Being Productive Isn’t As Important As You Think

Productivity Schmroductivity?

A message to solopreneurs, speakers, entertainers and anybody struggling staying productive.

brad montgomery live

Why the Internet Is Wrong.  You’re Doing Fine.

Productivity Isn’t That Important Right Now


When I read posts from my entrepreneur, small business, and professional speaker peers, the message is clear:  It’s time to get busy!  Write that book! Start your podcast!  Finish this project, start that new income stream, go go go!  Prepare yourself and your business for a fast start when things “get back to normal.”

For many of you (us!), this advice is wrong. Or at the very least it’s incomplete.  You’re doing great in your imperfect struggles during this wacky blip in world history. You’ve got this. You don’t have to change a thing. And focusing on productivity might be taking you away from what you should be doing.   Curious?  Read on. 

Warning:  if you’re skimming, make sure you don’t miss the end:  that’s where we talk about Hope.  (Spoiler:  I have a lot of hope!)  


Let me tell you a story about me— which is actually about you.

A decade ago I moved my family to Mexico for a year. We enrolled our kids in a Mexican school, we rented a house, and we started an adventure which by every measure was more difficult than we had anticipated. None of us knew Spanish before we left, we didn’t understand the culture, and the list of things we did not know or understand was too long to give justice to here.  

I still worked as a professional speaker while living in Mexico. I commuted to the United States to do an occasional keynote here and there. So I was still working… But I abandoned huge portions of my typical work routine.

In my small business, and I bet in yours, there are two types of labor*. One type is your primary job, and the other type is all of the myriad of things you do in support of your primary job. For me, as a motivational speaker, my primary job is answering the phone from interested potential clients and delivering excellent keynote speeches.  Aside from some basic customer service for existing clients, everything else is extra. Content creation, social media, newsletters, writing books and articles, creating video, selling digital information, etc. All of these things are vaguely in support of my normal job, but they are extra. Marginal. Tangential.

During my year in Mexico I did almost zero of this peripheral work.  I took care of my existing clients, and worked hard to deliver way above average keynotes. But otherwise I didn’t do much work.**

What was the net effect to my business for not doing any of this marginal labor? Nothing. Even without doing these tangential tasks, my business grew.  Two years later my fees were up, my income was up, the number of keynotes I delivered was up, and the amount of repeat and spinoff work was up.

The Lesson?  All of the tangential work I did before Mexico was not as important as I believed it to be.  What was important was delivering a quality product.   My primary work mattered; the peripheral work did not.  

In this upside down, the only work available to most of us is this peripheral work.  

And that fact gives me hope.  Read on. 

Happy Audience
Brad on stage with audience member

Ok.   Calm down.  

I’m not telling you to do nothing. Nor am I telling you to get busy and get productive. I’m telling you that you have a choice and there is no correct answer.

If your personality type enjoys hyper productivity, then go for it.   But if you’re feeling overwhelmed and exhausted just from reading the news and you’d prefer to sit still with some extra Netflix then embrace it.  No guilt.  No pressure.  Just breathe. 

Facebook and twitter makes us feel like there is only one correct path right now — that of productive output!  I’m here to tell you you’ve got a choice.  

My year in Mexico taught me that all of that peripheral work will be there when you’re ready for it. It can wait. And again, most of it isn’t as important as you think.

Facebook makes us feel like there is only one correct path right now — that of productive output!  I’m here to tell you you’ve got a choice.  

I have hope. 

How about another story about me?  (It’s really a story about you.)

I’m a very proud member of the National Speakers Association (NSA).  I’ve earned my Certified Speaking Professional Designation and been awarded a place in their Hall of Fame.  I love that association.  That association has helped me build a great career and it’s delivered some of my best friends.  But it also makes me crazy.  

Every time I return from one of their conventions, I swear I need therapy.  I spend days with peers preaching that “You must start a subscription service!” and “You have to hire more staff and have a scalable business!” and “You need to build a business that people will want to buy!  Go get busy!”  I had a tough time determining which ones of these “should do’s” were actually necessary, helpful or even profitable.  

Again, I love NSA.  I love my peers.   And I learned enough at these conferences to LITERALLY transform my business.  But I also was continually wracked with insecurities, doubts, and confusion about the things I was “supposed” to do.  I was doing great at my primary business as a professional speaker.  My clients — and my audiences — were happy.  Really happy even.  But somehow after attending a NSA convention I always felt like I was doing my job all wrong. I was a “failure” for not doing all of these peripheral projects.

But over time (and I’ve been at this difficult job a loooong time) I came to realize that for every 1 person who was earning more money by “scaling up” their business (whatever that means), there were 9 business owners who barely broke even after “Scaling Up.”  In other words, yeah, they earned more money by doing all of these “Scale Up” ideas, but a majority of them ended up spending most of that increased money on their extra staff, their large office, their virtual studio….whatever.    I’ll never forget it when a good speaker pal who had a large staff, a huge income, and a very impressive business confessed to me that when she closed up her larger business to be a solo-preneur again, it equated to a raise.  Dropping her peripheral business to focus on her primary business wasn’t just easier, simpler and less stressful.  It was more profitable.  Wow.  

