Productivity: The “It” Word

My friend and I constantly chat about how we wanted to be more productive but for some reason, always fail. We would try to wake up early, try to set an agenda, try to make ourselves sit through new learnings, and nothing worked. We would still just want to be couch potatoes in the evenings and weekends. As work and life responsibilities continue to wear on us, we have become more graceful towards ourselves and while we still pursue to grow, we have slowed down our self-imposed race.

Photo by Andy Kelly on Unsplash

This week I was looking at some training at work and stumbled upon a video regarding productivity. The lady had tried three different methods in order to help her get tasks done. One was using a timer and removing distractions. Another one was working in a group session with a coach. The last one was Skyping with a stranger in the background while doing your own work (a little creepy and distracting, in my opinion). The second segment was her chat with someone who has been studying productivity and brought some interesting insights.

First, create a list of what you need done and pick a few. The point of the exercise is to help you recognize that you can’t do it all; prioritize and only focus on what is in front of you. What I find interesting is that recognizing your limitations will give you more realistic standards of what you can accomplish. We can be so harsh on ourselves that we forget that we are human and with that comes tiredness, anxiety, and stress that we need to account for. We also need to keep in mind the current resources we have to do what is expected of us and what we desire to do. Understanding our flaws and working with them, not against them, can help us do more and in a better attitude, if I may say.

Second, being productive is about doing what you set your mind to. If you said you were going to do laundry today and were able to do it, then you are productive. If you decide to empty the garage and then take a nap, and do it, then you have been productive. This is such a freeing thought for me. I set my own standards, not Jeff Bezos or my overachieving neighbor. While I know that time is like water running through our hands, and can be wasted so easily, I also know (and my body also reminds me) that I am not a robot. I cannot go on and on all day every day and expect to achieve it all. I need rest to fuel myself for my responsibilities. Sometimes rest is being in bed all day or having a meal with a friend. It looks different for all of us but we all need it.

I still have a lot to improve on in order to make better use of my time. Planning has encouraged me to mark things off the list, which in turn encourages me to get more done. Writing down and materializing what is pending in my brain has opened my eyes to all the different things on my plate and how little I acknowledge what I am already getting done. I will continue to push myself to be more careful with my time, and also plan to leave room for the deserved rest and enjoyment of life. Not all work is pleasurable but I want to try my hardest to make my life mostly pleasurable, and that requires a cycle of doing and resting.

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