Productivity Has Become A Dirty Word


We often associate productivity with life hacks and quick tricks to speed through our emails, but this approach doesn’t truly address the core issue. The real solution isn’t about doing more; it’s about doing less while focusing on what truly matters.

However, identifying what truly matters can be a complex and personal journey. Moreover, you ultimately have to draw your own map. This isn’t easy, but you’re not the first person on this journey and there is help in the recent and ancient past.



I've Been on a Quest

I went on a deep dive through modern productivity literature and theory. At the same time, I went back to people like Plato, Aristotle, Epictetus, and Marcus Aurelius for advice.

I ended up with a productivity system that takes advantage of modern ideas but is founded on ancient principles.

What I ended up with was a productivity system that let me ship my best work and enjoy life at the same time.

And I will share that with you in this Productivity Field Guide.

The Productivity Field Guide has a lot of pieces:

  • There is a five-hour video course including 50 instructional videos that will get you up and running.
  • There is also a 100+ page book in both ePub and PDF formats.

The videos and the book are there to get you up and running. I can’t draw the map for you. (Nobody can.) Instead, I give you the tools to draw the map for yourself.

Each tutorial includes closed captioning in multiple languages.


I’ve Been Busy

  • I’ve published 16 Field Guides (Now 17)
  • I’ve recorded some 1,500 hours of podcasts
  • I’ve written a daily blog since 2007
  • … and I practiced law for nearly 30 years.

Perhaps the most frequent question I’ve been asked is, “How do you do it all?”

This course answers that question.

The Productivity Field Guide

  • 50 Video Tutorials
  • 5 Hours of Content
  • A 100-Page Book
  • With the Plus Edition, you also get an additional twelve-part webinar series with more depth, explanation, guests, and group participation. (Webinar Recordings get uploaded to the course after the event.)
  • An in-depth guide into a unique productivity system that combines the best parts of modern and ancient thought on the subject.
  • Captioning in English, Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, Italian, Chinese Simplified, Chinese Hong Kong, Japanese, Korean, and Tagalog



Want a Webinar Series and Some Accountability? Try the Plus Edition


In addition to the video content and the book, with the Plus Edition, you get:

A Twelve-Part Webinar Series

  • Getting Started
  • Roles and Arete
  • Quarterly and Monthly Planning
  • Weekly and Daily Planning
  • Projects and Habits
  • Maker, Manager, and Consumer
  • Hyper-Scheduling
  • Doing the Work
  • Shutting Down
  • The Best Tools for Productivity
  • Questions and Answers
  • Productivity Spotlights. Currrently booked: Shawn Blanc and Chris Bailey.

All webinars are recorded and added to the course.

Access to the Productivity Field Guide Private Community Message Board

Get the Plus Edition





Sample Video

Want to check out 30+ minutes of the course? Here you go.

Course Outline:

1. The Journey So Far

MacSparky explains how productivity became important to him and how he went about learning the topic from modern and ancient sources.


2. Productivity Ground Rules

A lot of productivity literature feels more like snake oil than actionable advice. In this section, MacSparky lays down the ground rules for this course so you can get the tools you need to help yourself.


3. Roles and Arete

A productivity system needs a foundation. MacSparky recommends you look to your individual roles and your ideal version of those roles (your arete) for this bedrock.


4. Projects and Habits

While projects and habits make a lousy basis for a productivity system, they can be excellent tools to get better. In this section, MacSparky shares advice on how to develop projects and habits and how to execute them.


5. Planning for Arete

To become the best version of you, you're going to need a plan. This section goes in-depth on how often you should plan and how you should go about doing it.


6. Hyper-Scheduling

A calendar is so much more than a list of meetings and dentist appointments. If used properly, a calendar can be a tool to make sure you are working on what's important (and repelling what's not). MacSparky calls this Hyper-Scheduling and explains it all in this section.


7. Daily Planning

Once you've figured out what is that best version of you, it's time to make daily progress on that. The battle is won (or lost) in your daily calendar. This section demonstrates how to build =your most important work into today.


8. Doing the Work

Plans are great, but execution is everything. This section covers how to get the work done.


9. Checking Your Work

Using digital and analog tools, there are objective ways to measure yourself on your journey so you can see for yourself what's working (and what's not).


11. Final Thoughts

Having been at this for years, MacSparky shares some final advice to make this system work for you.


12. Plus Edition Content

In addition to the above, with the Plus Edition, you’ll get a twelve-part webinar series with deeper coverage, questions and answers, guests, and more. All webinar sessions will be recorded and added to this course only for plus edition customers. You'll also get access to the Productivity Field Guide Plus Edition message board.



Praise for the Productivity Field Guide

Watching the Field Guide is like sitting down with a good friend and talking about your priorities in life. Compared to other productivity resources, this guide is not about figuring out how to do more things in less time; this field guide is about figuring out how to give more time to the important things.

- Phillipp


MacSparky's Productivity Field Guide is his best work ever! He teaches a productivity system that is unique to you: it grows out of your life roles and what is important to you. It's comprehensive: it deals with all of your life, not just what you do at work. It's practical: he gives you step-by-step instructions on how to set up your unique systems. And I can testify that after following his system for the past couple of years, it is transformative: it can change your life for the better and help you to become the best possible version of yourself. Amazing value for the price: buy it now!

- Jim E.


The chapter on roles and arete blew my mind.

- Irene K.


I've been playing with Productivity systems for nearly 20 years. I wouldn't expect to have anything new to learn. Sparky proved me wrong. He just saved me from a painful annual review process and has me incorporating my varied roles into my process more.

