The reason I research productivity is simple. I think that a productive life equals a happy life.
Also, if you’re more productive than average people, you’ll advance faster in your career. You learn more. You do more. And eventually are rewarded more.
And when I talk about productivity, I talk about being effective.
Because productivity doesn’t suggest that you get the right things done. It just means you get a lot of stuff done. But that’s not what matters.
Effectiveness, however, refers to getting the right things done.
And if you want to do your job well, earn money, live a meaningful life, or learn skills, that is what matters the most. Otherwise, you just run around in circles. You might appear busy, but you won’t achieve anything meaningful.
In other words: It’s easy to do useless work. Work that doesn’t bring you closer to the outcomes you desire.
One of the most important lessons I’ve learned from reading books, interviewing smart people, and having conversations with my mentors is that questions are more important than answers.
But that goes against everything you learn in school where you’re rewarded for the quality of your answers.
However, that’s not what you should judge a person on. Instead, look at the quality of a person’s questions, like Voltaire famously said:
“Judge a man by his questions rather than his answers.”
And one of my friends who’s a consultant at one of the big three management consultancies, once told me that, “my job is to be ignorant.” He was referring to Peter Drucker, arguably one of the greatest management consultants of all time, who said:
You can easily measure a business by looking at the numbers. Turnover, profit, costs, employee churn, etc.
But how do you measure your life? There are no universal metrics to assess your life.
So it’s up to every person to create their own way to measure where they are in life.
Some do that by looking at how much they earn compared to their peers. Some look at how far they climbed the corporate ladder. Others measure themselves by how they look.
I have studied how the most successful thinkers of our time measure their lives. The answer is surprising. You rarely hear that successful people measure their life by the size of their bank account or any other conventional measure.
Have you ever made a decision that seemed illogical looking back? We’re all highly illogical beings even though we think the opposite!
Every person creates their own social reality. The way you view the world is completely subjective because we all have cognitive biases.
The concept of cognitive biases was introduced in 1972 by two psychologists, Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman. A cognitive bias is a systematic thinking error that impacts judgments, and therefore, our decisions.
As of this writing, there are 106 decision-making related cognitive biases known! We all make these errors. So there’s no point in trying to become a perfect thinker. It’s impossible.
However, with practice, you can avoid some thinking mistakes that many of us make. And by avoiding these errors, we can improve our decisions, and consequently: Our lives and careers.
What follows is a list of three thinking errors. The question is: Do you make these errors? If so, I’ll also share a fix.
Picture this. You have a job that pays okay. But you don’t really like it. Well, let me put it this way: You like the money, but you wouldn’t do that job if there was no money involved.
“Screw it, I need money to have a life!” You might think.
We all have bills to pay, people to take care of, and important tasks to complete. We do these things because if we don’t, we might get fired and lose our income.
And without income, we can’t pay for our house, clothes, vacations, etc.
I’m describing a “normal” life. I call this normal because this is how 99% of all people that I know live.
That’s what I think three or four times a month.
To be honest, the thought of quitting whatever I’m doing in my life has been on my mind as long as I remember. When I was in high school, I wanted to quit and just find a job. When I played basketball, I wanted to quit.
When I started a business, I wanted to quit and get a job. When I got a job, I wanted to quit and get back to my business.
I can go on and on until I reach the present. I know, it sounds like an existential crisis that people in the first world only have. But that’s not what’s going on.
You’ll never find me crying about stuff like missing out on parties, not being able to get my hands on a ‘one-of-a-kind’ t-shirt (you hype beasts out there), or a dead battery.
But no matter how much I love what I do, the thoughts of quitting and just walking away show up in my mind every time things get hard. And in the past, those thoughts cost me many nights of sleep.