Our Approach:
Intentional Productivity & Leadership

Both productivity and leadership are rooted in action. Productivity is, at its essence, goal-directed action; leadership is, at its essence, facilitating goal-directed productivity in a group of people. At Productive For Good, we focus on intentional productivity and intentional leadership. 

Productivity and leadership are INTENTIONAL when they are...

Your actions are in alignment with your goals and personal values (and those of your group).

Instead of acting on auto-pilot, you act with awareness of what you’re doing and why.

You feel that you have control over how you act and greater control over the outcomes of your actions.

You’re not effective by luck, you’re effective by design. You intentionally develop strategies that are more likely to produce the outcomes you are seeking.

Long-term effects and outcomes are given more weight than short-term fleeting gains.

Intentional action creates more space, more breathing room, more freedom for choice in our lives. This space is where we can plant the seeds for other goals we wish to pursue ourselves (e.g., learning new skills, social action, etc.) or to enable others to pursue.

I want to change the world. For good.

I want to change how people think about productivity. So much of our lives are spent “working,” often in a way that brings us little joy and takes a toll on us physically and emotionally. And the work is so draining that it leaves little time or energy for other things that we want to be doing (e.g., side project, volunteering, exercise, meditation). 

I believe that a more intentional approach to productivity would not only help you to make better use of your time, but would leave you happier and with more time to pursue other projects that you’re passionate about. Imagine a world of happier people finding the time and energy to do good work while also finding time to pursue their passions.

I want to change how people think about leadership. Forcing people to do something isn’t effective leadership. Instead of falling back on these internalized, harmful notions of leadership, leaders should act with intention in partnership with group members, in pursuit of shared group goals. 

Effective leadership plants the seeds for mutual trust, supportive interpersonal relationships, and group cohesiveness. Imagine a world in which this were the default view of what leaders do.

These systems will work for everyone, and I particularly want changemakers to have access to these Intentional Productivity and Intentional Leadership systems. There are a lot of changes that I want to see in the world – making it more equitable, more sustainable, more compassionate – but I can only do so much to make these changes happen by myself. 

So if you have an idea for creating positive change, I want to remove as many of the obstacles as I can that might be standing in your way. The Intentional Productivity system helps you to address the internal obstacles you may be facing (e.g., ADHD, low motivation, stress, and ineffective time management strategies), while the Intentional Leadership system gives you the practical knowledge and skills needed to lead a group of people in making change happen.

How our programs are different

There are lots of people out there talking about productivity and leadership. What makes our approach different?

There’s a difference between a psychologist who brings a deep understanding of how the human mind works (that’s me) and someone without that training who is only reading selected studies on productivity or leadership. As an organizational psychologist and former college psychology professor, my insights into improving productivity and leadership come from my expertise in a wide range of psychological processes that influence our behaviors and interpersonal interactions.

I have a simple, research-based system that walks you through the 4 productivity superpowers (mind control, distraction control, task control, and time control) and 5 leadership superpowers (self leadership, group identity leadership, productivity leadership, relationship leadership, and feedback leadership). These systems are comprehensive in their coverage of the major enablers and obstacles to productivity and leadership, while also being simple to use in diagnosing your own changing needs.

In order to troubleshoot your productivity and leadership, you need to understand the factors that enable it. Many other teachers and coaches’ understanding stops at tips and tricks. Tricks may help in the short-term, but they leave you helpless when they stop working. Once you understand productivity and leadership, you’ll understand why certain tricks work some of the time, and you’ll be in control when they don’t. I’ll give you actionable strategies for improving your productivity and leadership, while also making sure you understand why they work.

When explaining different aspects of productivity and leadership, I want it to make sense, to be engaging, and easy to revisit when you need a refresher. I often use hand-drawn visuals that make the content easier to digest and easier to remember.

Other training programs tend to focus on one or the other. I see leadership and productivity as being deeply interconnected. You can’t lead well if you aren’t productive in your own leadership tasks. And if your leadership isn’t making it easier for your team to take productive action, then you’re not leading well. Leading others to be more productive isn’t as simple as you might think, but I’ve taught leadership to over 600 students over the last 6 years and I can teach you too.

In addition to helping those in the for-profit sector, I’m passionate about using my skills and knowledge to enable changemakers to do their work better, to make the world better. I’ve coached changemakers and am myself co-founder of a nonprofit organization. I understand the challenges unique to creating social change and can support you through the process.

My Story

Matt Jarman, Founder

Photo by Sara Tro

I’ve been obsessed with productivity since high school over 20 years ago. Looking back, I now realize this obsession is likely rooted in my own ADHD and need for a system that would allow me to bring my creative potential to fruition. Since high school, I was always experimenting with different productivity approaches and electronic tools. What I learned helped me a lot, but I never found a productivity system that did everything I needed. I went to graduate school to get a PhD in organizational psychology because I wanted to better understand leadership, which is itself a topic that is poorly understood. 

As I progressed in my studies, I finally started gaining the understanding I needed to figure out the productivity and leadership puzzles. My dissertation research, under the mentorship of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (author of Flow and considered a father of positive psychology), focused on how feeling deeply bothered by something (e.g., social injustice in the status quo) could enable big “Aha!” moments of insight in which the topic is seen through new eyes. 

I left graduate school still feeling like pieces of the productivity and leadership puzzles were still missing. I continued conducting and publishing original research on topics such as leadership, productivity, creativity, and mindfulness. But it wasn’t until I had been teaching for a few years as a psychology professor that everything finally fell into place. I finally felt like I deeply understood productivity and leadership, and I was surprised at how deeply connected they are with one another. 

I left my job as a college professor because I didn’t feel that it was allowing me to make the positive impact in the world that I was looking for. This career change has given me the opportunity to start Productive For Good, which is itself an attempt to enable positive change in the world by helping people to do their work better, in a way that is in everyone’s best interest. 

Aside from Productive For Good, my wife and I also co-founded a nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide a gathering space for an intergenerational community of lifelong learners of all backgrounds to connect with each other, with their passions, and with the natural world.

If you’ve looked around the website, you’ve seen that I talk about productivity and leadership “superpowers”. But why superpowers? I’ve always loved the idea of magical powers. I was mesmerized by books like The Hobbit growing up and always wanted to be the wizard. Perhaps that’s what led me to explore sleight of hand. I’ve now been a professional magician for 20+ years. But I also describe these productivity and leadership skills as superpowers because they often do feel like superpowers. Many times I’ve thought to myself, “Wow, how did I get all of that done?” 

I began my teaching career as a visiting assistant professor at Florida Atlantic University’s (FAU) Honors College, where I taught a wide range of courses including entrepreneurship, cognitive psych, social psych, conservation psych, community psych, and industrial/organizational psych. This breadth of topics primed me for the integrative approach I took to leadership after moving with my family to Virginia. After the year teaching at FAU, I spent 5 years as a psychology professor at the Virginia Military Institute (VMI), where I taught 30 sections of a leadership science course to over 600 students, giving me a lot of time to make sense of the huge amounts of leadership and management research out there and how best to teach it. I’m excited to continue teaching in this new online format, with greater control over the course content and structure. The courses you’ll find here are the ones I would have wanted to take years ago: Focused on the essentials, conceptually rich, and action-oriented.

My wife and I, with our two young daughters, moved to Ithaca, NY in March of 2020. We’re excited to be here.