7: The most productive people don’t care about “productivity”

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Happy Monday.

This newsletter may ruffle some feathers, but it’s something I’ve been pondering over the weekend.

The most productive people (generally) don’t spend time on “productivity” and “productivity systems.”

In fact, in my anecdotal experience there’s an inverse correlation between time spent on “improving productivity and systems” and actual productive output.

For example: there’s this guy I know. He’s in his 50s. Super unorganized.

Try plan something with him more than a week out and it just won’t happen. But he’ll call you at 11:50am asking if you want to grab lunch at 12pm. Despite him being incredibly unorganized, he’s worth tens of millions and gets a ton of stuff done.

Another entrepreneur I know has built his current biz at record speed. I’ve never seen him use a task management app (don’t think he has one). But he just gets things done. 

In fact, 80% of the high performers I know don’t even really think about this stuff. They just get shit done. The other 20% need to think about this stuff because they have big teams/are super busy/are process-oriented.

What’s funny is that there’s a growing subset of people (especially on Twitter) who constantly harp on about productivity and how to improve it. But when you look at what they’ve actually done?

Well… you can’t find much. It’s just tweets about productivity.

Admittedly, I’ve been in this camp. Not gonna lie. The second business I tried building was a productivity blog. I was 17 and didn’t know shit about the real world. Adults with kids were reading this. Doesn’t make sense to me. 

Anyway, maybe it’s just me looking too much into this, but it seems like every second person who’s obsessed with building the perfect note-taking system, using Roam Research or Obsidian, “building a second brain…”

…they just don’t get much done.

They spend too much time:

  • “Optimizing” their task management and note-taking system (what is there to optimize?)
  • Planning and thinking or “doing research.”
  • Putting together what they falsely believe are necessary preconditions to take action

It’s the worst form of procrastination, because unlike watching Netflix, it feels like you’re doing work. But you’re not. And this is coming from someone who regularly falls into the trap of playing around with a new note-taking app feeling like it’s going to “change the game” for me. 

So, what’s the solution? 

I don’t know. Probably spend less time trying to build the perfect system. Spend less time following productivity gurus. 

Maybe a better way is to just set goals and then work until you find a major bottleneck?

Like, you’ll very quickly figure out whether you need a complex project management tool or not. 

And you’ll quickly figure out whether you need a robust note-taking system, or a fancy calendar software, or whatever.

Find systems and tools to solve the problems you already have, not problems you think you’ll have in the future. 

End of rant. 

Enjoy your week, let’s get it. 

-Sam

P.S. For the record, I still believe having a good note-taking system/productivity system is a good thing. But it shouldn’t be something you’re spending hours per week trying to optimize, and it shouldn’t become something you use to procrastinate.

These things should serve your goals. And if they don’t, then you need to readjust.

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