Learn, Share, Grow - How to Be Productive (Ancient Philosophy)

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September 25, 2023

Below is a lesson from Darius Foroux on 7 productivity lessons from the most well-known philosophers in history, as well as our key learnings.

The Blue Courage team is dedicated to continual learning and growth.  We have adopted a concept from Simon Sinek’s Start With Why team called “Learn, Share, Grow”.  We are constantly finding great articles, videos, and readings that have so much learning.  As we learn new and great things, this new knowledge should be shared for everyone to then grow from.

How To Be Productive According To Ancient Philosophy

by Darius Foroux

Somehow, we believe that productivity is something that became important after the industrial revolution. We assume that, because we live busy lives, we need to optimize our time—especially in the 21st century.

That’s not true. Productivity has been a topic of discussion ever since ancient eastern and western philosophy started. It’s a universal theme. I believe it’s in our nature to make better use of our time.

Because that’s what productivity means. On a deeper level, we all realize we have limited time. You and I both know that we’re not getting younger.

Time is ticking. It stops for no one. We need to use it. Etcetera, etcetera—we get the idea. And yet, without a clear productivity strategy, we squander our time like we have a limitless supply.

Continue Reading here.

 Key Learnings:

  • We all realize we have limited time. And yet, without a clear productivity strategy, we squander our time like we have a limitless supply.
  • 7 productivity lessons from the most well-known philosophers in history:
    1. Don't try to do more - "Beware the barrenness of a busy life." (Socrates) It's easy to fill your life with meaningless tasks. The busyness leads to unproductiveness and you end up doing many things in a mediocre way. Instead, focus your time and energy on a few important things. It's not about doing more -- it's about doing the same in less time.
    2. Complete 3-4 important tasks each day - "Better a little which is well done, than a great deal imperfectly." (Plato) We can achieve a lot in a lifetime. We can achieve a little in a day. Make small progress every day by setting 3-4 important tasks that will directly contribute to what you want to achieve in life. 
    3. Enjoy doing the work - "Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work." (Aristotle) Set goals but give your attention to the job itself. It's easy to daydream about the future but we risk sacrificing the present for the future. Take pride in your work and enjoy it -- it will lead to better results and give you fulfillment.
    4. Eliminate distractions - "if you seek tranquility, do less. Or (more accurately) do what's essential. Do less, better. Because most of what we do or say is not essential. If you can eliminate it, you'll have more tranquility." (Marcus Aurelius) Elimination is a key strategy -- eliminate non-essential tasks and distractions. The more you eliminate, the more focus and tranquility you will have. 
    5. Keep your ego in check - "Neither blame or praise yourself." (Plutarch) Be aware that you have an ego. When you excessively blame yourself for things that go wrong, you end up hating yourself -- and ultimately, everyone else. And when you do the opposite, you end up loving yourself in an unhealthy way. When you overdo it (blame or praise) you sacrifice the quality of your work. Celebrate the process, not the outcome.
    6. Keep moving forward - "It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop." (Confucius) Never underestimate how difficult it is to live a productive life. No matter how small your effort, keep moving, and stop for nothing.
    7. Rely on a system - "Great acts are made up of small deeds." (Lau Tzu) Everything we do is part of a system, whether we realize it or not. All your small actions combined form your system for living, and that leads to the big outcomes in life. If you don't have a productivity system, create one! Small actions lead to big things -- it's up to you to decide what big things you get.

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