- Mark L.


I've been a productivity nerd for decades, reading and adopting new and better techniques over time. So, I was hesitant at first to purchase the Productivity Field Guide, thinking it would be a rehash of the things I already learned, but I'm glad I did. David projects productivity through a different lens - one that most productivity gurus don't provideHis approach to productivity revolves around the person's roles and walks you through understanding how you can be the best you can be at each of those roles (he calls this arete, which he explains in the course). From this foundational starting point, it becomes clear exactly where we should focus our productivity efforts. In this model, productivity isn't just efficiency for efficiency's sake, but an accelerated pathway to being our best selves. This focus has been the missing piece in so many of the past productivity systems I've used and may just be life-changing. Of course, David's step-by-step approach and clear explanations are easy for anyone to follow, and his passion for the subject and empathy for his viewers shines through in every video. I hope you enjoy this course as much as I do.

- Dr. Roy W.


Anyone who has followed MacSparky for a while starts to wonder how he gets it all done. This Field Guide answers that question in spades. It’s not a done for you, if you do x you will be amazingly productive type course. David provides his framework and processes so we can create our own unique systems for productivity. A process that I am throughly enjoying working through. If you are interested in creating your own productivity system then I highly recommend this field guide.

- Brendan B.

Productivity Field Guide Contents




  Download The Productivity Field Guide Book
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  The Journey So Far
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  Productivity Ground Rules
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  Roles and Arete
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  Maker, Manager, Consumer
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  Projects and Habits
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  Planning for Arete
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  Hyper-Scheduling
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  Daily Planning
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  Doing the Work
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  Shutting Down
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  Checking Your Work
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  Final Thoughts
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  Combined Videos for Easier Downloads
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  Technical Support
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Your Productivity Guide


I’ve been excited about technology since I first got my hands on a computer back in 1980. Since then, I’ve written and published numerous books and video courses from The MacSparky Blog and The MacSparky Labs. I also host several popular technology podcasts, including The Mac Power UsersThe Automators, and Focused.

I Have a Mission…

In a world where technology is increasingly conspiring to steal our focus and attention, my goal is to teach you how to be more productive (not less!) with technology.

Finding a method for being more productive about the things most important to me has been a 40 year journey. I'm so excited to share this course with the world.

Spark of the North

Purchase the Productivity Field Guide - Standard Edition






More Praise for the Productivity Field Guide


I have bought all of MacSparky's Field Guides. There is an engaging degree of simplicity and clarity to his products. At the same time, for complex topics, he is able to communicate in a way that steers you through the forest to plainer pastures. He not only teaches you but does so at your pace and your way.

- Nicholas B


I've listened to David Sparks' podcasts for a few years now and have always wondered how he gets so much done. He's talked about some of his approaches before but there is so much more to the Productivity Field Guide. Having followed productivity guides for at least 25 years, I'm excited about the approach David puts forward to help you decide what's important to you and therefore what you should be working on to be your best self. It's already helping me be more effective in my day to day routines and has really got me thinking about how this could change my life.

- Aiden


The approach regarding arete, roles not goals and carrying water was a hugely helpful basis. The remainder of the course followed these principles. I read it in one day and re-read it several times since. Each time, I tuned my productivity. The course has paid many dividends so far and resulted in several beneficial life changes.

- Michel R.


FINALLY a productivity course that uses the true meaning of life to help you focus on the important areas we really should be working on. Working through my Arete, Roles, and Why? Question l actually became quite emotional as I finally realised that using this system will finally allow me to identify and focus on the people and areas that are most important in my life. I have almost ALL of the MacSparky Field Guides but without a doubt this is the best! Seeing the passion David has put into the videos and material for this course is clear evidence of why he “quit” his day job to follow his MacSparky dreams! I urge everyone to get this course as it’s not the usual “do this and you will have 8hrs free time per day”. This course actually makes you take a long hard look at yourself. It makes you question why you do what you do, who you do things for and what you need to do to be the best person you can be. Not only for yourself but for those around you. Thank you so much David..x

- Sue W.


I find David's thoughtful approach to productivity quite different than most that I have tried in that he's pointing one towards a better life, not simply towards the quantity of work one gets done. He asks us to consider what we do in relation to what we value and gives us tools discover things we could let go of that are not aligning with who we want to be in our best version of our self. Well done.

- Chris A.


Once again, this guide reminds me why I love David’s Field guides so much. The Productivity Field Guide starts by talking about what to do and how to think about your activities before he even starts in on how to get more done in less time. (As a classics major, I always love his references to Plato, Aristotle, Marcus Aurelius et al which put productivity in the context of our humanity rather than as a mechanical device.) Unlike almost every other Productivity Guide, this one doesn’t push a hard-and-fast philosophical school or toolkit… It’s meant for adults who can think about the principles, experiment, and decide for themselves what will most effectively help them reach their goals. I’ve read and followed a lot of productivity systems and gurus and found David’s take very freeing and powerful and a great way to make 2024 a year where you can more effectively fulfill your unique purpose.

- Debra H.


What I love about David's Productivity Field Guide is it's not about cranking more widgets, it's how to define your best self and then pursue it.

- Dave H.


I bought this because I buy all of David's Field Guides, but wasn't expecting much from this, figuring it would be too touchy-feely. Instead, I found it incredibly useful both as a way of organizing much of what David has alluded to in bits and pieces over the years, but also because it is truly a practical guide, even if it is not a technical software guide like his other Field Guides. This will be useful to anyone, no matter where you are on life's journey.

- Rob O.