Productivity Misconceptions

I still remember the theme of the first personal development speaker at the first management conference I attended–TRY…EASY.

Try to do a good job. Try to get it done. But don’t kill yourself doing it.

This was probably 10 years before Yoda told Luke Skywalker, “Do or do not. There is no try.” But that’s a different story.

That speaker gave all the attendees a DayTimer planner. I’ve been through so many different systems over the following 40 years, I should have saved them and started a productivity museum. The last thing I used was computer-based called Nozbe, loosely based on David Allen’s Getting Things Done methodology. I even have a category on this web site for productivity.

Some people, perhaps many people especially in Silicon Valley of the 90s and aughts, following productivity guru Frederick Taylor thought of productivity as “how much more can I get done in my 70-hour work week”.

Tim Ferriss published The 4-Hour Work Week in 2007. It was sort of an anti-productivity book in the sense above. Cal Newport somewhat later published Deep Work. Both of these talked about getting the important things done while leaving time for hobbies, family, leisure, and the like. That is, until they were co-opted by the “how much more can I get done in my 70-hour work week” crowd.

These days I have a list of things I need to accomplish. I work on these for a set number of hours a day, then set aside other time for other things–reading, guitar, whatever.

We don’t need more. We need enough. Or, as a retired US Navy SEAL taught me, “Slow is easy; easy is fast.”

TRY…EASY

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