26 Comments

But wait, what about my morning routine structured down to the millisecond and my time blacking including each time I will rollover in bed at night? You’re saying that to be productive I have to... do things that produce?

Great read brotha, I have struggle over the years on trying to grasp the whole time block thing and it never felt like it did much except make my calendar colorful. And most people I saw who did it, didn’t actually follow it. They just kept tweaking it.

Expand full comment
author

"You're saying that to be productive I have to...do things that produce?"

This made me laugh out loud. And ditto to the time blocking observation.

Expand full comment

Dang Alex, this is KILLER. Something I needed to hear for sure. Not because I rely on flow charts or spreadsheets (I don’t), but because I WISH I did. I’ve often felt like I’m bad at time management because those techniques don’t lead to a sense of hyper-productivity for me. But this makes complete sense (and makes me feel a whole lot better, lol). Your prose, as usual, is eloquent and imaginative. I love how you play with structure, too. Great job!!

Expand full comment
author

Appreciate you Grace! Lifting the spirits of someone who feels bad at time-management because they don't do all that stuff is an unexpected but awesome result of this piece haha

Expand full comment

Lessons on always writing the essay - you never know how it will hit 😂

Expand full comment

Dude! So good. Thanks for being honest and refreshing while writing about such an overplayed topic. You made me smile noticing that I haven't opened ToDoist in a month and my calendar gets used only to know what WOP related things I have.

Expand full comment
author

Thanks brother! Yeah, an empty calendar provides a very specific kind of joy

Expand full comment

Oh, it's not empty, just ignored. But the freedom to do that is also a specific kind of joy. Love what you're doing here.

Also kind of wish I had been in that sales audience seeing people not get it.

Expand full comment
author

Ah yeah, the freedom to choose is also delightful. Haha I was looking at my friends in the audience and trying to figure out the chances of anything changing...

Expand full comment

Love this! I definitely feel guilty of 'productivity masturbation' at some point. But it's true. Activity is not productivity. As I start to write more about this topic, I came to the realisation that a lot of it is mental and emotional blockers preventing us from getting real shit done.

The way I think about it now.. I don't want to add too many workflows and processes in place to make me do stuff, but be clear about what I want to do and get that ball rolling. And use what I know about myself - bad habits, fears, motivations - to approach the thing I want to do.

Thanks for sharing this perspective!

Expand full comment
author

Thanks Alana! Well said.

Expand full comment

"Productivity masturbation" -- love it! This is one of my favorite things you've written.

Expand full comment
author

Haha thanks Claire!

Expand full comment

Great piece Alex! Definitely have been trapped in the tactics cycle before, despite knowing it was the wrong thing to do while I was doing it. You’re spot on that it’s emotional avoidance rather than anything educational.

Expand full comment
May 10, 2023Liked by Alex Michael

Great to hear someone who sounds a lot like me when I work. Makes me feel less alone!

Expand full comment
author

I bet you are one productive motherfucker!

Expand full comment
May 10, 2023Liked by Alex Michael

Wow. Your Dad gave you some sage advice. 🤣

Expand full comment
author

He always does!

Expand full comment

Don’t know where to start with expressing my appreciation for this story. But you’re in the writer’s kitchen shipping 5-star food, and clearly willing to embrace the emotional heat. I don’t know why the fear of success isn’t more widely spoken of, but probably just because fear across the board is the panda in the room no one wants to talk about. Now we all get to enjoy watching you apply your superpower, doing what matters, to writing life by talking about what matters. Thanks for the inspiration.

Expand full comment
author

"But you’re in the writer’s kitchen shipping 5-star food, and clearly willing to embrace the emotional heat." You really know how to charm a guy ;)

Well said - fear is indeed the panda in the room. Appreciate your thoughtfulness and kind words as always, Rick.

Expand full comment

Looking forward to the Panda bringing more!

Expand full comment

Wow, such a great essay Alex. I really enjoyed this and had a ton of fun reading it.

I loved your counter-intuitive approach to productivity that flies in the face of conventional wisdom.

"Don’t confuse activity with productivity," is SUCH a good reminder. I often forget that just because I could do something well, doesn't make it worth doing.

I love the "panda" approach to productivity. It's a trait I've noticed in a low of high performers, and want to adopt more in my own life. It actually has some really interesting roots in our primitive hunter-gatherer biology.

Loved this. Thank you for sharing :)

Expand full comment
author

Thanks so much Tommy! I'm curious, where do you see those roots in our biology?

Expand full comment
deletedJul 13, 2023Liked by Alex Michael
Comment deleted
Expand full comment
author

Thanks for the kind words Bruce! Sounds like you've got a really interesting and fruitful background to draw on for your writing life. That always makes writing much better - awesome that you're going on this journey.

Expand full comment
deletedJul 13, 2023Liked by Alex Michael
Comment deleted
Expand full comment
author

I got the same thing when I went to your Substack! Weird...

Expand full comment
author

I just hit 'ignore & proceed' and it was fine

Expand full comment