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How I Choose to View Productivity

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As time moves forward with our period of “quarantine and chill” we’ve seen the debate on how to spend your time diverge into two camps.

On one side, 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 types 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.

So, you certainly can watch Netflix all day, eat poorly, have some beers, and do nothing towards your project throughout this period. And, seriously, no moral judgment on that whatsoever. You’ll come out this period with the type of results that behaviour yields — weight gain, no gain in the bank account, and no moment toward future prospects.

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 have been 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 this entire self-improvement/entrepreneurship milieu, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t consequences.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with being out of shape from a moral perspective, but the objective outcome is literally having higher odds of dying.

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 up 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 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 a single person in their mid 20’s with no responsibilities and someone with three children stuck at home with them during quarantine.

Still, regardless of your situation, it’s your life.

Think about your next move.

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