Productivity is an addiction. At least, it is for me. I’ve read about all the methods, the tools, and even tried a lot of them.
Batching tasks, the Pomodoro technique, 80/20 rule, time blocking, brain dumps, just to name a few.
None of these ever work 100% of the time!
I’ve tried every new technique that came across my feed but never stopped to ask what I was really looking for when I was searching for productivity.
Productivity is that holy grail for many of us. We are constantly either hustling or feeling guilty for not working hard enough. We’re constantly busy, constantly tired. It’s what we’ve been trained to do, for years! And we always think that the problem is that we’re not doing enough.
The guilt of not getting enough done is embedded in our work culture.
But we cannot stop. We constantly compare ourselves to our peers. It feels like everyone is always doing more! Working more, hustling more, running more, monetizing the next new thing.
We’re told if we were more productive, we’ll get it all done! If we do it all, then we’ll be able more time for the things that make us happy!
But it’s never enough.
Productivity was never meant to help you get more done. It was always meant to squeeze more out of you — the worker bee, in this capitalistic hive.
It’s up to you to decide what being productive really means to you.
I soon realized that I thought I was searching for productivity when I was really looking for something else.
It wasn’t the getting more done, it was the efficiency. Because I thought, if I was being more efficient, then surely, I’d have more time for everything else.
What productivity will not do for you
I still haven’t found the answer to how productivity can actually help me, but I can tell you that productivity has not helped me with the answers I was searching for — I don’t have more time, inspiration, value, nor have I found my purpose.
#1: It won’t give you back your time
If you think you’ll have more time to do the things you like or to rest, that’s not what productivity will get you. Surely you think if you get things done faster, then the rest of the time will be yours.
But, there will always be more to do — a process you could tweak, an email you could write, something you could optimize. Creating more time in your day never works in a way that will give any of it back to you.
#2: It will not inspire you
If you thought becoming more productive meant you would be left with more time to be inspired, I’m here to tell you that’s not going to happen.
Inspiration requires energy.
The quest for becoming your most productive self will squeeze every ounce of energy from you. Whether you complete that task in 30 minutes or an hour, that energy squeeze will leave you winded.
#3: It will not make your work more valuable
Doing more doesn’t mean more value. Your focus on productivity will inevitably lead to crossing off tasks on your to-do list to make you feel more productive. You will fall in a cycle to busywork. Sure you’ll work as hard as ever to cross off every task on that list. But all that busywork, will not add value to anyone.
More output is not what the world needs today. We have too much of too many things. What we need is more quality, more thought put into tasks, into the things we create, into the tasks we choose to pay attention to.
#4: You will not be less stressed
If you think becoming more productive will leave you less stressed. Nope.
Getting more done is like an addiction. The more productive you are, the more you want to get done. That vicious cycle will leave you with a feeling of hopelessness. Like you’re never getting caught up to what the world expects.
#5: You will not find your purpose
Maybe, this one is just because I was misguided. I thought that a by-product of productivity might be “purpose”. Finding something I wanted to spend my time doing or thinking about.
Or maybe, if I committed to doing more in less time, I could try new things. I could create more, do more, and find that thing that would drive me.
But productivity didn’t help me with any of that.
Instead, it left me questioning what it was that I was really looking to answer.
So, stop and think about what you’re really looking for.
The answer is probably not productivity.