If you think productivity is about motivation, you've already lost


Ramit Sethi accomplishes a lot.


Among other projects, the CEO and entrepreneur has penned multiple best-selling books on business and personal finance, coordinates annual conferences across the US, and runs two websites - GrowthLab and I Will Teach You to Be Rich.

Apparently, one of the most common questions he gets is how he does it.

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In a post on I Will Teach You to Be Rich, Sethi broke down his answer for curious readers and clients. It all comes down to what he calls "The 3 Tiers of Productivity":


"Look, productivity isn't about 'motivation,'" he writes. "If you think it is, you've already lost."

He continues:

"Productivity is about understanding what you really want to do, then building systems to make it work for you. The goal isn't Inbox Zero. (Who gives a sh--?) Your goal is to enable yourself to perform at your very best, every day, and over the course of weeks and months and years."

Instead, he writes, think about true productivity as a pyramid with three tiers:

  1. First: fundamentals. These are basics like sleep, health, and your workspace. "Everybody ignores these because they're not sexy," Sethi writes. "But if you don't get these right, nothing else matters. "
  2. Next: psychology. This includes mental states and skills "like the ability to set boundaries, handle setbacks, and be positive and resilient," Sethi writes. Later on, he adds: "No productivity app or 7-second solution is ever going to tackle the psychological and emotional barriers we feel. Only you can do that. And it's hard."
  3. Finally: details. This is where all the fun stuff comes in, like the perfect apps for your to-do lists or the calendar hacks that clear up your meeting schedule. Sethi writes: "Everybody wastes their time focusing on this stuff. (Get a life.)"

The entire post is worth a read - he goes in-depth about each tier and how it applies to his own work. You can read it here.


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