The Ultimate Productivity Principle

If you’re not as productive as you want to be, you lack motivation. Your reasons to be productive aren’t strong enough. “I want to work in the same job for the next 40 years, so that I can sustain the same mediocre lifestyle in the last 20 years of my life” is not a strong enough motivation.

The ultimate personal productivity principle is super-simple. Set a big goal that you’re obsessed about. A major definite purpose that motivates and inspires you. The rest will follow.
When you have a major definite purpose, you can’t help but be productive. It pulls you in. Every idle moment becomes a pain. You become obsessed with your work. You find excitement, joy, and peace working towards your goal. You lose track of the time. You’re in the zone. You’re experiencing the flow.

How to Find Your Major Definite Purpose?

If you don’t know your major definite purpose, take a moment to write down everything that bothers you and everything that you want to experience in your life. Make these lists as long as possible and as thorough as possible. Here are some examples to give you some ideas.

Things that bother me

  • I don’t have sufficient time to spend with my family.
  • I don’t have sufficient time to exercise.
  • I don’t have sufficient time to socialize with my friends.
  • I don’t understand why people are getting killed in armed conflicts in this day and age.
  • I don’t understand why some people have to suffer from the lack of basic human needs such as shelter and food, while there’s more than enough for everyone on the planet.
  • I don’t understand why people torture and slaughter animals to produce food, kill themselves by eating them, and destroy the environment in the process.

Things that I’d like to experience

  • Have fantastic relationships with my family and friends.
  • Have a fantastic social life.
  • Drive exotic sports cars in the weekends.
  • Travel around the world.
  • Improve my public speaking skills to influence people.
  • Work actively in my favorite charity.

As you see, I have included personal interests as well as community interests. If all of your interests are personal, that’s perfectly fine as well. However, some people find it difficult to be driven by personal interests only. If that’s you, make sure to include some community interests as well.

Now, it’s time to brainstorm. Your objective is to find a goal that would solve all the pain points in your first list and enable all the experiences in your second list. Create a list of at least 20 items and find the one that covers the most items in your lists. Here are some examples.

  • Become the CEO of a Fortune 500 company.
  • Become the lead singer of U2. I mean, become a rock star. (Sorry Bono.)
  • Become the president of your country.
  • Become a bestselling author.
  • Start the next Facebook or Google.

In a nutshell, become a world class contributor in a field that you’re passionate about and produce world class value in that field. Make your goal crystal clear. Make it specific, so that you can tell whether you have achieved it or not without a doubt.

Course Correction in Practice

Once you have your major definite purpose, post it everywhere you can see, so that you’re reminded of it constantly. If you get distracted or find yourself in a slump, remind yourself of your major definite purpose. Think about why it is important for you to accomplish this goal. Remember your lists and reread them. This requires some mindfulness. If you do this often enough, you will create new connections in your mind. These connections will get you out of your slump and eradicate distractions from your life automatically. You will be productive by nature.

Burak Bilgin
Software developer with a Ph.D. and 15 years of experience. I write daily on personal development and life lessons. Sign up to my email newsletter to receive a weekly overview of my latest content on personal development and life lessons.