The Barrier To Increased Productivity

There are two classes of people don’t get things one. The first class is the lazy, and the second class is the category of people walking around all day with anxiety and talking about how they need to be more productive. They make checklists and will tell anyone who will listen about the work they have to do. The amount of effort thinking about work greatly exceeds the amount of work actually accomplished.

How do you remove this barrier to productive when you are thinking about putting forth intensive effort towards a task but are not, in fact, actually putting forth intensive effort towards a task?

Usually, the barrier comes from thinking about the necessary finished product rather than the individual elements necessary to creating the finished product. To use a pedestrian example, imagine the delayed task is “clean the house”. That can sound like a lot. If you break it down further into the discrete elements, it suddenly becomes doable. Put the clothes in the laundry. Wipe down the bathroom. Get the debris in the trash and throw it away. Those individual tasks make the process so much easier.

If your goal is to start a business, walking around saying “I want to start a business now” won’t get you there. You have to go to your Secretary of State’s website and draft Articles of Organization or Incorporation. You have to draft an Operating Agreement. You have to get an EIN number from the IRS. You have to go to the bank to open a business checking account. You have to get your hands on the initial capital. Each of those steps is much more concrete than the amorphous idea of “starting a business.” Slashing the task down to the individual components is how great works are accomplished.

Other times, the barrier to productivity is not determining the next step, but rather, how to accomplish the identified stock. Maybe, due to a combination of experience or uneasiness of committing yourself to a work product that might be flawed, you engage in delay after delay out of the belief that at a later moment you’ll be more prepared to win the day.

That time of thinking is your worst enemy–it’s complete balderdash because you will never be as motivated to perform a task as you are at the moment you are making yourself anxious about not accomplishing it.

I take to heart Samuel Johnson’s warning in Rambler #71: “As he that lives longest lives but a little while, every man may be certain that he has no time to waste. The duties of life are commensurate to its duration, and every day brings its task, which, if neglected, is doubled on the morrow. But he that has already trifled away those months and years, in which he should have laboured, must remember that he has now only a part of that which the whole is little; and that, since the few moments remaining are to be considered as the last days of Heaven, not one is to be lost.”

Inaction is not the delay of choice, but a choice in itself.

In our daily monologues, we can trick ourselves into delaying productivity by comparing some perfect effort we might expend tomorrow compared to the flawed production that we fear we may produce if we set out to accomplish the task right now. This is the wrong way of viewing the matter. Really, the choice is: Do nothing now and the moment will forever be squandered to the sands of time with nothing to show for it, or expend an effort that might only lead to a result of 0.8x of what you envisioned in your hand. Choosing .8x over 0x over and over again is how you improve your lot in life by leaps and bounds.