Dear Huhana and Kāhu o te Rangi,
Getting stuff done is the difference between an idea and an outcome. Marketers will tell you that productivity is about the right tools, usually theirs. It’s not. I’m not a marketer, and I don’t sell tools. But I do a bit of ‘other’ mahi outside of helping make your life something to smile in. Sometimes people ask where I find the time.
But it’s not lost or hidden, we all get the same amount: 24 hours a day. If you sleep for 8, work for another 8, you have 8 hours left every day to do what you want, plus the weekend. (The maths is never that simple, especially if you have your own tamariki, but some of that last 8 is yours for the taking).
Two things have made the biggest difference to the amount I get done, how I use that 8 hours, and neither cost a thing. These are the first two ‘productivity hacks’ you should work on before you buy into any other well-marketed hype:
1. Find the mahi you have to do. The work that achieves something you believe in.
2. Remember that inconvenient truth we all know but sometimes forget: you could die tomorrow, so do the damn thing today.
There are a thousand books out there telling you how to be productive, how to mahia te mahi, do the work.
Do it in batches. 25 minute bursts, or 4 hour stretches. ‘Categorise your calendar.’ ‘Schedule your priorities.’
Someone said limit your to-do list to three things you must do today. Someone else said five. Or make sure it’s written on a card you can fit in your pocket. Or use a bullet journal etc etc.
All of that will make you 10% more productive at most.
90% of productivity is finding the thing you have to do. The outcome that makes you angry or sad when you think of a world where it doesn’t live. The thing that sacrificing an hour of TV for, seems like a laughably low price.
Find the purpose in your current mahi, or find new mahi with a purpose.
You might need to explore, try different things, you’ll know when you find it. The fulfilment that work brings will make those ’sacrifices’ like getting up earlier or spending less time scrolling your phone, easy.
Find the outcome you need to see come true. The more you put it off, the more you should ask if you really want that result. If you don’t, kei te pai, keep looking, there’s work out there that will fill your puku with fire. You just need to find it.
For me its writing stories, rapping, learning my reo, and working on interesting problems that are good to solve and benefit my whānau and people. Those things are easy to get up early for. But I wouldn’t have ever stumbled across them if I hadn’t tried a dozen other things that didn’t get my mind and heart moving.
Why you want to get the work done, will make more of a difference than any productivity technique or ‘how’.
Mahia te mahia, do the work. Just make sure the outcome is one you believe in, and don’t spend all day planning the how.