I’ve mentioned in the past my distaste for productivity. I still struggle a lot with trying to be productive. Why do I dislike it you ask? Because in short, it makes me feel like a horrible person. Let me explain.
Productivity is all about getting things done. It has it’s place, but in recent years it has become like an epidemic. You are expected to be a productive member of society. We as a culture place a lot of value on ‘getting things done’. The problem is, being productive seems to only lead to a greater need to feel productive.
There is no ceiling, so the more I do, the worse I feel about not being able to do more. No matter how much I finish, I can always think of more stuff that needs to get done, it’s a vicious cycle. Any satisfaction gained from being productive is short lived, before the drive to get even more done overrides it.
There are other issues with productivity too. The emphasis is placed on the number of tasks, and not so much the quality of the things you’re doing, why you are doing them, or pondering if there might be a more efficient way of reaching your goal.
In the work place, so much pressure is put on a person to be productive, that a lot of time gets wasted doing things that aren’t truly necessary, and it doesn’t allow the time to think creatively about other ways to arrive at the same solution. This leads to people mindlessly doing things they way they always have always been done. Yeah, stuff gets done, but things don’t get better. This isn’t how innovation happens.
Also, productivity is a concept that only works well with measurable things, and not everything that we do that is useful is measurable. For instance, earlier this year I was spending a good amount of time looking at Casita ads. On the surface, this doesn’t seem a productive way of spending my time. I wasn’t checking anything off of a list, but it was still a necessary step toward reaching my goal of going full-time RVing.
Which brings us to what I feel productivity should be about. My thoughts on productivity are currently in a state of change as I try to find ways to both get things done (and feel good about it) and have ‘free’ time to do other stuff that interests me.
I’ve already shared my method for working on big goals in Planning for your dreams by breaking up one big seemingly impossible goal into smaller tasks, and only focusing on the part that needs to get done first to make true progress. But what about when you’re juggling big goals like moving into your RV with household chores, spending time with visiting family, keeping a blog updated, exercising, and having time for yourself? In my mind, productivity should exist to help us get the things that matter done, and not be an end in itself. Focus instead on doing things that make you feel fulfilled.
Secondly, create value whether it’s measurable or not. As mentioned in my posts about time management, there are some things that we have to do, like laundry, paying taxes, etc. But think critically about what stuff actually has to be done, and what stuff only exists because we think it has to be done. When I take time for myself to read a book, that’s creating value. It’s a way of relaxing and recharging myself so that I can be more focused later. When I write posts for this blog, that also creates value, I try to write posts that are educational, inspirational, or at least entertaining.
I have also found that a less rigid approach works best. Some days, I may split my time up and work on several different projects in one day. On other days, I feel like focusing on just one thing and working on that. I find I get more done when I follow the flow of what feels right to me at the time. I think this happens because when I feel inspired to do things a certain way, the motivation is automatically there and I don’t need to push myself to do it. Of course this isn’t always possible when things are on a deadline, but when they aren’t, try it and see for yourself.
What it boils down to is, worry less about being productive, and more about being effective. When you put the focus on creating value, and doing things that matter, the productivity comes naturally.
I’d like to hear your opinion on productivity. Are you for it, or against it? What tools do you use to to get the the things that matter done?