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The Best Productivity Hack is to Care About What You Do

I’m heading out to speak at a tech conference this week. The conference will undoubtedly have many smart people in attendance. In fact, I don’t think it’s self-depreciating to assume that most of them are a lot smarter than me. It’s just true.

Continuing with the theme of “Is this really what it’s about in the world of productivity?”, a common question I get at these events is “Tell us about your productivity hacks.” This question usually comes from someone who’s not only smarter, but also most likely far more organized than me.

I don’t have a ton of hacks to share. I do have a system of writing things down and then working from my list. I suppose there’s a bit more to it than that—I use software called OmniFocus on all my devices, and I regularly transfer my hand-written notes to digital—but the main principle is just “write it down, make it happen.”

I’ve noticed that if there’s something I don’t like to do, sometimes I can make more progress by better organizing it. That’s good—I guess—but it also means that I’m reinforcing tasks and actions that I’m not excited about.

When I care about something, however, the system or workflow of choice becomes far less relevant. I don’t need to psych myself up to work on it.

The question isn’t “How can I make myself write this chapter?” (or prepare for a talk, record a podcast episode, etc.). The question is “How soon can I get started on this?”

If you believe in the work you’re doing—if you look forward to it and care about what you choose to spend time on, this factor will be far more motivating than any trickery you can devise.

So maybe that’s the hack you need: stop doing stuff you don’t care about. Focus on what matters most.


Image: Craig