When you read about productivity, there's tonnes of advice out there about how to manage your email, how to organise your work day, how to get more out of meetings and how to eliminate distractions.
In this blog post I'd like to talk about one of the most important components of productivity that I've come to value more and more over time. It isn't an app you can download or some special technique for managing your time. It's much more important than any of the tools and techniques I usually talk about.
Do you want to know what it is? Okay, here you go:
It's finding your “why”. Your purpose. Your reason for being. It's fundamentally about loving what you do and doing something that brings real meaning to your life.
Loving what you do will contribute more to your productivity than any app or system can ever hope of doing. When you work on something you care about you'll find ways of being more productive because you're constantly pursuing a goal you care about.
Before I started this website I was searching for ideas of businesses I could build for myself. Because I work full-time I wanted something that could generate a passive income and that I would enjoy working on in my spare time. I went through Simon Sinek's Learn Your Why course which helped me to find out what made me tick. In a sense it helped me to define what I care about more than anything else and the why that underlies my personal core values.
Going through this course I found that I'm the kind of person who is driven by self-improvement and getting more out of life. I believe in achieving more in everything that I do. Here's my personal why statement:
“To develop myself and others so that we can realise our full potential.”
That's why I'm so passionate about productivity. My why is to pursue self-improvement and productivity is how I achieve this. And that's what lead me down this path and lead me to create this website where I can “develop myself and others”. I feel that one of the best ways to get better at something is to teach others about that thing. That’s why I love sharing my productivity system with people like you.
If you’re on my email list you may know that I have just left my job at Mighty Ape and am going to work with a friend of mine at his startup. One of the reasons for this change was that I was too comfortable at my old job. When you get comfortable you stop learning and I could really feel my motivation starting to dip. The passion I once had for the job gradually burned out and it became harder and harder to find new ways to rekindle this flame. This is why I think it's so important that companies focus on their why so that employees feel a real sense of meaning behind their work.
In contrast, when I wake up at 5am to work on my website I literally jump out of bed because I'm super excited to work on something that aligns with my why statement. I try and use every spare second I can to work on the site, grow my audience and help as many people as I can. The meaning and purpose it creates increases my productivity more than any other app or system.
Find your why
Sure, having a system and choosing the right tools is important, but you should spend some time working out what you value and believe in.
I highly recommend the Find Your Why course. It had a huge impact on me and gave me a lot of clarity around what I should be focusing on.
If you need to find more meaning in your work, try talking to your boss and asking them questions like:
- Why does this company exist?
- What does this company believe in?
- How is this company trying to make the world a better place?
By answering these questions you can bring more meaning to your work. It’s a bit like the case of the two builders laying bricks. One said they were building a wall, where the other said they were building a cathedral. Focus on the big picture.
If the work you do doesn't motivate you, it could be because it doesn't align with your why. Think about what you would love to do and go do that. Again, when you work on something you care about, you'll be far more productive as a result.
Your “why” is the best source of fuel you can add to your productivity fire. Find it!