I recently read another post about the dangers of toxic productivity. I’m all for nixing the idea of being productive for productive’s sake or for the betterment of someone else’s goals and ambitions. Have you seen that meme about how U.S. workers will be in the hospital having an email away message saying that they can be reached by text while other countries will have an away message that says I’ll get back to you in a few months or eventually or never?
Well, if you haven’t, you should Google it. And then reflect on it because it really slaps you in the face if you’re a workaholic like myself. It makes me reflect on how we’ve been conditioned to think that we owe our entire lives to our employer or our job. There’s even fear of retribution if we have to for some reason call out or handle personal or family emergencies. Fortunately, I’ve actually worked in a lot of places that have been more understanding of my situations than I have. Meaning, I’ve often been tougher on myself or felt more guilty about not following through if something came up. But, that’s life. That’s reality. And people and family and your personal physical and mental health are more important than a job.
There are many conflicting opinions on what people should have done with their time during the pandemic. Some advocated for rest, while others said it was time to learn a new skill or finally reach that goal. The reality is that we were all living in a time of uncertainty and every single person’s own situation was unique and distinct to them. There is no room to judge others for what they should or shouldn’t have done with their time.
Why Choose Purposeful Productivity?
So as I’ve been seeing more and more about the toxic productivity culture, I tried to think of an alternative to always just being productive. I thought of purposeful productivity, and was excited at the prospect of coining a new phrase. But alas, Google showed me there were a couple of really awesome articles already written about the topic. One useful checklist includes ideas for mental, digital, and physical areas of our lives. Another post includes 35 strategies to achieve purposeful productivity in your life.
My reason for trying to combine purpose and productivity is because sometimes we can be productive for our own self care and not just for the sake of getting something done. Additionally, I find that when my actions are tied to a greater purpose or “why”, that my productivity actually increases and I have more motivation to complete the task or activity.
As I think through being more purposeful in my day to day activities, I’m trying to develop a morning routine to help guide my productivity toward my purpose. There, I set my intentions and my to-do list to match my goals. Here are the questions I ask myself for reflection:
- Why am I doing this particular task or activity?
- Who does this benefit? (Is it me or someone I care about? Is it related to paying bills and my livelihood?)
- Do I need to report back on my time and justify my work to anyone?
- Is this connected to bigger goals for the future?
- Can I make this task more efficient or automated like a habit?
Even if I can’t answer one of the above questions, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s something I shouldn’t do. However, maybe it’s something that doesn’t need to be done quite at that moment or with a sense of urgency.
As I continue on this productivity journey, I plan to be mindful of my purpose and not fall into the trap of productivity for productivity’s sake. YOU are valuable and sometimes taking a nap or walk or building a sand castle with your kids is exactly the kind of purposeful productivity that you need.