Total Output Divided By Total Inputs Is The Formula For What Is Productivity?

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What Is Productivity?

In this post, we take an in-depth look at the concept of productivity.

Here is my personal definition of productivity:

Productivity = value / time

(productivity equals value divided by time)

According to this definition, there are two main ways to increase productivity:

1) Increase the value created

2) Reduce the time it takes to generate that value

You can complicate this definition by adding other factors like energy and resources, but I prefer the simplicity of time because in most cases factors like energy and resources are reducible to time anyway. Time also makes it very easy to compare different levels of productivity, such as output per hour or per day.

You can probably get a significant benefit in terms of time. There are many personal productivity optimizations that, especially if you introduce them in your youth, will result in huge time savings over the course of your life. Consider your typing speed, for example. If you spend the time to get up to 90 wpm or faster, that initial time investment will be worth it if you happen to do a lot of typing in your lifetime compared to 50 rpm. or slower every year. The extra hours of practice are nothing compared to the time you’ll save writing emails, letters, or blog entries over the next few decades. Other time-based optimizations include improving your sleeping habits, minimizing your commute time, or eliminating time-wasting habits like smoking.

The main limitation of time-based optimizations is that the optimization process requires a time input. It takes time to save time. Therefore, the more time you invest in optimizing your time use, the greater your initial time investment and the greater your need for long-term returns to justify that investment. This limit puts an upper bound on any time-based optimizations you try, according to the law of diminishing returns. The more time you invest in any optimization attempt, the lower your net profit, all else being equal.

This law of diminishing returns brings us back to values. While we can get stuck in diminishing returns by optimizing on the time side alone, we can find that optimizing on the value side is less restrictive and more open.

What is “value” in our productivity equation?

Value is a quality that you have to define for yourself. Thus, any definition of productivity is relative to the definition of value. In circles where people can agree on a common definition of value, they can also agree on a common definition of productivity. However, in terms of your personal productivity, you are not obligated to define value in the same way as anyone else. You are free to take your own definition, so your pursuit of greater productivity becomes a personal quest to produce the value that matters most to you.

Too often we adopt a socially conditioned definition of value that tends to be very restrictive. Perhaps we define value based on the performance of our careers, the number of tasks completed, the number and quality of important projects completed, etc. Maybe you can’t articulate it clearly, but maybe you have a working definition of values ​​that feels comfortable to you. You can tell when you’ve had a productive day and when you haven’t based on how much value you’ve created based on your understanding of what value means.

But how much conscious thought did you put into defining your personal worth? I challenge you to think a little more about your definition, which in turn will redefine your sense of productivity.


First, to what extent is value given according to your definition of value? Who gets the value? Yourself, your boss, coworkers, friends, family, company, clients, team, certain investors, community, country, world, family, God, all sentient beings, etc.? What value will each person or group ultimately accept? Are you providing value to one person, 10 people, 100 people, 1000 people, millions of people, the entire planet? How much do you feel that the value you provide ripples beyond those to whom you directly provide it? How fast do these waves dissipate? What is your understanding of the basic level of impact of your value? Is it limited or extensive?

For example, if you are the CEO of a Fortune 500 corporation or the leader of a country, you have a much greater ability to provide value to a large number of people than if you work as a janitor. The more people you can influence, the greater your potential value. Greater leverage means greater potential impact.


Second, how long will the value you create last? An hour, a day, a week, a month, a year, a decade, a lifetime, 100 years, 1000 years, 10,000 years, forever? To what extent does your value transfer over time? Will it wear off quickly and be forgotten? Or will it continue to renew year after year? Does your value ripple through time?

The Mona Lisa continues to hold value hundreds of years after its creation. But other works of art do not provide lasting value during the artist’s lifetime. They are quickly abandoned and eventually replaced.


Third, what is the nature of the value you produce? Are you helping people survive? Amuse them? Light them up? How much do others rate your product? What price would they be willing to pay for it? Do they see your value as important, optional, or undesirable? How unique is your value? Are you the only one who can offer this, or are there many equivalent options?

The nature of the value provided by a janitor is low because it is easy to find people to do this kind of work for a small fee. The nature of the physicist’s value is potentially enormous, because a new theoretical concept can provide a more accurate understanding of the universe.


Finally, what is the volume of value you create? How much of it do you give out over a period of time? What is the quantity in which you produce this value?

