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What is Productivity, Really?

This post is from a series about the ideal worker archetype in my online course, Science of Finding Flow. Read the rest here.

To me, productivity is the ability to produce or create something of value and meaning for yourself and others. 

As such, productivity as a “knowledge worker” is not just dependent on the time we have to work–it is also dependent on our energy and motivation, our ability to focus, our creativity and insight, and our raw intellectual power. According to Chris Bailey, author of The Productivity Project,

Productivity is what makes the difference between someone who runs a company and the employees who work for her. It is also the difference between having no time or energy left at the end of the day and having a ton of time and energy left over to invest however you want.

Productivity is not just about how efficient you are or about how many emails you answer. It’s about how much you accomplish that is meaningful. It is how our work is valued in today’s economy. Bailey explains:

When we transitioned into the time economy, we began to trade our time for a paycheck. But as we have transitioned into the knowledge economy, we’ve begun to trade so much more than just our time. Most people who work nonfactory jobs trade some combination of their time, attention, energy, skills, knowledge, social intelligence, network, and ultimately their productivity, for a paycheck.

Today, time is no longer money. Productivity is money.

What we accomplish—as well as the speed and quality of our work—is no longer just dependent on how much time we have; we have more time than ever to work. At risk of being repetitive here, let me emphasize that time is not the critical factor anymore. Your ability to focus and innovate, as well as the wisdom, insight, and energy you bring to your work are far more important.

This course is going to help you better manage your time, of course. But more importantly, it is also going to teach you how to manage your energy, attention and intelligence.

This post is taken from “The Science of Finding Flow,” an online course I created as a companion to my book The Sweet Spot: How to Accomplish More by Doing Less. I’m sharing “lessons” from this online class here, on my blog. Want to see previous posts? Just click this The Science of Finding Flow tag. Enjoy!