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The Minimalists
The Minimalists are Emmy-nominated Netflix stars and New York Times–bestselling authors Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus. Alongside their podcast cohost, T.K. Coleman, this simple-living trio helps millions of people eliminate clutter and live meaningfully with less. Learn More.

It’s 8:33 A.M.: Do You Know Where Your Productivity Is?

It’s 8:33 a.m. and daylight is peeking through the windows. So far this morning I wrote for three hours, read for half an hour, and exercised a bit: stretches, push-ups, pull-ups, and squats—my usual exercise regimen.

In other words, I’ve already done a lot today, and yet there’s still an entire day ahead of me. My secret? I don’t do much. Seriously. Sure, it seems like I do a lot of things, but I don’t.

To put is simply, people can be more productive by doing less. Rather than the normal productivity tropes of planning and scheduling, attempting to force production, we can get more things done by focusing on only the the important stuff first, working through the tasks that truly matter, embracing Real Priorities instead of engaging in fluid inactivity.

Usually that means doing things that’re more difficult than we’d like. For me, writing is difficult, exercise is hard, even reading is not passive. Virtually everything that’s meaningful—everything worth doing—requires a good amount of effort. But of course that’s where all the reward is.

Likewise, the passive tasks—Facebook, email, television, etc.—are easy. And they are fine in small doses (I’ll likely check my email for 30 minutes today or tomorrow, and I’ll certainly spend a few minutes on Twitter ). But there’s no long-term reward for passivity, just a beer gut and an empty existence.

Later today I’ll walk five or ten miles, wandering the streets of Missoula. And I’ll spend time with friends, correspond with my writing students, and even squeeze in some more writing and reading time tonight—all active tasks that require more from me than the boob tube, with an exponentially higher payoff. Feel free to do likewise.