There are two ways of pursuing productivity.
The first way asks, “How do we produce as much good as possible in our work and in our lives?”
The second way asks, “How do we get as much done as possible in our work and in our lives?”
I think that most of us start out asking the first question, but as the tasks pile on we shift to madly scrambling after the second one. One of the true challenges in productivity, then, is to keep our eyes on the first question — the maximization of good, the promotion of long-term flourishing — even when everyone around us is blinded by the second — the grading of papers, the checking of email, the chasing of fads, the doing of things.
I am all for action in education. I believe lives are at stake. We must get things done — things like feedback and planning and connecting and meetings. But I am against the impossible list of tasks we accrue, or acting as if all of them matter equally, or the undisciplined completing of tasks. And I am against these things because of how badly they’ve cost me over the years in terms of good I could have done.
If you’d like to be more productive, here’s the first step: stay focused on the first way. The root question of time management is, “How do we produce as much good as possible, in our work and in our lives?” Your work and mine is about usefulness and long-term flourishing. Those — and not the endless tasks — are the job and the call.
Starting today, there's an all-online, schedule-friendly course exploring the ten key disciplines of time management. Whether you want your time to produce more good or you're feeling that drowning sensation way too often, this course is for you. If you register today, it's $59. Registration closes on June 30 or when the course reaches capacity.