What’s the Point of Personal Productivity?

I have a whole series of articles cooking in my head about personal productivity: how to go paperless, how to use an iPad to tame your to-do list, how to regain your sanity by cleaning up your office, and more. But before we tackle any of that, we need to address a critical question:


Image courtesy of Jake Johnson on Flickr
What’s the point?

The goal of personal productivity isn’t to get more done.

The goal of personal productivity is to get the same amount done more efficiently so you can create more margin in your life.

If you are interested in personal productivity just so you can accomplish more tasks, then you’re quite literally spinning your wheels. Advancing your productivity but with the wrong goal in mind leads to only one outcome: loading up that extra time with more tasks. You will be no more effective a leader than you are today, you will be no healthier, and your organization will be no better off.

The right goal with productivity is creating more breathing room in your priorities so that you can do more of what matters as a leader: thinking, creating, and inspiring.

People lacking margin are often late to meetings, miss deadlines, forget to return messages, and feel they can never get past “putting out fires.” I know, because I’ve been there (and still make frequent return trips).

People who create margin in their lives arrive early, deliver on their promises, communicate proactively, and seem to breeze through the urgent tasks and spend the bulk of their time on the important ones. I know which type of leader I’d prefer to be.

There are lots of great articles out there on how to create more margin (here’s a great example from blogger Sean Johnson), and we’ll tackle some strategies here another day. The point today isn’t how to do it; it is awakening to the fact that having margin is a choice, and then choosing that path with intention.

Question: How would you feel with more margin in your life? What would you do with the additional time – fill it with more tasks, or spend more time doing what matters? Please leave a comment below — it will really help by turning this into a conversation!

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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