A friend and I were having a discussion the other day about productivity. I see productivity as a proxy for “how much purpose do I live with?” When I am purposeful, I am productive. Purpose is a core input in my daily (and lifetime) happiness. 

As you can imagine, this is a concept I think and write about a lot. I am really interested in how smart people maximize their time. Over the years, I have developed a broad around “efficiency…” The key: spend as much time as possible on things/people you care about and spend as little time as possible on things/people you do not care about. 

My friend put this same type of framework in a different form which I really liked: 

He said, (paraphrasing here) “at the end of every week, print out a copy of your calendar. Have two highlighters – one green and one red. Highlight everything from your calendar that gave you energy in green and everything that sucked energy out of you in red.”

I have already been doing a “form of this” by writing a personal weekly review and analyzing my calendar. But formalizing this practice has actually been immensely valuable. A great % of what I do is actually an “energy sucker.” 

Energy, once again, is a corollary of happiness.  When I am sad and bored, I am also tired. I think that spending your time doing things that take energy from you means you are “not excited by working.” Excitement is the biggest supplement you can take. It makes you focused, aware, and efficient. Excitement gives you a reason to be purposeful.

Though…it turns out we spend a significant portion of our day doing things that take away excitement. 

Imagine if we could structure all of our days to be energy boosters. We can put exciting things in the morning (like writing a blog post) and boring things in the middle of the day (or however you like). 

I want to add that this exercise does not mean highlight all of the “easy things in red.” Exciting things can and probably should be hard. Hard things can give you energy, too. 

Red items are really things that you know you are not uniquely suited to be doing, you do not see the short or long term value in, and they put you in a weirdly bad mood. 

In being purposeful, you can really start to question *why* you do certain things. And if you do not have strong reasoning, or at least quasi-conviction for many of these items, perhaps outsource them? Perhaps pay someone else to do them. 


Also published on Medium.