Are You Truly Being Productive?

When you’re a productivity hound, you’re nearly considered a hero. You’re praised for your ability to do a ton of work in a day, and your productivity is exalted.

There’s a problem with being productive, though. Productivity is quantity-based, not quality-based. This means its purpose is simply to get things done – doesn’t matter what.

And while you might get lots of praise for being able to multitask like a ninja and move heaven and earth, the truth is that moving stuff around isn’t very useful.

Well, it is if your goal is just to get things done. But if your goal is to achieve more for your business, your productivity may just need to be revisited.

Think about it: What are you truly accomplishing by being productive? Where is your productivity getting you in life? You do lots in a day, but at the end of each one, are you closer to your business goals and dreams?

Or are you just crowing about how much you did, versus how much you’ve accomplished?

Accomplishment is important. It’s easy to lose focus on accomplishing larger goals when your eyes are glued to accomplishing small stuff. The result is that you mix up priorities, and your goal becomes producing in quantity versus producing quality.

Some people even end up working in a way that’s just about getting stuff done. Any work. Doesn’t matter what kind.

There’s no real prize for simply being productive, though. All it accomplishes is that you shovel lots of tasks from “to-do” to “done”. You don’t end up going anywhere with your business, because you’ve been so busy. It’s tough to go places when you’re stuck in one place, shovelling from one pile to another.

When you’re truly productive, you put your abilities to work in a way that helps bring you closer to where you want to be in life. You’re not just getting work done. You’re doing work that matters.

It’s about switching your focus from quantity to quality, and making sure that you use your productivity for a greater good: reaching your goals.

By reaching goals, I don’t just mean goals like completing 10 tasks every day or finishing three projects every week. I mean reaching goals like improving your business, creating more passive income, increasing revenues… the goals that get you a better life.

Being productive is just an ability. Use that ability to create results.

If you truly want to be productive, do more of what matters and less of what doesn’t. Before working on a task, ask yourself how completing that task helps get you closer to your goals. You might realize that a lot of items on your to-do list are just busywork, and getting them done doesn’t get you anywhere.

Of course, you do have to take care of day-by-day operations…but make sure that this day-to-day work keeps you out of a GTD rut and on the path of getting where you want to be.

You might be surprised how much faster you can reach your dream just by focusing your productivity in the right place!

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About the Author: James Chartrand, the copywriting gunslinger from Men with Pens, writes really great stuff for freelancers and online entrepreneurs. Want more advice from James on making more money, working less and doing what you love? Check out The Unlimited Freelancer today.


  1. Paul Maddock on the 8th July

    I think it’s important to produce work of quality, otherwise there is no point.

    Thank you once again for a inspiring , very nicely written, article.

  2. Sharon Hurley Hall on the 8th July

    I totally agree, James. I’ve been trying to refocus recently on what I want my writing to achieve – and it’s not really about the income, though that’s nice. There’s no point in killing yourself for the sake of it; far better to decide what are the important aspects of your desired quality of life and work towards those. It’s amazing how thinking about your life and business in that way can make the next steps startlingly clear.

  3. Jeff on the 8th July

    While I appreciate the notion that quality must be taken into consideration, this seems to be an idea of getting beyond GTD not skipping GTD. If your not getting enough done then GTD can be very helpful, but once you become productive then it may be time to take soem time to give the quality of your actions some additinal consideration.

  4. RLB on the 8th July

    Thanks for the post.

    One sour spot to moving heaven and earth in a corporate setting is that it becomes expected and taken for granted. Someone is piled with unreasonable deadlines, and as long as the suits on top see results – no matter how shabby – the workload of quantity over quality will continue.

    Usually, the answer is to tell the account managers to be more responsible or to hire more designers. But again, if you have a designer who is plowing through the work orders just to get them done on time, even though the work absolutely suffers, the top office managers simply see the work as “getting done”. Why spend the extra cash on another employee and why make the client wait for more than one freaking day?

    I’ve seen many friends in the design field become burned out on their jobs when such a business practice becomes the norm.

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