When we want to increase productivity, we do everything wrong. I know this is too loud a statement, but let’s face it – no matter which productivity app we use, or what time management approach we try, at the end of the day we end up failing, and only thing that is left is the hope, that maybe some other day some other method will actually work.
We are not aware of the fact that, the desire to increase productivity is waste of the energy.
Let’s face it, what good is it to have the desire to finish off more tasks? Does it factually help the tasks at all? Can we recognise what is desire at all? Because if you really go deep into it, you will discover yourself, that desire is an energy, the same kind of mental energy that is needed in actually completing tasks. And if this is so, then desire is an energy that is wasted when it comes to increasing productivity. Because having a desire to finish more tasks, is not doing any good to any individual task right? So then it is wasted.
You might argue on two things here.
- You can question if desire is energy at all.
- And if it is energy, then maybe having the desire is not wasting the energy, because without the desire of finishing the tasks, why would anyone finish the tasks at all?
And I will address both.
- Well let’s think about what is energy? Not in scientific terms, or theological terms, but what is energy in context of productivity? Think about it. What is the resource that you need to finish tasks? It is TIME right? So then what is desire? It’a mental process in your mind, a thought. Any thought is a construct of words and grammar and thus take TIME to form and be articulated, even if in your head, even if very quickly, it still takes time.
So then, if desire is the form of thought, and thought takes time to be thought. And if TIME is resource for productivity, then desire is the energy spent from this resource. Thus in the context of productivity, desire is the energy indeed.
- And if we agree that desire is the energy, let’s consider if it is wasted energy or on contrary, necessary ingredient in the process of productivity. An energy that should be spent and not considered wasted.
- It seem very obvious that you need to desire to get things done. That seems like the starting point. If you don’t care about finishing the tasks, if you don’t want to increase productivity, then nothing is going to happen. Yes it is the starting point, and it should only be the starting point.
- So, then what I mean is that, you have no additional benefits of desiring to finish the tasks in the process of finishing them. Desire did it’s job when it all started, now is the time to let it go. And if you read other posts of this blog, I will be trying to share my experience of how to put this idea to practice.
We seek for help from outside not from within.
There is a moment in our life where we understand that we are overwhelmed by the amount of things modern life forces us to achieve and do. We need help to organise ourselves. And what do we do? We google.
There are bunch of methods to increase productivity, hundreds of apps that promise to organise your tasks, many how to books effectively manage time. You read them, get even learn them, you even get excited for the new things you have learned. You try them. You follow all the instructions. But in the long term you fail. You either give up on time management completely, or you hope that some day someone else’s method is going to finally tick for you and then you will finally increase productivity.
You see all those methods, like Priority Matrix or Pomodoro are great toolset you can have. Learning about all those things matter a lot. But the mistake is to depend on them. Mistake is to hope that you apply the instructions, and you will get the results. You hope that someone else will be able to solve your internal problem. But hey, someone else might only point a finger towards the solution to your internal problem, but not solve the problem itself.
So then here is a quote from Bruce Lee:
Its like a finger pointing away to the moon. Don’t concentrate on the finger or you will miss all that heavenly glory.
Please remember that what I describe in this blog post is just another “finger pointing to the moon”, not “the moon” itself. You can only understand this deep inside yourself. No outside source will truly help you.
We have expectations about what it might feel like to have time well managed.
This is another psychological block that prevents you being productive. You see, your mind might be tricking you with setting some kind of expectations on how it might feels to be productive. And as you use various methods to increase productivity, you compare your progress with your expectations. And when there is no match, you give up on the method itself, rather than understanding that you might already be more productive but not being able to recognise it.
You might resist this idea instantly, because your mind scanned through your memory and discovered no such expectation at all. But wait before you make your final conclusions. Let’s meditate on the question “what does it mean to have expectations?”.
Are expectations a conscious process at all?
Or is it something rooted in your unconscious mind.
Let me give you an example. Let’s say your friend offers you to go to the lake cabin for a weekend. You of course accept the offer. Did you just for an expectation about the cabin and the lake? Did you imagine what the cabin might look like? Did you picture the lake?
I assume you did. Everyone does.
Now try to describe it.
No matter what you have just described, it is not going to turn out what your friend’s cabin is. And when you arrive with your friend to spend the weekend, you might discover that it is a small very uncomfortable place, with a dirty lake beside it. Are you disappointed? But why? Could you once again scan your memory and see if you had any reason to believe that the lake would be what gorgeous as you imagined it, or what cause the cabin in your head to be that comfortable wooden house overlooking the lake? Or whatever kind of cabin you imagined. Where did it come from? Because friend never said it would be what you imagined, he just offered you to have a weekend in the cabin near the lake.
Expectations, does not have to come from the memory, or from experience. Expectation can be imagined. And it can be imagined without us even knowing about it. In the example of the friend and the cabin, when your friend offered you to go to the cabin, you would not necessarily form conscious expectations, like you did while reading this text. Because in this text I asked you to describe, but in real life you would not attempt to describe your expectations, not even in your head. They would just form. And you would only find your disappointment upon your arrival at the friends uncomfortable lake cabin near a muddy lake. And if at that point one would ask you if you had expectations, you would say no. Why would you, you were only told that it is a cabin and it is a lake. But because you don’t recognise that you had expectations, does not mean you did not have them.
Now let’s think about first time you ride a rollercoaster. You wait in line, and look at the rollercoaster go round it’s tracks. You imagine what it is going to be like to seat in the front seat or the back. You wait for your turn, and as you go on it, you find out that what you have imagined, and what you are experiencing are two different things. But in the case of rollercoaster it is easy to identify, it is easy to recognise what you feel at the moment of the ride, and don’t care about your expectations at all. But it is not so, in the case of productivity.
It is very easy to not recognise the state where you are more productive, because it is not as intensive as rollercoaster, and it can be easily overshadowed by expectations you had about being more productive.
We separate private and for business or work
One more big mistake is to separate personal tasks from business tasks. You see, sometimes you approach a method of productivity, with the best mindset, but you think that you need to organise your time only for your work tasks. But there is no separate you-s, you are only one, you are your personal and you are your work. You have only one resource of time, it is your time, those 24 hours a day, that’s all you have. So when managing time, you need to look at it as a whole, not as separate parts.
We compare the results to the goals.
Once we decide to be more productive, we set goals. Goals are fine. You might give yourself the objective to complete some tasks today, but when the day ends, you make one more psychological mistake. You compare your achievement and your goal. This act of comparison is like the act of desire, as described above in this post. Exactly the same way as desire is a waste of energy so is the comparison. You did what you could do, and if you were productive, there was no way to do more. By comparison itself you are not becoming more productive. You might have done less or might have done more, comparison does not change that. There are other aspects that influence productivity, and that is what this whole post was about, and there are many other ideas what makes you more productive, but comparison and desire don’t. It is the wasted energy, energy as the unit of time. Time as a resource for productivity.