Have you seen the movie Limitless?
It's a very thought-provoking and engaging movie. Eddie, a down-on-his-luck writer, bumps into his ex-brother-in-law who gives him a new “wonder drug” that produces enhanced mental abilities and super motivation.
With the drug, he is able to access all of his brain power, allowing him to write books, learn new languages, and decipher stock trading algorithms in a fraction of the time it would take without the drug. This new Eddie creates great success and wealth, but he also stirs up a lot of danger and trouble for himself and others.
At one point during his narration of the story, he asks the audience, “What would you do if you became the best version of yourself?” Would you take this drug if you could access all of your brain power and have limitless productivity? His girlfriend contends that the best version of himself isn't one that is created by a drug.
So I pose this question to you — what is the best version of yourself? What would you do to access this version in order to accomplish great things?
Would you take a mental or physical performance-enhancing drug?
Would you work 60 hour work weeks?
Would you write lists, set goals, remove all distractions in an effort to get it all done?
According to Meriam-Webster.com, to produce is “to compose, create, or bring out by intellectual or physical effort,” and productivity is “the quality or state of being productive.”
However, I contend that productivity is more than simply being productive — it is being productive in ways that compliment and enhance the type of person you want to be and the life you want to live.
Thus, being productive doesn't mean doing more, and it doesn't require a drug or herculean effort. It means doing what's important. What's the point of limitless productivity when you aren't producing something meaningful to you? When you are focused on what's important, you have:
more peace of mind
The trick is defining what's most important for you, and creating a personal operating system for your life that keeps you focused.
One way to do this is to create a vision for your life. When you know what you want for yourself and from life, you can use this vision as a road map and a framework for making decisions, setting goals, and taking actions.
Here's how I begin creating a life vision:
Step 1: Ask yourself three questions.
- Who do you want to be?
- What do you want to accomplish?
- How do you want to live?
As an example, this is how I would answer those questions:
Who do you want to be:
I want to be loving, patient, kind, emotionally mature, humble, and forgiving in my relationships with family, friends, and business associates.
I want to be a person who lives in accordance with my values and within my integrity.
I want to be light, playful, adventurous, curious, and a life-long learner.
I want to be physically and emotionally healthy.
What do you want to accomplish?
I want to guide and raise my children to adulthood and maintain a happy and loving relationship with them.
I want to build my coaching and online businesses so that I serve and inspire others and become financially independent.
I want to travel regularly all over the world.
I want to write and publish a book or books.
I want to meet a wide variety of new people and continue to challenge myself to learn new skills.
How do you want to live?
I want to live with a healthy balance between work, play, introspection, and rest.
I want a home that is comfortable, peaceful, inviting, and manageable.
I want to enjoy relationships that are stimulating, supportive, mature, fun, and loyal.
I want to have enough money to enjoy the experiences and some material things that are important to me, but not so much that it becomes a burden.
I want to have freedom, flexibility, and independence in my work and lifestyle so that I can take time to work on and experience many things.
Step 2: Write down the specifics.
- After you have answered each question, list some specific actions or goals under each answer. For example, if there are ways you are not being who you want to be, write this down and include ideas on how you can change your behaviors or actions.
- If you have specific things you want to accomplish in life, list them under each answer you provided in your vision.
- If you aren't living the way you want to live, make note of where you would like to change your circumstances and how you might go about doing that.
- Keep a running list of all of the actions, behaviors, and changes you want based on your vision.
Step 3: Prioritize.
- At different times in life, different elements of our vision may take precedence. Further, if you have a lot you want to accomplish or change in your life, you must realize that you can't do it all at one time. Especially if maintaining balance is one of your priorities.
- Pick two or three areas where you are living out-of-alignment with your vision and where your focus would make a profound positive impact on your life. These will be your main areas of productivity for now.
- You can always refine and adjust these areas of focus. Once you accomplish or address something, you can begin with something else.
Step 4: Stay true to your vision.
The purpose of creating this vision is to enhance your productivity by keeping you focused on what is most important to you. If you veer from this vision, you are diminishing productivity and wasting time.
To stay true to your vision, try these actions:
- Keep your vision questions, answers, and actions posted where you can see them daily.
- Before you begin anything, ask yourself the question, “What is the most important thing I should do right now?”
- Remove distractions. Clear your desk. Turn off your phone.
- Focus on the task at hand.
- Learn to say no, even when it's uncomfortable. When something is asked of you, refer to your vision.
- Remember that if rest and play are part of your vision, then you are being productive when you are resting and playing. Productivity doesn't necessarily equate to work or tasks only.
- Accept that sometimes you will be pulled away from your vision for reasons out of your control or by your choice. Just start again and refocus when you can.
- Revisit your vision questions every year to reevaluate if they are still valid for you and to change them if necessary.
When most of your actions are based on your vision, your productivity will be limitless. How can it not be? You learn not to waste time on actions, behaviors, tasks, and interactions that do not serve your greater good. Everything you do has “the quality or state of being productive.”
If you would like some additional strategies for productivity, I recommend checking out Leo Babauta's (of Zen Habits) new book called The Little Guide To Un-Procrastination and this wonderful article by my friend Mary Jaksch (of Goodlife Zen) called Zen and the Art of Ninja Productivity.
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