Wednesday Words of Wisdom: Being productive

Hamster wheel

Productivity isn’t about being a workhorse, keeping busy or burning the midnight oil. It’s also not about chasing after elusive goals. It’s more about priorities, planning and fiercely protecting your time.

Margarita Tartakovsky

This quote from the post 10 traits of highly productive people by Margarita Tartakovsky, writer and associate editor at PsychCentral.com, breaks down the oft-quoted maxim of ‘work smarter, not harder’ into something more tangible.

As she says, productivity is not about working longer hours or about doing stuff for the sake of doing stuff or about setting yourself impossible goals. That way lies only burn-out, disappointment and the opportunity cost of lost time that could have been better spent with family or recharging your own batteries.

Instead, productivity comes down to three P’s: prioritisation, planning and protection. Know what is important and what is merely nice to do. Organise your time and set realistic goals. And create time away from work (or blogging) – and do not give it up for anything.

People sometimes ask me how I manage to juggle a full-time job, three blogs and three kids. The simple answer is that it is a struggle and I don’t always get it right – far from it. But I am constantly prioritising (and, equally deprioritising), setting myself strict time limits for my various blogging activities (when time is up, move on to the next item regardless) and trying to preserve time to spend with the kids.

Now that I’ve taken on my two new projects – the book and the forthcoming podcast – the need to maximise my productivity to create the space to do these while still maintaining family life becomes even more important. That means enacting some hard choices – stopping some of the things I enjoy doing but aren’t strictly necessary – so that I can fit everything else in and still sleep occasionally.

So if you see me participating less in linkies and commenting on fewer posts over the next few months, you’ll know why. My path to greater productivity doesn’t involve me working harder – just smarter.

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