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Life is not a hit or miss proposition.

What is productivity?

When you start a project in parallel with other commitments, or as a temporary project, you need to complete a lot of activities to meet your goal. You’ve never done this before, you don’t know how it's done and you don’t even know if the activities are the right things to do.

What stops you from doing what you want?

Productivity is a term that encapsulates being both effective and efficient. In other words, you need to get things done quickly and easily, and with the desired effect. How’s that possible when you’re about to do something that nobody has ever done before?

When you venture into something that you’ve never done, and possibly nobody else has ever done before, you need to be confident that you will make something happen, and that the thing that you create will resemble your vision that you had.

What do I want?

Being productive is meeting a goal in the least possible time, using the least amount of energy. To meet those two criteria, you need to figure out what you want to achieve and you need to know the timeframe before evaluating the outcome.

Productivity is more about defining a vision of a future world than completing tasks. The tasks that you’ve checked off might be the wrong activities. The biggest problem might be that sometimes you don’t know if the action you have decided on is the right one to meet your end-goal.

Productivity is more about defining a vision of a future world than completing tasks.

The timeframe is dependent on the scope of your project. Are you about to build a hyper-growth company that will become an international corporation, or do you just want to establish a the occupation of your dreams? Do you need an income next month, or is this something you plan to get revenue from in the next decade?

The world is conservative – and radical

Starting something new puts a lot of pressure on the founder. You’re responsible for the outcome; you’re responsible for leaving the safe situation you had for something different. You need to verify if your strategy works, as fast as possible.

Being productive when you establish something is like running a kind of innovation laboratory, where you state a thesis, and then as quickly as possible try to prove whether or not the hypothesis is true. The Wright brothers were convinced that they could make a contraption that would allow people to fly. They already had a bicycle shop and used that as a lab in which they could quickly create prototypes to test. They even moved their premises to an area with a lot of sand dunes, to avoid fatal consequences if their prototypes didn’t work.

You’re about to create something that the world hasn’t seen yet. A lot of forces around you will pressure you to continue doing what you’ve always done. Your procrastination may be a way to serve those voices. But if you believe that the people of the world need or want what you’re about to make, you need to prove that you’re right as fast as possible.

Make a routine

As an entrepreneur, being productive is about making it routine to create prototypes that either prove or disprove your proposal. The routine consists of analysing the current state, proposing a customer need, designing a prototype, testing if the prototype works, and establishing a system to replicate the product or service.

Productivity is to purposefully try something, and quickly verify if the activities meet the set of goals that the work is supposed to achieve. As well as making progress, productivity is to describe a set of goals that the work is supposed to meet, and evaluate if the tasks that you’ve done are effective.

Make a routine of trying new things, and develop a standard to verify if your improvisations are successful. Productivity is about being very conscious about unconscious decisions. You 'feel' something might be the right thing to do and use rigorous scientific methods to verify if the hunch is right.

Automate the infrastructure

As the person who builds systems for a new product or service, you will change the flow of creation, and the menial tasks of doing something that you’ve done many times before. Successful creators are excellent at shifting between the acts of unconsciously making something, and routinely managing something. The term productivity is usually associated with having the quality or power of producing something in abundance, but the definition in a start-up phase is about having the power to produce the desired result.

To be productive you can’t make something without a demand on its outcome.

Let's assume that you want to engage in a new venture because you think you can create something new. You’re doing this because you enjoy the act of creation, and your current life is maybe too much of a routine. A large part of the act of creation is to build systems to make routines easier to do or even unnecessary. To be productive you can’t be content with just making something without a demand on its outcome. You need to aggregate something that makes your initial activity efficient or superfluous.

Being a superhero

Being productive is about making all your actions into routines. The routines are systems that make your actions generate a desired outcome with low investments of time and energy. In effect, productivity is to invent a sequence of actions that takes away the need to do the actions.

Productivity is as much inventiveness and smartness, as it’s power and speed. Measurements may only capture the metrics of activities and not the goals met. By being productive, you put an emphasis on the purpose of the actions. What’s so valuable that you need to build something that produces that value?

To recognise what’s valuable you need to be observant of other people’s problems, as well as being able to self examine your own personality or your team’s culture. If you’re productive, you’re capable of producing the desired result. Focusing on the result is the starting point for everybody’s personal productivity.
Christian Leborg

Christian Leborg

Christian Leborg is a visual communicator and branding consultant. He specialises in building brand strategies and brand identities. Christian has worked with several specializations within visual communication as well as teaching and being an author. Christian now works on his third stint as an entrepreneur.