Trying to be Productive All the Time is Killing Your Productivity

We’re obsessed with getting results, and yet they often evade us. This is why.

Ada J. Raven
4 min readMar 10, 2021
Photo by Carl Heyerdahl via Unsplash

Ever been majorly depressed due to a lack of motivation?

You feel like you should be doing more, that you haven’t done enough today, this week, this month.

But ask yourself: what did you do today?

Are you maintaining things that, if neglected, would knock your life out of balance?

Do you have a full-time job?

What about relationships? Your loved ones need time, too.

Life is effort. This crap is hard on the best of days.

It’s even harder on the bad days.

Yet we punish ourselves for doing too little, even though we do so much.

Productivity suffers as a result.

The Obsession with Results

Society rewards meagerly based on results.

Every day we’re expected to yield new results, pushing toward the main objective. Otherwise, the day is considered wasted.

Life is too short for that.

What’s wrong with resting?

Why can’t we take time to enjoy the fruits of our labors, instead of trudging ahead to the next task?

The problem lies in our obsession with productivity and how we measure it.

Photo by Markus Winkler via Unsplash

When someone’s treading water, we only notice they’re not moving towards anything.

We’re not considering how much effort it takes to stay afloat.

You can’t see results, but it keeps their head above water.

Our obsession with productivity eats away at our time…

Time to enjoy your process, time to rest, time to learn and absorb life around you.

If we don’t learn to slow down, it will be the death of us.

How To Be Productive Without Becoming Obsessed

Give Yourself Time to Enjoy Your “Wins”

It’s important to savor the fruits of your many labors.

Otherwise, why work toward anything at all?

Plus, taking time to celebrate your wins gives you a good incentive to work next time.

The best part of the race, for me, in the end. You get to come up for air knowing you made it to the finish line. It’s even sweeter if you were first.

So treat yourself to a fancy dinner, get drunk, and sleep like a rock. You’ve earned that.

Appreciate Where You Are Right Now

Are you happy with where you’ve come in your life?

Slow down and appreciate it.

Take a walk around your neighborhood; enjoy a cup of tea and some calming music; listen to your favorite non-work-related podcast.

Whatever floats your boat. Don’t feel guilty about spending time on it.

Block Out Time to be Productive and Avoid OT When You Can

If it’s not necessary to work overtime, don’t.

Block your time to work and on what and stick with it.

Start when you plan to start; finish when you plan to finish.

It’ll give you the satisfaction of feeling like you achieved something while also protecting you from overwhelm.

Make a To-Do List and Scratch Things Off as You Complete Them

Scratching things off your To-Do List gives a sense of accomplishment and completion.

My psychiatrist once told me the physical act of putting pen to paper is more cathartic than typing when journaling.

I imagine it’s the same when you make a list on paper and then scratch it off with a pen. It solidifies the sense of completion.

The regular reminder of how much you’re getting done will encourage you to complete your list, leaving you satisfied when you scratch off the final item.

You can make the list the night before if you want to feel more organized.

Balance Productivity with Contentment for a Happier, More Productive Life

Photo by Szilvia Basso via Unsplash

The key to a better life is finding balance.

Obviously, we want to move forward in life, but not at the cost of living it.

So whatever it is you’re working toward, don’t forget to enjoy yourself.

Savor the successes, learn from the failures, and take time to celebrate how far you’ve come.

You deserve it.