With all the productivity “tips,” “rules,” and “systems” out there, becoming more productive can be overwhelming and exhausting.
Yet, nobody seems to be asking the question we should be asking: Should you just give up on productivity altogether?
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Imagine this scenario:
You’re up for a promotion.
Your boss tells you that your numbers have been terrific, but, in order to be eligible for the promotion, you’ll need to bump them up just a bit.
So, you spend the next few weeks working like mad. You come in early, and you stay late.
And your numbers go up.
You’re pleased with yourself.
But then your boss tells you that, to get the new position, you’ll also need to show that you’re familiar with a new area of the company.
So, while continuing to work your tail off to keep your numbers up, you now eat your Greek salad every day while hunched over your computer, studying that new area of the company.
Again, a few weeks go by, and you now feel confident.
Finally, your hard work will pay off.
But, once again, your boss tells you that you can only get the promotion if you can also show that you’re willing to be on call every other weekend.
So, you go home and make arrangements with your family to ensure that you will be available.
Then, finally, after desperately doing everything your boss has asked you to do, she tells you that they’ve filled the position with a “more qualified” person.
And you feel like you’ve just been punched in the gut.
Moving the Goal Posts
This scenario is commonly called “moving the goal posts” because every time you’re given a target to shoot at, it moves just a little bit further away on you.
Now, unfortunately, this scenario is much more common than you might think. In fact, one of my clients described this very scenario to me just this week.
And she’s not alone.
Most people I work with have experienced something like this at least once or twice in their careers.
And it’s not fair.
But, most of us don’t realize that we play this same dirty trick on ourselves every single day.
Why You Should Give Up on Productivity
You see, the most common approaches to productivity—the approaches that virtually all the productivity books, tools and apps are based on—behave just like this boss.
They make promises of more time, more money, more freedom, and more fulfillment.
But, as soon as you think you’ve done enough and everything you’ve wanted is just within your reach, all of a sudden the goal posts move and you realize you have to do more to get what you want.
So, you pile more on your plate and diligently get to work.
But, after weeks of living on coffee and cold showers, you will find that you’re still not getting enough done.
Once again, you have to do more, more, more.
And this never ends. Every time you improve your productivity, there’s always more that can be done.
This is the kind of productivity you should quit.
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Solution: Value Based Productivity
I’ve met so many highly productive people who are stressed out, overworked, and overwhelmed because they feel like they’re still not doing “enough.”
The problem is that productivity as it’s commonly taught is not value based.
When you don’t have clear values and priorities that align with how you spend your time, you’ll never “arrive.” Instead, you’ll be on the fast track to burnout.
In value-based productivity, productivity is not about doing more. It’s about creating a productive life jam-packed with the things that are most valuable to you.
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