One thing you all may or may not know about me is I’m a hardcore productivity nerd. This is stereotypical of the INTJ personality type.
Even as young as 10 years old, I was jotting down thoughts in my notebook, trying to figure out the best practice routine to become good enough to become an NBA basketball player. (That goal didn’t quite materialize obviously, but the process was valuable.)
I’ve experimented with dozens of productivity systems over the years and all of them have proven to be ineffective at dealing with the demands of the 21st century man. It’s been an intriguing, yet frustrating journey.
But a few months ago, I finally found someone who’s really figuring it out. How to actually produce value in an age of endless distractions and “information overload” without closing yourself off to opportunities.
His name is Tiago Forte.
His writing is rather detailed, so if you’re not a productivity nerd like myself, you may find it difficult to get into. But his solutions are simple and effective.
I’d like to share two key lessons and thoughts I’ve taken away as result of studying his stuff. (I’m blending some of my red pill perspective to his concepts here, so don’t take this as an accurate summary of his work.)
Lesson #1: Define your projects, or someone else will define them for you
Defining your own mission is Masculinity 101. But after studying Tiago’s work, I’ve decided it’s more useful to say define your projects.
Projects are more tangible than a mission. Projects are what we actually spend a good portion of our lives on. So if someone else is defining your projects, it means someone else is controlling your life.
An eye-opening exercise is to write down all the projects your working on now and then see if you can map your projects to a goal that you’ve defined.
Many times, we work on projects that have no goal attached to them… or at least, no goal of our own.
A few common examples:
Are you doing yard work because your wife wanted you to… or because you set the goal of upgrading your yard?
Do you complete all the assigned projects from your boss because you’re afraid of getting fired… or because it’s helping you move towards a career goal that you set for yourself?
Are you changing your diet because someone shamed you for your bad health habits… or because you set a goal that requires you to be healthy?
Tragically, most men spend their lives working on projects that advance the goals of other men, but not their own.
Awareness is the first step to changing that.
Lesson #2: There is no value in “getting things done”
Tiago opened my eyes to the fact that their are 3 common “schools” of productivity:
The Energy School – keep your energy level high so you can complete your tasks. Eat healthy, work out, etc.
The Focus School – get yourself into a state of flow and stay there as long as you can. Cut out distractions. Block out large chunks of time.
The Efficiency School – cut out all unnecessary activities to save time and money. Automate and eliminate.
All of these schools of thought have their merits. But the underlying flaw is that they all focus on completing tasks without taking into account the value that is created from completing the tasks.
In the 21st century, it’s becoming increasingly risky to undertake large projects. The flow of information is so rapid, that by time you complete a project, it might no longer be relevant. Or you discover that no one cared in the first place.
Furthermore, a “task” is nothing but an abstract unit with no inherent value. If someone came and deleted your task list, would your work be destroyed? No.
The value of your work is what you deliver to someone else. Not the tasks you completed or your task list.
This is why Tiago advocates a 4th “school” of productivity:
The Value School – deliver value in smaller chunks. Create the smallest unit of value you can and show it to someone.
This is one reason I started using Twitter. I have lots of ideas in my head that are never “released” simply because of the time and effort it takes to write a post. Some of those ideas might add value to someone’s life, but I’d never know if I never released it.
Or some of my ideas might be bad ideas, but I’d never know until I release it and get feedback.
Even with my sloppy quick-hit style posts, I still need to have a minimum of 10-15 minutes focus to release my ideas into the wild. That takes too much energy to do for every notable idea. But with Twitter, I can release a complete idea in less than 1 minute and get feedback on it.
Don’t measure your productivity by tasks complete. Measure it by value delivered.
Alright. Enough nerding out. Go follow me on Twitter if you want to extract as much value from my brain as your heart desires.