Picasso, for example, was a prolific artist who created hundreds of different works during his lifetime. The output of other artists was much smaller.

Now we have this little formula:

Value = Effect x Durability x Essence x Volume

And therefore:

Productivity = Impact x Endurance x Nature x Volume / Time

Interestingly, most of the productivity literature I’ve read focuses almost exclusively on volume and time. But these are the most limiting parts of this equation. However, they are also the easiest to write.

I believe that the most important long-term factors in optimizing productivity (whether of an individual, a company, a country, or any other entity) are impact, resilience, and nature. And the most important of the three is essence.

Take blogger productivity for example.

The impact of a blogger’s worth would be related to the blog’s traffic level and overall influence among its readers. How many people read the blog and how much do they value what the blogger writes? To improve impact, a blogger can increase blog traffic or improve their writing skills to make a deeper impact on readers. The impact can also be increased if readers then go out and tell others about what they have read. In addition, the blogger could use the blog as a tool for self-exploration, thereby increasing the impact of the blog on the blogger’s own life.

The durability of the blogger’s value would be the long-term impact on the blog’s readers, if any. Does the blog change the long-term thought and behavior patterns of its readers? Do readers quickly forget what they read on the blog or does the information stay with them? Are readers constantly haunted by what they’ve read?

The nature of a blogger’s value depends on the topics the blogger writes about. Is the blogger writing throwaway posts for laughs or traffic, or is he seriously committed to providing deep value? What is the nature of communicating blogger values? Can financial advice help a person become wealthy? Does it provide solutions to important problems? Or is it mostly fluff?

And of course, the volume of value of a blogger would be the amount of words and posts that the blogger delivers.

Now extend this mindset to your life as a whole, far beyond the confines of your career.

What is the ultimate influence in your life? How many lives do you touch? Are you a person of influence? Or do you exist in relative obscurity?

What will be the durability of your life value? Will your lifetime contribution turn out to be largely insignificant? Or will your contribution last for centuries? What of your worth will survive your own death? What value can you retain after death (assuming there is some sort of afterlife)?

And finally, what will be the essence of the value of your life? What is the core of your contribution? Are you here to follow a follower? Are you looking for a worthy destiny? When you consciously think about the value you offer, do you feel empty and scared or peaceful and content? What is the meaning behind your actions? Was this meaning consciously chosen?

You cannot optimize your productivity without consciously and intentionally optimizing these factors. True productivity is much more than volume/time. If you ignore the importance of stroke, stamina, and nature, you’re setting yourself up to try to spin your wheels faster and faster and missing the whole point of life. And the worst part is that you will find out that it is true as you live. You feel hollow and empty in everything you do. When you consider your output in light of the limitations of time and space, it becomes nothing.

Essence is the most important factor. Until you discover the true nature of your life, you will never be productive. You can take it for granted that every task you complete will have a non-zero effect, durability, and volume. These factors can be very small if the task is trivial, but they are greater than zero. However, if the essence of any task is zero, your total productivity will be zero. If you miss the point of your life, your ultimate productivity will be zero, no matter how hard you work and how well you try to optimize all the other factors. If you gain the whole world and lose your soul, your ultimate return is zero.

This essence is your purpose.

That’s why it’s so important to discover your life’s purpose. It doesn’t matter how long it takes. In fact, the only truly productive task you can do before you understand your purpose is to work to discover that purpose. Pursuit of essence is essential to non-zero productivity.

Once you discover your nature, you’ll find that all these other factors start to optimize themselves very easily. Embracing the essence creates passion, and passion increases impact, stamina, and volume. Passion also makes time seem to go slower. Passion energizes and attracts resources to manage time more effectively. Passion allows us to see the present moment as inherently complete and perfect, instead of perceiving life as incomplete and imperfect. Essence discovery automatically optimizes productivity as a whole.

Find a person who knows and owns their purpose in life and you will find a truly productive person. However, in the absence of purpose, you will find busyness, but never productivity – the volume of output created may as well be thrown into the landfill. It has no strength to endure.

Purpose is rooted in permanence, timelessness, limitlessness. This is the nature of reality. Purpose is conscious and alive. Outside the goal, you can only work with temporary, temporal, limited – ghost projections of reality, but not reality.

Be productive. Spend time discovering who you are, and then dedicate the rest of your life to working from your nature. Then you will live and work with a sense of limitless productivity, because nature itself is limitless.

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