In Defense of Productivity

A Brief Review of MacSparky's Productivity Field Guide

There is little affection for the word productivity these days. I often hear or read about how it has fallen out of favor — with an underlying critique that the idea is too utilitarian, and perhaps even inhumane.

Thankfully, David Sparks evades that notion with his Productivity Field Guide. Productivity, the way David frames it, is a means to your better self. It is not an inhuman act, but a way to embrace the ideal human version of yourself.

In short, David begins by inviting us to consider what roles we inhabit in our life. This isn’t new to David (nor does he claim it to be), as Stephen Covey offered the same advice many decades ago in The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People

Covey encourages us to define goals for those roles. David, I think, goes in a better, and again, more humane, direction. He invites us to see each role through the concept of arete. He recaptures this Ancient Greek idea of virtue to ask us to image our ideal self in each role. Rather than toss productivity hacks and tricks at us, David begins by asking us to make space to consider who we might best be. He gets into being well before he gets into doing — and thus he offers a humane and appealing way of embracing productivity.

Of course, David does get practical. There is some utilitarian help in talking about the doing side of productivity… but it’s doing always with our being in mind. Once we know who we want to strive to be, we can then start to shape some goals and even projects toward that end. We can make decisions about how to spend our time. And how not to.

If you haven’t given it a look… give it a look. Yes, David is known for writing and talking about using technology, and especially Apple technology. So, if you aren’t a Mac user, and if you aren’t a tech geek, you might be inclined to dismiss the Productivity Field Guide as a bunch of tech tips tuned to Apple fan persons. Please be disinclined from such a dismissal. There is value here for you to work through these ideas and excercises regardless of the digital or analog tools you use to engage them.

About John Chandler

I am a spiritual director, occasional podcaster, and a freelance WordPress developer.

I am also interested in finding meaningful ways of living beyond my work, which seems to include a lot of reading, watching baseball (Angels!) or football (Broncos!), playing board games, eating salsa, and wishing I was hiking more. Oh, and coffee.

I live on the desert edge of Phoenix with my family – with previous stops in Austin and outside Seattle as a grown-up, and SoCal and Colorado as a youngster.

You can find more of my meanderings on my

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