The Radically Simple Principle Behind Productivity

by Mark on March 15, 2010

There probably have been thousands of books written about productivity over the years. There are all sorts of different strategies for managing your time and being more productive, and I even wrote about some of them on this blog. Some strategies are based on complicated systems using planners, software programs, or whatever. Some are more of a philosophy than a set of specific strategies to use.

I believe in simplifying things. Einstein once said:

“It can scarcely be denied that the supreme goal of all theory is to make the irreducible basic elements as simple and as few as possible without having to surrender the adequate representation of a single datum of experience.”

Sometimes this has been quoted as “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.” Essentially, Einstein is saying that we should eliminate unnecessary complexity, and I think that this principle is incredibly useful. The best way to understand a complex topic is to simplify it so that we can get our minds wrapped around it easily. The area of productivity could easily be very complicated, but at the core of productivity is a very simple principle.

Productivity = Getting Shit Done

That’s pretty much it. All productivity strategies and philosophies revolve around getting shit done, whether we are talking about setting goals, determining our Most Important Tasks, eliminating interruptions, or whatever. Your productivity system can be incredibly sophisticated, but if you ain’t getting shit done, then you ain’t productive.

Focus your attention.

It’s easy to get caught up spending a lot of time thinking about our processes. We create long To Do lists and furiously cross off our action items. We are active, but we are spinning our wheels. We rapidly go from activity to activity and feel like we are productive, but we really ain’t getting shit done.

Sometimes we need to remind ourselves of exactly what it is that we are trying to get done, and just do it. It really comes down to focusing our attention on the things that we are trying to get done and following it through to completion. Our productivity philosophy and strategies should revolve around allowing us to focus our attention on getting shit done. The more that you keep focused on working on things through to completion, the more shit you will get done, and the more productive you will be.

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