The Productivity Pendulum


Hey friends,

My friend Tiago Forte (author of Building a Second Brain) made a great point about productivity on my Deep Dive podcast:There’s a phase in your life when you have to be productive, and a phase when you have to be creative. I see it as a pendulum: productivity, creativity, productivity, creativity.

Go too far to either end of the spectrum, and you start hitting diminishing returns.

This definitely rings true for me.

Get fixated on productivity to the exclusion of everything else, and your work starts to feel stale and formulaic.

That’s when you need to get creative.

Do something new. Surprise yourself. Start working on that outrageous idea you had back in March 2022, but never acted on because you were ‘too busy’.

In 2020 for example, I could have continued ‘productively’ making YouTube videos as per usual. But Angus (one of my team) had the idea of creating a course teaching people to be YouTubers – the Part-Time YouTube Academy.

We didn’t know if it would work, but two years later we’ve taught over 2,000 students, and the course has made north of $4 million.

But it’s also possible to swing too far towards creativity.

That’s when you get too precious about your work, and everything has to be special and unique. When that happens, meaningful progress quickly grinds to a halt under the weight of expectation.

That’s your sign to get productive again. Identify what you do well. Then create a system that lets you do that thing consistently, efficiently, and to a good standard.

Some of my favourite techniques:

  1. The Daily Highlight
  2. Calendar Blocking
  3. Aspirational Hourly Rate
  4. Protected Time

But then of course, the pendulum swings back again. 😜

Have a great week!

Ali xx

🧠 Notion

Notion is an incredible productivity app. I use it for all my creative and business projects, including:

🎬 Scripting Videos

📮 Writing Newsletters

🎙️ Running my Podcast

It’s also game-changing for planning personal projects like holidays, workouts, and meal prep.

My favourite thing about Notion is how easy it is to customise workflows. You can use kanban boards, video embeds, smart spreadsheets – the list goes on. It’s a super-clean and minimalist app by default. But I give my pages some character by adding emojis and images.

For more ideas, Notion has a massive online community creating page templates (check out my free set of YouTube creator templates). Get started on Notion today for free using my link:

Thank you to Notion for sponsoring this issue of Sunday Snippets 😄

♥️ My Favourite Things this Week

🎧 Audiobook – The Original. If you’ve got a 3-4h road trip coming up anytime soon, I highly recommend listening to The Original, written by Brandon Sanderson and Mary Robinette. I went on a lads road trip this week, and we were all hooked for every minute of it.

📚 Business Book – $100 Million Offers by Alex Hormozi. This is a concise, step-by-step guide to ‘making offers so good people feel stupid saying no.’ Mindblowingly good. Required reading for anyone looking to frame their offer and sell better.

🎙 Podcast – Not Overthinking #142: What does Taimur actually do? Taimur and I had a thoroughly enjoyable podcast sesh over Christmas, where we talked about what he actually does for a living.

📚 Fiction Book(s) – The Stormlight Archive. I’ve now finished my re-read of the first 4 books of the Stormlight Archive series by Brandon Sanderson, and I’m now making my way through re-reading Mistborn Era 2 (books 4-6) so that my knowledge is fresh for my first read through of Brandon’s latest book, The Lost Metal (Mistborn #7)Again, if you haven’t gotten hooked on Brandon’s work just yet, The Final Empire is a great place to start – most people I’ve recommended that to, if they make it through the first 20% or so, become totally hooked for life.

🎬 My New Videos

❤️‍🔥 How to Find a Career You Actually Love – It can be daunting to know how to approach your career. So in this video I go through 7 career tips I got from when I spoke to Professor Grace Lordan on my Deep Dive podcast.

✍️ Quote of the Week

When we feel anxious about something, the most natural human response is to avoid it. We know that if we stay away, we’ll feel safe, for now. But avoidance not only maintains anxiety, it makes it worse over time.

From Why Has Nobody Told Me This Before? by Dr Julie Smith. Resurfaced using Readwise.

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Want to learn more from me? Check out my online video courses 👇

🚀 Productivity Masterclass

→ Do more of what matters to you, in a fun and sustainable way

(Free on Skillshare)

📹 YouTube for Beginners

→ The ultimate guide to starting your channel from scratch

(Free on Skillshare)

📚 How to Study for Exams

→ The ultimate evidence-based guide for students

(Free on Skillshare)

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