OK, got it?

Here’s mine:

“Productivity is doing what I intended to do.”

Not what you expected?

Different from yours?

Were you expecting me to say something along the lines of “Doing as much as possible, in as little time as possible?”

If you’re new here, then yes, maybe that’s what you thought.

But if you’ve been around awhile, I’m hoping this isn’t news.

But still, it tends to surprise people. Especially when I’m a guest on a podcast.

When you think of “productivity coach”, you’re probably thinking about this other definition. Of doing all the things. More, better, faster. But that’s just not it for me.

To me, the intention is where it’s at.

So what does this mean, practically?

It means that the (low-effort) planning practices I have in place are essential to helping me feel productive.

If I have no plan, if I set no specific intention, then I don’t have any way to measure if I’ve been productive.

It also means that I get to redefine certain activities as productive.

  • If it’s my intention to spend a Saturday afternoon in my hammock with a book, that’s productive.
  • If it’s my intention to binge-watch a show I’m excited about on a Friday night, that’s productive.

Ever wondered how you can work hard all day and end up feeling like you weren’t productive at all?

Nothing was crossed off the list?

Nothing was moved forward?

And yet, there you were, tethered to your desk, ping-ponging between tasks, projects, and responding to incoming messages.

You were busy, yes. But busy and productive are very different things.

Busy is doing stuff without a plan. Often the wrong stuff.

Productivity is acting with intention.

When you have one of those days where you’re just going non-stop, stuck in reactive mode, in full “emergency scan modality”, it feels, well, bad.

There’s no forward momentum; you’re just treading water.

I call this “letting the day happen to you”.

But the good news is that even if this has been your past, it doesn’t need to be your future. There’s a simple fix.

Make a plan.

And most importantly, a realistic plan.

Make sure you include a bit of buffer to account for the unexpected surprise, or the task that takes longer than you anticipated.

And then bask in your own personal glory. Because whatever you’ve done, so long as you’ve intended it, it was productive.

Originally published at https://www.alexishaselberger.com on December 25, 2023.