My Pursuit Of Productivity


Is it just me or does anyone else picture a big, daunting factory-type building with a huge production line when the word ‘productivity’ is mentioned? No? That’s good then, considering that ‘productivity’ in clinical terminology is described as “the ratio of output to inputs in production; it’s an average measure of the efficiency of production.”

 I have discovered that being in a state of productivity is where most people desire to be. I mean, who wants to live a life not doing anything, not striving towards goals or ambitions? The problem that I’ve found is actually getting the work done. At the moment, we are constantly being fed huge amounts of information, from the moment we wake up to the minute we nod off at the end of the day.  In this new digital age, we’ve become obsessed with being productive, with more people working longer, working harder, even working from home just to tick of the never ending to-do list that seems to accumulate more items than the time we have to complete them. What’s the point of it all, if it just causes people to become stressed, exhausted, unhappy and unable to spend time with the things that matter the most, like family and friends?

Maybe it’s time we re-evaluate the meaning of productivity so that it can it encompass the things are beneficial for us based on thinking smarter, minimalism and the others.

Whilst reading “How to become a Productivity Ninja” by Graham Allcott, I came across the phrase, “work smarter, not harder.” The very word ‘productivity’ is synonymous with action; therefore one would think that working harder is being productive, right? Seeing as that does not really work for me and possibly many others too—have we ever considered what it would be like to take the opposite approach? A sort of ‘non-action approach’ to productivity.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that we should be lazy and accomplish one thing a day but rather ask ourselves, “is it completely necessary to have everything on the to-do list done?” It should be about differentiating what needs to be done and what you want done. Most people have trouble establishing the difference between the two. I’ve come to terms with giving up on the things that I would like done and focus more on things that are essential. By no means is this an easy task to do because it can appear that every task is urgent, but if we act smarter surely enough we’ll be more efficient in reducing the load and feel more positive in getting the essentials out of the way.

Being productive isn’t all about the amount you’ve had done in a limited amount of time, sometimes taking a step back and letting your brain switch off for a moment may be produce high quality work and you may find it more effective way of getting things done. It’s all about getting the balance between quality and quantity right.

Success and accomplishment are the outcomes of being productive but have you ever considered by whose definitions are we being successful?  Why does it hold so much value? What happens if you don’t get it done or even worse what happens if you get the work done but you don’t feel fulfilled or satisfied with your work? Answering these questions myself, I figured out that all my work and the need to be productive to the max was to get the approval of other people around me, as if to say that my success is tied in with them. For me, the need for approval resulted in a lower performance. I procrastinated and spent a lot of time worrying about what people thought about my work. Ultimately, realizing this irrational need to please people all the time has helped me to focus on myself, what I deem important to me, what success is according to my standards and not to someone else’s. This has certainly led to a healthier kind of productivity which – funnily enough – is perhaps more beneficial in the long run for everyone all round.


Written by Cecilia Okunade. Image courtesy of Sean MacEntee.