Success is 99% Productivity

You know how sometimes you hear things, but they don’t really make sense in a meaningful way until you hear them again at just the right time or in just the right way?

Consciously Frugal recently pointed out that success is 99% productivity, and her comment was like that for me.

Of course I’ve heard the saying “success is 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration” before, but to me that always translated as “work really hard and you’ll succeed”.

But working hard is not the same as being productive, as I realized when I saw her comment. My first thought was, “Oh, well I should be massively successful then, with as much work as I’ve done.”

However, I haven’t been working on the right things — unless I’ve been trying to be successful at having pretty spreadsheets, a decent job, and a dog that wags his tail when I amuse myself by telling him to.

In other words, I haven’t been being productive. I’ve been being busy. This is not grade school where doing busywork gets you somewhere. I have to actually be productive and move forward, not just spin my wheels while trying not to fall further behind.

How about you? Are you working on the things that will get you to where you want to be? Who wants to do a productivity challenge with me?


  • Dan

    I’m busy but know I need to be more productive. I’ll do a productivity challenge with you. What do I need to do?

  • Yanno, if you keep up all this wisdom and insight, I’m going to throw a tomato at the screen. LE SIGH. Gah! Busy vs. productive. Oy.

    I’ve been avoiding using The Pomodoro Technique. Have I mentioned this already? Anyhoo, it really focuses on productivity. When I use it, I get all the important stuff done. So, yanno, I rarely use it.

    Do you have any insight on how to get past being a moronic tool?

    • *points out that it was your wisdom*

      I hadn’t heard of the Pomodoro Technique but was happy to see that it didn’t involve having tomatoes in any sense other than as a timer :)

      And you are not a moronic tool!

  • I finished everything on my to do list yesterday (well, everything I really needed to do…not gardening or anything extra…), and then I caught myself randomly clicking on blogs I already read looking for updates. I just couldn’t shut down my laptop for some odd reason.

    So yes, I would love to do a productivity challenge with you!

    @ConsciouslyFrugal, sorry, I do believe moronic tool is for life (I should know), lol! :-)

    • Yay, another person for the challenge! I can see my first step in the challenge is going to be to get it going ASAP. What would you have done instead of randomly clicking blogs otherwise since you were done with your list?

  • Interesting observation. One of the things I realized when I engaged Creative Malingering on my job (CM = working as little as possible while still getting the job done) was that working LESS often produced better quality work and that none of us malingerers (my underlings saw me as a role model…) were accomplishing any less than we had been when we buzzed around busily.

    I thought that was probably subjective. But then, to my astonishment, our boss started disgorging glowing performance reports. Apparently she had no idea that we all had made a conscious decision to stop working ourselves stupid for the insulting pay the university doled out — especially after the furloughs and the pay cuts and the switch to biweekly pay. My last annual review contained the highest scores I had ever achieved in 15 years of working at that place!


    Now that I’m more or less retired, I do need to find new ways to spend time more productively. It’s 1:20 in the afternoon and I’ve been in front of the computer all day, except for an hour-long walk and another hour dawdling over breakfast. During the time I’ve sat here, I’ve written one (count it, one) blog post. {sigh}

    • Huh, that’s funny about the Creative Malingering. I guess it does point out though that it’s not how much you’re doing but what you’re getting done. I hate when I sit at the computer like that and get nothing done. I feel wiped out but haven’t accomplished much of anything and I didn’t relax.