The Proper Way to Think About Your Productivity
As time moves forward with our period “quarantine and chill” we’ve seen the debate on how to spend your time diverge into two camps.
On one extreme, people tell you to get the absolute most out of this time — start that business, find a new hobby, develop a new skill, stay in shape, meditate daily, journal, find yourself.
On the other side, you hear the exact opposite argument — — that you should put yourself under zero pressure to succeed during these times because times are hard enough without having to worry about becoming a superhuman productivity robot on top of it.
Here’s how I look at the situation. It’s the same way I look at all situations in life.
I make no moral judgments on decision making. At least where I live, it’s a free country. Do what you want. I look at decisions in terms of the outcomes they create. That’s it.
From the micro — how you deal with yourself during quarantine and what type of outcomes you get as a result of it. To the macro — what type of outcomes you’ll get in life based on the major elements of health, wealth, relationships, and spiritual growth.
Look at the way you’re behaving now and the way you’ve been behaving your entire life. Are you yielding the outcomes you want or not? That’s the simple test you can use to frame your decisions.
And this applies to every scenario — the single young person, the couple with three kids stuck to their hip, the older person at risk, everything in between.
We all have different circumstances and we all use our perception of them to influence behaviors that create outcomes, even in trying times.
Take someone like Viktor Frankl who survived a concentration camp and used his experiences to write an uplifting book. Merely being alive was an achievement, but he decided to take it another level.
You don’t have to create some life-defining trajectory for your life from these times, but you have the option to. And, depending on your situation, this could be a rare opportunity for you. Or you could do what you can to get by because, in many ways, the world is kind of fucked right now. I understand if you did that, too.
We can all talk about the severity of the times, but being a human being has always been severe. The problems we deal with are serious, run deep, and affect all of us at all times in so many different ways.
Your choice of what to do now and into the future, depending on your circumstances, is up to you. You’ll catch no judgment from me.
You certainly can watch Netflix all day, eat poorly, have some beers, and do nothing towards your project throughout this period. I’m not saying that in a snarky way. I’m serious. Given the circumstances, that’s not such a horrible response, really. You don’t have to learn a new skill, hustle, nothing, you don’t have to do anything.
The simple and objective truth is that you’ll come out of the situation with the outcomes your behavior, mixed with your circumstances, yields. Simple as that.
In your life as a whole, you can ignore doing the type of work it takes to have certain outcomes. You can avoid starting a side project that you can turn into a full-time gig, which leads to the outcome, inherently right or not, of you being tethered to your sole source of income that’s subjected to the whims of the economy or even acts of God, which you’re experiencing right now.
You can tell yourself you don’t care about money and put yourself in a situation where hard times hit doubly worse because you don’t have a cash reverse or multiple sources of income. Again these are just objective outcomes.
I don’t think people who were uniquely impacted by the pandemic did anything wrong. There’s nothing inherently wrong with going to work every day — I respect anyone who does any job, period. There’s nothing inherently wrong with not saving your money, especially when you don’t have enough to save. I get it.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with failing to adhere to the principles of self-improvement, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t consequences.
Nobody is perfect.
Have I spent every waking hour of my days building out my business? No.
Have I exercised daily and ate perfectly? Nope.
The one thing I have done, which I encourage you to do, is taken the time to create an accurate assessment of the outcomes my actions would yield.
If I screwed off one day, I wouldn’t beat myself up over it, but I’d understand that was a day that could’ve been spent yielding a better outcome for the future.
And that’s how life works at all times.
There’s a time for leisure, which has a tradeoff of not producing certain positive future outcomes. And there’s a time for work, which has a tradeoff of lacking the peace of mind that comes with leisure.
All your decisions have tradeoffs and potential outcomes. When you start to look at your life as a series of decisions with opportunity costs, you tend to make better ones.
I’m not telling you what to do over the next weeks, months, or however long this takes.
I’m simply asking you to take a look at the outcomes you want when this is all over and match your actions accordingly.
This will be easier for some and more difficult than others. My advice doesn’t apply equally to any of you.
Still, regardless of your situation, it’s your life.
Think about your next move.
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