I crave the kind of productivity that makes me feel content at the end of the day.
I crave a balance between focused work and time to be human; to meet friends, cook a meal and read a book.
When I work, I want to …
- Be in the moment and focus on what I’m doing right now
- Experience flow
I do not want to…
- Exhaust myself
- Guilt trip myself for not working harder or faster
- Put so much pressure on myself that all I want to do is numb out on Facebook or Youtube
- Beat myself up when I don’t get things done
- Set ambitious goals that would require less sleep and no time with friends to meet the deadline
I think most of us get productivity wrong. We punish ourselves for not working through endless to-do lists and tell ourselves that downtime will be our reward – once we’ve met all the conditions of our to-do list. Which is never.
Productivity doesn’t work that way. We can’t be productive all the time. We are not robots.
Think back to a year ago. What were you doing? Do you remember? It’s crazy how much we forget – the majority of the last 365 days are already forgotten, we just can’t help it. In a way there really only is the present – what’s here and immediately ahead of us. And that, too, will likely be forgotten in a year or five.
So what does that mean?
When I look back I often wish that I hadn’t been so hard on myself. That I wouldn’t have stressed myself out so much. When I think back to this day last year I hope I didn’t just cross things off a to-do list but spent some time with a friend or danced around my room.
Productivity needs to fuel our lives instead of exhausting us. It should help us work on the goals that deeply matter to us, but not at the expense of our humanity and the little moments of joy and connection.
If our to-do list stresses us out so that we can’t help but flee to a bag of chips and binge-watch youtube video then something is off.
Simplify your to-do list, because being focused calms us down. Change the way you think about the things you “need” to get done and put everything into perspective. Find a way of working that supports your dreams rather than drains your energy.
Because you can work on building a good life for yourself and savor the life you’ve built so far.