The best productivity advice you never hear

Logitech contacted me to do a sponsored post for them. The first thing I did was tell my kids.

My son said, “Why would such a cool company sponsor your blog?”

Logitech told me I could have any products I want, but they’d like me to pick products that help me with productivity.

It took me four days to go look at their site because I don’t have time. My workday is strictly triage. I have a to do list I never get done, and I pretty much only do emergencies.

This is the very worst way to manage your workload. Because emergencies are never big-picture, so I spend my days putting out fires instead of building a business, and then I panic when the business is not growing and I do crazy stuff to get money — like, I accepted a speech in Florida for $5,000 but I realized that with the three days away from the family working the whole time, I could have earned $5,000 from home much more easily.

The best productivity tools are ones that help you stay focused on your long-term goals. Which means that a blog is not a productivity tool so much as a hamster wheel, because I need to write every day just to maintain the status quo.

I opened the Logitech site and told the kids to pick what they want. Delegating. In the most broad sense of the word. But also, a long-term goal of mine is for the kids to see the value in my work. (Wait. Have I told you that the kids used to think my job was to be the cook? Yes. So I am vigilant now.) And the kids see the value when Logitech sends something to us.

The package arrives. My son pulls out a G910 keyboard. I don’t mention to him that he has a perfectly good keyboard on his computer and another perfectly good one in his desk drawer. Who am I to be a buzz kill?

He jumps up and down and high fives the air. He plugs in the keyboard and it lights up in five colors and he does a whip and a ne-ne and a few dabs and he’s thrilled.

He obsesses over the nonstick pads and the extra keys. The wrist guard is extra high so he can switch keys faster. He plays all day long with his fast new set up. He pauses periodically to tell me how happy he is with his keyboard.

I get more work done than I have all month because he’s happy, and engaged and learning how to program his keys to go faster and faster in CS:Go.

Lately the research I’m thinking about when I worry my kids have too much screen time is the research about play: because it’s a very effective way to learn.

I used to worry about the kids playing video games too much, but at this point, video games are an essential part of my career plan and my homeschooling plan. I console myself each day with how important play is — playing what the kids want to play. But now I just found that the way kids become nut jobs is NOT being able to play how they want, so beware all you smug parents who limit screen time.

I’ve long been unimpressed with the world of productivity mavens. They all seem to be men with no kids. And what I’ve learned about productivity is the only way you can really feel productive after you have kids is to cross pretty much everything in your whole universe off your to do list because it’s not going to get done. Feeling productive is a mindset you have after you admit to yourself that you won’t be doing the dream life you envisioned.

And productivity snowballs. You get in the rhythm of making good decisions and then you make more. This research comes from Richard Easterlin but also from me. Because I got headphones from Logitech. And when they came, I was excited to exercise. Good headphones are fun to wear.  And for a homeschooling mom, I’m pretty sure there are only three things on a to-do list:

  • Keep kids engaged
  • Make sure there’s money
  • Stay sane

And God bless Logitech: they helped me do all three.



18 replies
  1. malaika
    malaika says:

    “The best productivity tools are ones that help you stay focused on your long-term goals.”

    Why is the answer buried in the middle of the post?

    And also, Penelope I love your writing, but, duh?

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      I don’t know. That’s a good question. I guess it’s poor editing, which is not surprising because I posted this without giving it to my normal editor.

      But also, it’s a little glimpse into why I like writing. I learned that while I was writing. I didn’t know it was the meat of the post until I realized it was true about productivity tools. The posts that are the most fun to write are when I learn something, so unless I edit really well, the revelation of the post isn’t at the top, it’s in the middle.

      I guess this is an advertisement for why everyone needs an editor :)


  2. Mark W.
    Mark W. says:

    I found it interesting Logitech asked you to pick products that help you with productivity. It tells me that productivity is one of their goals. Also it’s a goal that’s focused on, determined, and driven by the customer. Their About page on their web site confirms productivity is important by including it in the following – “For each of our product categories, we study how our customers use their digital devices, and then our designers and engineers set their sights on how we can create a better experience with those devices – richer, more comfortable, more fun, more productive, more convenient, more delightful.” I think this post also shows their products have met some of the other goals listed beyond productivity (e.g. – more fun, more delightful) in the process. One of the unlisted goals which I like is how “such a cool company sponsored your blog” and shows the kids the value of your work. A lot of wins here for you, your kids, and Logitech.

  3. Cáit
    Cáit says:

    Are people who ‘limit screen time’
    Really smug? I’m not sure. It’s something I’d have to think about more deeply. I always sense that whatever their policy, limited, unlimited or zero, many mothers seem to have a lot of anxiety about this. I do. Defensive anxiety. I’m afraid that people will call me on my hypocrisy in a way that’s not understanding that I’m feeling it as I go. This is a weird community for me to interact with because I am a religious homeschooler, workbook based, zero screen time for kids. The unlimited screen timers here give me a sense of creating an environment of acceptance and warmth for their kids. I can appreciate that even if I have a different way of relating to “screens.” I wonder how limited, unlimited, and zero relate to MBTI…

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      I don’t think you’d know if the mom feels smug until she is faced with someone who doesn’t limit screentime.

      We have this conversation all the time – where my kids find out the other kids can’t use some device or another because of screen time limits and my kids are shocked. And then the other kids and the other mom are shocked that we have no limits.

      The moms reaction could be curiosity (that’s always the kids’ reactions — they ask a ton of questions about how it works) but the moms are usually indignant and appalled and don’t even want to know why someone would do something different than they are doing.


    • MBL
      MBL says:

      Cait, I guess that I assume there is a smug air to eschewing screens. I know that whenever I say that we don’t have tv or cable I hasten to add that we watch a ton of stuff from Netflix and Prime on our various monitors.

      But that may say more about me than…

  4. Karelys
    Karelys says:

    I love this post so much!

    Especially the three things at the end. I want to say “F YES!” but then my comment gets held back.

  5. Mary
    Mary says:

    Even our pediatrician smugly says “and you’re limiting screen time, right?” as if we couldn’t possibly be one of those parents. I smile and tell him yes, we limit videos. But everything else is fair game. Sorry, picked that one tidbit out of the post – I completely agree that kids doing what they’re interested in is productive and promotes learning. And I would love that keyboard too!

  6. Honestly Laura
    Honestly Laura says:

    You stated above to someone else that you don
    t know what you’re writing and the meat of it until you’re writing it. That’s the way I work too. But I don’t have an editor :-(

  7. Alyson
    Alyson says:

    Oh I lov this on so many levels! My life is a hamster wheel of endless blogging, my kids are online 24/7 ( almost, when they’re not up Everest) but I know that the YouTube videos are igniting sparks, I’ve seen it in their creations. Now I just need Logitech!

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