Achieving Holistic Productivity with Output and Input days

Photo by Johnson Wang on Unsplash

The approach to being our most productive self has become synonymous to being robotic. But there is no award for the same.

What if there is a more holisitic approach that does not involve bemoaning, self-berating or burning out?

To grab it by the scruff of its neck, I like to divide my week into Output and Input days. Grounded in the growth mindset principle, Output and Input days aim to further inward seeping bliss and outward projecting progress.

To me, the system offers consistent progress, flexibility and buffers against over working and feelings of guilt during slow days.

Let’s raise the curtain and reveal this simple yet effective setup to help you get on top of your life.

What are Output and Input days?

On Output days, allocate 80% of time and energy to crunching out tasks that require you to leverage your existing knowledge and reservoir of current understanding and expertise to tackle the project/task at hand.

Embedded in Input days, on the other hand, is a focus on growth. 80% of time and energy is allocated to expanding your horizons and learning new perspectives. 20% of the energy is expended on tasks that can set you up for the upcoming output day.

Certain markers define whether the task falls under the input umbrella or the output umbrella and said markers may be different for each individual, so answering these questions can help shine some clarity on existing practices and which area of growth might be under-served. For each task, these questions are:

Q. Is the task job related or your company related? Y/N
Q. Does the activity better your mind, heart, body or soul? Y/N
Q. Does the task help you level up professionally in the near or distant future? Y/N

If you answered yes to question 1 and 3, 80% of time allocation for those tasks will fall under output days and 20% on input days.

An Output day Example

Hammer away at these tasks for the majority of your output day:

→ Your 9–5 job/ freelance working hours/ running your business

→ Checking work emails

→ Scheduling and Attending meetings

→ Reading up on what is happening in your industry/niche

→ Professional Networking

A minor portion of the output day could be allocated to:

→ Reading a novel

→ Journaling

→ Listening to Podcasts

→ Going for a run/ to the gym

→ Socializing

An Input day Example

Inculcate hobbies and activities of interest for the majority of your input day:

→ Learning a language

→ Learning a musical instrument

→ Going for a hike

→ Practicing Yoga/ Meditation

→ Watching sports

→ Writing

→ Reading

→ Watching Ted talks

→ Listening to Podcasts

A minor portion of the input day could be allocated to:

→ Checking work emails

→ Preparing your to-do list for the upcoming output day

→ Crunching out routine tasks

Whether you decide on 4 output + 3 input days or 3 output + 4 input days, the distribution is of less importance than what needs to be achieved in the week.

At the end of any given week, if you pose yourself a question, ‘How productive was my week?’, The answer that crops up after leveraging the Output and Input days setup will be one of high productivity, high mental satisfaction, multi-faceted growth, broadening horizons, replenished energy week-in, week-out and inner growth. The progress of the week is well-balanced and the drive to get s**t done never wanes.

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