By Ali Luke

Since you’re reading PickTheBrain content, I expect that you’ll agree with me when I say that productivity is a good thing.

Being productive generally means:


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By Ali Luke

Since you’re reading PickTheBrain content, I expect that you’ll agree with me when I say that productivity is a good thing.

Being productive generally means:

  • You’re living up to your full potential (instead of daydreaming about what might be … and never actually doing it)
  • You’re being proactive rather than reactive, taking control of your own life
  • You feel good about yourself and your life: each day, you have a sense of accomplishment
  • You’ve got clear goals, and you’re on track to reach them

Pretty great, huh? It sounds like a recipe for a happy life.

Except for the question: Can you end up being too productive?

The Darker Side of Productivity

Like I say, I’m all for productivity. I like to do useful, fulfilling work, and I get bored easily if I’m wasting time or procrastinating.

But, I know that sometimes I take it a little too far. And I’ve often read blog posts or comments from other productive people who are definitely edging towards too much productivity.

Yes, getting things done (or if you’re a David Allan fan, Getting Things Done) is good. But it’s not the be-all and end-all of life.

When you get overly focused on being productive:

  • Your relationships suffer – Hanging out with your friends might seem “unproductive” whereas staying an extra couple of hours at work is “productive.” But what’s really more important to you in the long-run?
  • Your health might be at risk – Sure, maybe your gym routine counts as “productive,” but what about a long, leisurely walk, or a healthy meal eaten away from your desk?
  • You get stressed – You feel a constant pressure to keep doing more, and more, and more…
  • You lose perspective – Instead of trying to be effective you end up just being efficient.

Do you need to take your foot off the pedal? Is your focus on productivity starting to make you feel miserable or stressed out?

Taking a Break From Productivity

If this post is striking an uncomfortable chord with you, then it’s time to take a step back and learn to breathe again.

You could:

  • Re-examine your definition of productivity – Spending two hours reading a great book in a coffee shop could well be more productive than spending two hours staring at your computer screen. Taking care of your kids could be one of the most productive things you’ll do in your whole life.
  • Plan some down-time – Take an afternoon off. Or a whole weekend. If you plan ahead, you’ll have it to look forward to (and you’re more likely to actually hold yourself to it).
  • Find leisure activities that you really enjoy – Sometimes, we get caught up in productivity, whether at work or in the home, because we don’t really have anything else to do. Join a club, take up a new hobby, or plan a date night with your partner.
  • Get away from it all  It can be hard to “switch off” from work at times. By getting physically away (to a different city or even a different country) you create a real break from your regular life.

Remember: Life is about so much more than simply checking off everything on your to-do list – and being less than 100% productive is no crime. In fact, it’ll probably make you happier (and easier to live and work with)!

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