Today, I’m setting the record straight. Many of you have let me know that you struggle with procrastination, productivity, achieving the goals you’ve set for yourself, and getting a lot of work done. It’s a struggle I know all too well.
I know the shame of feeling like you don’t measure up to those people that renovate their house AND write an entire book on a random Tuesday and make it all seem so easy. I know the guilt of feeling like you could’ve done more, more, more.
It’s procrastination, comparisonitis, and FOMO waiting to happen.
The way out of this, for me, was when I started to redefine what it means to be productive. There’s a right way and a wrong way to look at productivity and it’s time to get really clear on what’s what.
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Productivity, getting things done, work/life balance… these are all hot topics these days. You can’t listen to a podcast without this issue being addressed and there are lots of blog posts and pins on Pinterest promising you “the 5 quick ways to never procrastinate ever, ever again” or “get astounding results with these ultra useful apps”.
The thing is, though, that much of what’s being said about and written on the topic of work and life is utterly negative. Usually, the story goes something like this: a frenzied, stressed, and overwhelmed female is doing her best to balance a career and a personal life. A breakdown happens, either a physical breakdown in the form of burnout or a mental breakdown where said female questions the mere foundations of her life. This leads to an epiphany that something must change and she goes on to find ways to become more productive and/or to scale back with hopes of reaching that elusive balance. She spends tons of time and money buying software or apps to help be more productive.
That’s the narrative you usually come across, isn’t it?
But like all popular narratives, this one has some holes in it:
Plenty of people are able to combine careers, families, creative life, and personal time just fine.
Balance is presented as yet another measuring stick, another thing for us creatives to measure up to. And productivity is presented as the tool to achieve that balance. I don’t have to tell you that the message of “if only I had balance in my life, then I’d be happy and successful” is a dangerous one.
Productivity is being presented as synonymous with busy. For a lot of people, being productive means working more, hustling harder, and getting much more things done than you normally would.
Here’s the right way to look at productivity, a new definition:
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A day where you got a lot of work done but there was no time for self-care is not a productive day.
A day where you didn’t make time for your relationships is not a productive day.
A day where you didn’t fuel your creative fire is not a productive day.
A day where you spend the majority of your time doing things to please others or to win approval is not a productive day.
Believe me, I fell for the productivity trap too. At times, I found it difficult to find the motivation to even get started tackling the things on my ever-growing to-do list. I was so overwhelmed just by thinking about what I had to do that I started to make excuses as to why I couldn’t do it (hello procrastination!). I had trouble staying on top of things. Sometimes I missed the deadline for doing the things that I wanted to get done and other times I lost an entire day doing the things that weren’t really important. I was so busy with no results to show for it. And for the longest time I thought that apps, hacks, and programs like The Miracle Morning or the Pomodoro Method were the answer.
But then I realized something. I was looking to others to help me solve my problem rather tackling the problem myself. I needed to change my perspective about what productivity was and how it could help me.
That led me to create my own definition of productivity (“Productivity is the means with which you get to work towards fulfilling your purpose. Productivity is not about working harder, it’s about working purposefully.”) and a very specific process for figuring out how I want to spend my day and what I want to work on. As it turns out, productivity is not the basis but a byproduct of establishing my routine. The basis is purpose, values, joy, heart. Productivity is just a byproduct.
That process turned into, what is now, Productivity with Purpose and I’d love for you to go through this process with me!
‘Traditional’ productivity is failing you because it leads to you feeling burned out, feeling guilty for taking time off to enjoy life, and having to deal with your self-worth that’s hitting new lows. But, remember, your self-worth isn’t tied to how hard you hustle. Productivity is only valuable when paired with self-care, fulfillment, and purpose. That’s what I want for you.
Do you want to be more productive in your work and life? In need of a tailored-to-your-needs daily routine? Do you fall victim to procrastination and not achieving the goals (#allthethings) you set for yourself? Then make sure to download the Ultimate Checklist for Productivity with Purpose. Just click the button below.
Let me know in the comments: what do you think of my definition of productivity?
Hi there! I’m Wendy, founder of The Gratefulist and host of the #perfectionistproblems community for recovering perfectionists. I’m insanely passionate about helping you let go of your perfectionism. Let’s chat about the hard stuff - like dealing with comparison, your inner critic, procrastination & productivity with purpose - so that you can stop caring so much about what other people think and finally take on those dream projects that you've been putting off for so long.