You wake up one morning feeling dissatisfied with your life. You’re in a dead end job, you’re overweight, your house is messy, and you know that the problems stem from a single cause – you never seem to get things done.
On this particular day, something gives you a little jolt of inspiration. You decide that this is it: you’re turning your life around.
Over the next few weeks, months, maybe even years, you do just that. You take some evening classes and switch careers. You lose weight and get fit – you even start training for a marathon. You declutter your whole house.
And life looks a lot better.
Now that you’ve been bitten by the productivity bug, it’s hard to stop. You remember how great it felt to finally have that sense of achievement – to know that your life was going somewhere. You think that if only you could be just a bit more productive, things would be even better.
You start working longer hours, trying to cram more into the day. You constantly read new books and blog posts on productivity, looking for new ways to use your time as efficiently as possible. You ditch social events as a “distraction” or a “waste of time.”
Perhaps, as your focus on productivity at all costs grows, you even end up short-changing your partner or children. After all, a leisurely romantic meal doesn’t seem very productive – nor does spending four hours building a fort with your kids.
I’m sure you can see where this is heading: too much productivity will make you unhappy, not happy.
Productivity Alone is Not an Achievement
Being productive is a great way to make the most of your limited time on this planet. If you struggle with procrastination or poor time management, reading a good book or attending a seminar that tackles these topics can be a real help.
It’s important, though, to think about why you want to be more productive – and to hold onto that reason so you don’t lose your perspective.
Perhaps you want to solve your time management issues so you can finish work at 5pm and come home to your family.
Perhaps you want to be more organized, so you don’t waste so much of your life on trivia like where you left your car keys.
Perhaps you simply want to be the best person you can be.
Learning to be more productive can and will help you reach your goals. But productivity in itself, however, won’t give your life meaning.
Is it Time for You to Be Less Productive?
If you feel as though you’re on a treadmill, forcing yourself to squeeze maximum productivity out of every moment of your day, then it’s time to slow down.
Of course, I’m not saying that being productive is bad … but, as with many things in life (like chocolate!), it’s easy to have too much of a good thing.
Give yourself a chance to reconnect with what’s truly important in your life, like:
- Your health – including your mental health.
- Your family – that could be your partner, parents, kids, or even more extended family.
- Your passions – don’t give up a hobby or interest just because it seems “unproductive.”
You might like to set aside time in your schedule so that you deliberately have gaps where you don’t need to be constantly doing things. For instance, you could keep a Saturday or Sunday completely clear so that you can follow the whim of the moment.
That might well seem odd at first, especially if you’ve been on the productivity treadmill for a long time. But you might also find that you laugh more, or feel truly relaxed, or get a great new idea for a project that you’ve been struggling with.
You might want to read some of these posts for some ways to unwind and be happier:
If you’re a recovering productivity junkie – or if you’ve found a great balance between being productive and also having time to rest and relax – then share your experiences and tips in the comments.