Sure there are tons of exceptions.  Including a couple of my best friends.  I’m just saying that you’ve a choice…and not scaling, building out, or building up up is a valid and profitable business plan too.    

(One time, if you’re nice, I’ll tell you about how I created an amazing and well-reviewed audio product called Humor College which earned many thousands of dollars… Which ended up being almost as much money as I would have earned working the same number of hours at Burger King.***)  

All of this gives me hope. 

Here’s the thing.

The best task you can do right now is take care of you.  And let’s be honest…you need more care now than usual.  It’s been hard.  It’s been REALLY hard.   

You’re overwhelmed.  You feel powerless. You’re scared.  You worry about your friends, your family, and the barista at your favorite coffee shop.  You worry about your bank account.  You’re worried about your aging parents.  And that line cook at Dennys.  And, and, and…

So I say take a breath.  Don’t worry about The Things You’re Supposed To Do.   Do a bit more of what you want to do. And if it feels right, do a bit more of nothing.  That other stuff will still be there if and when you need it… And remember, it’s not as important as you think.   Sleep in and read Harry Potter.  Allow yourself to just….process.  Sorting through our new world is exhausting.   Give yourself permission to not accomplish anything.  Productivity schmoductivity. 

If working gives you mental relief, then feel good about doing that work.  But go ahead and admit that all of those projects you’re doing might fill your days, but they probably won’t be as pivotal to your future as you’d guess.  You can opt out of the the added stress from Getting Things Done.

We’re seeing world history in the making.  This is big. It’s ok to be sad. It hurts. It’s scary.   And the uncertainty we face is a challenge to everything we know.  So again, give yourself a chance to be still and just process.  To heal.  To take care of you. 

I have hope.

You’ll get through this.   Answers will present themselves.   Things will start up again.  You’ll adapt and adopt. Neither of us know what your future is, but I KNOW you’ll be ok.   

And you’ll be busy again.  REALLY busy.  That phone will start ringing, you’ll be serving your clients again and making a difference again.  I promise.

And when this darn thing is over, you’ll be glad you didn’t push too hard.  Because when it starts again, you’re gonna need the extra energy.

Understand that there is no wrong answer.  If you wanna start a big project and it gives you joy, go for it.  If you want to focus on drinking hot cocoa, that’s ok too.  Both paths lead to the same place.

All of that peripheral stuff is optional.  But taking care of yourself is not.

motivational speaker Brad Montgomery402

Here’s Why You Matter

I’m a motivational speaker.  I’m supposed to know the right things to say and write.  But I don’t.  I don’t have the answers…. Except for one. 

The single thing I KNOW to be true now more than ever is that the most important thing you can do is to help others.   They are even more overwhelmed than you are.  They are even more upset than you are.  They need somebody to care for them, to encourage them, and to love them. 

And you’re good at helping others.  

And best of all, as I teach in my keynotes, helping others is selfish. Sure your positivity helps them, and that’s important.  But the very act of serving helps YOU even more.  It increases your sense of meaningfulness and purpose, and that leads to a bump in your scientific level of happiness.

So make that encouraging call.  Be a listener.  Be a source for positivity.   Because you have time.  Because they need you. And because you need to be useful.  

What’s the Bottom Line?

Next time you read about how others are creating amazing new programs, books, curriculums, learning new languages, mastering French cuisine, and doing 1,000 push ups a day, feel free to call Bull.     Productivity is not the most important thing during this zombie apocalypse.**

The most important thing you can do is to stay safe, stay sane, heal, and be a leader in helping others.  

You’ve got this.  I believe in you.  


* Yeah it’s an oversimplification…but you can forgive me, right?

** I did, however, fall in love with Mexico and Mexicans, and learned how to make an awesome Michelada.

*** I still have a few copies of HUMOR COLLEGE in the basement.  Hit me up and I’ll make you a deal! 

**To be fair I haven’t seen an actual zombie yet. But looking for them gives me something to do. 

Biography of a Motivational Speaker

Brad Montgomery is a motivational keynote speaker and a small business owner.  His business survived 9/11 and the 2008 recession, and he’s still able to joke about it.  (His clients tell him that he’s funny;  his family doubts that.)  He teaches people skills to business and health care audiences to increase their performance and bottom line results.  

Online, virtual presentations are a thing, and Brad’s good at them.  Call us today if you want to get your virtual team to where you know they can be.  Learn more:  Online Motivational Speaker  | 303.691.0726

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

© 2024 Brad Montgomery Productions Inc. All Rights Reserved.