Caring less about productivity

Three ways to care less about productivity

There’s a lot of talk lately about productivity. People are counting it, managing it, being it and increasing it. We bandy the word about as if we all have the same understanding of it, but I don’t think we do. If you work alone, it’s essential to have a clear definition of what it means for you, or you could find yourself constantly trying to match up to other people’s standards.

And we know where that leads. Downhill to the soggy Marsh of Resignation under the Cliffs of Resentment, that’s where.

So here are three other ways to think about what productivity means to you.  

1. Conditions of satisfaction

What’s the standard that I am applying to this? What do I believe a productive day looks like?  What will it take for me to be satisfied with what I have done each day, each week, and each quarter?

Answer these clearly and then set some measurable, achievable realistic and time framed goals that are very specific. (I am sure you see where this is heading- yes SMART goals!) I’ve left out the tangible one because even imagining what it might sound like, feel like and look like to be content and satisfied with what you have achieved at the end of the day can help capture what’s important for you.  Only you know how much you are capable of. Only you know what’s relevant and specific to you and your business.

Then when you have hit the targets you know they’re yours, not someone else’s.

2. Comparisons

Let go of them. Put them in a box if not ready to fully let go and leave them outside the door for a day. Looking at the limber person beside me at yoga and seeing myself as stiff and unfit doesn’t actually help me learn how to increase my flexibility. Letting go of the she’s better at this than me, attitude so I can see what she is actually creating through her body, and focus on where I am with my own abilities right now does help me improve.  

And believe me people I have had to and still do work hard at this one. Not just at yoga but also in all areas of worklife where I set measures that were unreachable. Comparisons stopped me sharing my poems because I know I don’t write like Yeats.

You are probably the Only One who can do what you do. So, live the difference and let others get on with their stuff.

3. Contentment        

Enjoy the journey! Finding out what productivity is for you and how you get to be effective is an exploration. There’s learning there, but living ahead of yourself and thinking how things will be great when you get there undermines the joy of the day you have right now.

We don’t all start a business and immediately leap out of bed and achieve five great things before coffee each day and every day.

It takes time to find what works best for you. This is action research so notice yourself, observe, reflect, practice your capacity to create and revel in the capability you are building.

That’s productive.