Scott’s Thoughts: Productivity Profits

“If you don’t pay appropriate attention to what has your attention, it will take more of your attention than it deserves.”

David Allen, Productivity consultant and author of Getting Things Done

Coins and a clock.Productivity is one of our favorite topics in Tuesday Tactics. We like to find ways to help you rethink your process and retool your platforms. Along the way, we hope you find ways to leverage the tips, tools, and articles we feature to up your productivity and improve your life.

But what do you do with your productivity gains? Who benefits as you become more productive? You might automatically assume you’re the one who benefits as you become more productive, but this isn’t necessarily the case. In fact, if you’re not paying attention, you might find yourself “doing more with less” while feeling more exhausted, more harried, and more unsatisfied.

There’s a curious paradox at work in our modern lives. The better we are at managing our busy schedules, the busier we seem to become. Shouldn’t it be the opposite? As we become more productive, shouldn’t we have more leisure time?

recent article in The Atlantic suggests that being busy has become a status symbol. According to researchers:

“The gleam of being both well-off and time-poor is driven by the perceptions that a busy person possesses desired human capital characteristics (competence, ambition) and is scarce and in demand on the job market.”

It’s an interesting trap. If you signal your value by how busy you are, you may find yourself eager to pour all of your productivity profits right back into the pockets of others. “Now I have more time to work!” On one hand you may benefit financially from the effort, but on the other, you’re not going to be able to buy back those busier hours.

Pay attention to your productivity profits. As you become more efficient, recognize when you need to pay yourself or pay those you love with your time. Your time alive is the most valuable commodity you have.

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