Why Do You Care About Being Productive?

“So You Can Do More” Is the Wrong Answer

Hi friend!

This week I want to talk about why you do you care about being productive? Hint, “so you can do more” is the wrong answer.

💡 Today at a glance

  • The productivity jigsaw puzzle and the benefits of being productive.

  • Why I’m feeling like I’m running on fumes, and the REAL reason you should be chasing productivity.

  • I recently realised, I might be looking for Peaceful Productivity, are you?

I have a confession to make, in the last week or so, I feel like I’ve been running on fumes. (I’ll get to that shortly)

First I want to share a quick story.

When I discovered the world of productivity and personal development in my early 20s, it was all about “how can we make the most of the time we have, to do all the things we want to in life”.

A lot of it was focused on pursuing your career goals and productivity, so you have time to travel, hang out with different friends and have time for side hustles and making spare change on the side.

On reflection, time and life was like a jigsaw puzzle.

And I was figuring out how to fit the pieces together in the most efficient way, to optimise the use of my time.

Benefits of Being Productive

Don’t get me wrong, there are a ton of benefits of being productive. Here are just a few I personally experienced in the last decade and a half:

  • Feeling a sense of purpose and direction —this is actually great for your health and wellbeing.

  • Having time to pursue more opportunities. This has led to career advancements, higher income, more interesting job roles etc.

  • More time to work on side projects (especially while having a 9-5), which allowed me to pursue my passions like running a travel blog, doing photography on the side, hosting photography community events for fun and collaborating with photography industry brands.

  • Being recognised as someone who can “getting things done” and be seen as a valuable contributing member of a team.

These benefits are still really relevant and important outcomes of being productive.

But my perspective on productivity has definitely shifted from trying to make all the puzzle pieces fit together, to how can I create more empty space in my life and work, for both the planned and unpredictable things life.

Why I’m feeling like I’m running on fumes?

I gotta admit, my month of January has felt more like “putting together a jigsaw puzzle” than a slow and calm start to the 2024!

I knew well in advance I was doing some travelling at the end of January, so I was mindful of the amount of work and projects I had on my plate for January, when I was mapping out my month.

But the big mistake I made was not leaving enough empty space in my schedule to account for a few unpredicted things that cropped up in my life!

This meant while I was wrapping up a few projects and big tasks that I planned, and dealing with a few unexpected tasks and appointments before heading off for my travels… I’m now feeling a bit worn down.

So this week got me thinking about how I’ve been apply the Slow Productivity and really reflecting on the question “why do I care about being productive?”

Have you stopped to ask yourself that question?

If you haven’t, I suggest taking a moment out of your day to write down the answer to that question for yourself.

The REAL answer behind the purpose of productivity

Here’s my answer.

Being productive is about doing fewer things but doing it well, so I can make time for the most important things in life that matters (which are often not things at all).

Right now, it means being able to make time to travel across the world to see my family and friends whom I haven’t seen in a while. Being able to spend time on these important relationships are important to me.

Of course, the bonus of travelling is experiencing new foods, sights and cultures along the way.

That creates for a richer life experience.

I’m looking forward to exploring some parts of Vietnam I haven’t been to, eating some great food in Malaysia, and maybe catching up with a virtual buddy… in person in Singapore!

Being productive also means getting to prioritise working with people I enjoy working with and really want to help, and work on projects that I’m passionate about (teaching, coaching, consulting and writing just to name a few).

And in the last few weeks I’m grateful that I got to do just that.

But underestimating how long a few tasks did take me, and most importantly not leaving enough empty space in my weekly plans for the unpredicted things has left me feeling tired, anxious and a bit mentally overloaded.

Maybe you’re also looking for Peaceful Productivity?

This brings me to the concept of Peaceful Productivity that I’ve being ideating on.

I realised I want to be productive during my pursuit of meaningful ambitions, but feel inner peace instead of anxiety or mental overload.

📍 My working definition of Peaceful Productivity:

The art and science of pursuing meaningful ambitions with inner peace and groundedness, free from anxiety or mental overload.

So much productivity advice out there is tactical —the hacks, techniques and systems.

How to make a realistic to-do list! Use the 80/20 rule! Timeblock plan your day! Building a Second Brain system for your personal knowledge!

Don’t get me wrong, applying productivity tactics and actionable advice are important steps towards being productive and making time for the important things.

But people can easily lose sight of how they want the experience and feel when “being productive”.

There should be a sense of joy and contentment when we’re doing focused and important work. It should feel good.

It should feel like we’re able to prioritise tasks and activities outside of “work” that brings us joy and balance.

Instead of feeling stressed because we’re constantly making difficult trade-offs.

When I’m feeling anxious or drained, I’m not showing up as my best-self to my husband, family or friends.

The message here is use productivity as a tool to do less not more.

Use the time you “gained” to create empty space in your schedule (and in your mind) to recharge your energy, ideate, connect the dots between existing ideas and build mental clarity solve some roadblocks that you’re facing in your life, work or business.

I like to think of it as a flywheel.

Experiencing a sense of peace and contentment when you’re being productive on the right things, actually leads to more productivity (not less).

🛠️ Building in Public

After hosting my free Travel Hub Notion Template on Gumroad for so long, I've decided to move it to ConvertKit.

I just love the simple and clean landing page design. It took me about 30 minutes to get this set up!

If you find travel planning a struggle… You might be interested in the Travel planning system that’s been downloaded by over 780+ people so far.

That’s it! Thanks for reading.

While I’m taking a month off to unwind, do some travelling and visiting some friends and family, I’m also taking a short break from sending out this newsletter.

The next time The Slow Digest will hit your inbox will be the first Saturday of March.

In the meantime, I’m curious to hear, what do you think of the idea of Peaceful Productivity? What does it look and feel like to you? —I’d love to hear from you!

See you in a few weeks,

Janice CK

📌 Note Worthy

  1. Deep Questions Podcast: Feel-Good Productivity with Ali Abdaal (1 hour 42 minutes)

    It was an interesting conversation between Cal Newport and Ali Abdaal. It was less about Ali’s new productivity book, but more about Ali’s “deep life” journey from doctor to multi-millionaire productivity expert and Youtuber.

    Check it out podcast episode

  2. Build In Public Master Sprint - Starting Feb 1 (Doors Open Now)

    I joined Kevon’s sprint in December, and had a ton of fun, practiced my “building in public” skills and learned a lot along the way (I shared my lessons here if you’re interested). Highly recommend, the price is a steal!

    Check out the Sprint

Whenever you're ready, here are 3 ways I can help you:

  1. Ultimate Guide: How to create your digital writing system in Notion under 1 hour (Free!): Ready to learn how to use Notion to create your own writing system so you can write consistently?

    Join 110+ people who have downloaded this guide to build their own Writer’s Hub OS in Notion with built-in slow productivity principles.

  2. Mini-Course: Writer’s Hub OS in Notion: Learn the best practices for building in Notion, Workflow Design design and implementing a writing system that helps you get organised so you can focus on turning ideas into published content. It includes a ready-to-go Writer’s Hub OS template in Notion.

    Perfect for new digital writers and solopreneurs looking for a system in Notion.

  3. Travel Hub Notion Template (Free!): All-in-one Travel Planner that helps you ideate, plan, research and organise your trip stress free using Notion.

    Join 780+ people who have already downloaded this system and upped their travel planning game.

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