“Be more valuable!”

November 13, 2022

Sometimes, we talk about productivity for very practical and obvious reasons. Perhaps we feel overwhelmed. Or we’re not getting around to the work that moves the needle. Or things are slipping through the cracks.

Other times, we lose sight of the big picture. We gamify our productivity—how many tasks did you complete today?—without thinking about the impact of the to-dos we completed. Or we spend hours trying to build a perfect task management system, rather than being happy with one that does 99% of the job and then getting on with our work.

When I talk to people about “being more productive”, I like to ask: what’s your motivation? Why do you care about your productivity? It’s easy to get stuck with the simple belief that being productive is good and being more productive is better. But is it really? If you’re very productive in work you don’t care about, I wouldn’t say you’re doing very well.

One purpose of productivity I like to highlight is to make yourself more valuable. When you create more output with the same time or effort, you become more valuable. And the beauty of the word value is that it forces you to define what kind of value you mean. Monetary value? Spiritual value? Political value?

I started to think about the relationship between productivity and value when I watched a clip of a speech by the late motivational speaker Jim Rohn. In the clip, Jim explains why it’s so important to become more valuable and how you might go about doing so. When I’m working on something, I sometimes find his words echoing through my head: “be more valuable!”

Perhaps Jim’s talk will inspire you to think about the purpose of your own productivity, as it inspired me. Enjoy:

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