Productivity and Control

Over the past few years, I have gotten into the idea of productivity and optimizing my workflow. This desire grew from working in an environment defined by the constant churn of responding to emails and attending meetings.

It was easy to fall into the trap of trying to clear my inbox and calling that productive. Or, I would have a full day of meetings and, again, label that as getting things done. The reality, though, was that not many real tasks get completed through email replies and hour-long share outs. I could say that I was “busy,” but busy is not the same as being productive.

Eventually, I started to think about how to get out of that trap. How could I be proactive, rather than reactive? How could I be the boss of my own work? I’m not talking about being my own boss. I’m talking about having some degree of ownership of my work product. The problem is, when you have a boss who wants you to be responsive to their emails and meeting requests, you don’t get to be proactive. You are stuck in a state of reactivity. No matter what your title, you become their admin assistant.

And so, I realized, that all of the Harvard Business Review articles, and all of the Tim Ferriss podcasts wouldn’t magically give me more control. I needed to find a different outlet, whether a new job, or a new hobby.

There is a lot to be learned from all of the self-help and productivity gurus out there. You just have to accept that their advice is going to be tempered by the control (or lack of) that you have in your present situation.

More on that another time.

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