The Art of Productivity: Moving Beyond a Disciplinarian Approach

In this episode I continue to fight against traditional productivity advice which assumes that people need to be disciplined to be successful… uh. huh.

I ask if we approach productivity from a point of being in service to oneself, the idea of “disciplining yourself” doesn't make 100% sense ?

I also poke at the idea of “perfect productivity” which obviously doesn't exist because it really can't be static and is affected by many variables, which cannot be solved by discipline alone!

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Jonathan Stewart:

Traditional productivity advice always assumes we're doing something wrong, that we need fixing and making better, and we all need to be more disciplined and that will solve everything. Something just sounds a little bit weird about that. So I thought I'd jump into an etymology moment again, which frequent viewers will remember that I love to do that quite a bit. The origin of the word discipline comes from around the 1200 via old French and means punishment for the sake of correction. Interestingly, it also links to learning via disciple, which quite frankly is equally terrifying and it's very interesting and it also says a lot about our supposedly modern education system but I digress. The idea that we can correct our productivity is in itself, to me, really super odd. A reminder, I use the word productivity as being in service to yourself. The thing that grabs me is the language around discipline, around forcing ourselves into a box to fix something seems just a little bit antithetical to the entire point of productivity. Does punishing ourselves actually help improve things? Now I dived into a little bit of a quick research about that, and they don't seem to have any strict conclusions on whether it is or it isn't. As always it's still very much up for debate. But from this experience of one. I don't think it does. You see, I am somewhat of a perfectionist when it comes to doing things in a way that I feel is "right". But when it comes to being in service to me, I'm constantly seeing all of the options, all of the time. If I'm actually to move forward, I have to just make a decision. I have to cut off options otherwise, I'll just keep going around and around trying to make the correct decision in fear of the punishment that will ensue after. When it comes to being productive, there isn't really a wrong answer, and no one truly can give you that answer. It takes time and reflection, and honestly, everything changes and evolves on a day-to-day basis, depending on what you are doing, depending on something you enjoy versus something that you don't. I mean, there is an actual statistical equation that measures stuff like this because it's all dynamic and changes and has so many randomized variables and influences. For those who are interested, look up Brownian Motion. It is freaking fascinating and honestly took a bit of time to get my head around, but hey, that's the joy of modern technology, being able to look it up and ask loads of questions. But anyway, back to the point I'm making. As an autistic business owner, I'm well aware that the reality of my situation is that a traditional job will never work for me. I'm constantly seeing things that I'd love to change, and the idea of mundane repetition drives me insane. It's boring, but when you are disciplined, you're doing the same thing every day. You're sitting in a cubicle doing the same stuff day in day. and that's the thing that I find really hard. Yes, there are repetitive activities that I have to do in my business, but I'm talking to lots of different people. I'm coaching different people from different perspectives, from different ideas. I like that. dynamicism for me, I have no interest in being disciplined or following the rules dictated to me by whoever it may be. I know that for me, I can't function in that way without burning out completely. I can do it for a short amount of time when I'm launching a project or I'm launching a new course or something specific. Short, sharp bursts, nothing else. Trust me, I've tried and no matter how hard I mask or how much I tried to shove myself into that box, I'll never stay there for very long without it just falling apart. life is super random. Stuff comes up in a moment's notice and things change. Everything can influence your productivity Brownian Motion again, yet productivity advice assumes we wish to be robots who work in a certain way all of the time. Now, that certainly doesn't fit me! Does it you? productivity is completely 100% personal as it's business, but so few people approach it from that way. It's all about becoming more disciplined so you can sit in a cubicle, but if that cubicle life doesn't fit you, like so many busy business owners start from you, discover and uncover the way that you work to be. All of you. Don't wanna go alone. Reach out to me at

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