Why productivity is not a matter of urgency but significance

Long term thinking is always in terms of significance, not of urgency. Here's how that changes how we should see productivity.

Why productivity is not a matter of urgency but significance
“Time management isn’t just logical. It’s emotional.” —Rory Vaden

I had long come to realise that productivity for the sake of productivity is meaningless. No one in their old age would regret not having cleared their email inbox, not having been able to check off all their tasks in their todo lists or having had a perfect productive day.

That's because productivity isn't meant to stand alone. Meaningless productivity is unproductive.

Why we become productive, why we hustle, why we work hard - is more important than ever before.

Managing your time well, according to Rory Vaden, is emotional.

A matter of significance, not urgency

I love feeling productive, but what is the point if its not purposeful?

Productivity is also not a badge of honor if it just means unhealthy overworking. Guilt and worry and overwhelm are not meant to come from being productive, but is what productivity helps overcome.

I'm definitely not an organised, systematic and neat person. I don't have all my stuff sorted, "everything has a home" kinda thing going on, and I do have notes and stuff all over my different note taking apps.

The idea to be productive for me is about bringing order to this system of chaos. To help me focus on what really matters, and trust the productivity system to take care of the most important things.

That's why I like what Rory talks about here:

If Urgency is “how soon does this matter?”

And Importance is “how much does this matter?”

Then Significance is “how long is this going to matter?”

This is very similar to the idea of compounding, that you can acrhieve more over a longer period of time but it means there are going to be short term sacrifices that needs to be made.

Looking at productivity through the lens of significance provides an alternate perspective to the "go further, faster, higher" mentality.

I have been confronted with this only recently, having skipped a few days of writing. To be honest, tired and exhausted as a result of churning 1 article per day for more than a week.

Mentally and creatively spent, I needed to rest. Or as Austin Kleon says, to be dormant.  

How can the way you approach work and creativity be different from a sense of significance rather than urgency?

What’s the thing I can do today that will have the biggest impact on tomorrow?”

Rory also introduces the idea of a multiplier; the one thing you must deliberately choose to give up in the short term and invest that time in something significant (something that will multiply benefits in the future).

This is the idea of compounding.

Automation is to compounding what interest is to money.

What you can do today, for example setting up your website, that can give you exponential returns in the future - in this case for your career and future work?

Long term thinking is always in terms of significance, not of urgency.

Are you investing in the right things?