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Why Obsess About Productivity?

A guy on Twitter asked a pretty good question the other day: "Why do you worship productivity so much? Honestly? (I am currently sitting at a ski hill with an ear-to-ear grin from powder turns.)" I gave him an answer, but I think the question deserves an answer longer than one hundred forty characters.

Something I've been circling around a lot recently is the idea that my own experience doesn't really matter so much. Happiness follows the law of diminishing returns, and I'm so happy all the time that making myself more happy is pretty useless. I've had so much fun and had such a breadth of experiences, that, for the most part, I feel like having one additional one is insignificant.

I'm an imperfect human, of course, so I do still do things "just because I want to" sometimes, but when I take a step back, look at the arc of my life, and think about the time I have left, I mostly think about ways that I can impact the world. If I can spend some effort and make someone who's not so happy a little bit happier, help someone who hasn't had so many cool experiences have a few, or help someone become more productive themselves, maybe that's a better use of my time.

None of that means that I think I'm some sort of great person. I'm completely aware that probably a lot of my real motivation stems from ego or from wanting the satisfaction of knowing that I had an impact on people. I get emails sometimes from people who tell me I've changed their lives, and that sort of blows me away every time and makes me feel really good.

Do Nothing But Your To-Do List

On No Status Quo

Most people would agree that having a to-do list is absolutely essential for improving your productivity and getting more stuff done. For the past two months I've been living with a to-do list as well, and it has indeed made me a lot more productive.

I've also learned that just having a to-do list isn't enough to keep me productive at all times. What should I do to further increase my productivity and get even more stuff done?

The answer is quite simple. I should eliminate all distractions. I should only spend time on the things that I wrote on my to-do list on the day before. Yes, I can't go on Facebook while I'm writing a blog post, but it also goes beyond obvious.

Let's say that I get an email that I absolutely need to respond to. Or the phone is ringing. Or I realize that it's been a while since the last time I cleaned my room. Or whatever else seems to be important enough to demand my attention at that moment.

With a bit of self discipline, it's easy to eliminate all the obvious wastes of time from my working routine. When I'm working on my iPhone photography website, I already know I shouldn't be wasting any time on Facebook. That's kind of obvious.

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