Last week, via a friend’s Facebook post, I came across this Inc. Magazine article, “12 Things Successful People Do Before Breakfast.

The article reflects a certain set of ideas that are dominant in our culture:

productivity = doing more
successful people = people with big titles and high powered careers
being more productive => being more happy

As I read the twelve tips in the article, I kept hearing responses to each one in my head. It sounded like this:

Inc Magazine says Successful People… I say Sane/Happy/Successful People…
They wake up early. They sleep in when they need it and don’t feel guilty about it.
They exercise before it falls off the to-do list. They notice when exercise feels like a burdensome item on a to-do list, and shift to a new form of movement that feels more fun.
They work on a top-priority business project. They work a personal, creative, spiritual or professional endeavor that fits well with how they feel in the mornings. Or sometimes, they don’t work at all because they know rest and work and savoring are all important.
They connect with their spouses.Says the article: “What could be better than pre-dawn sex to energize you for the day? After all, regular sex may make you smarter, boost your income, and burn calories.”   If they make love in the morning, it’s not because it will help them be more productive, but because it feels wonderful and connects them to someone they love.
They network over coffee. They pour high quality cream in their coffee. Then they drink it slowly.


They meditate to clear their minds. They meditate to cultivate equanimity and compassion, so that they cause less suffering to themselves and to other human beings.
They plan and strategize while they’re fresh. They know that their best work happens not when they plan and strategize, but when they let plans and strategies come to them, especially during idle times, like on a long walks and while soaking in the bath.
They read the news. They read what’s old. They turn to spiritual texts again and again to remember what’s been true for thousands of years, to gain insight into the fundamental human dynamics  going on behind all those stories in the news.

I suppose that during those times in one’s life when you are feeling like you just can’t get anything done, like your priorities don’t get your attention, like you are more sluggish than energetic, more lost than organized, productivity tips are really helpful. I’m glad they are out there for people during those times. But being productive is not the same as doing important work, and being productive won’t  care for our hearts, save our planet or buoy those we love.