Productive Purpose In The Age Of Covid-19

Some people achieve little more than living to die. Some do their best to struggle on by. And there are some who help shape the course of history by committing to the seriousness of life’s opportunity.

If you feel a deep concern about the human condition, a strong sense of responsibility towards your loved ones, for humanity at large, and your own self-preservation and fulfilment… I offer and seek collaboration and participation beginning anew right now, here, today, on this very page.

In the late 90’s / early 2000’s I produced some of the first online courses on productivity including Folderarchy, Life Direction Clarifier, Insta-Time, and more. In 2018 I wrote an as yet unpublished book titled Productive Bliss.

Since the Covid-19 breakout began early this year I’ve had to shift gears, and… long story short… here’s what I’m doing in response.


What is Productive Purpose?

Chances are you feel a calling, some kind of mission, some form of deeply meaningful intention that drives, motivates and fuels you.

What personal rating would you give yourself right now for how productive you feel towards that deepest sense of purpose? 2 out of 10? 7 out of 10?

Whatever it is for you right now, my goal for myself is to increase my sense of Productive Purpose score by 1. And when that’s done, I will look to increase it by 1 again. And again. Until my life and sense of self feel entirely congruent and aligned.

What other reason for getting out of bed each morning is there?

To pay the bills? Sure.

To enjoy time with friends and family? Sure.

To explore hobbies and personal interests while developing new skills and generally enjoying the day?

Is that sufficient for you to live and die by?

If so, sayonara, my offer of participation and collaboration is hereby revoked.

But if you feel as I do that pursuing a meaningful bigger purpose should be the key driving force of every day you are alive then greetings and a hearty welcome. I honour your efforts, acknowledge your struggle, and will do whatever’s in my power to help.

My very selfish reasons are thus: I can not tolerate an unfree world. And therefore an unfree world can not tolerate me. (So the world must change.)

Perhaps your own sense of purpose is different to ‘freedom’. Perhaps it’s about love, or justice or health or community or art or something else.

What follows is the very best tool-kit I have found to date for maximising productivity.

A Practical Tool-Kit for Productive Purpose

Over the years I have experimented with many dozens of productivity methods and apps to manage my projects and priorities for effective action.

I’ve used Coda, Notion, Bullet Journaling, iPad Notability, GTD Method, Trello Boards, Mind-Mapping and so on. Another long story short… here is the latest winning combination:

Roam Research

New in 2020, Roam is a game changer. I believe this app will become world renowned like Wikipedia. I got early access in February and they are now opening up for new members. It is designed for ‘researchers’ as a ‘second brain’ for Personal Knowledge Management. Writers use it to organize notes. PhD students use it to manage their reference library. And we can use it to fulfil our Productive Purpose.

Here is a good introductory video to Roam.

Here is an entire course on setting up and using it for productivity.

I’m not sure yet if there will be a free version, but premium is $15 p/m (or $500 for 5 years) and it’s become the most important subscription I have.

InstaPaper $3p/m

There are soooooo many articles to read and digest but often times it goes in one ear and out the other. Reading articles can also be a major distraction from work, or we end up with a dozen browser tabs open with no end in site. InstaPaper lets me save articles with one button click from my browser bar so I can read them later at an appropriate time. It also allows me to highlight passages and add notes so I can later extract those notes for use in blogs, posts, etc.

Getting those notes out of InstaPaper and into my ‘second brain’ (Roam) requires a couple of extra steps via ReadWise and Evernote.

ReadWise $8p/m

This automatically connects with InstaPaper and Kindle to extract all of the highlights and notes made on articles or books. ReadWise can automatically send those notes through to Evernote. Alternatively, you can email notes from Kindle to yourself and then paste them into Roam, and also copy paste highlights from InstaPaper articles, but ReadWise makes it automatic to save a bit of time.


Evernote is also useful as a general bookmark library for weblinks. From Evernote I have to manually copy the notes sent there via ReadWise to paste them into Roam for use.

InstaPaper + ReadWise + Evernote is the most efficient way of absorbing article/book content and extracting notes for use that I’ve found so far. And the point is, everything ends up in Roam for use.

Toby Bookmarks

If you use Chrome browser, this is a handy tool for bookmarking sites you want to re-visit, rather than having a dozen or more tabs open.

Spectacle (for Mac)

Lets you reposition windows side by side each other via keyboard shortcuts. Surprisingly necessary once you try it.

Stop Being Scatterbrained

Whether you use those tools or not, Personal Knowledge Management is vital for Productive Purpose.

Despite my passion for productivity I have no doubt spent most of my life to date being very scatterbrained. It’s the natural human state for each day to roll on by as we muddle on through and flit from one fascination (cat videos) to another fascination (corona contagion videos)… and of course, to achieve our best self, our highest productive purpose, we need to change those natural tendencies to conquer our inner scatterbrain.

Learning Roam will take some time. Give it a chance and quite quickly I think you’ll find it as vital as I do. If you have an alternative approach for your second brain and daily activity management I would LOVE to hear about it in the comments below.

It is very satisfying to compile all ideas, previous writing, projects, tasks, and notes into one seamless, searchable, tag linked knowledge system.

Mental Movements For Maximum Productive Purpose

Before I start getting carried away with these sub-headings… I’ll end on the following concept.

Just like physical movements that we do to get stuff done (such as ‘type on keyboard’, ‘write in notebook’, ‘make phone calls’, etc) so too we can identify movements made by our mind to get things done.

These Mental Movements include learning, planning, creating, organizing, executing, and reviewing.

How much time do you give to each of those mental movements?

And generally, what opportunities exist to strengthen your productive purpose?

Got tips to share? Add them below.

P.S. Part of my own Productive Purpose is to build a new matrix of public ideas, methods, references, and discussions. I’ll be using this discussion forum website to do so, as introduced on the homepage at See you there.