What are the three types of productivity?

I can’t be the only person that has ever wondered what productivity is. Here are some common things people think of when they hear the word productivity: being busy, being productive at work, and getting a lot done in a short period of time. While these are all definitions of the word “productivity”, they don’t account for all three types.

There are three basic types of productivity: physical, intellectual and emotional. Most people use physical productivity the most often or rely on it too much without using any of the other two types because they think it will get them more done.

What are the three types of productivity

What exactly is productivity?

Productivity is the measurement of the efficiency of production. This seems an over simplification of it but it is the correct definition. Being productive in a physical sense means that you are being efficient with your time, not wasting any, and getting things done quickly. Examples of physical productivity can be easily demonstrated in your everyday life. If you wake up at 5:00 and you have school all day until 5:00 then one hour before work you should go to sleep.

The Three Types of Productivity

1. Physical Productivity

Physical productivity is the most common and is the main reference to the actual definition. To look at it more closely it is the ability to be productive in the physical sense. It can be measured with activity level, ability to complete tasks or information acquisition. To be productive in this way means you are able to get things done quicker than someone who is lazy or inept when it comes to productive activity based on your time schedule.

Examples of physical productivity:

  • Completing a task faster than someone not using physical productivity
  • Being able to complete multiple tasks in one day
  • Being able to complete a task in one or two days instead of three or four
  • Having a higher activity level than someone who doesn’t use physical productivity

2. Intellectual productivity

Intellectual productivity is the ability to be productive mentally with the intent of learning. This is not something most people think of when they hear “productivity” but if you are constantly learning everything you do and absorbing information it can make you more productive than someone who isn’t.

Examples of intellectual productivity:

  • Taking the time to learn something that will help you be more productive
  • Always choosing to get a new skill or learn something new
  • Choosing to spend your free time learning and reading instead of spending it on things that aren’t productive
  • Listening more than talking, taking in information instead of giving it out

3. Emotional productivity

Emotional productivity is the ability to be productive with your emotions as well as your physical and intellectual side. Emotional productivity allows you to be in control of how you react emotionally. It can also be measured by your ability to balance yourself so that you aren’t always being emotional. You may have had a situation where you were productive one way and then all of the sudden you are sad or angry. That is the first time I’ve used the word “emotional” here, but it is essential to understand that emotional productivity is also another type of productivity.

Examples of emotional productivity:

  • Always setting goals and working towards them
  • Being able to focus on the task at hand instead of being distracted by other thoughts
  • Keeping track of what you are doing and making sure the tasks are getting done
  • Getting better results with your emotions by controlling them or not letting them control you
  • Staying focused and not being overwhelmed by distractions or emotions that could take over

How to be more productive across the three different types of productivity

Physical productivity is very straight forward and once you become used to being productive in that fashion it will become easier. Just remember that these are basic examples of physical productivity that everyone can do.

Intellectual productivity is also something that most people can do correctly if they choose to. I don’t think it is very hard to understand that working towards learning new things will make you more productive. Just remember to always be learning.

Emotional productivity is the hardest of the three types because it isn’t something you hear about very often and it isn’t directly linked to being productive. Keeping your emotions in check and being productive at the same time is very hard, but it can be done.

Emotional productivity can be measured by your ability to keep your emotions in check and to be productive in different ways at the same time. Remember that this is all about balancing yourself so that you are always aware of what you are doing and always know where you stand.

10 tips on how to improve your productivity

1. Give yourself time to work

People often think they are being productive because they are working hard and getting things done at the same time, but there is a significant amount of time sitting at your desk that you aren’t using correctly. If you give yourself a few hours with no distractions then you can become much more productive than if you just spend your day jumping around from task to task.

2. Use your mind to help you physically

Being able to use your mind to help physically is one of the hardest things to do but when you are able to do it correctly then you will become a much more productive person. If you know that a certain task will take a specific amount of time then just tell yourself that it will be done in that amount of time. The mind can be an incredible tool when it comes to being productive, so make sure you use it correctly.

3. Don’t procrastinate

Procrastination is one of the biggest enemies when it comes to being productive. Whether you are spending time on Facebook or you aren’t getting started on your work until 2 in the afternoon, pressuring yourself to continue working will help you be much more productive. Just remember that if you keep procrastinating then you aren’t being productive.

4. Track your progress

Keeping track of how long you spend on a certain task will help you be more productive. If you aren’t using a timer to see how long your tasks are then just do it! Set unrealistic goals and see if you can reach them, but always be aware of how long something is taking versus the actual time it took. That being said, don’t try to get all of your tasks done in an hour because that isn’t realistic.

5. Make a to-do list and a done list

Making a to-do list is essential for staying productive. It allows you to keep track of all your tasks and know what needs to be done. Making a done list also helps you get more things finished, whether it is the tasks on your list or other things that need doing. Just remember to mark the tasks as “done” so that you don’t forget what they are.

6. Stay focused

Being able to stay focused is essential for being productive. You may understand that you have to do a certain thing, but if you are distracted by something else then that task will be much harder than it needs to be. Use distractions as a way of picking up the things you need to be productive and don’t keep picking up the distractions in the name of being more productive.

7. Make time for breaks

Taking breaks is essential for anyone who is trying to be productive. You may not think you need a break, but the key is knowing when to take a break and then actually taking it. For example, if you are trying to write an article or finish a specific task then once you have spent an hour on it with no real progress then that would be the perfect time to take a break.

8. Balance yourself

Balancing yourself is an essential part of being productive, and you can do this by forcing yourself to be productive in a certain way. For example, if you know that you are always distracted go somewhere with no distractions and tell yourself that this is the only time you will be productive like this. If you do that then you will most likely find a balance.

9. Reduce distractions

Reducing distractors is a key part of being more productive and this means not letting things distract you while you work. For example, if you are doing something boring like writing an article or looking for something on the internet then just be aware that it is boring so don’t let yourself get distracted. Just know that if you do allow yourself to be distracted then you will become less productive.

10. Follow through

Following through on any task is essential for being more productive because when you follow through then you will know whether you are actually getting the job done or not. If you are only doing half of what needs to be done then that means that you aren’t following through at all and that means it is going to be much harder to be productive.


Being productive is an essential part of life, but it isn’t something that everyone can do. Some people are naturally more productive than others and some people need to work at it all the time. Just remember to be more productive than ever before because there is nothing better than being able to accomplish anything you want.

Keen to learn more about building a productive mindset. We have a guide on how to develop a productive mindset.

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