have to measure it, right? If you want fast results, you need to track it. Except that’s complete crap. Why do you need such fast results in the first place? And who says you need to track something to change it. ? I’ve found more meaningful, lasting results when I don’t track, but focus on enjoyment of the activity”

Ciara Says: Again wise words but more difficult to do when you are trying to create a positive habit or start making changes in your life. The examples Leo uses are running and tracking his stats on his blog. The first is true if you are an established runner but if you are starting out you need to set a certain distance or a certain time to train otherwise if you were to stop running when it wasn’t fun anymore we know how far we would get. And I too will stop tracking my subscribers when I’m counting hundreds of thousands and not hundreds.

5. Be Productive When You’re Waiting.

Leo Says: “Lots of people do this — you bring a laptop or mobile device or some papers to do some work while you’re waiting at a doctor’s office or at DMV or on the train or in traffic. There’s nothing wrong with this, really, except in the philosophy behind it: that every second should be filled with work, or it’s wasted. I object to this. Sitting in a waiting room, doing nothing but sitting in silence or watching other people, is a beautiful way to spend your time. Reading a novel on a train, or taking a nap, is also wonderful.”

Ciara says: “again great advice but if you have a busy schedule in work and you would like to catch up on reading some reports or need to process some email, it may just take away the pressure when you get back to the office, and a reduction in stress can often make you more productive and creative.

6. Keep Detailed, Context To-Do Lists.

Leo Says:In the early days of Zen Habits, back in 2007, I did exactly this — I kept a series of contextual to-do lists for home, work, phone calls, errands, someday, and so on. This became too much work for me, and so instead of organizing, I simplified. I now focus on one or two things to do each day, and if when I get them done, my day is golden.”

Ciara Says: Only possible if you are self-employed and control you own agenda. Also contextual lists can assist greatly in minimising time wasted when jumping from task to task

7. Work Hard in Bursts, with Frequent Breaks.

Leo Says: “you shouldn’t be forcing yourself to work hard on something you dread doing, and then take a break to reward or relieve yourself from that dreaded work. You should work on stuff you love, so that you can’t wait to do it, and taking a break is just a matter of enjoying something else (maybe a nice walk, a nice book, a nice conversation with a friend). Life where you work hard in bursts, with some breaks, is dreadful. Life where you’re always doing something you love is art.”

Ciara says
: Again a beautiful concept and something we should all work towards but as with all of these examples Leo is taking the example of his life where he is in the position to make these changes after achieving his goals and maybe a lot of his dreams. I truly admire Leo Babauta and thoroughly enjoy his writing and I too, strive to simplify my life daily as he does, but I do believe there is a process that needs to be followed before this can work. If there are bad habits that need to be eliminated or good habits that need to be created productivity and goal setting is the easiest route to success. Minimalism comes later when the storm has calmed and the setting has been set.
I think Leo has forgotten to mention that all of these things he is telling you to stop doing are the things that made him happy, successful and able to live in the flow.

Would love to hear do you think?

If you want to read Leo’s full article click here

Comments (3)

This is a really good post, Ciara. I must admit that I’ve also moved away from Getting Things Done. But when you have a lot of other commitments – and still want to be creative – you need to organize your time in order to achieve it.

Good points, Ciara.
I read your excellent post and I think you made a good case for a mix of how we string the racket: sometimes tight with GTD, and sometimes loose for extra creativity.

Thanks for your comments Mary and your excellent analogy for life (especially because I am a tennis fanatic!)

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