July 23, 2013

It’s OK To Not Be Productive

“How do you manage to work all the time?”

“Stupid brain, focus! My free day is going to waste!”

“If I get up an hour earlier I can write another 2,000 words and finish the novel in two months…”

“Did I tell you about my startup? We’re making an app on weekends!”

The silly things we hear, say, think, and push ourselves to do. The term overachiever is thrown about, but every time it comes up I cringe. So you’ve got your career, and a bunch of other projects to top it off. So you think you can balance your workload. So you count the hours and figure that if you’re really productive you could finish ahead of schedule. So you’ll just have to be really focused and extremely productive and all will be well. So you want to do everything at once. 

A dog who knows how to chill. Photo: faith goble (CC)
A dog who knows how to chill. Photo: faith goble (CC)

I hear ya.

You’re an idiot.

Don’t take it so hard, I am too.

It’s easy to get ideas, to get inspired, and to want to create things. It’s even easier to look at the tasks at hand and plan them according to the best case scenario, thus setting yourself up to fail since none of us will perform perfectly on a daily basis. The trick’s to know your average, and plan accordingly.

This is true in your everyday life, and a lot easier said than done.

The rest of the time, when our tasks are done, when we’re “free”, it’s important to accept doing nothing.

You don’t have to be productive all the time. The sooner you realize this, the more you’ll get done when it really matters. If you push yourself at all times, you won’t perform as well, and you’ll burn out in the end.

Being OK with not always being productive is the key to actual productivity.

Thoughts? Let @tdh know on Twitter, or find me elsewhere. There is also a newsletter.