Everyone is in a marriage with their productivity system.
This is true whether you realize it or not.
Everyone has made a commitment to do certain things in a certain way at a certain time.
And that system—whatever it is—has committed to give you certain results (spoiler: these results are very often not the results we want).
So there is a mutual commitment. And for most people, they keep this commitment ’till death.
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Sensing a Bad Marriage
I remember speaking with a very successful business owner a while back.
He was telling me about all the fine details in his productivity system—he gets up early, has a whole morning routine, is rigid about his diet, works out every day, and has a clear plan for every hour.
He was proud (and why shouldn’t he be?).
This all sounded great to me.
But, if everything was under control, why had he come to me for some advice?
I asked him this.
He told me that he just wanted to fine tune his system.
That’s great, I thought. The most productive people I know are never satisfied with their current level of productivity.
But I sensed there was something else going on in this case.
You know that feeling when you can sense tension between a couple that you’re friends with? They try to act like everything’s normal, but you can tell something’s up. You just can’t fake genuine chemistry.
Well, that’s the feeling I was getting from Bryan. I was getting the feeling that there was some serious tension in his relationship.
So I asked him point blank: “Are you in a bad marriage?”
He was caught a bit off guard. He looked puzzled. And then he politely informed me that he wasn’t married.
“Oh, but you are,” I told him. “You might not be married to another human being, but you are definitely married to the details of your productivity system…There’s tension there. I can feel it, and I’m pretty sure you can feel it, too.”
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Productivity System Seduction
You see, details are seductive. They always seem to promise everything: “Just get up an hour earlier, keep a rigid morning routine, block out every single minute of every day, use a fancy new app—then all your dreams will come true.”
And that promise is so attractive that we want to leap into a lifelong commitment with it.
But the problem is that, if you do this, you end up marrying the details.
And details will always let you down if they’re not connected to a deep sense of purpose.
And that’s a recipe for an unhappy marriage.
The Purpose of Your Productivity System
True productivity must be driven by purpose.
Details are important, but only in service of the right purpose.
So, are you one of the many who are unhappy because they’ve married the details, or are you one of the few fully committed to your purpose?