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Trying to understand Productivity

The dictionary is not helping.

Nowadays, when you hear about productivity you think about personal productivity. People everywhere are always looking for ways to be productive, to achieve the most in a day. This is the hustler generation we live in, it’s the desire to succeed that drives us to want to be productive.

But what it means exactly to be productive? Some of us forget that this concept is so much more than being a hustler. And I think at this point in time, we should try to go back to the origin of this word in order to help us take a step back and really evaluate what it means to be productive.


The Formula of Productivity

The dictionary defines Productivity as ‘the state or quality of being productive’, which doesn’t really help us on this quest to find the true meaning of Productivity for the XXI century. However, things change when looking at the definition in the Economics section. In this context, Productivity is defined as the relationship between the amount of output produced and the amount of input used to produce the output.

Upon further investigation, you realize that there’s an actual formula for Productivity. Productivity is the output-input ratio within a time period with due consideration for quality, which can essentially be translated as:

Productivity = outputs/inputs (within a time period, quality considered)

The formula indicates that to achieve higher productivity (improvement), you need to achieve more with the same or a lesser amount of input resources, or simply decrease inputs but maintain the same outputs.

Work Smarter

After looking at the formula, it’s easy to conclude that there are two ways to be productive and to increase your output/input ration — either put in more hours or work smarter. I think it’s pretty obvious which one is the best option. And so, with productivity, the answer lies in working smarter and not necessarily harder.

Being productive takes resources, time and effort. There is no rapid solution to make everything on your to-do list disappear, except for you to do it. However, the formula also shows us that you will always end up with a result, good or bad. Quality is important for Productivity, meaning that you not only want to achieve the most results but the best results possible. So it’s up to you to learn how to have the best result all around and in the most effective way. Understand how you are using your time and how exactly are you being productive. There are only so many hours in the day, so work smarter.

Add Value

When faced with a big to-do list, the answer lies in prioritizing. Take an honest look at your tasks, and really considered if what you are doing and choosing to do if it adds any value. It’s about analyzing what deserves your precious time and attention, which ones actually add something to your productivity. By focusing on these top tasks, it will take a lot of pressure out of you, and you will be able to continue working motivated and ready to tackle the other tasks throughout the day. Even at the end of the day, if you still have tasks to do, you will still be able to properly rest because you already did the important part, the part that has the most value.

Like I said, Productivity it’s not about how much you get done, but rather choosing to get the right stuff done. It’s about working smart, and choosing what’s important and focusing on that. This is why it’s important to organize your time to make the most out of it.

Productivity + Life = ?

Everyone assumes that being productive is simply about getting more done in less time. However, this is an oversimplification of the process that doesn’t translate well to the real world.

When people are usually trying to find ways to be more productive, that usually means that they have a lot on their plates — too many tasks and goals. And with this, most people find themselves with essentially too many outputs, only to then realize that they don’t enough inputs to have good productivity results. As a human being, there are a couple of things that you simply cannot take out of the equation, whether it’s time, mental state or even motivation. And not matter the number of tasks and goals you may have, you need to understand that there are limitations. Life happens, and obstacles appear and get in the way of us being productive. But it’s up to us to know how to handle it. It’s about working with those limitations on your formula to be productive.

The Last Piece

No matter how much being productive is important to you, it won’t matter if you are not taking care of yourself. When we are too focused on being productive and having productive habits, we tend to lose focus on our health and any healthy habits. So, if you are trying to learn how to be productive, it’s essential to think about how you are spending your downtime. This means to take time to properly sleep, exercise and eat healthily. I would say that the recharge process is the most important aspect, the hidden part that you don’t see in that formula. Health is a crucial part of productive work, that can help you make the best decisions and achieve the best results.

Find your Formula

After reading this post, I want to be clear about one thing: this is not the magic formula about how to be productive. This post only offers a somewhat analytical look about something that has become prominent in our society, as well as my personal perspective about how to increase your productivity levels. But the true formula is up to you to find it. I gave you one definition of productivity, now go create yours.

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