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Prompted: Spiritual Productivity
Doing nothing is a key ingredient to improving outcomes, wellbeing, and performance.
I love productivity, efficiency, and high performance, but I’ve always known slowing down and ignoring outputs for a time has lots of intrinsic value. It also has the counterintuitive side effect of improving performance and output in the long run.
As a hard-driving person, I struggled with how to frame slowing down, but the term “spiritual productivity” helped me realize that I’m still being productive even when I’m not focused on tangible outputs.
I hope this week’s insights and prompts help you uncover what spiritual productivity means to you and how you can incorporate it into your life.
Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, inlcuding you.
- Anne Lamott
Productivity has a well-defined definition. Typically, it’s measured in the amount of output that can be produced over a specific period of time. It brings to mind the thought of a factory producing 300 widgets/hr or a barista serving 100 drinks/shift.
It’s always been linked to a tangible output with a ratio attached to it so we can compare the efficiency of different operations. I recently heard of another type of productivity that piqued my interest, spiritual productivity. This is the intangible version of productivity.
It has no measurable outputs or time horizons, but spiritual productivity is just as, if not far more productive than any traditional productivity.
Think of spiritual productivity as working on yourself instead of working on a specific project. It might come in the form of journaling, meditation, or even vacation. Working on yourself doesn’t look or feel productive, in fact, it often feels lazy or indulgent, but the results can be profound.
This type of reflection is like stopping a manufacturing line to clean and service the machines (green line). It disrupts production, decreases worldly productivity, and feels like a waste of time. However, this short interruption allows the machines to operate faster and catch issues proactively so they don’t break down and disrupt production for weeks or months at a time (red line).
Humans can benefit from the same time of proactive introspection and downtime. Although spiritual productivity doesn’t produce any tangible outputs, time spent journaling, meditating, reflecting, walking, thinking, vacationing, etc. is critically important for well-being and longevity in any pursuit.
Take care of yourself and prioritize spiritual productivity this week. You may appear lazy or unproductive, but the investment of energy in self-reflection will pay handsome dividends in the near future.
What does spiritual productivity mean to me? How do I best reflect and reset?
How can I alleviate external pressures to feel productive?
When have I prioritized world productivity over spiritual productivity in the past? What were the results?
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This podcast introduced me to the idea of spiritual productivity (h/t Joe Rinaldi for the recommendation).
The Simplest Way to Avoid Wasting Time - Greg McKeown
Check out McKeown’s advice on taking a “Career Offsite” to focus your efforts and set your own agenda at work.
Thanks for reading! I’ll see you next Sunday.