#83 - Let's
Get Productive! Ask What It Means To Be Productive
Folks, your faithful curators are on the move this week.
Usman, just back to Dubai, moves into a new place later this month. And on Friday I moved from one home to another in Singapore. By Sunday afternoon I was feeling it 🥱, and this Tweet about Red Bull and Monster energy drinks had me salivating 🥤:
Provocative! I even asked ChatGPT to come up with names for the drink. (I loved "9toThrive" and "PromPotion". My own: "I Just Perk Here". 🤣 🤣)
But as a card-carrying member of this "productivity-chasing professional-managerial class" who writes a weekly newsletter to other members, it was also the prompt to dig into some of the latest thinking around personal productivity. Not into checkbox hustles and the latest to-do-list app ❌ . But into a more elevated dance with efficiency. ✅ Literally, in some cases:
🎯 Story #1 - No surprise that one of the productivity trends we found was in Silicon Valley, whose work cultures are so often on the cutting edge. Still, learning that people were injecting themselves with ketamine in their quest to be more productive was a bit...👀. Let's look at what's at play.
🎯 Story #2 - We've got some research to share, and it's good news for most of us: a ton of data from diverse fields suggest that "giving it your 85%" may actually be more productive than giving it your all. 🤔 Here's why, in Story #2.
🎯 Story #3 - A 2021 book that landed on multiple 'best of the year' lists has a novel take on productivity. It asks us to check traditional productivity at the door, and offers a vision that manages to be sobering and inspiring at the same time. (No energy drinks or ketamine required). ⬇️
Thanks for reading and exploring with us -- and have a fantastic week!
Aki + Usman
#Productivity #Edge #Ketatation
First, a summary of this read on people experimenting with ketamine as a means of achieving more. Then we'll get into what it might mean.
The last line of the summary is revealing: many of us grapple with the constant desire to optimize that it refers to; the desire to do more with less, to be more efficient and productive. And the article makes clear that for people experimenting with ketamine, the assumption is that "we" are the lever. There is no mention of our calendars or to-do list software.
There's also the premise, throughout the article, that our personal and professional selves are intertwined; that they're both parts of one whole, and that each part impacts the other.
"Productivity 2.0" feels more elevated then, and a bit radical. I don't know if I'll be donning the eye mask and rolling up my sleeve just yet. But it's also inward-focused, and holistic. We'll see more of this trend in Story #3.
#Productivity #85Percent #LessIsMore
One of my dad's favorite refrains was to give 110% to everything I did -- or not to bother doing it at all. But this Wall Street Journal article squarely challenges that logic:
The read pulls in examples and research from different realms -- business, but also sports and exercise -- that call into question the ROI of giving everything 100%, all the time. Even machines seem to learn best when faced with 85% -- not maximum -- difficulty:
We're excited to see research like this make the rounds because implied in this calculation of "What does it make sense to put in?" is asking, "What is the cost of what I put in?" and, "What benefit will I get from that investment?". In short, it's healthy to see a cost-benefit analysis.
So many of us came of age at work without ever asking questions like these. In part because it was so drilled into us (see: "Always give 110%."). But in part because the benefits of putting 100% effort into work might have reliably materialized over time.
But more recently we see young generations -- older ones, too -- beginning to question: "What does putting 100% of myself into work actually get me? And could I get more with my time elsewhere?".
#Productivity #4000Weeks #ThingsThatMatter
When my brother-in-law first recommended Oliver Burkeman's "Four Thousand Weeks", I flashed to this Tim Urban post and thought: "Oof, another reminder of just how little time we actually have left." 😮💨
To be fair, the premise of Burkeman's book is precisely that we all only have about ~4,000 weeks of time to work with:
But this harsh math is just Burkeman's starting point. And he uses it to explore time management in a way I found inspiring, despite the morbid undertone. For Burkeman, traditional time management thinking is flawed, and instead of focusing on external productivity tips, we ought to change our internal mindset.
Why? Because the idea that we can accomplish everything we want is fantasy; and the reality is:
1) we won't ever finish everything we want to get done
2) every choice we make limits other -- potentially fulfilling -- options
3) our time is short, and running out
So for Burkeman, better we prioritize meaningful work and relationships, over miles-long to-do lists and efficiency hacks. Better we focus on what truly matters, and shift from a productivity-centered life to one that values presence, depth, and connection:
Or to put things even more starkly:
Peter Drucker, the "father of modern management", was talking about widgets, but said much the same thing in the quote that opens this issue, back in 1963:
"Nothing is less productive than to make more efficient what should not be done at all.”
Thanks for reading. 🙏