Three Simple Steps to Be Productive

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Being productive is producing.

Wiki’s economic definition of production is,

The process of combining various material inputs and immaterial inputs in order to make something for consumption (the output)… Production is the act of creating output, a good or service which has value and contributes to the utility of individuals.

Being Productive

Here are two examples from my very real, very non-glamorous, daily life:

  • making lunch for 4 hungry children
  • writing and publishing a blog post

In each case, I take various inputs (bread/cheese/knowledge of how to use a stove or words/ideas) and apply some process to those inputs (heat the bread & cheese/type the ideas, arrange the words) in order to get an output (sandwich! blog post!).

Production Looks Boring

Production is not really exciting while you’re doing it, whatever it is…

It consists of actions you’ve repeated before, a thousand times. It may not look very exciting or creative or valuable.

Production does not always feel worthwhile.

But the end result is a real and worthwhile thing, something that is, in perhaps a very small way or perhaps a very large way, useful and valuable and important to a person.

Or, perhaps, to many people.

It’s satisfying to produce something useful, helpful, valuable… even if that something is only a grilled cheese sandwich.

Production Involves Transformation

If you’re not transforming something (various material inputs and immaterial inputs) into something else, you’re not producing.

You’re tweaking, maybe, or perhaps using (consuming), or maintaining.

Important things that we need to do, but not the same as production.

To be more productive, look at the end result: What is your output? What are you producing?

Two Ingredients, One Result

There are two ingredients you need in order to get more output, um, out there.

  • First ingredient: Input
  • Second ingredient: Process

What Input Do You Need?

There are material and immaterial inputs: the raw material you use to create a new thing, and the inspiration and understanding you apply to those materials.

What Process Do You Use?

This is your workflow, the skills you have that you use in acting upon the input. This application of skill is the work of production. Here is where you do the transforming.

What Output Do You Seek?

There has to be an endpoint at which you declare a thing finished and release it. Otherwise it’s not output, it’s simply unfinished process. Finishing does not mean reaching perfection. It means saying, “This is good enough to be helpful/valuable/useful to someone, so I’m going to stop working on it and release it to the people who need it.”

Saying that – declaring a point of completion – frees you to go back to the starting point.

Three Simple Steps to Be Productive

What is the starting point?

Gather the input.

What is the next step?

Enact the process.

What is the final step?

Release the output.

These three steps are all that you require to be productive. These three steps are the only way that you can be productive.

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