Ep. 26 – Intro to Intentional Productivity
Introducing the concept of Intentional Productivity and why it’s so important to reconsider our definition of productivity. Season 5 is all about Intentional Productivity. What is it and how can it help us work better?
Any resources referenced in the episode are listed below the transcript.
Creating Cadence Transcript – Ep. 26
I’m your host Mich Bondesio, a writer, coach, consultant and the founder of Growth Sessions.
This is episode 26 and the first of season 5 of the podcast, recorded in late January 2022.
So welcome back!
I’m glad you’re here after another humdinger year. And I’m not sure about you, but January has felt like 3 months in one for me. It’s been pretty intensive, but good overall, with lots of exciting things happening.
So last season we took a look at emerging technologies, web 3 and the metaverse. And I’ll coming back to those topics in future episodes and seasons, because they will continue to influence our work and wellbeing landscape, so they are relevant to what I cover in this podcast.
If you’re new here, the focus of the Creating Cadence podcast is on things that help us to build a better rhythm of work-life cadence, so that we can activate more of our potential in a way that also keeps us well and happy.
The topics I cover include digital wellness (also known as digital hygiene), behavioural design, creativity, productivity, emerging technologies and the future of work.
And the focus for Season 5 is specifically on Productivity.
But not in a sleazy, hustle culture kind of way.
At this point in time, Omicron is still causing disruption in various parts of the world.
In certain places, businesses are urging/forcing staff to return to a physical workplace, with mixed results.
And the great resignation continues to gain momentum as people are fed up with juggling getting sick with burning out,due to spending too many hours online and stretching themselves too thin and taking on too many roles, especially when others around them fall ill from covid.
So, now more than ever, how we view productivity needs to change.
Now I don’t know if I actually coined this phrase, but Intentional Productivity is a concept I’ve developed and used in my coaching and writing work since I first launched Growth Sessions 4 years ago.
Despite us having been in this pandemic situation for 2 years now, from what I’ve seen, people are still struggling mightily.
So that’s why this year I’ve decided to write a book about Intentional Productivity, so that I can hopefully reach more people to help them make much needed positive changes in their life and work to support themselves better.
You may be thinking what do I mean by positive changes?
Well what I’ve found in my work is that when people are able to develop the practice of becoming more intentional about HOW they work, the knock on effect is that they improve their focus, and elevate their creativity, and they get more meaningful work done, in a way that also looks after their wellbeing. And it also has a positive effect in other parts of their lives too.
So this podcast season is going to be an introduction to what I mean by Intentional Productivity. And I’ll be touching on some of the concepts connected to this way of working, that will be explored more deeply in the book.
This topic is relevant to you whether you’re an entrepreneur, or freelancer, whether you’re an employer or employee, and whether you work in a team or on your own.
And I have a favour to ask … if, as you’re listening, the topics we cover spark a thought, idea or example you want to share. Or if you come across resources you think might be helpful to me as I write the book, then I’d really appreciate you getting in touch. You can write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Now I know your time is precious, so, if you’re ready let’s dive in …
The typical, technical definition of Productivity is that it represents the volume of outputs we’re able to produce, based on how efficiently we use our input resources, such as labour and capital.
Using this notion of productivity and deliverables means that we and our outputs usually appear as data points on a business balance sheet or management tracking system.
Personally I find that to be a very bland and boring business definition and way of looking at humans.
It’s important to remember that we’re humans first and resources second. We are not commodities, despite advertisers and analysts treating us as such.
And our outputs and ability to deliver can fluctuate because of several factors, that aren’t often taken into account, on paper or in reports.
Our productivity can also be affected by things like our relationships, both at work and home.
Or by the nature of the work we do. Do we find meaning in our work? Do we have agency over how we work?
There are also external factors which can cause overwhelm, pressure and too much stress. And a prime example of this, is of course, a two year pandemic.
All of these things, and more, affect our focus and our abilities to perform.
So that’s why it’s necessary to rethink the traditional view of productivity.
