Among all the productivity tips we’ve discussed here at WWD in the past, there seems to be one element needed to make any of them really work: Passion. I’m not talking about fleeting bursts of motivation, nor the satisfaction of crossing off an item from a to-do list — though these can be symptoms. I’m referring to passion that fuels action, a state of no contradictions where you never think “I wish I were doing something else right now”. The work you’re doing? It’s the exact same thing you would be doing if money were no object. Maybe you’d do it differently, but you still can’t help feeling that you’re being paid for the things you were going to do anyway. That’s what I mean by passion.
Could it be that simple? In some ways it is, because passion brings with it certain gifts that make productivity a non-issue.
First, it breaks your excuses. Those who say they have no time come to realize that true passion will fuel their efforts to make time. Yes, even with five children in the house and an elderly parent to take care of. Yes, even if it’s just 15 minutes a day. Those who don’t have enough resources will also make do with what they have, or find ways to acquire what they need.
These resources may include know-how and tools. Passion, when applied wisely, gives you these things at the right time. When you’re passionate, your love is for doing the work, not for the shiny equipment, shortcuts or dental plan that comes with it. You could spend five days looking up the best collaboration tool for writing a group project or you could just pick one now and focus on the creating. Besides, if the tool ends up being the wrong one, you can always change it later. But you cannot get those five days of fiddling back.
The same applies to know-how. You could bookmark dozens of Photoshop tutorials online and subscribe to all the tutorial blogs. Or you can look up a specific tip when you need it. Given the scope of the Internet, there are tips available for almost any imaginable issue, but this doesn’t mean you have to digest all of them in one go. Since passion is fulfilled only in the act of doing something, the scouring of the web for tips you “may need someday” will seem like a waste of time.
Despite these benefits, passion is not an easy thing to come by. Even if you have it, you may not feel it all of the time. After all, few people feel passionate about creating invoices, writing reports or providing support to angry clients. Where’s the passion in that?
But these tasks — the boring, tedious ones — have their place. Those who have felt passion in their work will not settle for anything less, unless it is necessary. If they have the means, they subcontract it. If not, these tasks are automated or done as efficiently as possible so as not to interfere with the real work. In other words, the dull parts of the work are just that, parts. Not the main event.
Because if we have that kind of passion for the things we’re doing — whether it’s accounting, design, or stonemasonry — then we wouldn’t need as many “extras” to help us get through the difficult days. Passion will allow us to work when it’s hard, when it’s boring, and even when effort seems futile. We will show up and do the work because it’s what makes us feel alive.
Related GigaOM Pro content (sub. req.): Enabling the Web Work Revolution