Understanding what an increase in productivity will give you more of is an important first step in order to be more productive.
This is the first article in the “How to Be More Productive: The Ultimate Guide to Productivity” series that will turn you into a productivity machine and become 100x more productive.
We will learn how to become more productive by implementing a few simple productivity hacks. You will understand how to focus on the right things, prioritize, and better manage your time.
We will start by doing a simple yet very important exercise. I want you to understand what an increase in productivity will mean to you. To discover it, let’s start with a simple exercise to figure out the why.
What Will an Increase in Productivity Mean?
I’m going to ask you a question, and I want you to think deeply about it for the next few minutes. Then, I want you to write down every answer that comes into your mind. Here we go:
“Why do you want to be more productive?”
In other words: what will an increase in productivity bring you more of?
Just think about it and write down your answers. When you think you’re done, keep reading. I’ve asked this question to many people over the years. Normally, the first answer fits into two categories:
Time: an increase in productivity will mean getting more things done and do more with my time
Wealth: an increase in productivity will mean getting better at my job so I get promoted faster and make more money
Does your answer fit into one of those two categories? Be truthful to yourself, there’s no judging here (nobody’s watching, anyway 😉 ).
More often than not, these are not the real reasons why people want to be more productive. That’s why you need to keep asking why and keep going into deeper levels, explaining the reasons why you want to be more productive.
Figuring Out Your Deepest “Why”
This iterative interrogative technique is commonly known as the Five Whys and was developed by Taiichi Ohno of Toyota. The main goal is to find the root cause of a problem or question.
A book that discusses this premise at length is “Start with Why” by Simon Sinek. It talks about companies, but we can apply the same reasoning to productivity. It doesn’t matter what you do, but it really matters why you do it.
Let me demonstrate this technique using myself as an example:
1. Why do you want to be more productive?
An increase in productivity will mean getting more stuff done in my work in less time. It will help me achieve the goals in my personal growth plan faster.
Because an increase in productivity will mean I have to work fewer hours per day to accomplish what I want and in turn have more flexibility with my time.
Because I don’t want to work all the time, I find routine boring and demotivating. Working less time and following the 80/20 rule, I can focus on making progress in meaningful work. An increase in productivity will free me to spend time with the people I like and do the activities I love, like reading books.
Because doing the things I like and surround myself with friends and family brings balance and happiness to my life.
Because I think that there is more to life than work. It’s also about having fun and doing the things you love.
First, I thought my reason was time-bound (“in less time”). However, my deepest why shows that the real reason is wanting more time for pleasure (I’m basically a kid who wants to do homework faster so I can go play outside 😉 ).
Moreover, an increase in productivity will mean more free time to do stuff I like. And because I can do those things, I will be more productive when I return to work. And on and on the cycle goes (yes, the irony is not lost on me).
Here are a few other examples of deep whys I’ve heard over the years:
- An increase in productivity will mean more time for my family and children
- Backpacking around the world for a year to discover new cultures
- Being more productive means starting a side business/project on something I am truly passionate about
- An increase in productivity will help start working for myself
Repeat the exercise and ask yourself “why” at least five times. Keep going until you get it. Don’t skip it. This is what’s going to fuel your flame to be more productive.
Figure out your deepest why for the reason you want to be more productive
The rest is easy.
Ultimately, it’s about applying specific frameworks to your thinking and day-to-day life that transform the way you work. But only knowing your deepest “why” can keep you motivated to be more productive.
In the next lesson in this series, we will start by taking a look at your routine and understanding where your time is leaking.