Finding the Product in Productivity

People throw around the term productivity a lot. Often, I think people use the term in the wrong way. It gets thrown around as a replacement word for being busy. But true productivity leads to a product.

A Common Scenario

Most of us have had a conversation with a colleague or a friend in which they brag about all the shit they’ve been getting done. They’re working on a project at home, they’ve just washed the car, and they’re teaming up with some friends to start a neighborhood yoga club. But where’s the product?

I’m not dissing getting things done that don’t result in some kind of product. Clean cars and yoga clubs help make the world go round. But the word productivity stems from product, or to produce. In other words, you create something, often something that is, or could be, marketed and sold. If you’re just busy getting stuff done but don’t have a product to show for it, that’s not really productivity.

What’s Your Product?

True productivity doesn’t mean you’re busy as fuck. It doesn’t mean you’re always running around like a chicken with your head cut off. True productivity starts with an end goal, a potential product. I say potential product, because not everything is produced to be sold. Some products never see the market, but it’s a product nonetheless.

I write about productivity, so you might expect that I have products. And I do. Each blog post I write is a product of my creativity. I may not sell each blog post, but my blog is a way to get my books (products) a little more publicity.

As a musician, I produce music. Again, I’m not making craptons of cash from my music. In fact, I’m currently not selling my music at all. But it’s still a potential product. I’ve recently had a few requests from fans to purchase music by Anderhill. In the near future I’ll likely start a BandCamp account, as well as get my music on iTunes. So even though I’m not currently selling any music, it’s still a potential product.

The point is simple. Productivity isn’t being busy. It’s making stuff that you could potentially sell. And you can go through that process at whatever pace you’d like. But first you have to have an idea for a product. So what’s your product?

Finding Your Own Product

How do you find your own best product? Here are some ideas:

  1. Know what you’re good at: Race cars will likely never be my product. I’ve never been the most mechanically-minded guy. Sure, I can do some basic car maintenance, but I’m usually cussing the whole time I’m working. It’s not my thing. But I am pretty good with words and music.
  2. Know your limitations: Not only am I not mechanically minded, but I don’t have the money to build race cars. Whether your limitations are financial, technical, or physical, know what they are before you jump into your productive ventures.
  3. Know what you love: I love words and music. Nike loves shoes. Starbucks loves coffee. I think you get the idea. You’re more likely to succeed and be happy when you’re doing something you love to do.
  4. Know what others want: Understanding current trends can be helpful. If you build furniture, you might want to know what kinds of pieces people want. This goes for any product category. Know your market.
  5. Know what might help others: Wants and needs are two different things. Consider creating products that will meet people where they are and satisfy their current needs. The more you can help others, the more others will want to help you.

Time to Get Started

I know not everyone who reads my blog is some kind of entrepreneur. But creativity and productivity are two core elements of my message. So I encourage you to get started.

Remember, you don’t have to work your ass off to be productive. Hell, you don’t even have to sell anything. You only need to create something new, something that didn’t exist until you thought, planned, and executed it. There’s no race to the finish line. You can do things at whatever pace you choose. The end goal is simply the product in productivity.