It is not enough to be busy; so are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about?
-Henry David Thoreau
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Productivity

With the never-ending to-do lists many of us face, it can be challenging to balance productivity with reality.  None of us can go, go, go and never stop – we have to stop at the very least for sleep.  Yet, we need to stop for more than sleep.  The challenge in this busy world is to find the pace that makes sense for you.

First, let’s talk about productivity – the definition that fits this context best is “yielding results, benefits, or profits.”  If you view this definition narrowly, you might only apply it to those tasks that give you hard, clear results – things that you can see and measure immediately.

I’d imagine that many of you view time with family valuable.  Would you consider it “productive”?  I would, as there are many benefits and even results.  It’s hard to measure.  You can’t really know what would be if you didn’t spend your time with family – for you or for them.

One of the ways I think about the idea of productivity is whether I’m making the most of my time.  This shifts the idea from trying to accomplish tons of things to being effective and working on those things that are important.  In this case, the word important refers to the big picture view – those values and needs that provide meaning and purpose to our life.

The amount of time – “free” time – we all have varies – from person to person and depending on various circumstances – activities, obligations, support and assistance, health, family, etc.  If your “free” time is minimal, it’s all that more important to maximize that time.  The idea of “free” time seems an oxymoron to me – as who has free time or at least feels like they have free time?

Something that you need to consider is what is reasonable for you personally.  The amount of what we can each accomplish in a given day – the degree of productivity – will vary from person to person.  What factors are you dealing with that could limit your productivity?  How can you maximize your effectiveness?

Inc. Magazine had a blurb about the 3 secrets of most productive people a while back – these illustrate that productivity is about more than accomplishing things.

  1. they take breaks
  2. they are great collaborators
  3. they have lives outside work

All three of these focus on the benefits of stepping away from being in the midst of “working” or being productive in the strict definition.  There’s an additional comment about having lives outside of work also reveals these highly productive people have interests that don’t relate to their work.

True productivity can be as much about following your passions that give your life meaning as it is about completing your to-do list and earning money.  What your success at being productive will look like is something you need to figure out.  I can tell you that it will not mean working on your to-do list every waking moment.  And it might mean reevaluating what being productive means to you – considering those activities you engage in that don’t provide those measurable results.  I encourage you to discover your own version of what productivity means for you personally.

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