To quote James Clear, the author of Atomic Habits:
“We often assume that productivity means getting more things done each day. Wrong. Productivity is getting important things done consistently.”
And the idea of intentional productivity is an even more nuanced way of thinking about being productive.
It still includes a focus on working efficiently, effectively and consistently.
But it also takes into account our desire to produce meaningful work, in a way that doesn’t place all our meaning on the work.
What I mean by that is that often we are defined by our work. We identify so closely with what we do that when we take the work away, we feel lost and we can lose a sense of meaning and identity.
But life is about more than work. And without the other parts of our life to influence and support us, our work is just work.
When work is the ‘be-all-and-end-all’, when the focus is solely on being productive to get the most out of yourself and out of others, this has a negative impact on productivity and wellbeing, ultimately leading to burnout.
As regular listeners will know, this is a topic close to my heart as I was unable to work for more than a year due to an epic bout of burnout, at a time in my life when I thought that work was all I had to live for.
When we engage in Intentional Productivity practices, we’re not just focusing on the work, we’re also being more mindful about how our work fits into the bigger picture, and into our life as a whole.
And I’m not the only one who thinks this way.
Jerry Colonna is a coach, author and the founder of a coaching company called Reboot.io. In a recent Tim Ferriss podcast interview from December 2021, Jerry was speaking about the need to make time and space to recharge from work and the false sense that trying to always be productive is a good thing.
He said a few things that struck a chord. Firstly he indicated that what contributes to burnout is that “we take meaning from motion. We take meaning from performance. And then, when we take away the motion, what happens to the meaning?”
Jerry went on to say that we are actually “most productive when we stop trying to be productive.” And that “there’s an emotional load that we pile onto this notion of productivity. That load then exacerbates the stress and tension which then results in us needing to take time off.”
Being more intentional about our productivity helps us to create more cadence in our work day and more momentum in our work projects, without being productive for the sake of being productive. And it also supports our wellbeing and creativity better too.
Intentional productivity connects our personal values and a more purpose-driven way of doing business, with all the other necessary components of running a business, things like outputs, deliverables and profits (all those boring business buzzwords that I’m loathe to use).
If you’re still wondering why this is important, let’s look at where we are at…
We’re in an increasingly fragile economic landscape and we’re experiencing unprecedented amounts of stress and burnout due to a variety of factors both inside and outside of our work.
It also feels like there’s always more that needs to be done, with less time and less money and less people.
And as we know, the robots are coming. So we’re also being forced to question the future of our livelihoods and our identities when it comes to how we work and how we pay the bills.
All of this puts incredible strain on our wellbeing and ability to perform well because it adds to our cognitive load.
As humans, we’re the weakest link in the business production process. But we are also the most important link.
To thrive in business, both in the current world situation, and in the long run, we need to put ourselves, our people and our purpose, at the heart of how we do business.
This isn’t some woo woo concept.
Doing so differentiates our offering in a busy marketplace. And it also supports our business longevity.
Meta studies have proven that when we create healthy work cultures that support our wellbeing, that also improves productivity, creativity and communication, as well as our business bottom line.
Being human and embracing and supporting our vulnerabilities is a competitive advantage.
And this applies whether you work on your own, as part of a small team, or part of a big organisation.
So where do we start in improving ourselves and our outputs?
We start by mastering intentional productivity.
In coming episodes, we’re going to look at the current context of our modern working environments and the things affecting our ability to do good work. I’m also going to touch on the things that can help us to be more productive in a good way, from mindsets, practices and activities, to cycles of productivity.
Before we continue, I want to end off by asking you to consider two questions about your current state of productivity.
I know it’s only the beginning of the year, but are you feeling stressed in your work? Are you struggling with focus and completing your work?
If you answered yes to either, then you’ll benefit from listening to future episodes and maybe the future book too.
Links to resources I’ve referenced and curated for this episode, that will help you develop a deeper understanding of these concepts.
Jerry Colonna Interview – Tim Ferriss Podcast
Jerry Colonna – Reboot Coach and Co-Founder